March Blog

In the face of President Trump’s continuing chapter of stupid populist decisions particularly with regard to immigration, cartooning finds itself involved with the Australian government which has certain Trumpish similarities. Its a very right wing set-up and deals with so – called illegal immigrants by dumping them on Manus Island, a nasty sub-tropical island prison manned in the most part by cruel people. Presently on the island is a 25 year old Iranian cartoonist called Eaten Fish who has been regularly sexually and physically abused there. So cartoonists’ organisations the world over are pressuring the Australian government so that it does the right thing and takes this very ill young man to the mainland for treatment.

Now, you could say that his predicament is his own fault. Australia has said repeatedly that anybody turning up on its shores looking for asylum will not be let in. Whether Eaten Fish, on the run from Iran for insulting the government there [that’s really, really easy to do] knew that or not is debatable. Quite possibly his decision to aim for Australia was influenced by the words of the Australian national anthem which does go on a bit about Australia being “the land of the free”. His choices were between his vision of Australia or staying in Iran and being killed. So, the PCO, in concert with other cartoonists’ organisations, including, it has to be said, Australian ones is making a nuisance of itself in order to compel the Australian government to respect Manus Island inmates’ Human Rights. Its a work in progress.

In the meantime, I hear on the news that there are thousands of 12 point plus drivers still whizzing about the place on our roads. One has 62 points! Apparently they’ve all been let off by magistrates who thought that a driving ban constituted unacceptable hardship. These people should try speeding in Iran or on Manus island.

Off tomorrow up the M62 to Yorkshire in the teeth of storm Doris. Doris? What sort of self respecting storm would call itself Doris?

February Blog

Well. Where to start ? The Brexit monster rumbles on, now with a White
Paper by way of clarification, which in effect merely causes more confusion.
The BBC News website is full of “What does Brexit mean to YOU ?” items,
replete with lots of possibilities. But that’s all they are – possibilities.
And there’s a significant number of people in the UK who believe that now
the country is committed to leaving the E.U., everything in the garden will
be rosy and other countries world-wide will be queuing up to buy stuff from
us. Really ? And what about the European subsidies the UK will no longer
receive ?

Personally, I’m bored sick with Brexit, so I’ll change the subject to one
which probably alarms women throughout the land. Our P.M., Mrs May went to
the U.S., for talks with Dreadful Donald and was snapped apparently holding
hands with the Old Groper. Now, whilst I’m no Tory, I do have a certain
amount of sympathy with Mrs May here. I really don’t think she wanted to
hold hands with Mr Trump, but from what I saw, it was obvious that he
reached for her hand, not vice versa. In the eyes of the world’s press she
could not have snatched her hand away whilst growling, “Keep your claws to
yourself, lizard !”, now could she ?

January Blog

At this time of year, there’s a temptation to review the past twelve
months. I’m not going to even try to do that, but there are certain
unavoidable lumps in the duvet which can’t be ignored. The Cameron
referendum clanger’s one, ridding Leavers as it did of parliamentary
responsibility, and enabling them to pitch the UK into deepening
uncertainty. Donald Trump’s another. He’s about to pitch the whole world
into utter uncertainty. Or maybe not. He’s recently done quite a few U turns
on pre-election pronouncements. Perhaps he’ll do more and turn out to be
just another run of the mill Republican. A sort of Bushtrump.

Just now, the UK media’s very big on what to do about all our very
expensive old people. At one end of the scale are thousands of young people
who can’t afford a house whilst at the other there are thousands of old folk
who DID own their own homes, but for whom, those homes disappear to pay for
geriatric care. I suppose I’m an interested party here. Officially, I’m an
old folk. I’m a baby-boomer and reaped – as analysts tell me – all the
benefits of post – war economic advantage. Can’t stop you getting old
though, can it ?

Again, the media tells us that whilst people [baby boomers] are living
longer, they’re unfit, too fat and drink too much. Well, this fat
baby-boomer’s addressing the fitness thing. I’ve got an exercise bike – an
early Christmas present. Its got a computer on it which tells you how far
you’ve pedalled, how fast you pedalled, and what you can’t have for your
tea.

All this talk of mortality reminds me that quite a lot of famous folk –
some not very old – have died in the past year, prompting the media [again]
to panic and ask how many celebrity deaths there were in 2016. Perhaps a
better question might be, “how many celebrities have been CREATED by the
media ?” Social media does that too. I don’t do social media, so my
knowledge of celebrities is thankfully limited.

Time now for this old folk to go and draw a couple of gags before kind
people from Valhalla House come and take me away…………. “

December Blog

Well here we go. Brace yourself. The telly says its nearly Christmas. Hooray ! Aargh ! [Please underline appropriate word.] But never mind, there are still those out there who really like Christmas, so hopefully they’ll cancel out old humbugs like me. But I’m not a complete humbug. I quite like buying presents even when the recipients say, “Oh that’s great !”, whilst thinking, “What the hell IS it?” And the carols. I like them – especially Hark the Herald Angels – a real belter.

Meanwhile, the monster that is Brexit blunders on and on. It was always completely obvious that leaving the European Union would mean an economic downturn for the UK. That’s begun. I listened to a programme recorded in the U.S. the other day, during one family’s Thanksgiving dinner. At least four of the dozen or so friends and relatives foregathered, when asked how they felt about Trump becoming President said that despite some of his bizarre utterances, “it will be good to get our country back” Where from ? Who from? Sadly, UK Leavers think like that. I simply do not understand them.

I’m afraid Cartoonland’s not very cheery either, with more stupid publishers dropping cartoons. Despite the fact that the public love cartoons and despite Ian Hislop of Private Eye saying that P Eye’s significantly increased circulation is down to the inclusion of MORE cartoons, The Guardian’s dropping cartoonists. Saga magazine high – ups [the faceless ones] have decided that they won’t use cartoons any more. Why ? I honestly don’t know, beyond a vague feeling that this humour disconnect is because a whole bunch of humourless publishers have, chronologically speaking, reached boardroom level. Let’s hope they all get headhunted by REALLY humourless outfits like HMRC or DVLC. Soon.

Right. Time to wrap presents. Including the Dog’s. She loves Christmas presents and chews them into small bits in no time at all. Happy Christmas !

November Blog

I’m getting just a bit weary of Brexit. No, I’ll rephrase that. I’m sick of
Brexit ; sick of Brexit experts and utterly tired of Brexit commentators. If
a TV Channel were to advertise hour long films of drying paint with
absolutely no Brexit content, ratings would go through the roof. Or hour
long films of people baking cakes even. That would do it too. After all
cookery programmes are T.V’s fall back shows, aren’t they ? In the dear dead
days beyond recall when there was only ONE TV channel, there was ONE cookery
programme – run either by a heavily made up lady called Fanny, or by the
cheerily avuncular Philip Harben. Easily avoided. You just turned the telly
off.

Not so now. Lots of channels = lots of cookery programmes. Don’t get me
wrong – I like food, but I don’t want it ramming down my throat[ he he he –
see what I did there ?]

Anyway, the Hastings event was excellent – some great 1066 cartoons and
a chance to see a town I’ve never been to before. Its very hilly, and
creeping with cold germs. Its also very arty in the best possible sense.
Loads of interested and interesting people, many really struggling to make a
living from their Art. That made quite a few of us who do feel appropriately
humble.

Mind you, the professional scene took a blow this week with the
announcement from Saga magazine that said organ is being “refreshed”. Part
of that refreshment is that as of November the magazine will no longer be
using cartoons. Impossible to find out which refresher made that decision.
And there’s absolutely nothing freelancers can do about it. And all of that
at the same time as Ian Hislop’s claim that the inclusion of more cartoons
in Private Eye has boosted his magazine’s sales. Huh.
Got to go blow my hooter.