Artists work for no money, but then it’s fun is it not? Scoot!

I suppose I should have known at the time. It’s not the first time someone has said ” I’ve got this great idea for you, but you’ll have to do the drawings for free”. Perhaps I should have walked then but I took it all on with my usual enthusiasm. Hours of unpaid work. But then drawing cartoons is not really work is it? Aaaaaaargh!

I did the drawings and then waited to make my fortune from the entrepreneur who started me down this path to penury. Greetings cards were all that came out of it and I saw not one bean from the project.

It was actually a good idea. If you’ve not experienced the world of scooters then prepare to be surprised. Those little scooters that kids fly around on are brilliant bits of very strong engineering and kids of all ages are wont to do stunts and tricks on them. Locally there’s a “Scooter Park” where they can zip up and down ramps and come to as little harm as possible. As part of my research into the project I went along to take a look at the place and watch the little demons buzzing around like angry wasps, doing all sorts of tricks and flips. It was a bit like skateboarding with a wheeled plank. Some of these scooter riders are tiny, others look like they might just have left home. They even have World Championships for this sort of thing. Check it out from the link.

Anyhow, going through some recent history I came across my artwork for the cards. I have now decided to exploit the idea myself a little more and these drawings are available as prints. For me, these days they are unusual, first of all because they are in colour. Rare for me to do that these days, and secondly the subject manner is off my usual patch of crumpled adults. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed doing them. “Scooterists”, as I call them, buzzing around the page. If you go and buy a print for your scooterist you run the risk of making me think that the whole thing was a good idea in the first place. Scoot!

How would you like it Sir?

barber

My almost 3 year old twin grandsons dislike having their hair cut. I was reminded of this when this drawing popped out of the archives. It’s from the book Some Missing Persons writen by my late friend Gordon Thorburn, with added contributions from myself as the drawer and the provider of inspiration. This particular chapter bewailed the passing of the traditional barber. It’s well worth a re-read from this link.

I know I’m not supposed to like my own drawings but this is a favourite, not least as it was done years before the twins popped out, and the small boy looks quite like both of them. I like too the barber himself. I drew him from memory. I was uncarcerated in a boarding school for some years and they employed what appeared to be ex servicemen with a cruel streak to drive clippers over our heads so that we looked like corn fields just harvested by a rusty combine harvester. I think we all hated it. As they were also probably on piece work there was no inane barber chat, just the smell of hair, DNA and barber’s bad tobacco breath. So none of that “What’s on for you today?” or “Something for the weekend?” ( Not that we had any idea at the time what the last phrase meant but heard it now and again when we had proper haircuts at home, down the local barber.) Local barber was, of course, quite different to the scissor brothers at school. My own described himself as an “Entreprenewer” and he drove an e-type jag, a car of sublime beauty. He planned to open a nightclub in Skemersdale just outside Liverpool ( an area at the time of such poverty and desolation that a night club seemed odd even to me ), and as far as I know he may well have done. He specialised in beatle haircuts popular at the time, something the Scissor brothers at school would have had a minor turn if they had been asked to perform one.

I was reminded by the drawing too of the inside of a barber shop, with the faux leather banquette seats where were seated in line with the other males wanting haircuts. No female ever entered this area and my drawing is a tad inaccurate as the seats would have been in almost constant use, and as polished as a brilliantine salesman’s suit. Haircuts were all that was on offer, although there were basins, I can recall no one having their hair washed.

I had my own sparse locks trimmed just the other day, by a local woman barber. I got the ‘haircut chat’, but no mention of the weekend thank goodness. There were still tins and bottles of pale green liquid trying to be like the old days, but it just was n’t the same, again thank goodness!

 

 

Phone aerobics

Phone aerobics

Little drawing with the poor chap’s foot cut off. I used to do work for a company that specialised in improving signals for mobile phones. Remember when one used to wave the phone in the air to try and get some reception? I do. I recall going on holiday to France with the family and some work to be done, buying a mobile phone on the way to the ferry at Portsmouth, so that I could keep in touch with my clients while on tour of France’s deepest South West. I recall having to do some phone aerobics then too. But not in my ‘Y fronts’.

I also recall sending the roughs of the drawings from the local French post offices via their fax machines. It was a service they offered. Sounds like the dark ages these days. Those were the days when artwork was drawn on board and would be sent to London on a train ( Red Star Parcels ). Crikey we thought we were so on the ball.

 

Been there?

Beenthere

I’ve just been doing some drawings for a client who is the son of a previous client and friend. So it’s good to keep connections. My new young client is in SEO and helps companies increase visits to their websites. He seems to know all about these things and has been heling me to get more visits to another project of mine: looks good on the wall

Apparently putting links in like the one above help with generating visits, so feel free to click on it!

Anyhow back to the drawing above. It’s simple enough really and it follows the brief. It’s the sort of brief that I have had dozens of times over my career. MD sitting at his desk celebrating rocketing sales figures. Of course these days he would be celebrating with a cup of coffee ( or is that organic green tea? ), but in the old days he would have had a massive cigar filling his massive office with a cloud of winning smoke as well as a bottle of champers on ice and a very comely secretary sitting on the desk. Things have changed, but he’s still a bloke in the picture and there’s not a lot of signs of a female executives bursting through the glass ceiling. Now there’s a visual.

Back to my other project :did you notice another little link there in an unashamed attempt at guiding you to where you ought to go? It’s about blank walls. I have a thing about them and think they should be suitably adorned and together with a group of excellent artists I have devised a scheme to get their work on such walls. I love working with them, as a freelancer working from home this can be a solitary business at times and it’s great to see what all these artists produce, and to help them get their work out there, as well as having the social contact. Just to give you an idea of the sort of thing that you can see on there here are some sample parts of their images.

Needless to say there are links to their pages from their names, and lots more information on how you can go and buy their excellent works. I’m hoping to be having a large cup of coffee from my executive suite in front of a chart of booming figures quite soon. ” Deidre? Put the champers on ice please.”

braceslide

Graham Brace

Elevforblog

Elisabeth Le Vierge

abslide

Al Blethyn

sallylooks

Sally Williams

We have a facebook page  as well if you feel like a trip over there, if you do then please like it for us. Remember it will help rid the world of blank walls.

“Oooh! Just like bought”

My Aunty Winnie was a cakemaker and a true Northerner. Whenever we moved house which was frequent, she’d turn up on the doorstep of the new house with a meat and potato pie. Her meat and potato pies were legendary, and delicious. Her husband, my Uncle Jack was a quiet kind of chap who would utter hardly a word. He’d had a career as a shop manager. Not a supermarket, they did not exist at the time, just a small grocery store. Whenever they came for tea, which was not that often, Jack would sit in the corner sucking on a pipe and saying very little. Winnie made up for it, chatting about everything and her conversation would be interspersed with ” Jack says: ”  followed by his pearls of wisdom. We never got them from the horse’s mouth. My father whispered to me one time, ” Jack must do all his talking at home, says nothing here”. My father and him got on in a way, never actually saying anything to each other probably helped. Jack was a conciencous objector during the War so it was probably just as well that he kept quiet, as my father had had a trip through Normandy, France and Belgium that he’d not anticiptated when he joined.

My mother, whose cooking I loved and miss to this day, used to bake when Jack and Winnie were expected. Usually something quite simple like a jam sponge, and Winnie’s accolade was always the same. “Oh Dorothy, this is lovely” she’d say, then the ulitmate accolade: ” Just like bought”. My mother took it as a compliment which it was.

Recently I’ve had a conversation with my daughter about cakes. She, like me, loves the industrial cakes one can buy from the supermarket. The ones that say on the packaging: “Just like you’ve baked at home!” They aren’t but it’s odd that the two of us like them so much with their vivid yellow sponge and exact depth of of ‘buttercream’ and jam. They are nowhere near as good as the ones my mother made, but they do taste “Just like bought”.

Vicky Sponge

This is Vicky Sponge

She’s one of my series of drawings of people with apt names, for more go and take a look at my site here  As usual, thanks for dropping by my site and listening.

 

 

Very good telly

I don’t watch a lot of telly but just finished watching Race across the World. Now I know one has to suspend belief to a degree, after all who’s doing the filming? But this was very good telly. Only downside was the winners were from Yorkshire, but you can’t have everything. If you get the chance watch it.

Doorbell required, you’ll be needing a toilet roll then.

I’m not sure of the randomness of algorithms but this is the result of shopping online.

A simple task of looking and then ordering a doorbell brings up this suggestion and confirms that the computer is not always right. We have, like any self respecting middle class family, a comfortable supply of what we naturally call  “bathroom tissue”. What we do not have is a handy fire extinguisher, the other suggestion, which was the obvious result of checking out the toilet rolls.

bogroll

The Suitable Candidate

Gordonpenninesgordonweb

This is my late friend Gordon when we were walking the Red Stripe. I went to his wake just the other day and just before I set off I found this image of him taken in the 70s. It’s taken from a 35mm slide found in the corner with a load of other unrelated pictures. I suspect this was taken just before his feet got too blistered to carry on, which in the circumstances was not really surprising as the rucksack in the foreground was what I was carrying and the one next to him was his load.

In true Gordon tradition, as the erstwhile King of Sheddism, his wake was in the pub near to where he lived with his family. I’m told that he had his own seat in the place. Known locally as the Low House it was a throwback to what pubs are really like, but with some improvement on the food, no sight here of the pickled eggs of the 70s, or the plastic pork pie covers with internal resident fly. Located in a little village in the middle of Suffolk in a landscape as flat as a pancake one of our mutual friends mused: ” Why do they call it the Low House”? It was obvious to the rest of us, “Well it’s about six feet lower than the other pub in the village”. Hardly at the bottom of the hill as they don’t do that sort of thing in this area.

Our mutual friend Richard, a man who made me redundant in the 1970s and who is still a good friends. We drove across country. Me driving and Richard giving me the odd instruction from my phone sat nav as the lady therein seems to be lost for words when the engine starts. We’d worked with Gordon in those pre -redundancy days, he wrote the words and we tried to do the pictures. In the main we were involved in trying to get people to apply for work in a range of jobs, from Bus and Train Drivers to headier management posts. Here Gordon spent much of his time persuading clients not to use such phrases as “…the suitable candidate will” and we would often hear him muttering: “what about the ****ing unsuitable candidate for crying out loud?”

During our stay at the pub, some of Gordon’s old school friends gave us all some stories about the man himself and what led him to sheddism. It’s when people you don’t know talk about people you do, that you discover that there was always more to them than meets the eye. This was nowhere truer than with Gordon. As one friend said, although he had this outer rough Yorkshire carapace, he had a very soft centre, bit like a Belgian truffle, I laugh at the comparison as he would be naturally outraged.

My companion on the trip Richard was supposed to give a short address, but was not aware of it, so demurred, but has had time to put his own thoughts on paper and spread the word about one of our closest friends. Here’s what Richard would have said:


“Gordon and I met around 1969 when he arrived at the advertising agency where I worked. We hit it off straight away: two working-class lads who didn’t come from London, both with similarly liberal views, an anarchic sense of fun and a love of the odd pint. The people who come up with the ideas – they’re called creatives these day (he would have winced) – combine writing skills with artistic ones. Gordon and I became one of those teams.

We worked together and socialised together and after my marriage went toxic Gordon invited me to join him in a flat he shared with Jim Hannen (who can’t be with us today, much to his regret) and so we ended up living together as well.

In fact, I am partly responsible for Gordon and Sue moving to East Anglia. The flat also holidayed together and one Easter we laid a map on the table and someone pointed to the Suffolk coast and said, ‘let’s go there instead of the West Country’. And so it was that we descended on a little town called Southwold. Which had its own brewery. Result.

Something that hasn’t been mentioned is Gordon’s love of games. Mainly the sort that his imagination created. This is something I wrote in my autobiography a few years ago. Apologies to all Scots present:

We seem to have worked very hard – I recall lots of praise being heaped upon us – but all I really remember is having a riot of a time. We spent lunchtimes in the pub next to the office, played office cricket with a plastic ruler and a rolled-up ball of paper, made up a complicated game involving rolled-up balls of paper (again) and plastic cups. It was called ‘Sleicht it doon the Glen’ (no idea how to spell it) and had a Scottish flavour and arcane rules; you could score with a ‘Tannockbrae’ and a no-ball was indicated by shouting ‘nae bimble!’ We were tolerated partly because we were ‘creative’ but mainly because we delivered the goods.

Eventually, we both moved on but have always stayed in touch. He will always be over my shoulder checking my grammar. Only last September – the last time I saw him – he tutted about my use of an exclamation mark. And there will always be that explosive snort of laughter. Never to be forgotten”

Richard Shiner, 25th March 2019


 

This is an image I found taken in the 70s of most of the team who inhabited those offices in London and where the odd game took place. Norman, the man in the middle, was the chief typographer and helped me greatly in those times. I think the bloke that I have forgotten was another copywriter working with Gordon, but his name escapes me now.

Happy times.

 

Gordonoffice

 

 

Put the kettle on!

Teabreak4pIn a crisis everyone knows that the answer is to put the kettle on. I did this drawing in the 70s when we forget that we had loads of crises, and much tea was drunk.

So get the kettle on, milk no sugar, industrial strength. Does Teresa want one?