The Kinks : Days (Thank You For …)

A must read! A must listen.

The Immortal Jukebox

Here is is.

Another Day.

One Day.

One among the unknown number alloted to you.

Bless the light.

Another sacred day.

Yours to do with what you will.

This Day won’t, can’t come again – though you may remember it for every Day you have left to live.

Bless the Light.

Today is all we have and whatever happens today you have the absolute existential freedom to choose how you act, how your react, to whatever this Day brings.

Bless the light.

And, when you come to the end of this Day you will have much to give thanks for – not least that the lightning bolt of death has stayed sheathed in the heavens.

Give thanks for the day that is done and pray that tomorrow will dawn for you and gift you one more sacred day.

Bless the light.

And, as you walk through the world of your…

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Drop in and check this out.


Here’s what became of some of them, from this drawing by Anthony ‘Doove’ Woolaston, who’s subsequent life and career remains something of a mystery. He was certainly talented and managed to capture most of us with uncanny accuracy. I am my usual smiling self in the front row. Also in the show are some of out fellow fine artists, like Bob Nancolis, Bob Frith, and Graham Wells, who don’t feature in this drawing as they avoided graphic design.

There are one or two names that I cannot recollect from the drawing, and staff and tchnicians are marked by just a red dot at present but amongst them are typographer/designer Cal Swann, children’s book illustrator Tony Ross, Nigel Baron, “Tub” Williams, Mr Schofield, Mr Lofthouse who was the head of the whole graphic design school.

class of 69 with workandstafffinal



groupphotonamesInteresting to know quite what you expect of something like that word. A Monet or someone pretending to be someone else. I’m recently back from Manchester where, as readers of this tome know, I’ve been wading through nostalgia. Manchester School of Art, as it is called now, were kind enough to allow myself and several other ex students who graduated in 1969, that they were happy to put on an exhibition for us to celebrate our 50 years away from them! They’ve done a great job, and after meeting up with them and my colleagues last week we are still wading through the past. Some of my college friends I had not seen for many years. Sadly two of our number: Jim Coley, a dear friend of mine, and Robert Heesom have died. Their work is there and looks as good as it always did.

On the night of the opening we were welcomed by the Dean, and then by a local graphic designer: Malcolm Garrett before our own Bryan Brown spoke to thank everyone concerned.

What a lot of changes have taken place in Manchester. In 1969 the city was still full of smoky old buildings. There are one or two left but for the most part it is modern and seems to be building all the time. Just before 1969 the council got rid of trolley buses and trams, they’ve brought the trams back now, modern leviathons that have destinations like Media City that did not exist 50 years ago. Bryan mentioned that all of us, bar  one or two, headed south for work on graduation. Graphic Design hardly existed in those days and the general public scarcely knew what it meant. Design Consultants were not that numerous in London and hardly existed in the North. Ad Agencies likewise were a very small community in Manchester. So the need to go South was thought wise by some of us. Things have changed. Graphic Design is even in schools now. Manchester is a centre for creativity and rightly so. It was great to be back and to be given such a brilliant welcome from the college.

The School of Art was just that when we started in the mid sixties, and then transmogrified into a Polytechnic whilst we were there. It morphed into a University some years later becoming Manchester Metropolitan University, which it is now but has  re-branded itself as the Manchester School of Art. It’s like the Circle Line!

The Exhibition is on four floors of the Benzie building, its open weekdays only from 10.00 till 4.30 and finishes on the 14 February.

I found it interesting to look at what they say about our 50 year careers since ( what have we been doing? ). There’s a kudos in being linked to big client names and I’m no exception in mentioning the big people I’ve worked for over the years, but I hope it does not give the wrong impression. I’m mentioned as being involved in the TV commercials for the National Lottery and Carling Black Label.  I did indeed do some work on them in the form of storyboards, but I merely translated the brilliant ideas that the art directors and writers sold to the clients. A good deal of my work has been collaborative, I’ve worked with some very fine creative people and one or two who were complete ‘numpties’!

Neither do I want, in this show, to give the other impression that it has been a journey of perfect success: a gold plated yellow brick road to happiness. The best way is to say: “It’s had it’s moments!” Good and not so, but that aside it’s always been interesting.

Lets start with the “Not so” first. Being a self employed cartoonist/ illustrator ( see how the word illustrator makes it sound respectable, almost an artist but not quite ) it’s good to grow a thick skin. Get used to rejection and expect to stay up late at night. You are only as good as your worst drawing, because believe me the worst ones will be remembered, and will come back at times to haunt you. I had my period of years when I was succesful, no doubt about that, but I worried when I had no work and when I had too much! I also had periods when the work was thin on the ground, and that’s tough. I’ve worked for some brilliant people and also for some rogues who never paid me, two South African lesbians who lived in Yorkshire being two such! I’ve worked for people who ruin what I’ve done and others who have respected it.

Now lets end on the good stuff. I really thought I’d made it when I did a film poster for a film which starred a youthful Tom Hanks. They flew a print of the film over specially for me from the States and I spent an afternoon chuckling, before it dawned on my that I had to come up with some sort of idea! ( In this particular case the art director and writer just did n’t want to know about it and said: “Oh you just think of something for them, am sure it will be fine!” In the end this too was not my finest moment but the end result seemed to keep them happy, and I was really rather grateful that they covered most of the drawing with text. It was not my best work, but I was proud of it and it did make my parents feel like I’d got a proper job. Odd jobs include a calendar for The Roman Catholic Boy Scouts  of Belgium, I was oddly proud of that too and they sold loads, which gave me a good feeling. I discovered later that I was in good company as they jad in the past comissioned their own Herge to do this job one year. A business press ad campaign for Oxo was a good one for me, complete with oil platfrom spewing gravy, no idea why now! I enjoyed a few book jackets and I was proud of the regular work I did for the English Tourist Board, Safety campaigns for a building company, and regular cartoons for Home and Country: the WI Magazine. The latter not very highly paid but great clients.

So, that gives a more rounded image, but perhaps not the full story behind my 50 years after Manchester, and it does not include getting a really proper job when I was 58 years old working for a print company in Gloucester selling print! I’m back at the drawing board now, but must say that I think that I was lucky to spend the golden years of the 70s and 80s involved with the drawing end of the art and design business.

I hope this gives a slightly more accurate impression. By the way I do an excellent impression of Deryck Guyler, those of a certain age will remember him. My impression consists of two words: “Oh Yes!”







Where it all started:

55 picadilly

This place is where all the people in the poster below started their degree courses back in the 60s. I used to sit in one of these windows looking out more than down more than I should I suspect. Now a hotel and not very five star, this building housed the graphic designers of the future. Not difficult as there were few graphic designers of the past.

And occasionally at the end of a days drawing or designing we’d repair to the Alsatia Cafe, which was part of the greasy spoon franchise that you could find anywhere in Manchester in those days, now replaced by Pret a Manger or Greggs and some such like.

Those were the days of high risk in dining out, so not much had changed.

The show goes on and on, like I will be doing, until the 14th February, and is in what we called at the time, the main building, but now  called the Benzie Building in The School of Art in All Saints, Manchester.



The site of the old Alsatia Cafe yesterday, it looks like it has not survived after we left!


This makes a change…

One of Rosalind’s watercolours that will be on show at the exhibition below from tomorrow, it’s a print on show but well worth seeing as well as the talents of all the others in the group, who have multiple skills.

…dum diddy dooh!

A chance for more musing on Manchester in the 60s. We paid for stuff in pounds shilling and pence, and in 1969 the farthing was discontinued! We were lucky enough not to generate a debt from our studying being given a Government Grant to attend and keep us in beer and cigarettes. Some of us were better at looking after this sum than others, I supplemented mine by working in the holidays at Haydock Park Racecourse where I helped the groundsmen to cut saplings to make the fences for the steeplechase from Lord Derby’s Estate at Knowsley. We then took them back to the Racecourse.

The plantation on the estate was around 10 miles away, so we trundled off in the head man’s landrover. Apart from the birch saplings the woods had the biggest population of horse flies that I’ve ever come across, who would menace the gang throughout the day. All apart from George Willie Harrison ( no relation ) who was the oldest of the workers and probably in his 70s then. Nothing came near George and if it did it died almost instantly. We asked him for the secret of his success. ” Flit” he replied, ” Spray it all over myself every morning”. Flit was a fearsome brand of insecticide probably now banned and here was a 70 year old spraying himself with the stuff. It had no ill effects on the man but the insects approaching gave up the ghost within a yard of him.

After a day at the estate we loaded the trailer behind a tractor and trundled back along the busy East Lancs Road to the Racecourse. They put me on top of the load with a red flag to warn traffic behind that we were a slow moving load. It was not my finest hour. Health and safety was not a major consideration, after all I was an art student so perfectly expendable.