Penguins have featured occasionally in my life and definitely reappeared with a vengeance more recently. I’m not entirely sure where the mild obsession began. I can't recall if I had a particular toy penguin that might have been the genesis. My first and most favourite toy was a odd, scruffy little panda called Pierre. There was a much loved teddy that plated “twinkle, twinkle little star” curiously. I was definitely a fan of a Penguin chocolate bar and my parents’ extensive paperback collection had a plethora of Penguins. And, a habit I picked up from them, the booked were filed by colour. There was a row of little orange Penguins and nearly two of green Penguins, my parents always loved a crime novel.
Years later I had a yen to learn origami, both inspired by my first viewing of the Blade Runner movie, and being impressed by a friend who was incredibly adept at making elegant paper cranes. I was working near Covent Garden and around Neal Street was a great stomping ground for Japan-alia. I bought a book and plenty of coloured squares and started learning. After practising a few designs, the penguin immediately became my favourite and, especially when I was travelling, I used to churn out little armies of the papery flippered creatures. Whilst I was training on the dark art of Excel formulae, I’d set fiendish exercises and whilst my students were slaving over a hot spreadsheet, I'd be walking around the room, checking their work and folding tiny squares of paper. These would be dutifully collected by the trainees and kept as souvenirs.
I also seem to remember creating an icon for ’special paste’ in Excel and drawing a little penguin to depict that function, I can only assume the origami penguins influenced that curious decision!
When I first started collecting tiny HO 1:87 scale figures (from model railway layouts), I explored a whole gamut of forms. I initially collected standing and sitting figures, workmen, a lone policeman sporting a ’proper’ helmet, painters and decorators, then cats and dogs, chickens, other farmhouse animals, including pigs, zebras and then penguins. Buoyed by CJ’s challenge of her scary dogs sniffing out my penguins, the taunting began, and my penguins like to prove their bravery. Their MINI fame was the cherry on top so it’s really all about them now. I carry my four remaining ones in my handbag, doesn't everyone, so they're always prepared for their next close-up.
I can't blame Pingu, Mr Popper’s, Happy Feet or the penguins of Madagascar for influencing me as other penguin fans might say. Though I was very drawn to Feathers McGraw in Wallace and Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers, my Pengzilla reminds me of him somewhat, though minus the rubber glove chicken disguise! So I don't know how it started, but I seem to like penguins.
Last week another J had said I was difficult to buy a present for (particularly jewellery), naturally I beg to differ as I think I'm very easy, but then I know what I like! To prove my point I undertook a spot of sparkly surfing and hit on a few possible gaps in my collection of blingy fabulousness rather quickly. But then I know what I was looking for. Tina Lilienthal is a good option, as you can’t beat a skull pendant. I already have a black strawberry and a large black skull with spiky silver antlers but there's always room for more! I was then wracking my brain for the Italian jewellery shop on Sloane Square that sold little charms when it finally came to me - the not so extinct Dodo. Dodo are part of the fine Italian jewellery company Pomellato, and I'd been drawn to their charms on several occasions but I'd been a little put off by too much yellow gold. But it seems a little black diamond penguin charm was calling me from my iPad screen so I vowed to go and check it out in the flesh (metal?) after work. Sadly the boutique on Sloane Square packs up too early in the day for us working girls so a mad dash to Harrods instead was in order.
I just scraped into Harrods before the heavy brass handled doors slammed shut for the evening. The jewellery department seems to be under some refurbishment but I manage to find the Dodo animal charms lurking in the corner. They are very sparkly and lovely and okay, a bit too yellow gold on the black diamond ones but there's always black rhodium if needed. Yep birthday present for myself, sorted!
I figured my new Italian sparkly penguin or pinguino should meet the other little flock. I think they're a little in awe of him. He's showing off his fabulous sparkliness with the aid of a well placed iPhone torch. And he is indeed, molto favoloso!
PS I've since discovered that penguins are like magpies, not just in their colouring but their love of shiny things. And I am rather fond of shiny things too! Hmmm, I may be part penguin!