“Anyone wanting to be Prime Minister should be automatically discounted”

Paradise

The joys of walking are many and various, walking with a chum is recommended, though walking alone can sometimes have it’s moments too.

Today I set out early with my chum Robin. We were expecting hot weather so the early start was a must, and it was perfect. A walk in Paradise, as it really is called, just outside Painswick. Cotswold landscape at its very best. There used to be a bus stop there but it seems to have been dispensed with. Take a look here for a previous visit:  Jesus drives a Porsche in Paradise.

Walking and talking we got into things political and I expressed some doubts about our rulers, whereupon Robin came up with the quote of the day: “Anyone wanting that job should not be allowed to do it” he said and I tend to agree. Thrusting ambition and naked greed for power seem to most of us to be unsuitable attributes to be a leader of the nation. But what do we know?

The subject was quickly dispensed with as we got on with worthier ones. We came across these horses. Now I’m not a big fan of horses as they can step on you and bite, but these chaps were not in the mood for anything but a curious bit of tail waving and strolling. At “3 o’clock” ( fighter pilot parlance I believe ) in the image you might glance another demon, looks like it might be a flying insect ready for breakfast. Scamble! Scramble!

Paradise tree

Down in the valley where we kept cool, we took a break for a stare and a minor rendition from Robin, who’s a fine folk singer. Here he is backed by various birds whilst we take in a quick drying hay field. He and his fellow singers, known collectively as the Gloucester Diamonds have recently put together a cd of some lovely songs. Find out more right here: The Gloucester Diamonds

The walk ended in Painswick where we found a super little coffee shop after passing this chap mowing the bowling green for no apparent reason. I suspect that he would not gather more than a handful of clippings from the entire area. He had markers to guide where he’s been! It was like giving a completely bald bloke a haircut with a pair of electric clippers. We expected him to come out afterward and get the steam iron out on it. Now here’s a bloke who might make a good prime minister.

painswickmower

 

 

 

Barbeques and garden machinery, the Germans have it right.

I’m forever being told that I should like barbeques, and I don’t. I certainly don’t much care for ‘having a go’ at doing one myself. This from bitter experience of lighting said fire and then waiting for hours before it got to the right temperature to grill a sausage. Said fire was still glowing at 2.00 in the morning with enough heat to cook a large beast. To say it was a fire risk is only a small understatement. And it’s the sun that brings them out. Any nearly warm sunny day brings out the charcoal and the flames, or the portable gas behemoth that’s been breeding germs in the garage where it was dumped last year when the sun hid for months.

Of course before the barbeque you must pressure wash the patio so that the grease stains will have somewhere to land and guests can mingle around in their best casual stuff that will smell of carbon forever after this day. The sound of this washer is enough to wake anyone in the district wanting a nice Sunday lie in, as if a fire engine was doing a practice quirt in the garden.

Best cut the grass while your at it. Fire up the motor mower and lets get some stripes into those lawns: the British Obsession. It’s all to do with those public schools surrounded by acres of manicured grass so the fee payers can be seen to be getting their money’s worth. For those of you not in the UK reading this, public schools in the UK are private and have to be paid for by the parents. They are not normally called private schools. Grammar schools are state schools where you have to pass an exam to get in and the rest go to secondary schools that are sometimes branded as academies. Some secondary schools were called secondary modern schools, but this title became a little tainted as if they were failures and not very modern at all. Most schools have manicured playing fields but the public ( private ) schools have the huge ones with no weeds at all, and some of the secondaries have sold their fields for cash. Where once lay playing fields now sport “Executive Homes” in roads with country names like “Field Court View”, though there is no view.

I digress.

Barbeques and the operation of garden machinery are as we all know are banned on a Sunday in Germany. If this is fake news then it shouldn’t be and the Germans have it right. OK sausage?

Barbqblog


My love of barbeques is illustrated here from one of the pieces that will be in my exhibition here in Cheltenham at the Gardens Gallery from August 16th to the 22nd.

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.

blogskuleboy282

 

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…


squadronldr2

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.

Who chucks the rain down?

My son, who did philosophy at University, came out with this question when he was about 3 or so. When he’d only just learnt to talk and walk really, so the signs were there very early that he was going to be doing a lot of thinking. He certainly did not do much sleeping and I recall with a shudder the long nights of questioning. Including the one where he admonished me for going ‘off piste’ when reading Postman Pat, telling me that Mrs Goggins could not possibly be a bank robber, “it just did n’t add up”.

I recall this as I’ve been busy trying to draw rain. I’m in the middle of a series of drawing about the British and it has to feature rain in quite a few of them. It’s one of those dilemmas where you do the drawing. Get it to a certain acceptable stage, and then look at it and ask yourself. “How do I put the rain on here?” Not just a light shower, a continuous downpour. Just like we had here yesterday. Should I just scribble over the entire drawing in a moist sort of way, or add it with white flecks of paint and hope for the best, knowing of course that any mistake or unsuccessful attempt will render the drawing almost useless and will have to be done again.I’m working on it by just thinking about it.

Joe answered his own question with his own answer at the time, but looked at me for confirmation as I was looking so bemused “Perhaps it’s Boris Becker Dad”

Perhaps it was.

who-chucks

This is one of the drawings in question and it’s part of the series of drawing based on the British, this one is titled:
“The Optimism of the Camper”

I’ll be enhancing or ruining this drawing in the next few weeks, if it goes well I’ll publish the final.

It’s based on fact, that’s me hammering in the tent pegs on a windy and rain beaten slope somewhere in Devon, wondering why on earth anyone thought this might be a good idea. I’ve refused to go camping ever since.

There’s more to this story but best not to tell that here.

 

More on my Pont project

This is nothing to do with  French bridge building, but my recent plans to revisit the work of Graham Laidler : Pont

Here’s an example of what he did about the British and below is my own version, but mine is just a rough for the time being. I’m trying to go through as many of his versions as possible and in this instance the drawings have a similar construction, as the subject leaves little to be updated really. Other subjects may well have changed. My exhibition is in August next year so I have plenty of time. Sometimes this is not a good idea as I have a tendency to leave everything to the last minute, and at times produce my better work when under pressure.

Anyhow, today was a simply beautiful sunny day here, bright blue skies and lovely sunshine all day, but cold. It would have been easy to use this good weather to go out for a random walk, but I kept my discipline and got on with the drawing. With Bruce Springsteen at some considerable volume the day has gone well.

punchpont

Punch was a very well known magazine in the UK which was a haven for cartoonists and it was always my ambition in the early days to get something published in there. I managed it once when the magazine had a brief revival after going out of publication, and that was my Punch career over as it folded properly. Hopefully nothing to do with my contribution. Pont was popular when it was in it’s heyday, which I missed. However, it does seem to still exist on-line as a repository for a load of cartoons from it’s archives, so it’s still making money from the cartoons. I wonder if the cartoonists or their estates make anything? It would be good to think that they do.

Here’s my own modest take on the one above.pont-bighserough238

I hope to get that lovely feeling of light and dark into the final drawing. It will have the same title as the Pont  version and an acknowledgement to him too.


More news on my exhibition will be posted as we get closer to the deadline.