Stag beetle T shirt for a 5 year old


Royal blue T shirt with appliquéd stag beetle (hand embroidered by Mary Addison).

Little boys look particularly gorgeous in royal blue but the colour can be a difficult companion intolerant of wishy washy additional colour in the form of appliqué and embroidery. The royal blue T shirt I made for my grandson had a vibrant orangey-scarlet beetle and if frequent wear reflects approval, it’s certainly had that (though the fact that mum is particularly fond of it too may not be insignificant). For this latest T shirt, I happened to have a scrap of  mustardy yellow jersey from an old garment and I was happy to find that this strong colour worked just as well as the scarlet. Interestingly, although I’m not after zoological authenticity, I was pleased to discover that certain stag beetles do have carapaces in this lovely strong shade of yellow. I’ve always loved yellow, especially for furnishings and I seem to have passed this love on to at least daughter No 1 as last week she bought a beautiful glowing yellow ceramic lamp base in the very same shade (and which I can look at for inspiration as I write this).

Appliquéd stag beetle on royal blue T shirt (hand embroidered by Mary Addison).

Outside, the vivid green of summer diminishes day by day. Foliage on the trees in St Paul’s Shrubbery at the bottom of our London garden is thinning but still enlivened by moving splodges of intense green as our local colony of bright green parrots and parakeets become ever more visible. Few London parks are without them nowadays and it’s assumed they are escapee pets, though the miracle bit is how these exotic birds not only survive but actually thrive in British winters. I first encountered them in any number in the gardens of Chiswick House in west London 40 years ago. A few years before that I remember being entertained by one of these birds as I sat in a room on the top floor of the former Fullers’ Brewery House, a stone’s throw away from Chiswick House and the Hogarth Roundabout (which at that time was also known as The Cherry Blossom Roundabout because of the manufacture of the shoe polish of the same name in a factory on the site). One of the 4 daughters of the house had a pet parakeet and a reckless love of open windows, especially when the bird was out of its cage. It would be easy to imagine her bird flying off to freedom, a life of adventure and being parakeet one at the start of the parakeet empire. Romantic as the notion may be, I know I have to cast it aside as when I think about it, that particular bird was distinctly grey not green!

Royal blue T shirt with appliquéd stag beetle (hand embroidered by Mary Addison).

Legends, more glamorous than my own misremembering have grown up about them. Thanks to a recent Times Nature Notes (29 September  this year), I now know that some like to think Jimi Hendrix released a dozen from a guitar case when busking in 1968, while others fondly imagine them escaping from filming of The African Queen at Shepperton Studios as far back as 1951. A third tall story has Morrissey rescuing  an Adam and Eve pair from a cage outside a Camden hairdresser’s shop! Adaptive in the extreme, these very un British looking birds no longer even seem to demand lots of greenery and have even set up a new colony around that most un-green and fortress-like of English institutions, the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street – goodness knows what they think they’re doing there!

This T shirt and the previous one are to be presents for a pair of brothers. Boys usually enjoy having a chest emblazoned with an insect, so I hope these will be no different from other recipients.


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  1. Posted October 12, 2021 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    That combination of colours has a rather Egyptological feel to it as well. Very striking indeed.

    The idea of parrots colonising the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street – as you say, whatever do they think they’re playing at?

    • Mary Addison
      Posted October 12, 2021 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      I thought you’d make an Egyptian connection with the colours and very fitting too as scarabs and stag beetles are in the same taxonomical family.

      • Posted October 14, 2021 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        I’m getting predictable, aren’t I!

        • Mary Addison
          Posted October 19, 2021 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Not at all! But when one knows something about your interests, it’s just not hard to guess what you might like!

          • Posted October 25, 2021 at 10:25 am | Permalink

            Grin. Since I’m now alternately wildly between planning Placidus, the Golden Fleece, and William Marshall, I’m not sure what colours are going to come to the fore next..!

          • Mary Addison
            Posted October 31, 2021 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

            No but those Egyptian colours will always be special to us as they are so fresh and vibrant – one or two of them almost always find their way into whatever I’m doing!

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