I see my grandsons staring back at me.

paulbambersf.jpg

I’m in this picture, but I’m not telling you which one I am. It was taken in the early 50s when I was a pupil at Bamber Bridge Methodists School, which as the name suggests is in Bamber Bridge, Near Preston in Lancashire. I have almost no memory of the others in the picture, apart from my best friend Roger who’s in the back row and a lad called Scott, Surname I think, but he’s one of the ones wearing the NHS specs. Know the sort? The ones that would not slip down the face as they had curly bits around the ear, and wearers tened to mend any broken bits with a bit of sticking plaster. Also present is the well known snake belt, and even a child proudly wearing braces.

We all look reasonably content, because we were told to do so.

I found the print when sorting family stuff and saw my twin grandsons staring back at me, or at least a part of them.

In another envelope a ticket fell out:

Dadsticket222

The date on the back was Dec 45. There’s no doubt about it being my father’s ticket, but why had he kept it. Was it the last ticket after being de mobbed after the Second World War when he would have been going to see my mother and new born brother in St Helens. I’ll never know for sure.

If anyone out there knows, or recognises anyone from the photo, then I’d love to know. I wonder if any of them are on Facebook? Share it if you like.

 

 

 

 

One of 43 Unsporting Moments

The following is just one of the chapters from a book by my late friend Gordon Thorburn. The book: 43 Unsporting Moments was illustrated and in parts inspired by myself and at times our joint ventures into sport.This one, was inspired by the man himself who enjoyed his squash and his beer, more the latter than the former. You can apparently get it on Amazon for 39p, or £17-50!

I did do a drawing for the piece, but frankly it really does not need it.The references to Steffi Graf and Bo Derek do rather date it, but it never fails to induce giggling from me.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


PARTS CANNOT BE REACHED

Germans are impressive, don’t you think? At least, the young ones are — tall, slim, fit, no self-doubts about their physical impact. And do you know why this is? And the girls? Why all German girls have superb figures, lean and louche, like Steffi Graf without the weight training? It’s because they have mixed sauna baths in Germany. Your correspondent was on a squash tour or, more properly, a trip to a squash team tournament in Hanover, when this discovery was made. His team, from a small English market town, had taken six players, one of whom had never been on tour before. Your correspondent, who had been on several, volunteered to step down from his well established position at Number Five string, nobly permitting his virgin colleague to play and thus sacrificing himself to three days of beer and bratwurst.

The gesture of self abnegation having been made and the first two half litres of Sonntagdonnerschnellmeisterhof having been downed, he had this conversation:-Six foot two, muscle-rippling, 100% fit, blond, blue-eyed, 24-year-old German from paratroop training college in Bonn: “Hello, I hear zat you are not playing for Bungleton, and zat you vould like to play for Bonn, jah?” Five foot nine, flabby, 11% fit, balding, red-eyed, 38-year-old British from smoking room of The Plasterer’s Arms: “Oh no, that’s alright,really. Ha ha.” German: “Unfortunately ve haf to play Klaus at Number Von because he is not happy ozzervise. But you play at Number Two kanst.” British: “Number Two? I was only playing Number Five for Bungleton and we’re just a four-court club, not a bloody squash-demonium like Bonn.” German: “Come on, ve know zat all English are good players.” British: “Well, I’m not.” German: “You English! So modest! Ve play you zen at Number Sree. You are on Court Ten at elefen o’clock.” The Germans are as well mannered as they are fit, which was how your correspondent got a game out of that match. He found himself playing the West Germany (at that time) Under 18 National Champion who, despite his lack of experience, could see that it was not quite the accepted thing to do, to wipe up a fat old visiting English 9-0, 9-0, 9-0, even if he could have done it with a seven pound weight attached to each testicle.

Your correspondent did not regret drinking until 4am that morning. There was no point. Had he led a totally abstemious life from Moment Zero he would still have lost that squash match. He thought it unnecessary for their host, the Hanover number one and an expatriate British, to greet him in the corridor with “Finished already?” That was regrettable, but nothing else was, except possibly the fact that he had another match at one o’clock and yet another at four. The sauna, he felt, would rejuvenate him. It would render him, if not fit, talented and determined, then at least serviceable.

About to enter, he could hear two lovers within, kissing with great enthusiasm and eating half-melted ice lollies at the same time. Then, there emerged two god-shaped and naked young German males whose private equipment would have tied for first prize in the produce tent at the Bungleton Show. Your correspondent hoped that the sauna would now be empty of Germans because his own private equipment was much abashed, more a shrunken violet than a symbol of British might such as Nelson’s Column or Churchill’s cigar.

The sauna was empty, and big enough to seat maybe 30 or more on wooden benches like a steeply-rising amphitheatre around the hot coals. Phew! That was better. He could feel the beer beginning to seep from his pores. Who cared if he was fat and had been humiliated by a German boy at squash? So what? He had other qualities. While he was trying to identify such features of redemption, in came a young Ursula Andress, or it might have been a young Bo Derek. She shrugged off her towel and sat, naked, about two yards away.

Taking care to ensure that the meagreness of some parts and the plenty of others was concealed as far as possible, he tried a sally. “I’m playing in the squash tournament” he said, with unsurpassed brilliance of wit, unparalleled aptness, and timing which even George Burns could not have equalled.

“Jah, so my husband is” said Ursula-Bo, massaging some skin lotion into her self-levelling bosoms.This was too much for your correspondent who, wrapping a towel around himself while trying to appear as if he wasn’t, went out and climbed up a ladder set against a gigantic wooden barrel full of water. At the top, he jumped in. When he came to the surface again, he wondered how Vorsprung durch technik managed to keep water in a liquid state when it clearly was so many, many degrees below freezing point. Heclimbed out and looked for his towel.

If swimming in the sea at Saltburn can reduce the male appendage to the size of an infant whelk, then surely the plunge barrel at the squash club in Hanover can render it invisible to the naked eye, especially when the eye, brackets, naked, is Ursula-Bo’s, who can climb plunge-barrel ladders astonishingly well.

Your correspondent decided that he would have a sauna after and before each squash match. In this way he could be doubly humiliated by naked German Apollos and Aphrodites alike, then he could be decimated on the squash court, then at about half past four he could say ‘Sod the lot of you’ and get pissed as a rat.

Thus he could show them that whatever they did, they could not grind him down.

He thought of other squash tours where similar things had happened. There was the one in Holland, for example, when out of three fixtures of five matches each, his team won just one game and therefore lost the tour 45-1. It was culture shock, he said to himself. I mean, finding that the Dutch have chips* not with fish, but with peanut sauce and mayonnaise; that one-year-old Gouda is the best cheese in the world and not at all like the stuff exported to Britain; and that the beer, which has the same name as in Britain, is absolutely excellent.

He remembered driving through customs. A zealous-looking officer had been about to open the rear door of the estate car and thus discover any number of bottles of Geneva gin plus vast quantities of contraband Gouda, when it was mentioned that all that sports kit was from a three-day squash tour. The official immediately lost his appetite for exploration and waved them through.

Of course, if we took strong clrink for long periods before and after squash matches, we must expect to lose. And we didn’t care, which was what made us superior. We didn’t care if we lost. Let our opponents care if they wished. Let them go naming and abjure all temptations. Let them do press-ups and trunk curls, while we warm up with pickled herrings and aquavit.

And then it hit him. That’s why all young Germans are physically perfect.

Well. Let them lead monkish lives of abstinence and self discipline just so they look great in the sauna. Huh!

It was half past three. He wrapped a towel around him, went to the bar, bought a beer, and walked with it into the sauna. There were four naked Ursula-Bos in there, and three male equivalents.

He dropped his towel, made sure they all got a look, and sat to drink his beer. Their faces conveyed a strange mixture of horror, contempt and fear.

OK, so you’ve got Hardy Kruger, he thought. Well, we’ve got Hardy Amies.

Damn! He’d left his cigarettes in the changing room. That would have shown them, wouldn’t it?


When I first posted this earlier today, I managed to get a typo in the headline! Mr Thorburn would have been underwhelmed.

Business speak rationalised.

bigdrumtamboweb2

I’ve been working on my new website, or at least faffing about with it. Feel free to drop in there anytime you feel like it : www.pauldaviescartoons.online

I have some history with websites! I got rather involved with this print company in London that promised that I could link my sites to their service, so that I could offer prints of my work without a lot of effort. Pah! Anyway to cut a long and boring story short I did eventually managed it but it meant getting a ‘self hosted’ website. This was really like putting me into a porche after my years of experience steering a shopping trolley. I did eventually manage it and got a domain to go with it, which was pauldaviescartoons.gallery. Don’t try going there now though, it has been retired, something that some people think I should be!

Again, cutting long story short, the print company got themsleves a bit super wrapped up in the technology, and had to change everything around. I sort of sympathised with them, as it’s something I am wont to do with monotonous regularity. I was left with no alternative than to go and get a ‘shopify’ site. So yet another learning curve. The gallery site is now no more and things have been rationalised.

So if you are still awake out there, then go and spend a little time at my new site.

I’d be very grateful for any comments about it. Incidentally, the print company and I are still on good speaking terms and I can recommend them for quality and service any time.


 

Reading back over the above, this has to be one of my more tedious posts, so to liven things up with yet more business speak, take a look at this:

The italics are exactly what the CEO of a large on-line grocery company said, the bits in between are my translation. I almost lapsed into his business speak with words like rationalised!

“We now have in place a platform for significant and sustainable long-term value creation.”

We are hoping to be still in business next week.

“the leading pure-play digital grocer in the UK, a world-leading provider of end-to-end e-commerce grocery solutions” and added, “our transformation journey is well under way”.

We sell groceries on line, but we are not making any money from it, yet.

He added: “Creating future value now will involve us continuing to scale the business, enhancing our platform, enabling our UK retail business to take advantage of all its opportunities for growth and innovating for the future.”

We’ll fire a few people and use as much automation as possible so that we are still in business next year.

 


 

Incidentally, one of this company’s major warehouses burnt down in a huge fire a week after he uttered these words, which is undeniably grim for them and their workers. I wish them well and a speedy recovery from it, perhaps the bosses words caught fire.

Gordon Thorburn.

rambler

My old friend Gordon has died. This is him in all his glory.

He was a writer, at first a copywriter with an ad agency which is where we met, then later a writer of books of all sorts. His writing could reduce me to helpless laughter and giggling as I tried, sometimes in vain, to get some sort of drawing out from them.

Some of you might have seen a book called “Men and Sheds”, which was extremely succesful, and which he wrote. It’s well worth a read and it was succesful because of the words more than anything. He could be described as the Father of Sheddism, wether he would like that is entirely another matter, which is what “sheddists” are like.

He also ghost wrote for other people less able to deal with words like he could. He did books about Bomber Command and Vets! So a wide portfolio, and to my mind a brilliant writer.

We once walked down the Pennine Way in the 70s from the wrong end. Where most finish the trail in Kirk Yetholm in Scotland we walked down from there, thinking it would be downhill all the way. I let him navigate which was not my best decision, but frankly the only one I could make as I was clueless at maps and the compass. I suggested later as we veered off course yet again, that he could perhaps write a book called “Avoiding the Pennine Way”. He avoided the temptation.

More recently he wrote all the words for a book collaboration with me called ” Some Missing Persons” Take a look at his words here for:Man who mends cars…

manwhomends

 

And even more recently I illustrated another story all from him, here’s another little snippet: 7. The Prime Minister gets the shopping in.

 

Our first book together: “43 Unsporting Moments” is something that I shall return to and perhaps publish on here again  in due course. I read bits of it on the night he died to cheer myself, and it did.

We had quite a lot in common, both from the North, he sadly from the wrong side of the Pennines, but you can’t have everything. On the day he died (  he’d been unwell for a while), I was out walking with our mutual friend Richard, and was ready to post a picture and some words on what a super day we’d had. It was not to be as we heard the sad news later in the day.

He really was unique. We shall miss him and his magic words.


Here’s Gordon’s piece about our Pennine Way trip from the 70s:

WALKING THE RED STRIPE

The Pennine Way could hardly be called sporting these days.  You can see clearly where to go along the entire length of it.  In fact, they’ve even put duck boards down in some places, and built proper footpaths where the treading millions have ploughed their fun-filled furrow.  This is a shame.  It was never meant to be like that.  The Pennine Way might have been called a long-distance footpath but really it was just a route.  Except where it ran along bridleways, Roman roads and such, which were already there, there was no path to see.  You had to find your own way, with no help from previous footprints.  Of course you could buy guide books.  In 1973 there were two.  Wainwiright’s was a marvellously intricate work with hundreds of superb little drawings but it made a couple of basic assumptions which could render it useless to the Pennine Way virgin of that time.  To find the little drawings helpful, you had to be already smack on the route.  And, you had to be walking south to north, from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in Berwickshire.  If you were a bit lost, and walking north to south, and it was pouring with rain, a beautiful Wainwright drawing held upside down is not much good to you. Also, Wainwright made it clear he didn’t like the Pennine Way.  Good luck to you, he said, but you wouldn’t see him on it. 

The other book was Tom Stephenson’s.  He was the blazer of the trail and he described the walk with calm confidence.  You felt reassured.  His book had sections of 1 inch to the mile OS map, with the Way marked by a red stripe.  This stripe was an eighth of an inch wide which meant, on the ground, it was a furlong.  You could easily get lost in a furlong – and, the red stripe did not run down the middle of the page.  Quite often it went close to the edge, and so if you wondered away from the wrong side of the red stripe you fell off the page and the rim of the known world.  Such a thing can easily happen in the Cheviots.

 The map here is a meaningless tangle of wiggly brown contours and the reality is equally puzzling.  Every Cheviot hill looks exactly the same as the other Cheviot hill, a round brown bump – except presumably THE Cheviot, which is a few feet higher than the rest.  I say ‘presumably’ because the red stripe runs over it but I don’t think we did.  We, the writer and illustrator of this book, trying to navigate this 27-mile opening stretch of the southbound Way, had been walking for hours on our first day.  It was clear and sunny, but nothing was recognisable and nothing got any nearer.  We came to a wide stream so we sat on the bank, smoked a cigarette, took off our boots, rolled up our trouser legs and set off across sharp and slippery stones, holding hands to help prevent our heavy packs from causing gravitational disaster. 

About halfway over I was suddenly irritated – on my stomach, my thighs, and the bits the nurse asks you to wash yourself.  Ants? Ants?  I ran for it, the perils of the steam bed suddenly rendered as inconsiderable as a bed of nails might be to a fakir.  Indeed, I remember mentioning fakirs at the time as I left Paul to look after his own centre of gravity.  He seemed to find it funny, watching me with my rucksack still on, hopping around naked from the waist down, but he did help to smite the red hordes as they emerged, confused and angry, from the garments I had carelessly tossed aside in my emotion. 

By 7:30 that night we were done.  We couldn’t find water, except for a trickle in the peat which needed no Oxo cube to colour it, but we camped and tomorrow would be another day.  We set off in a grey and thick mist.  Just over the brow, no more than 50 yards away, was water.  A lake full of it.  Roxburghshire Water Sports Centre, it said – on a sign, that is, not on Stephenson’s map. We were many furlongs off the edge of that by now. 

We asked directions and eventually got onto Hindhope Hill, which is quite near the Pennine Way.  We met a farmer who refused to let us walk across his land but gave us a lift in his Landrover to the bottom of an 80 degree slope, at the top of which was Dere Street.  Dere Street was a bowling-green boulevard, a strider’s delight leading straight to England and the Roman fort at Chew Green.  We couldn’t get lost on this, even in the rain and fog, and so someone had put up signs every six inches.  When we got to Chew Green, where there were at least 50 different ways to go, there was no sign at all.  We should have turned right but we turned left instead and ended up in a hamlet called Makendon.

 The farmer, in purest Northumbrian (the accent, like anything else with any sense, does not cross the Cheviots), said he would give us a lift into Byrness in his Reliant Robin, except we wouldn’t want that as we would want to walk it all.  Paul sat in front, I was in the back, and the weather turned nasty.  At the Byrness Hotel, after a couple of pints, with the throbbings of our feet making waves in the pools of water forming around us and the wind crashing and the rain slashing down outside, we enquired nonchalantly if there were any rooms for the night.  “Or yer not campen oot toneet then, hurr hurr hurr?”  It got worse before it got better.  A few days later we had another bath and bed at the Greenhead Hotel. My drained bath looked like low tide at Barrow in Furness.  My feet looked like the Cheviots, except the blisters were clearly different from each other.  One was two inches long by half an inch high and wide, with a circular satellite blister (or foothill) of half an inch diameter. 

Next day, we found out why we were doing it.  We were not walking at the time, but lying on our backs on the Maiden Way, a Roman B-road, grilling in the sunshine, listening to a million larks and watching a weasel dragging a rabbit along the path.  We gazed at the river below, at The Wall distant behind, and laughed scornfully at the aggressive-looking silhouette of Cross Fell up ahead.  Cross Fell is a very nearly 3000 feet and shaped like the bows of an ice-breaker.  It has its own microclimate on the end called The Helm, which hovers there waiting to make you wish you had never been born.  Going up from the Garrigill side is seven miles of zig-zag, notable for views back up the South Tyne and for its Blue John, a kind of fluorspar, an unprecious stone, used for pendants and ashtrays and found exclusively (it says on the shop door) in the famous Blue John Mines in Derbyshire near Mam Tor. 

How it gets to be on Cross Fell in such quantity I don’t know.  At the top of Cross Fell you can see nothing because the plateau is so wide and flat and you’re in the middle of it.  From the next but one along, Great Dun Fell, with its air-traffic-control mausoleum, and tomorrow from High Cup Nick, you will – if the weather’s right – see the finest view in England. 

Below you is the Eden Valley, where they could have built Jerusalem.  Further over are the Lake District Hills.  You can easily make out Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Blencathra.  Southward are the Howgills were the River Eden rises before flowing up to the glitter of the Solway Firth and the smudge of Carlisle.  Alas, you must turn your back on this glory and start walking down the eastern watershed into Teesdale.  You have completed nine pages of Stephenson’s stripe.  Only 13 to go.

 

 

 

 

Try engaging.

Horn_1

Apologies for the not very cleaned up version of this drawing, and it really is apropo of nothing, apart from perhaps me blowing my tuba, yet again.

I was once asked by a teacher at school why I looked so miserable. I was not aware that I was, it’s just that my face fell like that. I’d like to think that this epiphany made me into the smiling cheerful chappie that I am now, but no, I still look miserable when I’m not.

However of late I have decided to engage, as the phrase goes. I have nothing to sell so it’s not as if I’m back in my role as salesman ” You are looking well, have you had your hair done?”

No, I do it for my own sake. There’s enough misery without me looking miserable. So at the checkout I always ask “How are you today?” which is their script in reverse. The response is generally good and positive, you learn about people and how they work. They generally give you polite and better service, but don’t do it when ordering a lunch, or you will find yourself eating someone else’s dinner as the engagee has got the order wrong.

So go out there and engage, if there is zero response, rise above it and saunter of like someone without a care in the world. They’ll think you’re on “day release” but what the hell.

The last of the trip and the show.

My final pictures of the trip to L A are from Train Town. There are wonderful old trains to peer at and a mini train chugs around the perimiter taking enthusiastic kids and adults in a big circular trip.

From now on it’s back to drawings and images from the UK again.

The recent exhibition in Manchester School of Art ends today, which a was a very pleasant look back, now I’m going to be looking forward. Big thanks to all those who came along to the show.The School found my original registration document, which prooves my average qualification. Phew! At least I passed. I suspect it was a close run thing. I see that tuition fees were £66-00, I hope I was worth it.

Manchesterregdocsf

manchesterposternobleed

 

This is well worth a look.

Midghorseblog

This seems to embody everything that drawing should be about.It has movement and as far as I’m concerned there’s not a thing wrong with this, every mark seems to count and it has energy and dynamism in spades. One can feel the bulk of the horse and the feel of that relaxed rider who like a good horsewoman ( and I’m pretty sure it’s a woman on board here ) feels completely at home on the back of this creature.

You can find more examples of drawings like this right here.Julia Midgley

If you want to see more of Julia’s excellent work then buy yourself a ticket to Manchester and go and see where she learnt how to do this sort of thing.

properjobjan

 

Going on and on!

properjobjan

I warned you I’d be going on and on about this and here I am doing it again. My old friend David, on the far left in the picture below, found this picture of four of us from all those years ago. I have no idea what it was taken for and neither does he. I’m next to David with Alan Lofthouse on my right and Jim Coley on the right. I never really did get a proper job, but the rest were all in very worthy employment. David became Senior Vice President of All things Creative and Master of Tidy Layouts for a huge Advertising agency, Alan became a Master Wordsmith. Jim , who sadly died in 1981, was a brilliant graphic designer and had started his own design consultancy in the late 70s. This is a rare photograph of him. I scraped by living off my drawings of people with rather large noses. Someone has to do it.

Fourmusketeers