Damp Skoolboy

I like to get out for a walk, whatever the weather and the other day, it was whatever the weather. Rain coming down like stair rods and this called for full kit walking gear. Well “dubbined” boots, that is greased up to keep the wet out of my socks, weather proof coat with inner warm lining zipped up to the chin with hat to steer any drips away from the face area, and rain proof over trousers, which I generally refer to as ‘nipple trousers’ as the waist band reaches this area. I can go out in almost any amount of rain in this kit and the inner me stays as dry as a biscuit.

As I was tramping the streets on my way back to base camp in front of me was “damp skoolboy”. Dressed in his usual thin shirt, skool blazer and cheap grey blotting paper trousers he trudged ahead of me on his way home. He seemed completely impervious to the rain and did’nt even have a hat. Following on behind him I felt like Nanook of the North. I imagine that once he got home, his mother would have squeezed the moisture out of him like a sponge before parking him in front of the fire to fill the room with evaporating steam. He would then have probably shrunk to even smaller proportions.

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The Best Dressed Man in the Village


This is another of the pages from my collaboration with Gordon Thorburn and our book Some Missing Persons, now very nearly out of print. Gordon’s site If you are a new visitor to my site there are others scattered around here like this one Man who mends cars…


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A vacancy has arisen in the post of Honorary Village Figurehead, Titlingham St Margaret. Would suit retired major, colonel or wing commander with wife extant. Applicants must be prepared to chair Parish Council, school governors, et cetera.

Naval officers tended to retire on the coast, so the villagers of Titlingham, deep in the heart of Suffolk, always expected a senior soldier or airforce chap to come and lead them in their battles against the swirling tides of progress, and they were not disappointed.

The wife (extant), who was called Susan or Verity, also did chairing, of the village fete committee and the WI, and organised the flower rota in the church. She bought all her provisions at the village shop apart from, obviously, a few things that had to be sent from Fortnums.

He, known universally as The Major or, at a pinch, The Squadron Leader, drank halves of best, with a handle, three times a week at the pub. He’d hob-nob indiscriminately with the vicar, the poacher, the gamekeeper, the butcher, the horse dealer, the doctor (qv), the goat woman (also qv), the gardener up at the house and the mechanic who looked after his old Wolseley. He’d never tell secrets to the village policeman, not that the village policeman would want to know anyway.

The Major, you see, was not the squire or the lord of the manor. The Major was of the village. He was primus inter pares and most definitely primus, but he clipped his own hedge, grew his own roses, and called all the men (except the vicar and the doctor) by their first names, likewise the daughters thereof.

He doffed his brown trilby to the ladies and never smoked his pipe at the nativity play. His shoes (brown Oxford brogues with leather soles, hand made) were always polished to a mirror sheen. He generally wore one of his collection of six three-piece Savile Row tweed suits but could also be sighted on sunny afternoons, walking his two spaniels, in crimson or mustard cord trousers and cashmere cardigan.

He’s gone now. Defeated. Half the village is weekenders and commuters. In any case, retired officers these days don’t keep their ranks as titles and move to the country. Many of them didn’t even go to public school. Unable to retire gracefully, they write books, join security firms or become pop stars.

The poacher’s gone too. Can’t afford the house prices. A merchant banker, retired at 45, bought the old rectory the major used to live in and planted Leylandii all around it. The shop has shut, the pub is a restaurant with bar, and the school is struggling for numbers. A doctor from town holds a weekly surgery in the village hall and nobody has seen a policeman for months.

It’s sad, really. Very sad.

Man who mends cars…

Sometime in the 1970s, a design engineer had the idea of putting a computer in a car. At that instant, an entire breed was sentenced to death and we can expect Man Who Mends Cars to be virtually extinct in the western world by about 2015AD. Then, there will remain only a few isolated individuals within whom will reside the last shreds of knowledge about how to repair cars rather than psychoanalyse them and reconstitute them with plug-in components.

By then, except in Famagusta and at Classic Car rallies, you will never see a Ford Cortina nor any kind of Austin, Morris, Triumph or Hillman. All old-style VW Beetles will have been squashed flat. No Citroen Deux Chevaux will be worth flogging. People will think the Fiat 500 is the Italian share index.

There will be no cars left without fuel-injected air-conditioned sports warranties and three-year ABS alloy airbags. Every car will bong at you to say that you have left the door open, the handbrake is on and you haven’t fastened your belt yet. Equally newsworthily, every car will tell you that it’s cold outside and there are roadworks on the M6. Every car will have more buttons on its radio/CD dooberry than were once considered necessary for the entire dashboards of twenty MG-TCs.

Meanwhile, Man Who Mends Cars looks out onto the road and sees a never changing stream of vehicles which are incomprehensibly complex inside and whose outsides cannot be told one from another. Eventually, the only task within his capabilities will be changing a tyre.

Today, if you want to spot Man Who Mends Cars, you will need to go to a small country town (non-commutable) or the back streets of a poor area of the city. Look for a rusty sign saying National Benzole or Pratt’s Motor Spirit. There, inside a dark cavern with a rectangular hole in the floor, will be a stove burning sump waste. You will see some motor cycles (BSA C15, Ariel Square Four, Triumph Tiger Cub, Norton Dominator), the bonnet and wheels of a Riley Elf and several wiring harnesses on a hook. In the chaotic area designated ‘office’, there will be a picture of a Jowett Javelin, some horrible items to do with making tea, and a girlie calendar for 1972 provided by RW Grimbagg & Sons (Abrasives) Ltd.

The man himself, in a dark blue over-all, will be sitting on a bentwood chair eating a king prawn jalfraisi, part-payment for a job he did last year on the Taj Mahal owner’s daughter’s Mini Moke.manwhomends

Man who helps man who mends cars…

Several members of this migratory group attach themselves to each specimen of the main variety. They take it in turns to stand around watching while drinking tea.


Searching through my records of work done I came accross this gem with words again by my chum Gordon Thorburn  Gordon’s words

It comes from our book of some years ago called Some Missing Persons and I could not resist posting it here after my last blog. The artwork will feature in my exhibition later in the year.

In my time wandering the roads of Gloucestershire as Print Rep Man, I came across a small number of this species and they were always a joy to work for. One in particular who’s garage is on the old A38 south of Gloucester had his entire family photograph album on the wall of his workshop and proudly pointing to a small baby in a faded photo told me ” that one there got married last week”. He also had this cheque on the wall which is really quite self explanatory.

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…and here’s the man himself, as far as I know he’s still mending cars.

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Paul: Rolls-Royce, Barclays UK, and Mayku are looking for candidates like you.

This is copied from another of those social media places that I’m signed up to. Linked in to be exact. So Rolls Royce are looking for a seventy year old cartoonist, brilliant. I suppose after the banking crisis then Barclay’s too might need a bit of cheering up, and as for Mayku? Well with a name like that you could n’t really make it up could you? Or did some genius in the branding department say in his briefing: ” We need an new name for this company, and we sort of make things for people ( and they do! but not quite as simple as that, take a look at their site Mayku site it’s really fascinating and at least the email to me prompted me to have a peek ) Then someone suggested: Mayku. All those around the table looked at each other thinking this was possibly the naffest name they had ever heard, but when the person in charge said ” Brilliant” there was much nodding of heads and mutters of ” Cool” and “Interesting” ( A word many use for absolutely crap. )

I’m tempted to aply for the jobs they have directed me to, but I may have to be a bit creative about myself to get on the short list. In fact I’d probably have to rebrand myself completely, and lose a few years too. Still if the jobs are in London the bus pass and Senior Railcard will come in very handy.

So that Barclay’s won’t be too disappointed I’m posting this chap from a book I did with my old chum Gordon Thorburn called “Some Missing Persons”. He wrote the golden words. Gordon’s site


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Bank Manager

The letter was from the Wold Newton and Yangtze Kiang Ship Canal Penny Bank, signed by Nicci Gristhorpe, Valued Client Liaison Supervisor (Non Internet). It said:

We are delighted to offer you, Valued Client, our new Platinum Card plus Gold Cards for all your relatives (minimum age two years), and a personal loan facility of £50,000 for any purpose. Projects thus funded for other Valued Clients recently have included a wasp farm, the restoration of a complete set of four early Victorian wooden legs, and an armed uprising in the Dutch Antilles. Call your Personal Banker today. 

Meanwhile, let me take this opportunity of informing you of our restructured range of Valued Client Service Furnishments. Overdrafts – 2% above base rate, compounded daily. Writing letters to offer overdrafts – £50. Responding to requests for overdrafts – £50. Confirming overdrafts by letter – £50. Writing letters to apologise for one of our Habitual Patron Prudence Deliberators mentioning your overdraft in public in a loud voice – £50. Additional charges – £25. Supplementary charges – £12.50. Other maintenance and referral charges – £50.

With the letter scrunched up in his hand, the recipient set off for his branch, expecting to see his bank manager and old friend, Mr Hubert Duvet. Imagine his chagrin when he was greeted, not by Duvet of the black jacket and striped trousers but by a forceful young woman in clunky shoes, a short-skirted pale blue suit and a tight, white, low cut T-shirt. She said “Welcome to the WNYKSCPB? I am your Personal Banker? And you are?”

“I want to see Duvet!” he cried. “He knows who I am. See, that’s my name, on my leather Wold Newton cheque book cover that they gave me thirty years ago, there, in gold blocking, Godfrey Horsforth.”

“Godfrey, Mr Duvet has gone?” said the young woman, not noting the wince her familiarity engendered. “He’s taken early retirement? We are the masters now?”

She showed him to a chair and sat at her desk in the middle of the mauve-carpeted open plan arrangement which had replaced the oak-doored offices since his last visit. “I’d like to explain our continuous review policy of service improvement?” said the WNYKSCPB/PB. “We are making a number of positive pre-adjustments to secondary fiscalate inputs on an on-going basis in order to ensure maximum capability of meeting customer needs?”

Mr Horsforth stood, went to the counter and made arrangements to transfer his all to the Filey Fishermen’s Friendly Society.

It is probable, scientists believe, that a variety of Bank Manager was Small Provincial Town Stockbroker, distinguishing mark being the surname followed by ‘& Co’ engraved on the office window. Owing to extinction, this belief is now impossible to prove either way.


 

 

The nobel prize for knitwear goes to…

I don’t normally make New Years resolutions. I tell myself I don’t want to devalue the previous years wonderful-ness when actually there’s plenty of stuff I could improve on, I am just too lazy. Since I haven’t posted anything since last year (ironically, because I am so lazy) I thought I would list my more achievable […]

via It’s January…sort your shit out. — t w o b o y s o n e m u m


 

I don’t normally re-blog but this one is worth a read, and it’s family.

“I shall only buy quality knitwear”

It’s not my New Year’s Resolution, but it came from someone close to me and was delivered as if the words were more like ” I shall seek to achieve the Nobel Prize for Peacemaking”. For myself I’d chosen a resolution of similar insignificance:

” I shall switch my computer off for 2  days per week and do drawing on paper”

I’ve so far not managed mine a the knitwear fanatic has not put her resolution to the test just yet.

There’s a reason for my switch off resolution and it’s simply do do more practical drawing on paper and not to ‘mess about’ in photoshop until darkness falls each day. I assume knitwear fanatic has become allergic to anything that is not pure wool knitted by artisans. Is there such a thing as artisan knitwear, like there is for artisan bread?
£3-50 for a loaf of bread?

I’m working on a set of drawings that are about names and work, as well as another separate theme on Pont, a cartoonist from the 1940’s who did drawings about the British
( See  The British and a fondness for two wheeled travel in leather. ) Drawings are going quite well and it’s fun to do. I’ve been giving some thought to what I might call the exhibition and at the moment ” Any Excuse to draw” is favourite. If anyone has any other thoughts on what to call it then don’t hesitate to let me know, I’m always happy to recycle ideas as my own….” Recycled Ideas” there’s another one. “Quality nit wear?”

Here’s a rough of one of the drawing I’m working on. When I worked in print I was lucky enough to work for loads of lovely customers and the odd odd one. People in alternative therapies were the oddest. In particular women who practised relaxation therapy. They were, in my experience, the most demanding and least relaxed people I ever had to deal with. Lorry drivers and transport companies, on the other hand, were invariably the opposite.

This lady is a relaxation therapist. Her name:Petra Freud. I’ll publish the final nearer the time in August.Thanks for dropping by.

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Eat your heart out Andy Warhol.

He was reputed to have made the most tedious films ever, I’ve been fortunate to miss them, but here’s my own contribution to the ‘cannon’. Off we went for a good old country walk into the village at the top of the hill that’s a good deal colder than around here, but is also blessed with some wonderful cotswold stone walls. The village itself is ‘owned’ by one estate so all the cottages there are in the same style and painted in the ‘estate’ colours.The entire village is in the ownership of this estate so you can’t buy anywhere there, all the houses and cottages are let out by the estate and the result is somewhere that is in many ways unique. It means that there are no ghastly additions and the place looks not unlike a film set for Mid-Summer Murders.

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The owners were responsible for getting most of the population in this country smoking cigarettes, so their fortune is based on a habit that has been a curse on many. I could comment but perhaps best not to. Let’s put that aside for the stone walls. All beautifully maintained and in the sunshine they are a thing of beauty, a major work of art to me, with the litchen gripping here and there and the colours glowing in the sun.

My latest blockbuster


There’s a real skill in the building of these walls and , unlike in the top photo, where the wall has been ‘capped’ by concrete, the really ‘pure’ builders never do this and the walls simply have the stones on the top without any ‘glue’. The old litchen one in the lane image gives a better idea on how they used to be finished off. There’s apparently a way of laying the stones so that the water drains through so that the stones won’t frost, and therefore last for years.

You might reasonably wonder where are the cartoons? Well I have been busy drawing and keeping my resolution of last year to do a drawing a day. So they will be back!

 

 

New Year’s honours, why do we do it?

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I’m against them but torn. First of all my dear late Dad got a gong, for service to the police. I hasten to add he was a policeman not a ‘customer’ as he used to call his clients. He was delighted to get it but grumbled in a bemused sort of fashion when every New Year brought a new batch of odd people given knighthoods for being successful and usually very rich as a result of their success.

I ways got a frisson of pleasure at the thought of John Lennon sending his MBE back to the Queen in protest at some war or other that we were involved in. And there’s another thing, an MBE for the Beatles!!! Members of the British Empire, for crying out loud we’ve not had an Empire for decades.

Sir Paul, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Cliff, Sir Ray Davies, Sir Whoever…do they realise how ‘un-cool’ that makes them? John Lennon, now there’s someone who’s cool. Don’t get me started on sportsmen and women.

So there we have my first rant of the New Year.And then last night I hear that Peter Brookes, the Times regular political cartoonist, has got a gong. This time the CBE. I was lucky enough to go to art college with Peter, for the foundation year in Manchester. He was already twice as talented as the rest of us, and I learnt from a podcast with him last night, that by the time he got there he had already got a degree in English and could fly jets after a brief career in the RAF. I could barely drive a car and my other qualifications were a smattering of “O” levels and a solitary “A” level. He was always the one who’s work was remarked upon. He is a brilliant cartoonist and it makes a change for a cartoonist to be honoured, so here I am ambivalent again. Against awards like this but for this particular one. He should, of course, have been knighted.

On to a different topic: gardening. Rhubarb is coming up, despite the cold snap and here’s a picture to prove it. I’m a big fan of rhubarb, great way to clean a saucepan, and makes a great pud: Rhubarb and Orange Crumble. Want the recipe? Well tough, I don’t have it, but just stew the rhubarb and add fresh orange to it before putting on the crumble topping.Then bake in a suitably hot oven until done, it’s hardly Elizabeth David I know but try it.You can’t go far wrong. I’ve always been amused that ‘extras’ who are supposed to be chatting in the background of a film set, tend to just repeat to each other ” Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb”. Try this too, with a serious demeanour, and you’ll end up with an inner smile.

Incidentally, I wonder if a knighthood is the crumble topping to a distinguished career.

Peter Brookes

 

“My paintings are like your soup”

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A day out to visit one of my very favourite people and an artist who should have more recognition of her work. Sally Williams has been an artist all her life and a friend for quite a while. She lives out of Gloucester in the countryside and we decided to visit armed with soup. I explained that the soup that I’d made was a one off, an original. In other words, she’s be unlikely ever to taste it again. ” Why’s that, what’s in it?”. At this time of year the main ingredients are the bottom of the fridge and anything else I can find, I replied. “So  bit like my paintings then?” she responded. Hardly I said, the only real link might be that they are both one-offs, and in the case of your paintings “originals”

She’s a child of the Severn and this river has, with other parts of this area, been her inspiration and it literally glows out of the paintings. The area near Purton where lie the Purton Hulks is a favourite spot.  I’ve written about this before but it bears another look: On the banks of the Severn…

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The inspiration for the painting above may well be from
this beached ship here, a photo I took myself in 2013.


Here’s another gem, this time it’s gateposts. I took these pictures of Sally’s work just today and only on an iPhone, and it does the iPhone credit that it can capture some of the feelings of the paintings, but they really need to be seen to be fully appreciated.

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I was also really taken by this one below with the verse from an Ivor Gurney poem, incorporated into the painting. The verse sort of sums up what Sally’s passion with the Severn is about, and it’s not just the River, it’s the meadows that surround it and the feeling in the air. It is really a relatively undiscovered area of the country in many ways. Slimbridge, where the famous Wetlands and Wildfowl trust have their patch, is well visited but the surrounds such as Purton and further up river Epney, are quiet little places. No wonder Ivor Gurney loved the area so much.

More about Ivor Gurney

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Last but not least is what inspired our visit to Sally today, apart from soup. Her Christmas card featured a lovely painting. We were so glad we’d seen the real thing as well as the printed copy. Again this is a one off, a soup that cannot be revisited once cooked. Lovely work, if you want to see more take a look here: Sally’s website

If perchance are thinking of making any resolutions in the New Year then let one of them be “I will go forth and buy an original painting” and forget about the soup.

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A big thanks to all who have bothered to visit my blog over the last year, and I take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy and peaceful  New Year.

Long trip…

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There must be someone in the local council, or is it the County Council, who’s keen on cycling as they have approved another record breaking short cycle route right here. This one goes from where I was standing for the photo to that carefully placed double white line where any cyclist must give way to ‘traffic’ from the right. By the time whoever has got on their bike they will be braking to stop at the other end. It’s unlikely that the wheel will go full circle. A fine example of the idiocy of local government when they spend money on getting some poor chap to paint the road and draw a bike , so that no-one is in any doubt that this is a bike lane. They could have spent the money on street cleaning, man with brush type thing, so that we don’t break our necks on the leaves and fag ends left in the road.

Stand up whoever is responsible, Gloucestershire County Council look after the highways and Cheltenham Borough Council look after the street cleaning, neither of them covering themselves with glory here. Plonkers!