Tag Archives: Wild

Koala Crazy



Koalas are surprisingly difficult to write about. They are extremely cute, notably in the ear department, and their noses will forever remind me of the smooth black plastic on the face of a toy koala, rather disturbingly made from real fur, which I once owned. But they aren’t under threat, they sleep 75% of the time and they barely make a noise. We have some old film of my grandfather holding a koala, presumably in Australia, but the thing I tend to remember about that footage is me thinking: “WOW! His nose was MASSIVE! He just turned sideways and nearly took the photographer’s eye out! Mine’s a total peewit compared to that!”

Koalas do fight, however, as proved in the video below.


After watching this in the name of research, I felt decidedly peculiar. As Taya put it in Wild #4: Koala Crazy: “It was like discovering your favourite teddy bear had just sprouted fangs.” (Incidentally, a koala is not a bear. Bet you didn’t know that.)

Seriously? A koala can actually cause injury, beyond making your heart explode with fluffiness? The answer, my friends, is YES. Not much, admittedly – we’re not talking Grizzly Great White standards here – but they are more dangerous than you think. And therein hung a plot line for my book. That, an idiotic rap star, a confused kangaroo and a very small crocodile. (Read the book. I promise it makes sense.)

However, this threat from a koala’s teeth and claws has recently paled into insignificance before an entirely different koala fact. I did refer to chlamydia in the book, it being the main problem koalas face, though I confess that it was just in passing. Little did I know the mileage that was to come. Thanks to a splendid bit of pop reportage, all the most interesting things about koalas have now koalesced (see what I did there?) into One Stupendous Fact For Which People Will Forever Remember Koalas (And Maybe One Direction): 

Their wee is poisonous.

I hope Harry Styles and the rest of the 1D boys didn’t contract chlamydia when that koala widdled on them. Chlamydia is a very nasty and practically invisible disease which can make you infertile. But I thank them for hurtling the sweet, unassuming koala to the top of the Interesting Animals list. When I get a reprint, I’ll suggest a credit.


Book Fair Frenzy


Three days until the London Book Fair 2012 and preparations are intense. Checklist as follows.

  • Make at least two appointments so that your gait is purposeful as you stride about the aisles. Yes! I’m meant to be here! I’m having coffee with several professionals!
  • Study the floor plan intently for at least a week in advance of the event. It won’t help but you will feel ‘prepared’.
  • Abandon all hope of ever locating the Westminster Room on said floor plan, where most of the seminars you’re interested in are taking place, and just hope you can follow someone with a sign on their head saying “I’m going to the same gig as you!”
  • Download the LBF 2012 app and then swiftly remove it again because your elderly iPhone is wheezing with shock and taking half an hour to change pages. And smoking gently at the corners.
  • Wonder if you’ll get in to the Caitlin Moran interview in the PEN Literary Cafe, or whether somehow Security will know that you inadvertently insulted her on Twitter by likening her new shoes to something Grayson Perry would buy.
  • Learn to say, “How are your sales going on Wild, then?” in French, Finnish and Swedish.
  • Get over-excited at the prospect of the LBF Tweetup on Tuesday evening where there is talk of canapés.
  • Feel supercilious about the Author Lounge.
  • Debate suitable shoes. Endlessly. (I’ll be walking = Doc Martens! I’ll be schmoozing = pointy boots! I’ll need to be eight feet tall to see where I’m going in the crowds = fetish heels! I need to get everywhere on time = roller skates!)
  • Consider wearing a silver stetson so everyone remembers you, though hopefully not Caitlin Moran.

Ducks and Details


I have been noticing lots of tiny detail lately. Perhaps it’s the light and colour of the world at the moment, shocking after so much muted winter. Or maybe it’s that old adage: “Once an editor…”

This kicked off with Jan Gossaert’s Adoration of the Kings, caught on Saturday at the National Gallery in a breathless moment sandwiched between my train and my Mozart rehearsal. Wow. The heavy gold embroidery and wafty ermine trim on Melchior’s spectacular cloak, offset by the wrinkles in his bright red tights. The hairy wart on the kneeling king Caspar’s face. Balthasar’s crown. Oh my wombats, as Taya would say: that CROWN. And the red hoo-dad clothy whatnot with the artist’s name scrolled in gold! When I’m in the mood for absurd perfection, Gossaert hits every single duck in the firing range – much as I somehow did while legless at a college ball many years ago. Perhaps I should have had a stab at painting an ermine trim that night too.

The other detailed marvel of Saturday was Grinling Gibbons’ reredos at St James’s Piccadilly, venue for Surrey Voices and Mozart’s Requiem. It’s incredible that a human being with fingers and thumbs whittled this perfect thing, full of petals and knobbly seedpods and lots and lots of space in between the fine thread-like stems, all from a once-solid lump of lime wood. Unlike the ermine trim, I feel this would have been an irresponsible thing to have attempted on my duck-jackpot evening.

I concentrated on my own kind of details on Saturday night. Not singing “Rex!” at full volume on the first beat of the bar while everyone else sang it a beat later. Pelting through fantastically frilly runs of “Dona Eis Requiem” and “Christe Eleison” and ending on the same note as everyone else. Negotiating sneaky F-sharps looming at speed like oil spills halfway round Mario Kart’s Mushroom Cup.

It doesn’t make me a genius, but it’ll have to do.