April Blog

I suppose that as someone who can’t stand cookery programmes, I should be
grateful for the preponderance of sport on telly at the moment. My viewing
is exclusively terrestrial. I don’t have Sky or any other set-ups like that
which allow you – for a fee- to view Mongolian basket weaving should you so
desire. So, I’m stuck with just a few channels, including, of course, Beeb
one and two. Presently, they’re utterly dominated by sport. Don’t get me
wrong – I like most sports – apart perhaps for golf. Golf’s very skilful of
course, but its also a tad boring. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t involve a
run-up.

Presently, thanks to the Commonwealth Games, there’s an overdose of
sport readily available. One thing I’ve noticed is the way winning is
celebrated. In a sport which involves teams – even if its only two strong –
team- mates shake hands or touch knuckles or – God forbid – do a high five
after every point – even if they lose it.

Soccer is probably the best example of over-done celebration. A goal is
scored and team delirium breaks out. The goal scorer inevitably slides
across the pitch on his/her knees, then struts about, soaking up the
idolatory.

Maybe, at the higher levels of the beautiful game, its understandable.
Perhaps the celebrants are subconsciously trying to justify their obscene
salaries. And, even though salaries are lower, cricket’s the same. I watched
some old videos recently, featuring bowlers like Statham, Trueman and
Lindwall. They were frighteningly fast. They took lots of wickets and whilst
their team-mates were obviously pleased when an opposing batsman got his
stumps wrecked, the bowler wasn’t mobbed. In fact, in one Trueman clip I
saw, Fred got two wickets in one over. Each time, having got the wicket, he
simply turned and walked back to his mark whist the fielders clapped
politely.

The most stupid thing I’ve seen in cricket recently was the ball –
tampering episode. Not so much the actual tampering – that’s always gone on
– but the way the Australian culprits failed to hide it. Stuffing a piece of
sandpaper down your trousers, on camera, is a sure sign that something is
amiss.

Time to get a bit of drawing done now. At least I won’t be tempted to go
downstairs and watch Ladies’ underwater pipe-bending.

March Blog

People do get themselves into awful pickles, don’t they ? I’m thinking of the Russian father and daughter who were poisoned by “persons unknown”. I bet those persons aren’t unknown – certainly by those in the UK who play the covert and obviously dangerous espionage game. Why is it played ? Well, we’re told its played to keep us safe from people like the paid assassins who poisoned the Russians in Salisbury. And on the whole it does keep us safe. Occasionally, a lone-wolf nut-job gets through the net and runs over pedestrians on a London bridge. But insane people do tend to do insane things without being terrorists. We rely on our security services knowing about secret stuff. And they know through listening, blackmail and treachery. That’s the way its always been – from the di Medicis pouring poison into enemy earholes – to whatever it is that goes on in every country’s intelligence service.

Am I bovvered ? Well yes, I am, without having a clue about how to change things. Do they need changing ? Yes they probably do. I’m old enough to be fascinated/horrified by World War Two; by Adolf Hitler’s insatiable need for power – not just in his own country, but over anybody who disagreed with him, or, worse still, just happened to be Jewish. Donald Trump got to be President through promising certain sections of the American population to “put America first”. Vladimir Putin [he of no shirt whilst sitting on a horse] boasts of inter-continental ballistic missiles which can hit anybody, anywhere. Trump [no horse, just silly hair] does the same, although I notice that the little fat North Korean guy – also with silly hair – has climbed off his nuclear threat high horse recently. These three really should take a look at something like “The World at War”. They should look at what humans can do to each other in the name of “nationalism”. I also think that there’s an element of nationalism in the thinking of those who voted to leave the European Union.

Meanwhile, back in Wilmaland, all is good. She’s a remarkable dog who has obviously been part of a family in the past. Show her the lead, and she immediately sits and puts her head on one side so you can clip the lead on. God knows what has happened to her between then and now. Interestingly, Sheila, whilst watching Crufts on ‘t’ telly, saw that Clumber spaniels have exactly the same ears as Wilma. Same shape, same unique pattern of spots. So there’s a dash of pedigree in there somewhere. But for now, she’s happy and contented and is my constant shadow. So in the face of Russian assassins and Donald’s hair, that’s a Good Thing.

February Blog

After the sad death of our long time companion, Maggie the Dog in December last year, the house just didn’t feel right. No sound of paws padding around, no soulful staring at mealtimes, no avid wildlife programme viewing on TV, no growling at the window cleaner – and all the other aspects of the canine/human bond dog owners will recognise.

So, after looking at lots of dog re-homing sites we came across Wilma. Why “Wilma”? No idea. All we know about her is that she’s around eight and had spent at least six years as a stray on the streets of Dublin. Doubtless, because of that, Wilma’s scared of everything. Its taking time and patience to gain her trust. But we’re getting there. She’s only been with us eight days but now she’ll hop up on to the settee and look for a stroke. She follows me everywhere and as I type, is curled up on my right foot. She is a delightful animal. Why she was an abused stray for so long is anybody’s guess. What IS certain is that there are people out there who are cruel to animals. Sometimes the cruelty is organised, like fox-hunting – which still goes on, despite the ban – and secret dog – fighting. Badger- baiting, organised and carried out by really damaged people still happens. Why ? Why do humans do these despicable things ? Psychiatry might give us all manner of reasons. Socialisation, upbringing ,inherited psychoses etc., etc. Whilst I do try to understand why humans do bad things to animals and each other, my gut reaction, if I caught someone playing football with a hedgehog [Oh yes – that does happen] would be to take the humans aside and give them a good seeing – to. Some would say that would make me no better than the hedgehog abusers. I’m not so sure. If human animal abusers got a good thump every time they abused an animal, they’d soon stop.

There’s a phrase – a cliché almost which says, “Its only a dog”. I pity people who think like that. Gaining an abused dog’s trust is very rewarding and demonstrates that mysterious bond between two different species. Dogs know a lot more about us than we do about them.

Meanwhile, back in Cartoonworld, its not getting any easier finding new work. All the old faithfuls still need work and soon it’ll be 2020 calendar time. Twelve full – colour spreads and an A3 cover ! That’ll keep me busy for ages.

January Blog

A dog cartoon as Gag of the Month this time because I think dogs can be
very funny. The bonds and understanding between humans and canines – two
entirely different species – is amazing.

Early in December 2017, Maggie the Dog, my constant companion for 13 years
died. She’d been ill with heart and breathing problems. She’s stopped eating
and whilst its a cliché, I think she’d lost the will to live. And after she
went to sleep for the last time, the visiting vet said as much. People say
kind things like “Well, she had a good innings.” And she did, but that’s not
the point. She’s left a huge hole in our lives. She was a kind, funny dog
with a taste for TV wildlife programmes; was scared of our two hens, but big
friends with our cockatiel. Should we get another dog ? Don’t know. We’ve
looked at lots of dog re-homing sites and the trouble with them is the
featured dogs all look SO needy. But that said, its very strange not hearing
a dog about the place, or having one come and visit me up here in the studio
– just for visiting’s sake.

But life goes on, and those arrogant Australians have won the Ashes. Huh.
Worse than that, Boringbrexit continues not to grip the nation’s
imagination, whilst the Prince Harry/Megan Markle thing does. Actually, he
seems like a good egg – undertaking all manner of good works. Can’t really
say much about Miss Markle except that she sounds a bit like a TV detective
and has strange hats.

Every year around this time, REALLY snowy places around the world laugh at
the UK where 4cms of the stuff make headlines. True, its no fun battering up
the M62 if its snowing, but compared to Canada or New York, we’re nowhere.

I don’t vote Tory, but I am worried about our present government. What
with Mrs May’s conference cough and slogans falling off the wall behind her,
to the sacking of a prominent minister for having naughty pictures on his
computer, quite apart from the continued backing of the horrendously
expensive HS2 and the drip-feed starvation of the NHS, we now have a
super-expensive aircraft-carrier which leaks. I think its time for a
change.