Thursday, 17 October 2013


When i were nobbut a lad.....On a Friday evening the local news programme 'GRANADA REPORTS' was on . One night a tall fellah with glasses was introduced standing in front of a huge sheet of paper....And proceeded to draw the weeks news in thick marker pen at dazzling speed as he spoke through the tales of that particular week ,in the 60's ,he was in black and white along with his drawing which in the space of a few minutes filled the wall with this wonderful universe of insanity which was all the more suprising as it was only the news and as every lad knew the news was boring as shit!....But i was hooked ! The following day i found myself drawing in the funny squiggly way that this fellah had done....This fellah was none other than the immortal BILL TIDY !!!!

So on a Friday that was 'IT!'....Whatever happened , tough!..BILL TIDY was on and that was the nucleus of my week....Infact in my cartooning universe BILL TIDY was the 'Big Bang!'....I don't remember much of his 'CLOGGIES' stories , a tale of hard drinking ,clog wearing folk, but his next epic 'THE FOSDYKE SAGA!',an epic tale of tripe making folk, was in the DAILY MIRROR daily....And a few years ago i got a heap of the books and they are wonderful ,BILL TIDY has a sense of humour that isn't so much 'outside the box', but just nowhere near any box ,i look at his stuff and ,obviously some are better than others, but its always a case of "where in god's name did that come from?"......Over the years i learned to love a variety of cartoonists from various sources ,but BILL TIDY must assume full responsibility for what i've become......SWINE !!!!!!!

These pictures are of Bill last week at a private showing of  BILL TIDY...BILL STOTT....and TONY HUSBAND....Arranged by Bill Stott  , the two Bills and Tony did an illustrated talk and very funny they were too. Bill Tidy introduced us to the 'CLOGGIES!' and a very large breasted barmaid which he clearly enjoyed drawing in greater detail than any other character that night.....A few glasses of wine and meeting up with some old friends ensured a very pleasant evening was had by all. I was quite pleased as Bill remembered me and we chatted ,very silly conversation ,he only wanted me to keep his glass filled...Telling me .."If you tell anyone you saw me with an empty glass ,i'll kill you!"....

Stood behind Bill is the other Bill, BILL STOTT seemingly enjoying himself as he should i believe he put a lot of effort into it ,well done ,sir....It was also BILL TIDY'S 90th birthday and they'd made a cake ,a beautiful creation by ANDY DAVEY'S partner ,who i'm ashamed to say ,i can't think of her name ,but she did this cake in the shape of a pair of battered old clogs ,wonderful and a shame to cut into it !

This is Bill ,no doubt giving me some fatherly advice ,or possibly telling me he'd smash me face in if i didn't get him a drink!

Sad to say ,comparing haircuts!!!!

I told him how everything bad thats ever happened to me is because of him and causing me to a cartoonist ,he seemed quite pleased and proud to accept the mantle of blame!

After this ,the boss..THE LOVELY LYNNE  said we'd have to leave as we had to go out the following day so we only had about 12 hours to find our way out of Manchester ,it only took us about 8 hours to find the gallery and the pub where we were to meet CHRIS WILLIAMS  ,he of the CARTOONIST CLUB OF GREAT BRITAIN inner sanctum.....Manchesters a swine of a place to get around ,Lynnes sat-Nav gave up and had a nervous breakdown ,started sobbing and wanted to" go home to mummy!"

Friday, 11 October 2013


We've had a stereo system for a number of years now and a fine little set it has been ,until recently when it wouldnt play any CDs' and wouldnt eject any ,so i had 5 at this time favourite dics swallowed up....Nothing i could do would do any bloody good......The other day ,THE LOVELY LYNNE bought a very nifty small compact set from where else ,but ASDA.....One of the funny things is that it only plays one disc at a time which has had a strange effect .....Instead of filling the multi-disc with a heap of discs set to play in any order by the wonder of the wonderful 'Mode' switch, i've found i'm playing one disc at a time in order like playing vinyl records once long ago, then replacing it on the shelf ,which was a habit i'd fallen out of as a heap of disc holders built up alongside the player and stuff left neglected on the shelf gathered dust. But i find whenever i want to play something i'm choosing the stuff i'd not bothered with for ages.

Just recently i've been listening to a lot of PETER GABRIEL and early GENESIS which i've 'clicked onto and just love....A few of them were stuck in the old set with the full concert of THE WHO'S,....'LIVE AT HULL', which is part of the 'LIVE AT LEEDS' box set, so i wanted the stuff back. I started subtley enough with the screwdriver and as time and technology moved on i felt the implementation of brute force was required to get at the discs in a metal box in amongst the electronic 'gubbins ', i felt i was disconnecting the 'LARGE HADRON COLLIDER'....If i wasn't getting my discs back i could've discovered the secret of the HIGGS BOSON and the secret of DARK MATTER in the universe, but i decided that CERN in Switzerland could sort that out and i'd get my discs back, selfish ,i know ,but hey?.....I spend a lot of time alone in the house and i like music and the radio......

As i said ,if you've been paying attention i've been listening to a lot of classic GENESIS lately ,in fact a fair bit of 'PROG' rock , YES ....'GOING FOR THE ONE !' is great. I've also been watching a series on PBS about the history of JAZZ which is quite good and much to LYNNES annoyance i quite like 'THE BLUES', all this "OLD STUFF!!"...She's an 80's girl ...."YEEEUUUCCCKK!!!".....

The other week we went to see an 80 year old living legend PETULA CLARK and she was great...I''ve been whistling ,humming and singing 'DOWNTOWN' ever since. As an experiment ,gently hum 'Downtown!' and everyone around you within minutes will be humming, whistling or singing that 'damn song!'...I guarantee it....

Listening to it ,i've been kicked off again ,i'll be Downtowning for another week, at least ....She had a lovely voice ,clear as a bell ,ya gotta admit!....Listen to it and with the aid of a calendar see how long it is 'till you can get the tune out of your head!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


On my way to Ireland the other week to take part in the COOTEHILL CARTOON FESTIVAL....After an intensive period of therapy and various drugs to cure me of a series of mental problems following my multiple attempts at booking a return ticket ,online with RYANAIR!....I had just about recovered from the multiple breakdowns and had been out of the straitjacket for days by this time, as my beloved missus ,the Lovely Lynne dropped me at JOHN LENNON airport ,or as the Scouse still call it SPEKE AIRPORT to get the plane i had suffered so much to get.

We were shuttled through quite quickly ,seated and before we knew it ,off and upwards into the great grotty grey with touches of blue yonder. The stewardesses were very friendly and drinks ,etc were on tap almost right away ,the coffee was nice and the chicken salad butty was lovely. Much to my annoyance the dreaded flying cattle wagon i had imagined was turning into a pleasant flight. Liverpool to Dublin is a veritable 'hop skip n' a jump!' So as we got our food and drink it was almost time to make our approach so the seatbelt sign went on and we had to put our tables up even though we all had our food and virtually full drinks, we had to juggle the two and listen to the usual totally indecypherable  message from our smooth sounding Captain.....Then silence!

.......As the plane swooped down ,i was feeling quite relaxed ,not one to enjoy bumpy landings ,but i was quite calm, then this deafening bugle call boomed out of the speakers ,every passenger on the plane jumped ,what that weighty passenger instantaneous bounce did to the flight path on its approach i dont want to know.....This heart stopping 'Charge of the Light Brigade .'TARA,TARA,TARA!!!!!..... Was followed by an announcement which i thought said.."THANK YOU FOR FLYING RYANAIR!...Where 90% of our flights land?".....I had an image of 10% of RYANAIR aircraft scattered across the land and seas....It was later i realised they were telling us that 90% of their flights landed, ON TIME!....Then off ,straight through the area and to the bar , quite relaxed and dissapointingly pleased with my journey!

The reason i was dissapointed with being pleased and satisfied was because of the hell i went through trying to book on line a few weeks earlier ,it was an absolute bastard of a job and took me a number of shots to get there ,but in the end i got there and tried to print off my boarding pass and couldnt as the printer just gave up and has never worked since, not only did i find myself on the verge of losing my mind, but the printer couldnt stand the strain and gave up the will to print. The flight worked out at a respectable £41 ,but i ticked a low weight for baggage and was automatically hammered for £50 ,as it turned out the bag i took i could've brought on board for free, instead of getting hammered for £90-odd, so much messing with the questionairre i didn't realise 'till too late...(sob, whimper!)

A cartooning friend JON BERKELEY saw the suffering and pain i was going through and forewarded me this bit of FASCINATING AIDA performing 'CHEAP FLIGHTS!' a wonderfully funny skit on the cheapo flights and very ,in fact too close to the truth.

Friday, 4 October 2013


  About a year ago i got in touch about the possibility of a cartoon festival in the town where my family hail from in Ireland, with a family friend JONATHAN SMYTH who lives that little town in COUNTY CAVAN , called COOTEHILL, A name which caused much amusement of the cartoonist / caricaturist MARK NESBITT, (LUKE WARM). Infact he's doing the poster next year if it goes ahead again ,as we all hope....A lovely part of IRELAND  very green with grass and cow dung ,off road....On road ,gravel and stones, the area  is widely credited for inventing pot holes make driving an interesting and breathtaking experience....It is also the town where my mothers family come from and i spent a good chunk of my life visiting and loving every minute 'roughing it' with a mass of cousins on my 'Grannies' farm ,sadly no one is left there and the old house is falling to 'rack n' ruin....I always wanted to go back ,but suggested in passing about hosting a cartoon festival ,which they pounced on and before i knew it we were up n' running.

I got in touch with the ,mainly Irish cartoonists from the old and partially remembered wild insanity of the RATHDRUM CARTOON FESTIVAL organised by the late great TERRY WILLERS and his amazing wife ,that force of nature VALERIE, in the 90's. A few English lads jumped on board ,but i had to keep numbers down ,as money ,etc was at a premium... 

As the year wore on ,there was a few bumps along the road as they say and at one time communications were few and far between and nerves started to fray and people started to pull out. When things were back on track and various suggestions were made and taken on board and we 'wuz cookin' on gas' and some of the crew were ,thankfully 'back on board'...And we were off!

The 13 September, Friday afternoon a group of us met up in ,suprise ,suprise !!! The bar at Dublin Airport!...Our lift and one of the organisers HARRY KEATING picked us up to take us from 'the Dirty awl town' out into the 'bogs' and the Craic was well and truly 'on' after not really seeing each other in a long time...But as with anytime friends get together even after a long time the conversation, piss taking and general bull shit carries on as if it had all been only yesterday!....Very soon our warm feeling was replaced by a full feeling eminating from out bladders, something to do with the bar in the airport! And a roadside emergency stop was urgently called for.....As we went about our 'business against some farmers gate, for some reasons ,of which i am not going anywhere near, the conversation turned to horses!...We had arrived!!!!!!!

After finding a very nice holiday home we were crashing in we stocked up on lovely Irish bacon ,sausages and eggs to keep us going in lovely greasy Irish breakfasts and late night butties as well as gallons of tea and coffee......Then!.....Into town and ....THE PUB!.....SMITHS BAR!.....Run by a highly disreputable character whom i knew years ago when he was slim, handsome with thick dark hair having 'a thing' with my sister.....As everybody in Cootehill told me they were aware as Don had told them , secrets never get kept or die the just get repeated and exaggerated over the years. Don is the official looking fellah next to me ,with the chain,seated 2nd from the right. Don ,gawd bless the swine was great with us all over the weekend ,everybody was great ,i've never been treated with so much friendliness as over that weekend!...
The guy on the left seated was another organiser ,Malachy Magee, a really nice enthusiastic guy who was so up for the festival to work.
The tall blonde lady in towards the middle was another organiser ,the lovely Elaine Grills who was ,again ,absolutly great ,god bless and thanks to them all. This was at the library where we were up to do a cartooning workshop ,noone had a clue where we were going with it ,i said "just wing it!".....Which is what we did and all of us contributed  and the points ,techniques and ideas ,just bounced around like a pinball machine and was a great success ,the librarian MARGARET BANNONwas delighted and ,apparently a great time was had by all.

The 'HOLE IN THE HEAD GANG' consisted of ME..(of course,..Looking good after the excesses of the previous night!)....HUNT (The guv'nor ) EMERSON.....MARK ( Luke Warm ) NESBITT......ROGER ( I'm not dead yet!) O'REILLY.......JON ( Fries the best irish breakfast in Spain ) BERKELEY......GRAEME ( I didn't invite him ) KEYES.........AIDAN (Pain in the arse ) COONEY...And little Daniel  kept hostage until they tore up our bar tab !...This is one of the last photos as Aidan drained the battery on my camera.....There wasn't a clean or nice word uttered over the whole weekend, but plenty of laughing ,mainly at others expense ,but ,such is life ,a good time was had by all and they all worked bloody hard ,which is amazing as non of them are even on nodding terms with hard work!

This is an ,apparently very rare shot of 'Mein Host ', DON SMITH smiling, as he said for me to "Make sure you get my best side!!!".....General hilarity ensued as the locals informed us in highly colourful terms their particular opinions on what constituted 'Dons best side!'

Don was quite annoyed that his entry into the COOTEHILL SCARECROW COMP' hadn't been accepted by the judges.....We asked where it was ,he told us it was just behind us. There was a table with a pair of shoes.......THE INVISIBLE MAN!!!!!!






Over the weekend was  big music festival for a ,now deceased local man who opened a shoe factory in the town his name was GERRY WHELAN and the festival took his name,his daughter CONNIE was one of the organisers, but was away in Australia during the festivities , so except for a few phone conversations, we never met, sadly. Every pub was playing live music and the old town was bouncing. One pub Mullens had a quartet of beautiful young girls who were also an excellent band ,me and Aidan Cooney drew them and a heap of locals then went ,by way of a few other pubs 'back to base' at Smiths bar ,he had a band ,although a great band ,they were the other end of the scale ,old and ugly ,real characters ,a joy to draw ,one guy with an old hat and a beard about 5 feet long, he was wonderful and had me dripping tears of laughter on my drawing.

The following day the weather broke and the wind, rain and cold hit, proper Cootehill weather!!!!...The main street was blocked off to traffic as stalls were set up ,classic cars ,food ,music ,a town marathon race and  local man ,the one and only VINCE PILKINGTON.....THE WORLD TURKEY PLUCKING CHAMPION!!!!!.....Was putting on his very popular crowd pulling display, tough competition, indeed!...Actually ,if i'd 've known i'd've gone to see it myself.  We scribbled in a tent and as the winds increased and the temperature dropped, i  started
 to shiver and had to concenterate on keeping lines steady. Locals started to supply me with hot whiskies, of which i'd never had one ,love Irish coffee's ,but hot whiskies ,definitly warmed the system and steadied the line. The crowds seemed pleased and came from all over even on such a miserable day as the Sunday turned out to be. Then ,finally into the boozer and 'a few!' and once warm indoor pub scribbling...Its a good way of staying sober and helps the Guinness flow smoothly. A few of the lads were nagging over having a rest or going for a bite, but i find that can screw me up more than staying drawing 'on the pop!'

But all seemed to go well and the organisers seemed determined to go ahead next year ,onwards and upwards, bigger and better.....And it only took 5 days to sort of recover !

Cheers and thanks to all involved and esspecially the bunch of cartooning deadbeats i have to call my friends ....YOU WERE GREAT !



HARRY (Our faithful driver ,A star!).....HUNT (Another star )EMERSON.

A happy GRAEME KEYES....A cause for concern ?
An intellectual looking JON BERKELEY....Theres no glass in the lens.