Monday, February 28, 2005

Formula 1 abstract art 

In the intersection of the Venn diagram of petrolheads and chinstrokers lies the strange world of Formula 1-inspired abstract Art. Here, for instance, is Victory At Imola by Jenny Bond (2000)


It has come to my attention that there is a factual error in the entry daft/cool from a few days ago. But it's okay, I think I got away with it.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

a (half-hearted) plea for tolerance 

a galumphing robot 

Because everyone likes robots, right?

Saturday, February 26, 2005


Yay, I won something. Hurrah!

Not that I'm prone to time-wasting during the working day or anything but last week I entered a competition to win one of five "I've Adopted a Mad Bear" T shirts from the BBC.

You had to suggest titles for possible compilation albums and the fact that my suggestion (The 50 Greatest Songs to Drown Out The Odious Wittering of Robert Kilroy-Silk) came in the top five suggests that competition was far from fierce. Though in fairness, Now then, Now then: That's What I Call Jimmy Savile (suggested by one Katharine Wright) is a cut above.

I shall inform you as to whether the T shirt itself was worth the effort in the fullness of time.

The Mad Bear slogan, in case you were wondering, is to do with the really very good Radio 4 comedy show, That Mitchell And Webb Sound (Thursdays, 6.30p.m.), from the same team that made Peep Show for the telly.

You can hear the most recent programme at the Radio 4 website by going to the Listen Again page.

Actually, Radio 4 are doing okay for comedy at present. They started an adaptation of Jonathan Coe's excellent novel What A Carve Up! last week (Tuesdays, 11p.m. also available via Listen Again as above) which seems likely to comfortably outdo the recent telly version of The Rotters' Club. And High Table, Lower Orders (Fridays, 11.30a.m., Listen again, blah blah, you get the idea) is not only quite good but has the added bonus of local interest in that it's set in Cambridge.

All of which is a great relief to me as, being a professional illustrator, I have to listen to Radio 4 pretty much all day every day. It's the law.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

nostalgic hairdo sighting 

Saw one of these on the train the other day:

Oh my, the classic combination of severe male pattern baldness and a ponytail. Hadn't seen one in years. Didn't Phil Collins go for a similar look at one point or was that just some horrific nightmare I had? Or there was that band in the '80s - the half hit wonders who did The Politics of Dancing - I'm sure their bass player had the same 'do. There's just no excuse is there? Shave it all off and get a hat.

I just hope this wasn't meant to be some kind of post-modern, oh-so-ironic anti-fashion statement. If it was then the statement it made was "I need a haircut". Given that the chap in question got off the train at Cambridge, though, it's altogether more likely that he's the world's leading expert in quantum physical microbiochemical engineering or something and just doesn't give a toss about what he looks like. Even so - if you've got a brilliant mind, all the more reason to look after it and put a hat on, surely.

NB Today's drawing is relevant to the text! Will wonders never cease?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


It's a tricky but enviable combination to pull off but one that Vincent DeLerm (about whom I know precisely nothing) manages with aplomb. I'm suspicious of anyone who's just cool and have more time for people who clown around like an arse without too much worrying about what they look like. But to manage both at once, that takes some doing. It's something I would aspire to myself but I generally only manage the looking like an arse side of things (at which point I revert to my more natural state of sitting quietly in a corner somewhere hoping no one notices me).

Ooh, directions: you need to click on the link and then "videos" and then "Natation Synchronisee".

You will note the significant use of ukulele throughout.

And if anyone can translate the lyrics then do let me know (unless they're disappointingly rubbish in which case keep it to yourself). I caught the word for grapefruit at one point and, I think, a mention of Fassbinder so, you know, I've done the hard work for you, you'd only need to fill in the gaps.

(My thanks to my good friend Nicky, whom I met for the first time yesterday - oh this modern world of technology - for sending me the link).


For some reason this cartoon by Jason came to mind the other day. It's funny.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

ah yes, it's those late on Sunday drawings again... 

No, really, something more substantial soon. Honest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

this product will change your life 

Tired of having to walk across the room to pick up that discarded shirt? Try our new patented Boomerhanger for all your clothing retrieval needs.

Monday, February 14, 2005

new pens 

Bought a couple of grey ink Pitt artist pens at the weekend and have thus been playing around with those a bit. Some results below...

Friday, February 11, 2005

technical difficulties 2 

Spent much of yesterday convinced that my website and the pictures on this blog were busted only to eventually discover that they were only busted when I tried to look at them but were fine for everyone else. Something to do with my webspace provider's firewall blocking my IP address for login failures (do I understand what that means? Do I bollocks). Anyway, I finally tried turning my router off and back on again and that fixed it. Just wish I'd thought to do so several hours earlier.

Customer service from said webspace folk (www.me2uweb.com), incidentally, was prompt and helpful in stark contrast to the recent NTL debacle (now, thankfully, resolved. You don't really need to speak to a supervisor but your demand to do so doesn't half make the customer service monkey you're talking to pay a bit more attention).

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I just discovered that the first children's book ever to be graced with a Dave Shelton cover is now showing up on Amazon. A Dog Called Grk by Joshua Doder is out on May 5th from Andersen Press.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out in the end. In fact it's probably the finest picture of a dog in a helicopter I've ever drawn.

technical difficulties 

I've been fiddling with some settings on my ISP control panel to try to deny hotlinking to my images (not a major problem at the moment but I like to promote proper procedures as a matter of principle - ask nicely folks). Anyway, I'm struggling to suss out how it works so the pretty pictures may come and go a bit while I get my dim head around how these things work. Normal service may or may not resume at some unspecified point in the future. Well, obviously in the future, it's already happened in the past hasn't it.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

no surprises 

I have plans, since my promise that I shall post at least three drawings a week (week runs Monday to Sunday as you'll have deduced), to begin to draw subjects with which I am less familiar, to push at the boundaries of what I can achieve, to attempt to give you content rather than mere decoration.

In the meantime, though, here is the 1,000,003rd drawing I've ever done of a grumpy looking man...

two goofy birds 

Thursday, February 03, 2005

a simple thing 

It's like the system has been specifically set up to drive you mad. I mean it's only a small thing but then that's part of what makes it so infuriating...

You phone up the large company with the poor reputation for customer service and request that they do something simple. After a pleasingly short time on hold listening to the dreadful "you are on hold" theme tune you speak to a real human being in some part of the country where rents are cheap and unemployment is high and ask politely for the simple thing to be done. The polite customer service worker informs you that the simple thing will be done for you at some point in the next 24 hours. You thank them and hang up, thinking the while that, actually, that wasn't so bad. At least the call centre was in this country and there weren't too many multiple choice menus to get through before talking to someone.

Thus the prospect of phoning the large company with the really very poor reputation for customer service a second time is not too terrible. This is just as well as, after the requisite 24 hours have passed, and then a further 24, the simple thing has not been done. You take a charitable view: mistakes are occasionally made; large companies inevitably have to adopt complex systems in which individual requests may easily be lost; there's no reason to get angry and little to be gained by doing so. You phone the large company with the very poor reputation for customer service and again request that the simple thing be done. You are assured that this will happen in the next 24 hours. You thank the always polite customer service worker and hang up.

When, some days later, you again call the large company with the truly appalling reputation for customer service to again request that the simple thing be done you are beginning to be disappointed with them. Though you have no great facility for expressing anger you try to sound at least a little miffed. Customer service person number 3 is as polite as his predecessors and, detecting that your gruntledness has been dissed, he is also apologetic. Not content with merely logging a request for the simple thing to be done on the computer system he telephones the Department of Simple Things and speaks to someone there. He is assured that the simple thing will definitely be done in the next 2 days. He is convinced that this is so and tells me so. Two days seems like a come down from the ambitious claims of 24 hours that had gone before but that word "definitely" comes as considerable consolation. You thank him and hang up.

When time (and rather more of it than two days at that) passes and the simple thing remains undone you are not unduly surprised but you are a little disappointed in the company whose appalling reputation for customer service would appear to be altogether too generous. It's not just that they can't manage to do the simple thing; it's the fact that the simple thing can remain undone after three requests without, apparently, anyone noting the fact and taking some kind of action. Or if, bizarrely, there is some reason why the simple thing is not, after all, so simple to achieve, there has been no attempt made to contact you to explain that this is the case. You wonder if this is not possible as perhaps they have no record of your telephone number. But then you remember that the large company provides your telephone service. It seems altogether more likely that they're just shit.

Request number 4, which you intend to escalate from miffed to quite irate, is dealt with by a very polite customer service employee who hangs up very quickly after telling you that the simple thing will be done in the next 24 hours. You don't have time to express the opinion that you're sure it won't. Had you done so you would have been right.

There may have been a similar request number 5 but by now you've kind of lost count.

The next time you call the large company with an unparallelled reputation for utter uselessness in customer services that still in no way comes close to expressing how worthless and inept they actually are you have a plan. You will refuse to hang up until the simple thing has been done and you will employ escalating levels of carefully directed rage to convince the polite customer service employee it would be wise of him to ensure this happy outcome. Customer service employee number whatever reads through the notes of the previous customer service employees and recognises that this has gone on long enough. He will put you on hold while he talks to someone in the Department of Simple Things and finds out if there is any reason why the simple thing has not been done already and make every effort to ensure that it be done now without delay.

You hear 4 seconds of the dreadful "you are on hold" theme tune before the line goes dead.

You swear a good deal.

You write a long and boring entry on your weblog in which you coyly choose not to name the wretched bunch of wasters until the very end.

It's NTL. They're rubbish.

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