After returning to our dark gloomy n' damp ol' country after getting absolutly frazzled n' fried, boozing and stuffing our faces in Portugal, i had a night at home with a chinkey take away and a bottle of wine in front of the telly catching up on hours of SKY + recorded episodes of CORONATION STREET. Then the following morning i bade farewell to my beloved brood and made my way off to the fine town of SHREWSBURY, as it was time for the scum of the cartooning world to decend upon the pubs and backstreets of that fine and once respectable town. Whenever the cartoonists decend upon any place any semblance of ,class, style, order,decency, and general good n' nice things legs it out in the opposite direction as fast as their respectable legs'll carry them. This time would prove to be no different ,especially as a group of hooligans and deadbeats, generally refferred to as the IRISH CARTOONISTS' were coming over from the emerald bogs. I've not seen many of them for a number of years . I'm still recovering from the ravages of a variety of Irish cartoon festivals over the last 20 years or so.
Not long after arriving i got dragged into the main square ,where cartoonists were drawing on boards and sheets of various sizes from normal foolscap to 8 by 10 foot boards. I got dragged into the caricaturing for the public. There was a big queue ,so instead of carefully drawn brush pen renderings , i snaffled a couple of free A3 pads and some black markers and dived in doing ,as they say, 'lightening sketches'. People enjoy the fast almost frenetic scribbling. Once somebody called me a KEITH MOON of cartooning....I was telling one of my targets that, as i was stretching my arm ,swinging my drawing arm above my head . He said i was more like a PETE TOWNSHEND of caricaturing. I dont know if that was because of the swinging arm; The target badge i had on my shirt.....Or just my big nose! But being ever the showman i went into a TOWNSHEND WINDMILL AND LEAP in the air, very silly, but it got a laugh and a round of applause. I did consider ripping the drawing and smashing the marker pen on the deck, but i do draw the line, along with all the others.....I do have limits to my stupidity ,but it was probably the prospect of having to bend all the way to the ground to break this little chunky marker, doing me back in and probably smashing my fingers.
Then, at the first oppertunity we dissappeared into the boozer, finally meeting up with the Irish lads; GRAHAM KEYES, TOM MATTHEWS, JIM COOGAN and later TOM HALLIDAY. And much to my disgusted suprise GUY CARTER had been invited to film the chaos and disorder. The evening then degenerated into boozing, stuffing our faces then back to the boozing. The mixture of beer, wine and .....whisky ,all in vast quantities, at the time seemed a good idea, but time would tell...
And ,Jeez ,it did!....The following morning was a little like a scene from one of those zombie films. What the human being will do to themselves in the quest for a good night is beyond belief. But a good cartoonist is nothing if not experianced in the art of handling the worst of hangovers. After a few gallons of tea and coffee we hit the main square and scribble the fine people of Shrewsbury. Filled with stale drink; And festering hatred for myself, the suffering i put myself through and for the others who forced drink down my unsuspecting and innocent gullet; and hatred for everybody sitting in front of me , my jaws aching as i clenched my teeth with a couple of tons of pressure on my molars and fillings in an unflinching sincere friendly smile.
Its quite easy being a caricaturist in a festival ,as people are always saying things like,"Dont draw my spots, freckles, big nose, wrinkles, bald patch, double chin, etc, etc, ", half the time you dont have to look up. After a bit the locals genuine good humour bucks you up and its time to get 'THE HAIR OF THE DOG' down you. The LOVELY LYNNE n' THE LITTLE 'UN arrived in the afternoon. They had a wander ,as GUY CARTER, decided he wanted me to film the cartoonists and public. I took to it like a 'FISH TO CONCRETE'. Over the day and evening the language and pure insanity that came out on the attempt at serious investigative journalism was unbelievable. I reckon theres about 3 days of film, but by the time it gets edited down ,there'll be about 45 seconds of usable non offensive film.
That evening when we hit the hotel bar ,in the company of GUY CARTER and the EMPEROR DALEK, himself, JOHN LANDERS. John was driving Guy nuts, as Guy wanted John to introduce the festival in this incredible DALEK voice that he manages somehow and never fails to crease me up. He wouldnt do it so Guy was yelling n' 'effing n' blinding and ,after a while sounded more like a DALEK then JOHN, but for the second time in as many months i was in a totally uncontrollable fit of laughter ,crying and tearing of the ribcage ,but John picked up on it and took up laughing ,which set me off again and vice versa, neither of us could breath for an hour or so. Everybody looking over.."What the F*****'s wrong with them shit'eads? written across their faces . When i went to bed i was still in pain and the following day my ribs and throat were wrecked.
A good time, as ever was had by all, while the festival was on, afterwards you have to pay the ferryman for the overindulgences. As you get older the suffering lasts about 3 times longer than the sinfullness that was responsible for it in the first place.
The 'ace(but not pretty)face' HUNT EMERSON made a showing at SHREWSBURY, but after a mooch around the main square ,he looked for us in a few boozers, but couldnt find us, so returned home to BIRMINGHAM. Either Hunt needs to wipe the ink off his glasses;Missed us in the pub; Or he was in the pub when we were looking at museums and cathedrals and such places of cultural interest. It was a shame we missed him, as he's a grizzled veteran of the Irish festivals as well. Ah well, maybe next year.