...And around the time he was marvellously and meticulously engraving the Whitley Great Ox, Thomas Bewick met, for the first time, the Five-Legged Space Rabbit of Whitley Bay.
It's impossible to know whether it was the Rabbit itself who inspired him to leave behind his boxwood and engraving tools and try random splashes of paint instead. (Though it probably wasn't.)
But a fruitful dialogue undoubtedly ensued.
How the banter must have resounded, to and fro, between the three figures in Whitley Park: Bewick, naturalist, observer and Geordie through and through; Great Ox, cud-chewing capitalist grazer, bountiful and brutish, and Space Rabbit, five-footed, fleet-witted lord of misrule....
The kind of banter that'd look good illustrated in pen and ink....
The kind that, from time to time, post-Christmas travels, might find its way, through a scanner darkly, here.
[Some idle first thoughts about the Space Rabbit and Thomas Bewick. Why else would Bewick have chosen so insistently to call his book A General History of Quadrupeds, if not as a rebuke to the rambustious and contrary Quintroped? What relationship, if any, might the Space Rabbit have with his American Trickster Brother? What better symbol of the discovery, in postmodern times, of a farm-wise hunter-gathererdom, than the Astronaut Coney on Whitley Links, whose scions can still be found, wild and resilient, cocking a snook at the over-developed Townies across the way? And how tasty might the Space Rabbit find all those flowers with which they're about to gild the Great Ox? ]