Saturday, 30 May 2009

“No wind, no rain, no cold or flu . . .

 . . . can stop the Air Mail getting through!”

For obvious reasons, I was very pleased to read this story of the US Postal Service’s last surviving wilderness air mail route, recently spared the axe. The accompanying photos could be straight out of a Little Golden Book.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Eagle Place

Painted this afternoon, though the weather was much nicer than it looks here.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Sadie at the Smithsonian

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC holds regular story time events for children, and in June one of the stories being read is my picture book with the flying cat. Come along and listen at the National Mall Building, Gallery 102, on Thursday June 18th, 11 am, Friday June 19th, 11 am, and Saturday June 20th at 11 am and 1:30 pm.

Details on the museum’s June 2009 events calendar.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A Gentleman of Letters

Via Scamp, here’s a collection of photographs showing the work of Dublin signwriter Kevin Freeney, active from the 1930s to the ’80s.

Included is an In Dublin article on signwriters from 1978, a whiskey bottle reminiscent of The Small Back Room, and loads of signs, on vans, walls, pubs, shops, including a couple for Beshoff’s fishmongers. Beshoff? Yes, Beshoff.

The above photo is of Premier Cycles, Shop Street, Drogheda. Copyright © the estate of Kevin Freeney.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Beyond wooly thinking

This post on immigration is the strangest thing I’ve seen on Harry’s Place; beyond wooly thinking, beyond mushy logic, it’s complete toxic sludge.

The fanaticism feared by the voices in the post and its comments thread, this fanaticism that they seek to counter by restricting immigration, it is a fanaticism that opposes openness, that opposes the modern globalising world, that wishes to restrict populations behind barriers.

It will not be defeated by raising more barriers, it will be defeated by the spread of enlightened principles of science, critical thought, democratically accountable rule of law, universal human rights.

Migration, along with communications technology and global trade, drives the expansion of these ideas. Global migration is a far greater threat to the dead-end ideological fanatics than it is to open societies.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Big in The Netherlands

Big in Japan is passé, the in thing is to be big in The Netherlands, so meet my new representatives in Rotterdam, the Zone 5300 Illustration Agency. The agency is a recent offshoot of the long running Dutch magazine of comic strips, culture and curiosities, Zone 5300.

Obama’s unfulfilled DADT promise

For US Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, the question of Obama’s unfulfilled campaign promise to repeal the US military’s anti-gay Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy has some urgency.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Monochrome 2

Montreal Place, this afternoon.

A little link: blogging in song.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Monument opposite The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, this afternoon. The plaque says:

This account places the monument in the context of the times, particularly in relation to the 1905 Aliens Act, on which more here.

Back to the present now, and Bob has a bunch of links to recent items on Left antisemitism and its deniers, while other bloggers express their considered view on a sample from Ken Loach: yuk, blech, eew, a real stinker.



Sunday, 17 May 2009

Keeping order

2) Please stow your luggage safely in the overhead lockers or under the seat in front of you. Fasten your seatbelts, and stop your children crying. Pay no attention to that man screaming for his life, if you know what’s good for you.

3) Head, brick wall, bang, bang, bang.

4) For a change, a link to a Sullivan post that I’m in sympathy with.

The above illustration was for the Times Education Supplement, 2001.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Oldish and newish links: bike blogging, bus blogging, tube blogging, horse and carriage blogging, and more bike blogging.

The illustration is one of those for Sandvik children’s books from 2007.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Animal traffic

Beep-beep, work in progress!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Old snake skins

Hampstead Heath again, noon today.

I woke from a dream at six this morning, and couldn’t go back to sleep.

In the dream I’d met a fellow from my class in secondary school, and hadn’t been able to remember his name. I tried, called him by a name, but it sounded wrong. I tried to correct myself, and called him another. He looked insulted, so I tried a third, but it still wasn’t right.

When I awoke, I really couldn’t remember his name. I could recall his face, conversations we’d had, but no name.

I tried remembering the names of others in that class. I could only summon two or three names, and nine or ten faces. I tried remembering names of classmates in primary school. Three or four.

What else could I remember of my childhood? The only childhood birthdays I have any particular memory of are my third and my sixth. My third birthday was the last before we left Denmark for Ireland. A present, a corduroy horse called Fanta, so called because some Fanta was spilled on it at the party.

On my sixth birthday I was sick. Six and sick, so no party. And my mother was making strawberry jam, lots of it. For years afterwards I couldn’t eat strawberry jam without experiencing nausea.

I don’t have any precise memories of my brother’s birthdays. Did we have birthday parties after we moved to Ireland? I don’t remember. I don’t recall seeing any birthday photos in the album that my brother has.

Other children’s birthdays . . . I only remember two birthday parties, both for the same girl. The first was memorable because someone hit me in the face with a stick, and I had a spectacular nosebleed. And I remember a game of pin the tail on the donkey. And the birthday girl’s father playing a practical joke on her, an enormous parcel with several layers of wrapping, and only a block of wood in the centre. And I remember her on the roof of a garden shed, throwing stones at her guests.

Perhaps I’m muddling together more than one party. The last memory is separate, though, of delivering a present to her on her birthday when she was a few years older, only to discover she’d had a party earlier in the day, and I hadn’t been invited.

I think I was desperate. Desperate at twelve, desperate at three.

I became intensely focused on imaginative drawing at a very early age, around age three or four, around the time we moved to Ireland. Now I wonder if this monomania was an attempt at creating a refuge from change, a carefully constructed world of my own, an alternative to a strange land with a new language.

One other memory from when I was three, in Denmark, playing in the sandpit with my friend, the boy from the neighboring farm up the hill, telling him we were leaving. But now my memory of the memory is confused. Which one of us was wearing a green jumper? And what was his name?

Friday, 8 May 2009


The Bank of England, seen from the corner of Lothbury and Prince’s Street this afternoon. And seen in ruins here, the original of which is here.

Delicious and galoshes

Take the hear
out of your air
so you can hair
what I’m seeing.
A Times Higher Education Supplement illustration from late in the last century. If you’re feeling flush, Denis Kitchen has some drawings of mine from that time for sale on his site. A tip: the black and white ones may be the better deal, as a lot of my colour work from the THES days was rendered with Talens dyes which are prone to fade if exposed to sunlight for too long. My current work is all acrylic and more light-fast.

And now, some links . . .

Abu Muquwama on the fighting in Swat: Control and Collaboration.
(Related, from BBC News: Cynicism among Pakistani refugees.)

Information Dissemination on a USN strategy for dealing with piracy: run away.

ModernityBlog on certain weird-left attitudes to Ahmadinejad: he’s a racist, but-

David T of Harry’s Place on Geert Wilders: Enemy of Liberalism.

Azarmehr has too many interesting posts from the past few weeks for me to link to just one.

None of your elephant percussion ensembles from Thailand here: Jams turns up the volume for his seven songs.

Update - a few more . . .

William Wray has a post all about reds.

More music from Mick Hartley: The Tan Canary.

Some numbers from Strangers into Citizens: the costs (12.7m euros) and gains (190m euros) of the 2005 Spanish regularisation process for immigrants.

A little conversation between some old boys of Hollywood:
- We always used to wear jackets and ties in the industry, but now you look like you’re shot out of a cannon, that’s the look you want. You should have holes in your knees there and everything.
- I got holes in my knees, but they’re covered!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

In the control tower

Before my picture book was a picture book, it was an animation project in development with the Irish Film Board. But books are easier than films to complete, so a book it became. Now, bound book in hand, we venture down the animation path again . . . above, story sketches showing the control tower at Air Mail HQ.

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Edward Hopper. The top drawing is a 1940s sketch of a 1920s painting, and the page is from one of the ledgers in which he listed his paintings, recording sales and other details.

A panel from Wash Tubbs by Roy Crane, 1941.

Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt, from Oscartoons.

Storyboard by Robert Boyle and Harold Michelson for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, from Apetitos. For more see Hans Bacher’s blog.

Little Tim and The Brave Sea Captain, by Edward Ardizzone, 1936.

Never mind the Stalinism, where are the songs?

Mick Hartley on Pete Seeger, who is another day older today.

Spring Place

Kentish Town, London, yesterday lunchtime. Like the previous painting, this was on paper I’d coated with colour before leaving home, green this time obviously.

When I saw this photo of soldiers in a poppy field on the front page of the International Herald Tribune a couple of days ago, I was tempted to have a go at copying it in paint. But instead you get the street sweeper vehicle and a car tail-light. See Abu Muqawama here and here for doubts on a poppylationcentric strategy in Afghanistan.

Also at Abu Muqawama: Bad Days for the British Army, which links to this FT editorial. The FT writes:
In an epic week of cack-handed decisions, tin-eared judgment and political misery for the government of Gordon Brown, by no means the least damaging move – for the country rather than the Labour party – was choosing to duck out of sending more UK troops to Afghanistan.

Let us be clear. There are huge problems with strategy towards Afghanistan. Local political development is warped by corruption and warlordism, but also by most economic development being in the hands of NGOs and foreign aid agencies. It is hard to see how the fight against the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies can be combined successfully with a losing war on drugs. In geo-strategic terms, Pakistan’s soldiers and spies will not cease supporting jihadis as proxy warriors in Afghanistan (and Kashmir) until détente with archrival India is resumed. Clearly, there are also well-rehearsed differences between Nato allies about what fighting an insurgency means.

Nonetheless, if the UK is committed to the war in Afghanistan – and it is – it must will the means. Grand strategy aside, if the British government sends an expeditionary force to perform a difficult and dangerous job, it is an elementary political obligation to provide it with adequate resources. Unlike Iraq, this was not a war of choice.
The rest here. (If you have difficulties registering for FT articles it’s possible to view the whole thing by replacing the word ‘false’ with ‘true’ in the address displayed on your browser.) 

The one argument neglected by the FT is one raised by a commenter at Abu Muqawama earlier  in the year, that while fighting the Taliban in Pakistan may be essential in defending Afghanistan, holding Afghanistan could equally be essential if there is to be any chance of defending Pakistan from the Taliban. Extremism in Pakistan is a direct threat to Britain as well as to Britain’s allies. To help counter that threat the British government must be prepared to do everything possible in Afghanistan. Sending 700 temporary troops when the army wanted a long-term deployment of 2,000 more is not doing everything possible.

More on Afghanistan from Ghosts of Alexander, “thanks for the money, I’ll use it to kill you later,” and watching Rambo III. Earlier in the week from AM on  Pakistan, Kilcullen on the Pakistani Army, and also via AM,  Nicholas Scmidle suggests saving Pakistan by drawing a line along the Indus River. This suggestion in itself graphically shows how bad things are.

And via the SWJ, today’s Telegraph has a headline saying “US general says Pakistan could be just two weeks from collapse” though the article says something different, that General Petraeus is giving Pakistan’s military two weeks to act before coming to a decision on how the US should respond to Taliban gains. Newspaper editors, don’t you just love ’em?

Also today, in the Washington Post, Moment of truth in Pakistan, again via the SWJ:
“My experience is that knocking them [the Pakistani government and military] hard isn’t going to work,” said Mullen. “The harder we push, the further away they get.” For the crackdown on the Taliban to be successful, he said, “it has to be their will, not ours.” 
That’s Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Trafalgar Square

On Trafalgar Square looking west along Cockspur Street with Canada House on the right, late yesterday afternoon.

The colours looked nothing like this in reality. I’d prepared the paper with a coat of deep magenta and acrylic medium before leaving the house. I’d intended to then cover the magenta a bit more in painting the scene, but I ran out of time.

Bob from Brockley has a couple of posts up about an event in Trafalgar Square this monday, the May Bank Holiday. He writes:
Strangers into Citizens are holding a big Justice for Migrants rally in Trafalgar Square (Asian Dub Foundation will be playing at the rally). SiC is campaigning for a ‘one-off regularisation’ (or ‘amnesty’) for long-term migrants.
More details in his later post, or at Strangers into Citizens.

And for the day that’s in it, Terry Glavin writes from Canada on May Day.