July Blog

At the time of writing, June’s nearly over. In my book, that’s no bad thing. The month’s been dominated by the fact that my email facility gave up the ghost . My internet service provider is BT which, going off past experience, has to be the worst company in the known universe. I’ve spoken to quite a few BT folk recently. Some were off-hand, whilst others were concerned and gave me the impression that they wanted to help. The local chap who comes to give my computer a dressing down when it misbehaves can’t because he’s on holiday in Croatia. But the last BT person I spoke to PROMISED that somebody who can sort things out will be in touch on Monday. I’ll believe it when it happens.

My old, no money Mazda 6 estate is due an MoT. I think it’ll be OK. It’s a cracking car despite being presently covered in seagull pooh. That’s because last week we spent a week in Staithes, up on the north-east coast. The noisiest, poohiest herring gulls in the world live there. Some regard them as a pest, but I quite like them. Beautiful in flight and very funny when begging for food. They stamp their huge feet and go, “PAPPAPPAP !” Which is what they do to their parents, apparently.

Staithes was blisteringly hot. I have a very sunburnt hooter. The village is tiny, but it has an OK beach. Wilma the Dog thought that was v interesting. She was less sure about waves.
On day three, Sheila’s daughter Dr Jen arrived with her dog Kes, an utterly loopy, naughty two year old border collie. One evening, whilst Sheila, Jen, Wilma and I were relaxing NOT watching footy, Kes stole my glasses, hid behind the settee and ate them. So I drove back as an advert for Sellotape. Actually, peaceful, gentle Wilma has Kes’s measure. If he persists in annoying her, she growls and shows her not inconsiderable teeth. But having spent six of her eight years as a stray, that doesn’t surprise me. It surprises Kes. But not for long. But I think they quite like each other really, given the way they curled up together at night.

So then it was back to the ranch to finish my present series of cartoon calendars – a bit of a ploddy job, but end’s in sight now.

My studio fan’s still rattling away because its still way too hot – has been all day. The sooner it rains, the better.

Evening meal time now. Will I watch any footy ? Only if there’s nothing else on.
Meanwhile, two days later………Stop press ! My local computer fettler called yesterday and I’ve got my emails back. Excellent !

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.