Very rarely do I feel that I have been in the vanguard of anything. There was a time when I was one of few people talking about the emergence of genetically engineered trees, and the threats to the environment that an unfettered release might cause. I felt then that I was on the wave. Everything else, well, I have either just been part of a pack, or ploughing a very lone course.

But now, I am thrilled to have assisted in the beginning of a new craze that is sweeping the globe at an unprecedented rate. No longer are people looking for esoteric celtic knots or the names of their children/loved ones/cities of conception. Mum, love, hate and ironic anchors are no more the tattoos of choice. The new tattoo is … well … I hardly need say … the hedgehog.

I received an email from Eryka Blank – the delightful mystery of emails is that you can have so little idea of who you are in contact with. I had no idea of country or age – just that she had read my book in its US incarnation (always a good starting point) and had been attracted by the images at the bottom of each page, so much so she was contemplating having one done as a tattoo. I sent her some larger copies of the pictures – the originals were done by the great artist David Shephard – and asked that if she did get a tattoo done, she send me a photo. And she has, along with a note explaining more about her and what motivated her … so here she is:

And here is what she had to say about herself:

“I agree, our tattoos should be friends.  I live in Madison, Wisconsin, and grew up in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.  I am in my third year of college studying Communications Arts emphasis on Global Communications, and a theater minor.  I have always loved the outdoors and critters, and I constantly surround myself with pets.  I love books like ‘Watership Down’ and ‘Life of Pi’.  I can’t remember how I got interested in hedgehogs, but I did quite a bit of research on them, have a  pet hedgehog (named Phinneus), and am a member of the Hedgehog Welfare Society.  I short story I wrote titled ‘Burberry and the Fox’ is appearing in the Nov/Dec issue of the Hedgehog Welfare Society newsletter.  Last winter and spring I get receiving mysterious packages (I suspect my parents may have had a hand in this) with little plush hedgehogs and hedgehog books.  One of these was ‘The Hedgehog’s Dilemma’.  I loved reading your book and every time I saw one of the little inked drawings on the bottom of the page I thought what a great tattoo it would make.  I judge art by whether or not I would be willing to get it tattooed on myself.  The little hedgehog is actually my fourth tattoo (the others are a circle of Beatles lyrics on my upper back- “Pools of Sorrow Waves of Joy are Drifting Through My Opened Mind”, a fiery colored swallow on my leg, and my beloved dog’s paw print on my ankle) and didn’t hurt much.  It stung a little, but was no worse than getting a shot from the doctor.  I thought, what better animal to have staring fiercely out of my arm at everyone? Eventually I want to get the whole arm that the hedgehog is on turned into a full sleeve of critters- air, earth, and water all represented. I hope whatever you get tattooed on your other leg is as worthy as your hedgehog!

Personally, I have a great fondness and respect for cheetahs, birds (like swallows and sparrows), and otters.  In fact, I think a river otter will be my next tattoo.  Whatever you choose I can’t wait to read about it in your next book.

Thanks,

Eryka

P.S. I recently did a speech on the history of the relationship between hedgehogs and humans for my speech class and I found your book to be an excellent reference!”

And as Eryka suggests, I am in the market for a new tattoo – but this is a serious one, one based on a competition that has already begun. There are advocates for different species all clamouring for my attention, trying to win me over to their particular animal. What will it be? Badger? Dolphin? Solitary bee? House sparrow? Owl? Otter? Water vole? Dragonfly? Fox? Porpoise? Robin? Bat? Any other suggestions?

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