The Annotated

Grasshopper's Child

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"I absolutely loved it . . . politically engaged fantasy for adults, young, old or otherwise . . ." more

"Heidi is a wonderful heroine, tough and sensitive, a poet who puts her fears and joys into genuinely good verse. .. . more



I like my big Gardens lonely, mysterious, even a little down on their luck. I tend to schedule my visits in winter, very early spring; or at least when it's raining. When I was a child I'd have run a mile from all the group activities thrust at kids these days, and I feel the same way now. But you can't have everything, so I wholeheartedly reccommend the "Mehilhoc Gardens" sources of Sussex: Sheffield Park, Nymans Gardens and Wakehurst Place), all owned by those very nice NT people


The best giant sequoia sempivirens (sequoia giganteum) are at Sheffield Park

Fountain Engineering?

read about Joesph Paxton's Emperor Fountain and the magic of natural hydrology

Want some modern help?

these people can sort you out

Friggy Froggy

The frogs in the Jurrasic Swimming Pool look like this one.


Old Wreck pushed back nests of mad grey hair and stared at Heidi with a strange, wondering expression, almost like a smile.
'Might I have a bit of earth?'
'Yeah,' said Heidi: thinking of the door in the wall, except in her case the door led out of the Garden. 'Like in The Secret Garden, if you like. I honestly won't do any harm.'
'Except that Mary Lennox, we are told, was an ugly, sullen child. Stubborn, seems a shared trait. What do you know about gardening?'

The Grasshopper's Child is not a children's book, but it's haunted, best way to describe it, by children's classics: mainly The Secret Garden, (Frances Hodgson Burnett), but also Heidi, Johanna Spryi (two old-fashioned stories about stoical young girls, making the best of life despite deprivation, grief and isolation) and Black Beauty, Anna Sewell.(disabled girl identifies with suffering animal workforce of the Victorian age; grows up to write a "novel" exposing their abuse). One more to mention is Tom's Midnight Garden. The Grasshopper's Child is to some extent a ghost story, though not a bittersweet happy one, as in Tom's experience. The terrible ghosts that haunt an old woman's dreams haunt Heidi too.


We could all be walking around in virtual worlds, looking like Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss in black leather: right now, if you believed the hype. The reality, if you'll pardon the expression, is still all about using a screen and a keyboard to "visit" twinity, the fictional Carnivia, or the hot new industrial virtual avatar worlds. At best you're scampering around with a box on your head, "in" a fantastically 3d mapped and controlled game space. But if you have the patience, you can make yourself very convincing.

Build your own:

It won't be long. When Heidi walks into the Public Access Booth, dials the police station and a virtual interview room appears around her, complete with The Inspector's avatar apparently facing her across a desk, she's only about half an hour into our future.

Free-roaming virtual avatars are a little more mind-boggling, but not beyond the bounds of science and tech fact. What "Verucca" is doing, when she accompanies Heidi to her new placement as a virtual ghost, is, essentially, making a phone call. We already have devices that can project apps onto any handy surface: Virtual Verruca can sit at her desk in London, while projecting her 3D image via a series of remote pick-ups (as she might her voice, or face on a screen, today), wirelessly, and seamlessly, so it looks as though she's continuously present. But it only works where there's a vhd data stream (probably the medium is polarised light), to ride on, so she isn't actually "free". That's why Heidi is so puzzled when she can't find the hotspot.

The cop in the woods, however, is doing something far more bizarre: an information-space application in development since the first episode of Bold As Love; up and running in Band Of Gypsys & too complicated to explain here.


The Sacrifice Of The Unfit is not a fantasy. It's happening here and now, and the world over. Some statistics, just to remind you: the top 0.01% of the US population has taken possession of 90% of the wealth. Globally, investment figures are 39% for the top 1% while the bottom 50% only own 1%. Actual poverty clearly doesn't even register on these scales, nb. If you don't think this amounts to a willingness to murder the poor, you should think again.

locust swarms aren't alien monsters, they're just grasshoppers behaving badly.

But that's only half the story. The other problem is you, the fans. You've learned to think that the rich are just, like, you, on a really good day and that makes you complicit. The bad guys are called "the enemy without a face" in Grasshopper's Child for good reason. We're all on the payroll. We've all been eagerly helping the super-rich to get richer and more wicked: like a monstrous swarm of grasshoppers gone locust, devastating the Earth. . .

Stop Admiring Them!



In Bold As Love world it was sudden death. After a decade of runaway social and economic collapse, a single terrifying event put all forms of fossil fuel out of reach. This was the drastic change that created Heidi's England, with all its harsh austerities.

For us it could be different. We could start a managed withdrawal from dirty energy tomorrow. It would be simple. Just stop subsidising the Nuclear Industry; and watch it die.
Root out the corruption that supports the "shale gas revolution" Ditto. Stop subsidising coal and gas: invest the money in genuine green energy (nb, this does not include shipping timber from Carolina to turn Drax into a woodburning stove); in energy conservation, and energy from waste.
We live on a a fertile planet rich in waves, wind and water, and the sun isn't going to stop shining. We'll get by! But there'll still be a shortfall, and lifestyle changes to accept.

Mass air travel is a casualty. Likewise non-essential shipping.
No more new road building (preserving what countryside we have left). Public transport takes the place of most private cars.
Superhighways are data highways. Luxury is the virtual world.
Nobody wastes food! (end of the obesity epidemic)
Fuel rationing brings the return of agricultural labour.
The recycling industry really takes off.
Synthetic meat replaces mass-market meat production,
freeing land for global reforestation; the water crisis starts to heal. Mycelium (spun to transparency to make polytunnels eg) becomes the all-purpose stuff that petrochemical derivatives used to be. Powerful new technologies fill the gaps, like new growth in a garden.

Is any of this going to happen? No! Not until it really hurts. To good advice and wisdom we make promises: pain we obey (Marcel Proust). The house is on fire, we know it is, but we won't get out of bed until the flames are lapping at our pillows & that's the meaning of the "fable" of The Grasshopper's Child. She lives in the future we're creating for her. We could make things better, but we won't.

I'm not hoping for a miracle. I'm hoping for something messy, compromised and implemented. And just praying Mrs Bedonebyasyoudid gets to us in time to save the future.



Slave raiding pirate ships used to look like this (above). They were the terror of South and West coasts of the British Isles, kidnapping whole villages on occasion; until the French went in, about 1830, and cleaned the Barbary pirates out of what is now the coast of Algeria. & admittedly slavery in the Ottoman empire could be an opportunity for the strongminded, but we were pretty pleased.

They now tend to look more like this:

This is the Ezadeen, registered in Sierra Leone, the "ghost ship" set on a collision course with the coast of Italy, in rough seas, with 359 trafficked migrants on board; January 2015. Today's pirates have a much-improved business model. They get the slaves to pay astronomical fares for their passage, use hulks that aren't even seaworthy, and they don't even have to deliver the goods. Magic!

The ghost ship trend looks set to continue:


"Portia Knowells," said DS Earley, "was dancing sky-clad at a respectable Solstice celebration, in the all-weather Pagan Grove near Crawley, at the time of the raid... "

Dear friends, I know, because you've told me, that some people take a poor view of the way I've treated Paganism in the Bold As Love books. I wish I could help but I'm afraid it's just too bad. No religion, or belief system, is immune to the corruptions of power


La Grande Illusion . . . .Renoir IMDb

Une Partie De Campagne . . . .Renoir Vimeo

Ode To A Nightingale
John Keats


Back at the turn of the century I bought a secondhand book from a convention stall, vaguely thinking it would be useful for something. I started reading about Clyde Snow's work for the Disparacios of Argentina, and knew I had to acknowledge this: I had to weave the savagery of modern Fascism into my Bold As Love project. Which I did. Later on I read Clea Koff's Bone Woman, and Elsa Osorio's My Name Is Light. . .

Mass murder, with the power of the state behind the murderers. Genocide, the most appalling of crimes, fueled by self-interest and justified by lies. The bodies that cannot be allowed to remain buried. The children taken, lost, witnesses of intolerable things.. But sometimes found.


How can there be trouble in this world?
With the color in these hills, the blue October sky,
this little road that winds along the river.

...I know of course I know that this is not the only picture
I don't of course I don't know what to do.
But the road keeps winding through the afternoon
And it doesn't know the sorrow or an inkling of the shadow
of the rage across the water, the hatred and the horror.
It just wanders through this valley with the river by its side
As the light fades from the sky
The beautiful light fades from the sky

Cheryl Wheeler, Little Road


Cuckmere Haven at sunset
by Lucy Melford
North Norfolk, East Sussex, West Sussex, Licolnshire: the UK is getting nibbled at the edges, and there are tears and protests, but the sea always wins. Also soggier in the middle, but that's arguably purely due to an ideology-based refusal to protect reclaimed waterlands. But if you think, and rightly, that our troubles so far are storms in a teacup, try telling a Pacific Islander a Bangladeshi or a New Yorker, that anthropgenic climate change isn't a problem.

Sadly the cold equations say that none of this stops, even if we all change our ways right now. The tides will keep rising. Chaotic weather extremes will persist. Food security will still be in crisis, fuelling wars. It's too late. You can't turn and aircraft carrier on a sixpence. Even in a tough-love and (mostly) decent world state, like the fantasy Empire in The Grasshopper's Child, everyone's going to be a little bit hungry, and the lifestyle changes will take some getting used to. We could try them, preserve a humane culture, and save the future. Or we could carry on regardless, just the way we are, and see how much worse it gets. I prefer the first option. What about you?

Drawing by Dodie Masterman,
for the Folio Sociey edition of The Secret Garden

This is the Bold As Love Site. Some of the files are ancient: "Bold As Love's" own minisite was created in 1999 and is preserved as a curiosity, an internet antique. If you decide to explore, and find broken links or other problems, please help me out by letting me know: