Friday, August 27, 2004

Mr Broersma 

Further to my mention of Like A Fiery Elephant the other day: the talented and lovely Matt Broersma coincidentally makes reference to said book in his latest freely downloadable PDF comic, Adjustments, which you can find, along with other wonders, here.

To do 

This is nothing to do with anything...

Out of the past 

Bit of a surprise yesterday: I had a phone call from the art editor of Health Service Journal saying she'd been looking at the sample art booklet I'd sent them and asking if I wanted to do a rush job for them (a cover, to be completed by this afternoon). I said yes and, assuming she's happy with the result (which is oh so slowly transmitting itself to her as I type), I finished it with time to spare.

The odd part of this is that I've never worked for HSJ before and the sample booklet I sent them was back in November 2001. Normally "We'll keep your work on file and be in touch if anything suitable comes up" means your work is currently under the short leg of the wobbly desk and there'll be ice skating in Hades before they call you. It's like the art editors' version of "I really like you as a friend..." But apparently it can, occasionally, be true. Dear readers, take heart: there is still goodness in this world.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


I don't read anything like as much as I once did and nowhere near as much as I would like and on top of this my natural reading pace is pretty slow. So the books I do read can last me quite a while, particularly as I tend to have several on the go at a time. But once in a while there'll be something especially compelling that I just devour in a bit of a frenzy. The last time this happened was when a former bookshop colleague was kind enough to send me a spare proof copy of Jonathan Coe's The Closed Circle his brilliant sequel to The Rotters' Club. Like all of his books that I've read (everything from What A Carve Up! onwards plus The Dwarves of Death) I read it at speed in big juicy chunks ("ooh, well just one more chapter and then I'll get some work done..."). He's just one of those writers that you'll stay too long in the bath with (as it were).

Anyway, among the several books I'm currently reading (some of which I've been nibbling at for months and one of which, No Logo by Naomi Klein, has been picked at sporadically for a couple of years) the one I'm spending most time with is Coe's biography of B S Johnson.

Now I have to confess that I haven't read any of Johnson's novels (nor seen any of his short films for that matter) but I was aware enough of him to be interested (largely through newspaper articles written by Coe over the years) so I checked the book out of the library and gave it a go. And so far (100 pages in) it's fascinating.

But the reason I'm bothering to mention this is that I just got to a bit that surprised me. In among the details of unhappy love affairs and depression and the deeply serious views he held on the nature of writing ("telling stories is telling lies") is the less expected nugget of information that Johnson tried his hand for a while at writing (with a friend) radio comedy scripts.

Perhaps the most interesting is a proposed Goon Show script, which went through several drafts before ending up as 'The Great Welsh Harp Abduction Mystery'. Showing, I would say, that Johnson was still at the level of imitating his heroes rather than being creatively influenced by them, the script is a sharp, workmanlike pastiche of a Spike Milligan original, full of Goonishly inventive touches (like the notion of an underwater steamroller, invented to supply the growing demand for flat fish).
Can't help wondering if he might have led a happier life (he committed suicide at the age of 40) if he'd persevered with this sort of thing rather than the "serious" stuff. But then Milligan himself was a lifelong depressive I believe so probably not.

Haven't yet discovered why the biography is called Like A Fiery Elephant. Great title though.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Life drawing 

I've been attending a Tuesday night life drawing class on and off (mainly off recently) for the last, ooh let's see... blimey, 17 years. You'd think I'd have got the hang of it by now really but no, it hasn't happened yet. Just look at that wonky chair.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

As featured in... 

A couple of pages from an old sketchbook of mine are reproduced in an article (written by my friend and ex-tutor, Martin Salisbury) in the current issue of Artists and Illustrators magazine.

There, now I am truly famous. Surely untold riches can't be far behind.

Sunday, August 08, 2004


I did myself a mischief on Thursday. I was playing my regular game of rounders for a bookshop team (despite having left the employment of said bookshop 3 years ago - that's kind of how the rounders teams work in Cambridge) and batting in the second innings. We'd been hopelessly outplayed in the first innings but were getting our own back a bit now. Anyway, late in the innings and it's my turn at bat. I smack the ball away pretty well and make it to third base with ease. The throw comes in from the outfield but it's short and the fielder at fourth base, a big fellow, has to move out to the ball to retrieve it. He's closer to fourth than me but he's fumbled the ball and there's a chance I can make it. I set off slowly, giving myself the option to creep back to third if I think the run is too risky. He gets hold of the ball, looks up, sees me moving toward fourth.

Now, whether or not I score or he gets me out makes not a jot of difference to the result of the match. I might as well stay where I am and play it safe. Or if I do set off he might as well let me reach fourth unhindered. There's no reason to care. Except we both love playing the game. A look passes between us and we both run full pelt toward the base. We reach it at the same time, he diving across my path at full stretch trying to stump me out, me travelling too fast to avoid running into him. We collide. I fly through the air and crash land somewhere beyond the base presumably striking Mr Fielder a considerable blow in passing. We both end up sprawled on the ground, no one really knows or cares if I'm out or I've scored a rounder but the general consensus is that this little display of slapstick has been hilarious. I would agree save for the fact that my back, which had been giving me a bit of gyp earlier in any case, now feels really quite dodgy.

Thursday night provides little sleep as I'm in considerable pain for much of it. Friday morning it hurts like hell but this eases through the day. This repeats from here on: wake in great pain; pain subsides as the day goes on.

Seems to be gradually improving anyway. So hopefully I'll be all fit and well by Thursday so I can play rounders again and maybe pick up some new injury. Hurrah!

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Finished the pirates job yesterday. It held my interest better than most of my work for the purveyors of googly-eyed history and I managed to put in a few tiny bits of business of my own invention rather than sticking doggedly to the brief. Still, only limited satisfaction to be had from working in a style not wholly my own.

Someone (forgive me I've forgotten your name) asked me in a comment to show my pirate drawings. Well I'm afraid that I have to sign over copyright of my artwork to GooglyCorp so to show it here would be very naughty indeed. So please no one tell them. Especially those of you who work for GooglyCorp. Anyway, here's a detail...

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