Side effects

I’ve been lucky to avoid taking medication until recently when I was obliged to start on some to get rid of an infection. As a bit of light reading I took a glance at the side effects for these anti biotics which were going to rescue me from pain and discomfort. Who writes this stuff? It’s all very careful and as a result I was tempted to the following a cartoon. Laughter being the best medicine and it’s the only one with multiple side effects that are not remotely harmful apart from deep guffawing which might put your back out, but a good sneeze can do that too.

I’m on the mend.

The biggest beast on the plot

Howard Hughes the American entrepreneur who alledgedly went a bit of the rails later in his life, invented a plane which was nicknamed ” The Spruce Goose”. It was apparently huge, made of wood, and did fly now and again. I wonder if Hughes was inspired by the pigeons on an allotment plot. The beasts that frequent my allotment are more than well fed. Only American Style Federal Penitentiary style protection will save crop from decimation.

These pigeons are so big they can barely take off, and it looks like quite a lot of effort goes into getting them up to a reasonable flying height. With their guts full of not just mine, but other plotters produce.

This is a drawing done for a small book I’m working on for my grandchildren, all about the monsters on the plot. It’s intended to be in colour in due course, but I always like doing the line bit as it’s all without computer. I’ll be posting more of them as we go along and might post the odd spread from the book.

This one inspired from a recent visit when one of these beasts seemed to be flapping in a panic to get way from an empty plastic bottle on top of a cane that had spooked him. Once in the air they fly and swoop like swallows, it’s just that take off and landing can be a problem with all that excess weight of my vegetables.

“The dog ate my homework”

You’ve heard the excuses and you just know it does not ring true. In the case of Dominic Cummings here in the UK, he broke the lockdown that he himself had advised on. He came up with the very feeblest of excuses which included testing his eyesight by driving to Barnard Castle. It was even worse than the dog ate my homework as in his case he cannot find the word sorry in his dictionary. So we are adding a new word to the dictionary. The word: a noun, is Barnard Castle, and I’m sorry for anyone living there that from now on it means something else.

This graphic and others explaining the use of the word is now available on Red Bubble on everything from T shirts to facemarks. Lets get the word adopted into the English language so that no-one forgets what a feeble excuse looks like.

“Keep Hauling” played and sung on the banks of the Severn.

A day out by the River Severn at a social distance from my good friend and melodeon player Robin Burton. We had a programme, song first, then a circular walk from the Old Passage Inn on the banks of the Severn. A light lunch on the banks of the river, complete with a small glass of Stroud Brewery Tom Long Bitter beer, before turning back to the village of Arlingham, and then back to the cars at the Inn. Another great day out and a fine rendition of what sounds a tad like a sea shanty but isn’t, and is in fact a modern song.

I’d recommend singing by a river to anyone. I chose not to join in on this one, apart from a grumble about a helicopter coming to spoil the peace at the end. Enjoy.

I could not wait to publish this,
so apologies for leaving in my unintended intro and my comment at the end
about the helicopter.
The middle bit needs no cutting.

This impressive barn was on our track back and in the village, it looked like it has been abandoned, broken doors and no sign of the animals, just what they left behind. Rather a sad site really.
The wagtails liked it though.

Far Fetched Fish

In these times of lockdown, now being relaxed, so a sort of parole where the parole board are a bunch of people who should really be locked up, I’ve taken to fish.

I was used to buying fish from the supermarket, but as I’m not visiting these places any more and will try not to for many months now, I had to look for another fish source. Fish sauce? No stop it.

Some of the country’s best fish comes from Cornwall and I found a supplier who said they would send me a box of fresh fish and would deliver the next day. I was not disappointed. The fish was simply superb, and what we did not eat then could easily be frozen on the day. It came packed in a polystyrene box with ice bags and insulation inside, and it came the next day. I told my sister in law all about it and as a treat ordered a box for her. This is when this starts to unravel. She lives in Shropshire, not the dark side of the moon, but a bit out of the way. My order came as promised the next day. Her order did not turn up. She’d taken the day off work to receive it.

I don’t normally spend my days watching parcels on tracking ‘wotsits’ but was obliged to do this now. The fish, both hers and mine left Cornwall, drove past the end of my road in Gloucestershire, and went to Newcastle. That’s around 400 miles. Mine then turned around and swam back to Gloucestershire, another 250 miles. Hers stopped in Kidderminster for the night: 230 miles before its eventual delivery the next day to Shropshire, another 45 miles.

She, wisely, thought better of eating the fish. Our was fine, delicious. Despite this I have had second thoughts about buying fish from the same….source. The suppliers tell me they send fresh fish to Dubai, and that it arrives within 72 hours and is fine. Both these facts are madness really. I’m sure the fish they send to Dubai arrives and is edible, I know the fish sent to me has been superb, but I just can’t bring myself to make these fillets go all that way to get to me. It’s all just too far fetched.

I’m looking for another source.

Has he been inside?

We found a lot of the people on this image of myself and my fellow students at Manchester College of Art c 1969, but there was one notable exception and that was the talented bloke who did the drawing. He’s the big guy in the front row near the middle wearing dark framed glasses by the name of Anthony Woolaston. We’ve none of us really seen or heard from him for over 50 years although one of our number read a news report some years ago saying that an Anthony/Tony Woolaston has been banged up for armed robbery. So has he been inside?

No, he’s been in Leicester.

We spoke together for the first time in 51 years just last week. And what has he been up too? Well, not robbing banks that’s clear. He built up a very successful illustration and design business in the Leicester area with some big clients. In fact in some ways his career mirrored my own in some ways, we even had interviews back in the 60s with the same ad agencies. Then he, like me, started by being a visualiser and then built up his business with a range of illustrators and designers. He stepped back from that a few years ago, but like me too, still dabbles. Lovely word that: dabbles. He was relatively invisible for the last few years probably because he had no real presence on social media but that’s changing. He sounded like a thoroughly nice bloke and I have promised to buy him a chicken dinner when we are released from plague laws. Perhaps we should meet in Barnard Castle.

We did not look hard enough, we should have known that he was from Leicester, and that he might have gone back there.

When we were at Manchester he acted as a model for me in a poster project for the Shakespeare play: The Tempest. I had the idea that if he wore a stocking mask he would look frighteningly like Caliban. He did.

Stocking mask, bank robbery, big bloke. You might begin to see why I might not have looked quite as hard as I should.

In addition, the image above that he produced, he made into a print and sold to his fellow students for about 20p each. On or around the last day he came into the college and said to me: ” Some bastard has knicked the poster advertising my poster, would you believe it? ” I muttered in agreement keeping the aforementioned knicked poster safely hidden in my folio bag. And that’s how I got it for this, I kept it. It’s done 51 years inside and no time off for good behaviour.

Sorry Tony.

Green relief

Out and about on a socially distanced walk in the vivid green British countryside with my good friend Robin, the best of company, with a picnic and a beer brought along named after the inventor of the lawn mower: Edwin Budding. I can’t recall a much better day in many respects, except when we last did it, without distancing and when the pubs were open. It was so green I thought my camera, locked down for weeks, might have a bit of a ‘turn’.

This tree looks like a giant that’s fallen with his arms out and his mouth open, he’ been there for months
Cow parsley on the top meadow, Robin taking it all in: nice hat.
Down the valley and a lovely little field gate

Down by the canal, water low, not surprisingly as it’s been dry for weeks
Willow and reeds on the canal as we walk the towpath
The Valley bottom on the way back before the climb through the woods to finish.

A bastion of family.

My mother’s sister Alice, her husband Stan and their son Peter, my cousin. This photograph was probably taken by one of those beach photographers that one used to find in British seaside resorts in the 1950s. I can see that Alice is not too enamoured by the prospect of having it taken, she never really liked having her picture taken much. She and my mum were so close that she would lick the chocolate off my mum’s caramels as she did n’t like it. She did like the caramel which Alice left for her. In many ways they were alike and in others quite unlike each other. Stan was the archetypical working class man, a fitter at a large glass factory in St Helens, he kept their fleet of trucks on the road. St Helens is sometimes known as Glasstown as it was the home of Pilkington Glass. My Grandfather worked there, my Aunty Mabel worked there, but Stan worked for United Glass, another massive glass company in the town. The two of them made their home in the town in a small house which they never moved from, and it was there that they brought up my cousin Peter. They were devoted to him, working hard to give him every advantage they could, which he repaid in full.

In many respects he was brother number three to me, a year older than my older brother. He was a good humoured and friendly boy and man, who cared deeply about his family, both his parents and later his wife and children, then grandchildren.

Our times together were really in the 50s and the 60s, and then we sort of drifted apart. We kept in touch, but it was a bit of a tenuous link as Peter stayed for a while in the North and I went South. We met only, it seemed at funerals, the most recent my father’s around 4 years ago, when Peter and his wife Cathie came to pay their respects to my Dad. A show of respect that I shall always remember

Peter has just died. He suffered from a form of Alzheimers. A cruel disease that was cruel to him. Neither my brother or I can go to his funeral due to the Coronavirus rules, so we cannot voice our thoughts to his family as he did for us when one of ours left this earth.

I would not normally post or write publicly about these things but I need to tell people what a great bloke he was. How he was an important part of my growing up. That I’m sorry that I did not see him more in later years. That I mourn his passing.