June Blog

As I type, it’s a beautiful morning up here on the Northern Tundra, with sparrows squabbling in the hedge and rabbits being rabbits in the field opposite. When you live more or less in the sticks, I suppose its easy to forget the wider world.

Not so with the Manchester Arena bombing.

My granddaughter and five of her friends were there when it happened. They all escaped unharmed. Scores of others did not.

The young man who carried out the attack must have been convinced that he was doing the right thing. By whom ? Well, by people in shadowy organizations which believe that our way of life is wicked ; that the West should pay for all its perceived wrongdoings in the Middle East, and also because they CAN.  Photos and profiles of Salman Abeydi suggest – entirely subjectively – that he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the box and let’s face it, the movers and shakers in ISIS or any other terrorist organization aren’t going to blow THEMSELVES to bits are they ? No, they’re going to choose easily influenced stooges to do it instead.

Meanwhile, back in Cartoonland, stuff is OK without coming close to being “outstanding”. But that’s the way it is when you’re freelance. Good job I enjoy it.

A source of worry has been Maggie, my now elderly dog. She’s about twelve and has a cough, caused – in a complicated veterinary way by the fact that she has an enlarged heart. Its quite common in old dogs apparently. But after x-rays, a course of antibiotics and various other potions, she’s now back to her funny, personable self. She’ll always have a slight cough, but otherwise everything’s working as it should. Presently she’s staring at me and soon she’ll hit my knee because she wants more breakfast.

Those humans who don’t have a dog, or who don’t like dogs will probably never understand the bond between human and canine. Two completely different species which understand and depend on each other. In fact, I’d say that Maggie understands more about me than I do about her. She reads body language and listens to tone of voice and knows when no more breakfast will appear, so slinks off to have a sulk at the top of the stairs.

April Blog

Mrs May’s been and gone and done it. She’s signed somethingorother which triggers Article 50 which in turn will lead the UK out of the European community of Nations and start a monumental scramble of re-negotiated trade deals. This will keep civil servants and international trade “experts” busy for years. I put “experts” in inverted commas because the UK’s relatively recent referendum made “experts “ of us all.

Of course, the trouble with handing power to the people in the way a referendum does, is that quite a lot of the people who voted to leave were fairly clueless about international trade deals. I voted to remain in the E.U., but that doesn’t mean for one minute that I or other remainers have a deep and meaningful understanding of the workings of the E.U. But maybe we voted to stay because whilst we were irritated by Brussels interfering with the shape of our sprouts, or the bendiness of bananas, we thought that the E.U. was bumbling along moderately well. A sort of “better the devil you know” philosophy.

Anyway, now we’re in bed with a devil we certainly do not know, spurred on by a referendum victory which was fuelled by spurious hark – backs to the UK “standing alone” seventy-odd years ago. Actually, we didn’t stand alone. We were propped up by the immense wealth of the U.S.A.

The U.S.A. is quite keen on the UK being part of the E.U. – or at least it was until Trumpton became a White House reality. Now, the U.S. cares not a jot for anything which isn’t North American.

And whilst Mrs May was signing our way – the United Kingdom’s way- towards an uncertain future, the Scots have voted for another referendum , seeking independence from the allegedly “United” Kingdom. The Scots also want to stay in the E.U., whilst in Northern Ireland, border-crossing points are being set up between N.I. and Ireland – just in case. I’m not sure what Wales is going to do but doubtless they’ll tell us about it twice a la their bilingual signposts.

Oh dear. What a mess. A victory for Little Englanders. I know a bloke who has the cross of St George painted on his wheelie bin. Like me, I suspect he’s quite elderly. He’ll be amongst the first to moan when his NHS treatment is delayed or cancelled because of NHS staff shortages caused by called – for curbs on immigration.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of national pride. I love it when England win the Six Nations rugby, or beat Australia at cricket. But that’s sport. And sport’s a puzzle anyway – especially soccer -where rabid English fans support one team and one team only – a team which just happens to be entirely made up of what Little Englanders call “foreigners”. Weird or what ?

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…………. “