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Mr. Raymond Briggs!

Dear Planksters,

I hope you are all faring well!

Today I want to celebrate the genius which is Raymond Briggs, particularly his illustration but also his ability when writing to be honest and profound whilst keeping his readers grounded and real.

Most people know him best for his classics; ‘The Snowman’, ‘Father Christmas’ and ‘Fungus The Bogeyman’, and yet beyond those are the utterly brilliant; ‘Ethel and Ernest’ and ‘When the Wind Blows’ – to name but two, moving and thought-provoking. But, dear Planksters, beyond those still are books such as ‘Notes from the Sofa, containing his thoughts, poems, sketches, and reflections on life, aging, death, and day-to-day existence.

To be honest, they don’t always make the most comfortable reading, so I am not necessarily recommending that you rush out and buy these for your collection. If you’re feeling a bit low or emotionally drained, or worse, then indulging in philosophical ruminations about the futility of life, especially in old age, might not be the best ‘pick me up’! However, if you happen to see a copy in your library or neighbour’s house, it is worth opening up a page at random and experiencing the brilliance of Raymond Brigg’s mind and pen!

In his book, ‘Time For Lights Out’, Mr. Briggs faces head-on, some of life’s most un-talked-about subjects (at least in Britain!) such as bunions, loss, the shock of aging, and ‘old men’s hair’… Whilst there’s a lot of sadness in what he writes, he makes his readers aware of the often absurd elements of life and how we think about it, and you find yourself laughing in spite of the gravity of the topics he writes about. For example, in 'Old Men’s Hair' he writes;

‘Leg hair just disappears. Little girl said, “Old men’s legs are like celery”

Followed by the brilliant illustration...

He writes about the untimely death of his wife, Jean, and in his poem, ‘Shame’ he captures the horror of the things we sometimes say in jest and ignorance and the new significance that those words can take on in retrospect.

His accompanying sketches for these poems are rough and in ‘Shame’, are hard to make out – however, they have a rawness that captures the reality of the situation so well, that anything more detailed is just unnecessary.

I have huge respect for Raymond Briggs and am grateful for his generosity in sharing such personal reflections with us in a way that is yes, sometimes uncomfortable, but that is accessible, because of his great sense of humour and his ability to illustrate with feeling and warmth.

Again, as with all the greats, so much can be learned from studying his work!

With a protracted look through my silver-rimmed monocle, momentarily making one eye look big and alarming,

Thalamus Plank

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Love the art of Raymond Briggs. Quirky and unique. While living in Bristol UK, my children adored The Snowman and even to this day, I am carried away by its music.

May 31, 2022
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Ah, he really is most excellent! I too love the uniqueness of his work! The snowman is such a classic and you're right, the music is beautiful and well suited! 🤗

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