Planning gone potty.


Another, and this the last observation, from my trip to Newport. They have a wonderful covered market hall with almost nothing in it. Down the road they appear to be building the biggest most nondescript shopping place with this gem just a few yards away. For crying out loud what a waste. Have the planners and architects not got the wit to refurbish this place in their plans. It’s not dead but it’s dying on it’s feet and will probably be killed off for good when “Blandland” opens down the road. They’ve done similar things in Gloucester where the indoor market is much better than this poor creature but still needs some real tlc. They’ve also built a shopping ‘experience’ in Gloucester too, with marble floors imported from China ignoring local craftsmen and building methods. It’s an experience you’ll be happy to miss.

There’s something wrong with the state of planning and building, and with local authorities for allowing this to happen.

Perhaps this local Newport sculpture is of the planners, not a party I’d want to go to.


The print works…

This blog was published about a year ago. Sadly the print works mentioned is no longer in business, whatever has happened to all this old type is anyone’s guess.

Last week I had the pleasure of a trip around a print factory. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s certainly mine. Stanley L Hunt Limited started way back during the First World War and isn’t it brilliant that they are still going strong now. A family business that has a load of history.

Let’s get some of my history in here now. I worked as a professional cartoonist for 30 years before I found a’proper’ job as a print ‘rep’ for a company in Gloucester, though they called me an ‘account manager’. They were a family firm also like Stanley L Hunt, so some parallels there. In a sense I’ve worked with print for over 40 years, either supplying images for it or trying my best more recently, to sell it. I’m an enthusiast for it and saddened by anyone who’s not. I can bore for England about fonts and my almost pathological dislike of comic sans. So imagine my delight at seeing a trays of Caslon, in metal, sitting neatly before me, just last week.


They told me also on my visit that they had found some of that wonderful wooden type, used for letterpress posters. In which case ( no pun intended ) they would have printed the posters on a machine like this. A wonderful Heidelberg press, now used by them to cut out shapes and forms.



There was more! This is a thread sewing binding machine. I’ve never seen one before. It’s for thread sewn books, the very creme de la creme of bookbinding. You don’t see many of these machines any more and this one, which I believe is Swiss made, still  runs like clockwork.

A big thank you to all at Stanley L Hunt’s for making me so welcome and for the tour of the factory. A place full of history and skills that are rare these days.


Schoolmasters, where are they?

Here’s another of those missing persons, with words by Gordon Thorburn. The drawing is based on my old history master who was a gem of the species names Mr Trethewey. Even the name was right. He did, as I recall, smoke his bike whilst pedalling and I always had the impression that he was burning old compost in there.

For more of Gordon’s golden words go to
For more of my stuff go to

Whilst I’m at it here’s a really good blog where the writing is witty and erudite every week.



Extinction is inevitable if it hasn’t happened already. We’re talking state school here; all sorts of rare types thrive in the private sector.

Schoolmaster wore a suit to work or, at the very least, a sports jacket with leather elbow patches (vide Proper Doctor). He smoked a pipe which he fuelled with WD&HO Wills’ Gold Block and could often be seen, winter and summer alike, drawing on his pipe while cycling along on his Rudge sit-up-and-beg. In atrocious weather, his wife drove him to school in the family Ford Popular.

At work, he wore a university gown which had long tears in it and was covered with chalk dust. He strode along the corridor with purposeful mien as knots of children unravelled before him. He could remember the names (surnames, naturally) of all the children he ever taught and they, for the whole of their lives, remembered him fondly, gratefully and distinctively. They remembered what he taught them, too.

Schoolmaster is not to be confused with Schoolteacher. Schoolteacher smokes dope, listens to Leonard Cohen records, supports Manchester United and wears trainers and jeans to work. Although both varieties, one now so rare and one so common, always shared a certain naiveté about life in the big wide world, Schoolmaster’s was of an innocent, forgivable sort.

He knew all there was to be knowed about the A-level physics, maths, English or history syllabus and nothing at all about life, or anything else except the clues in The Guardian crossword. He realised this and confined his advice to his recognised areas of expertise.

Schoolteacher, similarly specialised, nevertheless carries banners in demos, feels solidarity with the miners but not the farmers and has fierce arguments about the Euro, the wars in Ndanga, Irdukhistan and the Undisputed Territories, and believes equally in a woman’s right to choose an abortion and a child’s right to choose what it learns at school.

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