If it’s green…


Here’s a black and white green cartoon done quite a few years ago for the English Tourist Board. I think vegetarian food has come along a bit since I did this, but I do remember that any cooked food then that had ‘vegetarian’ in front of it , generally looked brown.

Speaking of green, take a look at this wonderful oak tree that I came across the other day on a walk just close to Paradise, which is a village in Gloucestershire. There’s something brilliant about September days when the light is clear and sharp.

The Paradise Oak


Rocky Topp, what he did at the coast.

There we are in sunny Pembrokeshire taking in the beauty of the area and there in the distance is a rock, as you’d expect.

“What’s that on the top there?” says someone. ” It’s a bloke in a chair!”

As he gets home from his holiday this chap will tell his chums on a Monday morning that he went down to the coast and took in the view, as well as did a bit of climbing, with the most important but of equipment of course, the fold-up beach chair. A knotted handkerchief on the head might have completed the picture.



How on earth do you do that with a pencil?


Off to West Wales to see my old chum Graham Brace. Graham was the person responsible for my early career by persuading me to go into business with him. We’d both lost our jobs in advertising in similar circumstances and redundancy at such an early age was I suppose, one of the best things to happen to us. We struck out on our own.

The partnership lasted four years before Graham, a native of West Wales, went back home. The friendship has lasted since.

He became one of the four-most exponents of colour pencil drawing and his eye for detail and light are just incredible. It’s not what we did when in partnership, we were ‘visualisers’ supplying the advertising and design world with a good pair of drawing hands for them to present their ideas to clients. It worked, the partnership was successful, and we made a strong reputation for ourselves in the London design and advertising world. Both of us went our own ways when Graham went back to Wales. Myself into more cartoon and illustration work and Graham into graphic design with an illustration extra. If you go down to a beauty spot almost anywhere in Pembrokeshire and there’s a guide map on an information board, it’s likely the drawing was done by Graham.

Graham’s more recent work over the past several years if of a different order. Atmospheric and stunningly realistic. I find it difficult to comprehend how anyone can do that with a coloured pencil. I’m particularly fond myself of the more abstract works which to me show Graham’s great eye for composition and challenge the viewer to look more closely at what they might be missing.

Take a look for yourself right here: Graham Brace



The price of blasted courgettes…

Here he goes again talking about the price of food. I really do not grumble all the time, honestly. Here’s a gem spotted in my local supermarket in the “no added anything section”. By the looks of it it’s just a bit of courgettes spiralized and blasted, and then put into the regulation ‘no-fun’ packaging.

As someone once said to me about my own work ” Who buys this stuff? ” At the time I was able to say ” quite a few people actually”.

Let’s make one thing clear though, courgettes do not make pasta. They are a watery green vegetable with not a lot of taste. At this rate we’ll all be having radishes for breakfast.

That is £90-00 per kilo you are looking at there, and that’s on special offer.

And I thought they ate croissants.


The price of bread is how to get read.

My recent posting on the price of a loaf in London seems to have struck a chord. I suppose it’s fundamental, the price of bread is something that a lot of people take an interest in. I’ve never been a great fan of what we call over here “Mother’s Pride” type of bread. “Mother’s Pride” was a brand that specialised in white factory manufactured sliced bread that would keep for days and days. I suppose it was perhaps the best thing to happen since sliced bread, because it was just that. To me it never had any taste and was only made better by crisp bacon and tomato ketchup in between the slices, and of course it was never made by a mother of any sort. I understand that it is made by the Chorleywood baking method, a factory based way of making bread that was introduced to this country in the Fifties. I believe that the bread made during the second world war was better for us than this factory produced polifilla!

Like beer in the Seventies bread has recovered from this low point and now ‘artisan’ bread, which was what I was buying in London, can be bought almost anywhere. Made by individuals rather than machine this stuff is really worth the extra dough. ( sorry ) Just like the craft beers you can buy from almost anywhere, that have put the Campaign for Real Ale with very little to do any more, the taste is the difference. Remember the tins of Watney’s”Party Seven” beers that you could buy, utter rubbish. So things really have got  better, in some respects.

Nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be.


I make no excuses for re- posting this drawing of an original pub landlord with words by my chum Gordon Thorburn, a fine writer.It sums up what things used to be like.

The Pub Landlord of the Surly Old Git Public House



The Surly Old Git

…is exactly as it was when its purpose in life was to cater for the eager, laughing crowds coming off shift from the drop forge. Now, hidden away on the canal bank, mid city, between the back of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and the Yeung Chow Chow Fan Wholesale Warehouse, it has two sorts of customer: regular and unwary.

The regulars, mostly journalists, are there in the hope of witnessing a Heritage Moment, when a stranger walks in and catches one of the last genuinely baleful glares left in the British leisure industry. The facial expression they are waiting for should have its own brown sign on the motorway.

Infallibly, it is induced in the eponymous landlord by a new and insensitive customer’s recitation of the following lines.

‘Ah, mine host! A foaming pint of your finest draught mild, if you would be so kind. Very well then, I shall have bitter. Yes, the smooth will be fine. And a spritzer for my good lady here. Dry white wine and soda. Ah, right, well, a cider would be excellent. Or, indeed, as you say, a half of smooth. And what flavour crisps do we have this fine day? Two packets of pork scratchings, of course. Could you just top that pint up for me, please?’

Gordon Thorburn





Bodge it yourself…

I once did a book jacket for a book of this title, the day after putting a floorboard through a ceiling.

Well recently there’s been a lot of bodging going on and this time not by me. I love technology and I like being on line, which is obvious or I’d not be doing this sort of thing. I like it to work and recently it has not, so in a fit of “lets get this sorted out” I decided to change my internet service provider to Origin Broadband  #originbroadband . I did not want to go with the big boys as their feedback on line was less than encouraging. There, near the top of the small providers, with loads of great comments about customer service was Origin, company that looked like they could do it for me. I rang them and they talked sense, that is once I was past the voice activated phone messages. You know the sort of thing, press 1 for sales, press 2 if you are an existing customer, press 3 for technical support, press 57918775127659175917591751297###65 for complaints.

I’m joking about the last one.

However, they do use someone remarkably like Brian Blessed for their phone voice so be warned, it’s a bit loud. Anyone not familiar with the name should look him up, he’s a fine British actor who has a voice so loud it could probably clear an entire field full of feasting pigeons in a corn field with a simple “Hello!”

I asked Origin if the change over from one supplier to themselves would be painless and instant. The word they used was seamless. Well, in the event it was seamless, they really dropped their trousers there were so few seams in it. The sad thing is it wasn’t their fault.

If you change suppliers here in the UK, in this instance from a standard phone internet line to a fibre broadband, some geezer has to come out in a van and go to a green box on the side of the road near your house. This geezer then just has to find the right wire and make sure that it is connected to the right line. High tech it is not. The geezers that do this are BT Openreach. The company that own the infrastructure: all the lines. They won’t let anyone else touch them. in this instance the geezer did not join the wires and left us high and dry for 5 days.No landline, no internet. Another much more proficient bt geezer came today and fixed it, saying something like ” Unlike some engineers I can count”.

I thought it wise to take the matter up with the Origin, which I did, once I’d got past Brian. I commended them on their fine customer service, which it is so far, but lamented the fact that they have to entrust such a vital task as joining wires to BT Openreach.

It’s like trusting the circus clown to catch you on the high wire when he’s never been up there. I bet Brian Blessed wouldn’t do that.







£3-50 for a loaf of bread?

I’m always going on about prices with my kids, and my present visit to London is no exception. I’m staying in an area that was years ago, known as the haunt of gangsters and criminals and these days the only thing that I’ve seen that is remotely criminal is the price of a loaf of bread. With it comes the sort of look from the hipster server that says to you: ” We weren’t expecting your type in here, if you walk a few miles in that direction you’ll find a Gregg’s”

Genuine Sourdough bread made from the original recipe that’s from San Francisco is just one of the delicacies on offer. I choose a smaller loaf that is described as Granary and is about the size of a London brick, so not massive. “That will be £3-50 please Sir” comes the response. I grit my teeth and mutter and give them the gimlet eye that says: ” I hope it’s worth it”

It is.

I went back today for another one happy to pay the going rate for what I thought was one of the best breads I’ve tasted for years.It was coming to the end of their day and they had just a few left. ” You can have two for the price of one now Sir” says hipsterman in black behind the counter. “Result!” I say to myself and head to the door with my prizes in the bag. Two loaves for just £1.75 each, I mutter to myself and then muse that I’d have probably baulked at that price just a few days ago for just one loaf. For heaven’s sake I’d better get a grip while there’s time left.

New improved recipe? What’s that all about? One sees it on many food items and it brings to mind the following. If you’ve been buying the product for years then the recipe is fine, it cannot be improved. So leave it alone.


The Tea Collectors of Barnsley

Barnsley Tcollection177Herewith an illustrated version of the Tea Collectors of Barnsley. Working only at night and collecting only the most delicate leaves from the bush, these dedicated people are responsible for some of the finest brews in the UK. It’s a tough job as the local climate predicates that the rare bushes can only be harvested at night. The bushes can  be mistaken for overgrown garden leylandi. Collectors can be easily recognised in their flat hats and gaberdine macintoshes. Certain of them also have been known to use old miner’s head torches, which has been an ideal way to recycle items that no longer have any practical use in this country.

Don’t believe me? Then you’ve obviously never been to Barnsley and where else do you think Yorkshire Tea comes from?