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.

Have you got a “Cheesed off by date”?

In these times when you think it might be a good idea to at least listen to some books, if not read some, you might consider downloading an audible book or three. I thought it a good idea, and steeled myself to buy something from Amazon. I could at least congratulate myself that no poor person was being forced to pack this item as it all came to me through the ether, or to be more exact, it was supposed to. But it did n’t.

Now I am a big fan of tech. I decided years ago that I would embrace it, learn from it, respect it, try to work out the logic of the person who might have sat up for nights writing the code that makes it work, or not work. The main rule for me then was not to get frustrated by it. To be calm. Not to mutter at it, kick the desk, swear at the screen, or get in any way cheesed off. I thought that if I did this it would work and everyone would be happier.

I also chose to use, if at all possible, the so called ‘chat help lines’ on these big platforms to get help. Here I found a way to assemble my thoughts on an issue and write it down for the poor chatterer in some other dimension, to type back to me with a solution. But even I, having used this method for some years to great success, have a ‘cheesed off by date’.

I think that a rolling wheel, looking a little like a hamster toy, is perhaps the most aggravating thing to see on a screen. I’ve been watching a hamster wheel doing just that for far too long this morning as I try to get some help downloading an audio book from the Big A people.

Jomo tried to help and suggested that I update the iPad, which I did, but the dreaded hamster wheel is back, and the hamster seems to have gone out for a while. I lost connection with Mr Jomo when I updated so it’s all back to square one. I have to give my story to the detectives yet again. ” In your own words Mr Davies please describe what happened at the scene of the crime” ” But I’ve already told Detective Jomo about this, it was Mr Hamster, in the library, with the lead piping” ….” Im afraid your going to have to tell me all about it again”

Is this rough justice for getting involved in the Big A.

What goes around comes around and that little hamster wheel carries on going round.

Anderson Shelter

Came across this the other day on our official walk exercise for the day. Looks to me like an Anderson Shelter, these were made by the Government and were intended to protect the population of London from the Nazi Bombs that rained down during the Blitz. They were not altogether that effective, were easily flooded, damp and very uncomfortable I have read recently. They did help lift morale as they gave the impression that the Government was doing useful things to help its people. Where have I heard that recently.

This model now sits in a field not far away from where we live, so it has at least lasted. Then again I could be wrong, it might just be a pig pen.

Chins up!


Here’s a drawing for a change. This is from Glossary: my guide to Gloucestershire Place names and I’m dropping this in to celebrate the launch of my new website, which is over here.

The new site is not yet finished, I’ve been busy isolating myself.


Filkins: Bits found in your pocket after they’ve been put on a hot wash by your nearest and dearest. Tiny white dots are now evenly distributed like super glued dots all over the garment, and are as permanent as any printed pattern.

Framilode: Very heavy shopping, that clinks.

France Lynch: Meaning neither here nor there, many applications.

All three of the above place names are in Gloucestershire and in fact I used to live in dear old France Lynch. Framilode is by the River Severn, don’t go here, it’s undiscovered and needs to stay that way. Lovely spot, unlike Filkins which are a pain in the neck.