I’m a card-carrying taxidermy fanatic. Fortunately, Brighton – with its weird Victoriana fetish and oodles of old trinket emporiums – is pretty much the hotspot of taxidermy these days so I’m in good company! I’m fifteen minutes down the road from the Booth Museum, Eaton Nott and Snoopers’ Paradise, so I have all the borax and wood-wool stuffed critters I could ever hope for.
Recently I booked myself a place at a workshop with the London Taxidermy Academy. They’re great because they run very small classes, with a maximum of around six people (there were four at mine), so you get a lot of guidance and attention from the intense and heavily bearded tutor, Lee Paton. The class was so much fun, and the process is very therapeutic. It’s much easier and far less gory than you’d think – unless you accidentally stab the guts and spill mouse soup everywhere, like my classmate did.
So without further ado, here’s how to skin, clean, stuff and sew a little mouse! It’s under a cut, because I know some of you are a bit sensitive 😉
My lovely friend Robyn came to visit this weekend. She was here to try out for the Croydon Roller Derby Fresh Meat programme, but the clever git has also been a runner on a TV show!
Robyn is an animator, and pretty much the nicest and most talented person I know. We’ve been friends for around eighteen years, from our halcyon days pretending to be Mice With Swords (we got through a lot of Redwall) right through to the discovery of boys and the misery of the graduate job market. On this occasion, we ended up going to the Horniman museum…
I met an owl and was too starstruck to say hi.
And we found some bees too.
We also drank three bottles of wine between the two of us, and had a rowdy game of Cards Against Humanity (my little brother won, because he’s a deviant) followed by an evil hangover and lots of skating.
Croydon Roller Derby held its Fresh Meat trials on Sunday, and we had a great turnout – there were even a couple of familiar faces in the paceline! There were a few people there who had skated before, some hoping to transfer from other leagues, and others who had never even put on a pair of rollerskates. Riot Squad and Vice Squad, our A and B teams respectively, are playing against Milton Keynes Roller Derby this coming weekend… which means I need to stop eating biscuits and do some press ups. I’ve found that Tabata high intensity workouts are good – they’re usually under an hour but there’s enough in there to make you really knackered. (A note to the derby contingent – I am far too poor to afford gym membership, but the FitnessBlender workouts on YouTube are fantastic – highly recommend ’em!)
I’ve also started making use of this beautiful sketchbook I was given for my birthday! The first one is me completely ‘borrowing’ Angelique Houtkamp’s style…
And this is a little sad Saint Sinead O’Connor I spent far too long on.
Yes, I know. John Singer Sargent I am not, but it’s a start.
I also finally, finally saw Frozen. I know it gets a lot of comparisons to Tangled, but I think I actually preferred it to Tangled… it’s got a great little curveball at the end, and I’m happy that there seem to be so many films popping up at the moment with the sentiment “boys: they’re not that important” rather than “be skinny, get married, profit.” Even the talking snowman wasn’t as irritating as I thought he would be.
The week ahead promises adventures with the Portuguese, and a Max Richter concert followed by carrying a watermelon around a party with a man dressed as Patrick Swayze (it’s 80s-themed, and I got carried away with notions of making a huge Falcor costume for Ed before realising that Dirty Dancing was probably easier). I’ll also be trying to stay motivated in the eternal hunt for a job that doesn’t require me to sell Jagerbombs.