On loneliness in big cities in a parable with a fox and a donkey

Tohby Riddle, Nobody Owns the Moon

Published 2008 by Penguin/ Viking, 32p


Cities can be lonely places despite size and crowds. There is sometimes a deep feeling of estrangement and people experience isolation, lack of connectivity and companionship. No matter their address, people need the certification of belonging.

Tohby Riddle’s Nobody Owns the Moon is a clever story on loneliness as human condition in a big city and on the risks of impersonal and superficial existence.

The fox is one of the only wild creatures in the world that can successfully make a life for itself in cities.


Clive Pedergast, a quick-witted fox managed to adapt to metropolitan life unlike other creatures with limited success. He even changed his name for better qualifications. He lives in a small apartment and has a secure job in a factory (He doesn’t know what is made there; he just puts the same parts together) and sometimes even does foxy things.


Once in a while, Clive sees his friend Humphrey, a donkey, who also lives in the city but in really modest conditions – he doesn’t always have a fixed address or a permanent job.

One day the two discover first class tickets to a theatre premier, Nobody Owns the Moon. They attend the play enjoying the extravagant food and drinks and luxurious seats.


Humprey’s reaction is heart-touching.  The night is overwhelming and full of significance for the humble donkey so tears of appreciation flow on his cheeks.


But above all, what remains for me by the end of the story – and why the story is dear to me – is an idea of inner wealth, a kind of resilience of spirit best displayed by Humphrey: a donkey who wants little and endures much; who when the smallest good fortune comes his way is overwhelmed with gratitude and joy.

– Tohby Riddle

That night the two friends spent time observing the lights and the sounds of the city, trying to approach it and discover its potential.

The story is extremely intelligent built and very actual as theme. Tohby Riddle’s art, a combination of painting and collage, is great experience; complement Nobody Owns the Moon with Riddle’s surrealistic poem, Unforgotten.


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