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Short Story, 'Leonardo in London, Surfing': How Would da Vinci React to Today's Internet? Response to a Challenge

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Ann loves to write stories and poems and is always eager to meet challenges issued by other writers or herself, to exceed her comfort zone.

The Challenge

The basic details for this challenge were:

Create a Hub answering this two-part question that asks you to time travel in your mind, and project forward on behalf of another:

Part 1) "Do you think Leonardo da Vinci would be comfortable with the Internet?"

Part 2) "Why, or why not?"

My mind went totally blank, then gradually an idea emerged and I came up with a light-hearted look at the master should he be dragged into the present day. I don't think it would be kicking and screaming. I've stretched history a little and ignored the fact that he was apparently vegetarian.

Here we go!

Enigmatic Mona Lisa

La Giaconda (Mona Lisa)

La Giaconda (Mona Lisa)

Leonardo in London, Surfing

“Hey, Mona, you seen this latest stuff here? All you gotta do is push a few letter buttons and you can see anything you like and I mean anything!”

Leonardo was sitting at his desk and talking in hushed tones to his creation on the wall above him. He carried her everywhere with him. What did you say? That thing in the Louvre Gallery? That’s only a copy! D’you think he’d give up his only surviving portrait for everyone to chuck stuff at? Get a life!

He had to keep his voice down. It was past midnight and his flatmates wouldn’t thank him for disturbing their well-earned sleep. They’d been out on the town, daubing walls with Banksy and observing London’s architecture with the parkour club.

Come to think of it, he might join them next time, just to experience a different perspective on the world. After all, he could visualise most of the buildings of Florence and sketch them from memory, inside out. London’s architecture would present a challenge. Not so pretty but solid and dependable.

“Look at that ‘Buckingham' thingamajig, Mona. Ugly as the monarch’s backside but tourists fight to get to the railings and gawp. What’s that? Pay to look inside? You gotta be joking, old girl! Give me the plans and I’ll fast sketch the interior for free.

In fact, I’ll just bring it up on this screen for ya.”

A lucky find

Leonardo, unwashed, matted hair to his shoulders, was hunched over what he referred to as ‘a contraption’. He’d found it when he’d moved into his salubrious quarters in Mayfair. No, of course he couldn’t pay the rent! Why should he care? Never stopped him before. It was central, it suited his travel purposes and there was a graveyard nearby. “Lots of anatomical notes to finish off, details to add to drawings,” he’d explained to Mona who always listened patiently with a wistful smile.

The contraption had been discarded in a corner of this poky room, amongst a pile of dirty socks and underwear which made him feel at home. He’d opened the lid. Bit like a book but it had an umbilical cord leading to nowhere. The three-pronged end seemed to fit into those three-holed fixtures in the wall so, using his ingenuity, he’d experimented and finally worked it all out. Someone else’s great invention made him jealous. A contraption and power on tap! He’d have to develop that.

“Wow, Mona! You seen this?” he’d said. “Made to measure. I’ll never have to write again. No more long hours figuring out how to spell these cursed words, wasting precious time recording it all when no one can read what I’ve set down. What did Verrocchio mean, my writing was backwards?! I’ll give him backwards!

Just imagine! All the architects who’ve never seen my work, all the patents I can get for my inventions! Well, when I’ve finished them that is. I’ll have to arrange my papers in the relevant piles. Started it last week but then I had this new idea.....”

Scroll to Continue


Machine for grinding Convex Lenses

Machine for grinding Convex Lenses

Freedom at last

Each day his agile, fluttering brain would demand he set down drawings, ideas, diagrams. One idea sparked off a tangent and off he’d go down that road, on another piece of paper. Now he could realise his ideas on his steady contraption; it gave him the means to draw lines and curves but they stayed neat, they stayed on a file which disappeared deep into the recesses of this machine but, hey presto, surfaced again when he wanted them. He had to try to keep them in order, though, make sure he divided them into subject headings; all a bit much for this scatterbrain who couldn’t organise a pig in a poke.

Most of all, he didn’t need to put pen to paper; he didn’t need to split his head trying to remember which way round the letters went so that his ideas drifted into the clouds and remained woolly. He could spend more time with his beloved sketches, drawings and paintings. How he loved his new-found freedom. He wished he could thank the fellow-inventor who created his saviour.

Buckingham Palace, Pizzas and Body Parts

So now he was ‘surfing’; pretty cool idea, he thought.

“Here it is, look! Buckingham Palace, that’s it. See what I mean? Not as pretty as you is it?

What d’ya say to a quick takeaway, eh Giac’? Pizza’s good. I just talk to this smaller machine here and a chap’ll arrive at the door in ten minutes with a Quattro Formaggi. Amazing!

Remember that mural I did of that huge supper? Didn’t have pizza there did they?”

Hang on a minute! The screen’s gone blank. Wretched machine in the hall needs more coins shoved in the slot. Better churn out a few more paintings and put out my hat in the park. See how much I can make this month. Fancy posing again? When we’ve polished off the pizza it’ll be dark enough for a quick jog over to the graveyard, see if I can find a foot intact. Did you know how many bones the foot has? Vital to record them all in detail, make sure I’ve got it right.”

Anatomy in Detail

Vitruvian Man

Vitruvian Man

Never be without it

He looked around at the mounds of notes and scattered paper. Time to sort them out. Then he’d try France next. Meet up with some old mates. Take Mona on holiday for a while. One thing was for sure, he’d take this contraption with him; never be without it again.

A Short Biography

Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452-1519 (67)

  • born April 1452 near Vinci in Tuscany,
  • apprenticed to sculptor and painter Verrocchio in Florence, Italy,
  • Italian Renaissance artist and sculptor in his own right,
  • one of the great creative minds of his time, also a talented engineer, scientist, inventor and architect, not to mention musician, mathematician, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer
  • well known works include ‘The Last Supper’ (1495 to 1497) & the ‘Mona Lisa’ (1503-1506; she can be seen in the Louvre Art Gallery, Paris and is his only surviving portrait; in Italian she is Monna Lisa or La Giaconda)
  • died near Amboise, France in May 1519
  • thousands of his notebooks survive, revealing writing and drawings on anatomy, geology, flight, optics and gravity
  • he had a ‘butterfly’ mind, shown in his notes which cover random topics over a page, much of his writing in mirror script; he was left-handed
  • thought to have been dyslexic
  • drawings include: bicycle, helicopter, aeroplane, parachute and war machines - 500 years ahead of their time!
  • his work was never published in an ordered and easily understood format
  • he had a detailed understanding of anatomy, of the physics of light and shade, all reflected in his paintings


© 2015 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on August 20, 2015:

peachpurple: Thank you!


peachy from Home Sweet Home on August 20, 2015:

congrats your hub got the prize, whatever it is

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 20, 2015:

My pleasure Ann. Nice to meet you.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 20, 2015:

Thanks, Kristen, for your comment and the vote. Glad you liked it.


Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on July 20, 2015:

Ann, nice work with your response to the challenge. It had tons of great amusing humor to it. Voted up for funny!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on July 08, 2015:

Thanks, John. Your story was of equal merit at the very least; glad we could share. I greatly appreciate your support.


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 08, 2015:

Well done and congratulations on this hub winning the contest Ann.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 26, 2015:

lawrence01: Glad you enjoyed the story. Yes, his inventions were amazing; I'm sure he'd have come up with more things way ahead of their time.

Thanks for reading and commenting.


Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 25, 2015:

At least keep him away from some of his inventions!! The helicopter was one of his. The machines he designed were hundreds of years before their time, if he lived now I wonder what he'd design?

Really enjoyed the story


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 15, 2015:

Akriti Mattu: Thank you for such kind words. I'll look forward to seeing you.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 15, 2015:

Thank you, Catherine, for your kind comment. I'm pleased you liked this.

He must have been quite a character, I think, as his mind was always so active if not concentrated!


Akriti Mattu from Shimla, India on June 15, 2015:

Your posts are so good. Planning to read more on the weekend :)

Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on June 15, 2015:

What a marvelous journey into the mind of Leonardo da Vinci. You brought him to life. Voted up +++

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 15, 2015:

Thank you, Lee. I'm so glad you liked it and thanks for the vote. I've always had a soft spot for da Vinci; such a talented man.


Lee Cloak on June 15, 2015:

An amazing write about an amazing man, a really interesting and entertaining read, very thought provoking as well, best of luck, thanks for a fantastic read, voted up, Lee

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 15, 2015:

Thanks, Alicia. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Have a great Monday!


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 15, 2015:

Thanks, Audrey, it was fun to do! I tried to take his characteristics and adapt them to the present. As he was regarded as a bit strange by his own I suppose it wouldn't bother him being in a completely different environment and his quest for knowledge of all kinds would mean he'd revel in progress and new machines (but then his were way ahead of his time anyway!).

I appreciate your visit, Audrey. Have a great Monday.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 15, 2015:

Thanks, Flourish; I think he was a one-off and a bit of a renegade. Never thought of the hippy streak but, yes, you're right!

Have a great Monday!


Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 14, 2015:

This is amusing, interesting and very creative, Ann! Good luck in the contest.

Audrey Howitt from California on June 14, 2015:

Well this was great fun! What a great response to this challenge!!

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 14, 2015:

How fun, Ann. You pawing him as kind of a hipster.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 14, 2015:

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your generous comment. Yes, it was great fun to do, once I got into it. I read a bit about da Vinci and then the ideas started. It's the first time I've tried something with a little humour so I'm glad you thought it had that.

Thanks for the votes etc. My Sunday has been a mixture of chilling out and housework and I'm about to go off for an early night. It's been a lovely, sunny day and finally warmed up to what June should be!

Great to see you and thanks for your support, as ever.


Faith Reaper from southern USA on June 14, 2015:

Dear Ann,

Your writing is pure genius! What an entertaining hub here and no doubt you have surpassed the challenge being your creative self and the humor here is top notch. I can see da Vinci just as you describe him in today's world LOL.

What a fun challenge.

Up and all the way across tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

I do hope you are enjoying a peaceful Sunday afternoon

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 14, 2015:

Shyron: thank you for your wonderful comment. Glad you liked this and thanks for the votes.


Shyron E Shenko from Texas on June 14, 2015:

Fantastic Ann, I will have to read Dzymslizzy's challenge. I think this is awesome and voted that way.

Thumb-up, UFSBI and shared.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 14, 2015:

Thanks, Dora, for your second visit today; your support is much appreciated. Glad you like this too.


Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 14, 2015:

I like Colleen Swan's comment and say "ditto." I also liked your story response to the challenge. Very creative!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 14, 2015:

Good thinking, Colleen! I think Leonardo would have relished the fact that he could reach more outlets, as well as having help with his diagrams!

Thanks for reading and for adding your valuable input.


Colleen Swan from County Durham on June 14, 2015:

Hi Ann, Your hub got me thinking about the connection between art and the internet. I think an artist of any kind is attempting to communicate and would like to reach as many people as are available. That is why so many frustrated writers have taken to self publishing on the web. It is more vital to be read than to be paid for writing. Hence I think every artist, from Homer on down, would have delighted in the opportunities.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 13, 2015:

Well, thank you, manatita, for your grades and for your kind comment. I'm glad you think this suits his style; I tried to get into his mind a little (teaching dyslexics helps!).

Not so chilly here and we didn't get the thunder storms, just soft, refreshing rain for the new seeds and plants. Hope your day is refreshing too.


manatita44 on June 13, 2015:

So there you are, Ann. The fourth person that I have given all five grades.

You bring out Da Vinci's genius quite well, and your creative and innovative approach is refreshing and well suited to his style.

His was a truly brilliant and illumining mind, with a Heart and Soul of supreme beauty! Blessings on this cool morning here in London.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 12, 2015:

That's great, Lizzy. I'll have to look that up too!


Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 12, 2015:

Thank you for your entry.

BTW--there is also a third book in the prize offerings: I'm putting up a copy of my book of poems, "Tales My Father Told."

I've revised the original post to reflect that the contest now has prizes.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 12, 2015:

Thanks, Shauna. I don't envy you your job judging these. It's great that you and Bill have offered prizes; I've read Bill's book and its great but I didn't know you had a book of poetry - that would be so good to read, I'll look it up.


Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 12, 2015:

Thank you for your entry, Ann. I'm purposely not going to give any hint as to my take on your response to the challenge. Gotta keep it to myself for now!

BTW, this contest does now have prizes that will be awarded to the winner. Both Bill and I will be offering a signed copy of our first ever published work. Mine is a poetry book called Hearts and Rainbows - a Poetic Look at Life, and Bill's offering his first novel, The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today. I've read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 12, 2015:

Frank: Thank you. I think Leonardo was already regarded as eccentric in his own world so I'm sure he could survive now. An inventor would always relish something new and challenging.

Glad this was 'fun'. Good to see you.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 12, 2015:

Thanks, John. Glad you liked it. He was a bit of a rebel and a one-off it seems so hopefully I've managed something about his reactions!


Frank Atanacio from Shelton on June 11, 2015:

this is very good.. I think Leonardo would fit right in.. but he will be playing the old school card... or probably be saying hey.. back in the day we did it..blah blah blah.. this was entertaining and fun to read bless you

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 11, 2015:

Hi Ann, as Bill said, this was "brilliant" and funny. I loved your approach and can imagine Leonardo being just as you describe. Voted up.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on June 11, 2015:

Apparently I shouldn't have published until midnight tonight, but that's 5-7 hours ahead of the US and I forgot all about it! Silly me. This time thing always ties my head in knots.

Thanks for your great comment. I fancied trying something amusing which is not usually my style, so there we are. I enjoyed doing this; great fun!

A 'brilliant'! Who could ask for more?! You are too kind.

Ann :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 11, 2015:

Oh, I thoroughly enjoyed this, which is a good thing since I'm one of the judges. :) Ann, you continue to push your limits and then exceed them, and it's a pleasure to know you. Well done...funny...inventive.....creative....BRILLIANT!


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