Thursday 29 April 2010

moonlight bear

"Slugs is to badgers as rice is to the Chinese"

I've finished the picture, and am very happy with it. I was worried about how the hawthorn tree would turn out; I blanked out the blossom with masking fluid, which I also used to frame the night sky and the moon. It took ages to get the latex solution out of the brush.... I'd never even heard of masking fluid until a few years ago; it's jolly useful. But a pig to get out of a brush.

I also had to put off painting the sky until the shops opened, so that I could get some indigo watercolour. And then hummed and hah-ed about whether I should get some Cotman watercolour at £1.99 a tube, or Artists watercolour at £5.99 for a tiny tube. I settled for the Cotman. It seemed to work OK. (I once made a nasty mess using some watercolour from LIDL. You can't be too careful. Well .....perhaps you can be too careful. Anyway...)

Still learning.

This picture is for Geraldine's next book, The Case of the Curious Crow. Here's a link to our last book, The Coffee Thrush

Wednesday 28 April 2010


I've been worrying about my failure to keep in touch with people I really should be keeping in touch with, and my apparent aptitude for ending a day with nothing much to show for it. So yesterday at least was a good day because I spent nearly all of it painting. And I quite like the way it's going, so this is the work so far. I've pasted (rather crudely) a dark sky from one of my photos into the background, because I wanted to make sure that it would work, before putting real paint on the paper.

Which I'll do today. Onwards and upwards!

Sunday 25 April 2010

hit it with the brolly

St George's Day found us driving north out of Bristol just as fast as we could go, after school, to avoid the worst of the traffic. Which didn't stop us collecting pasties from Joe's Bakery. Or fizzy drinks from the Tesco petrol station. And bickering over sweets.

"You didn't give me chance to choose sweets"
"You had plenty of time while I was putting in the petrol"
"You've got Pringles. It's not fair"
"There, take this and go and get some sweets"
"No, you'll only be angry about it"
"No I won't, go and get some sweets, I will not be angry about it, I want you to get some sweets"
"No, lets's go"

..and so on.

There was a bloke with a beer belly and a state of partial undress (for the sun was shining) sitting outside a bar on the Gloucester Road, drinking his lager and resplendent in his deelyboppers with St George's flags on. Sort of like an oven ready reindeer, but different.

I gawped, and thought, "Ah! St George's Day!"

The motorway verges were bright with patches of cowslips, and dandelions. Today is the traditional day for picking dandelions for making wine. I made a point of doing it on the right day, once, when I rode over Dundry Hill on my motorbike and picked a big bag of dandelion flowers. My fingers were brown with the sap. It was a lovely day then, too, and it was evidently memorable as I am remembering it now.

I love this time of the year, when there is something fresh to admire every day; like on Wednesday when I was driving under an avenue of conker trees and it was like being in a green tunnel, with the light coming through the leaves, and I realised that the leaves had all burst out together. Or Thursday when the beech leaves had just come out too, and were a vivid light green. Every thing is happy-making, as we accelerate towards summer, but are still close enough to winter to be grateful for the quickening of the year.

Anyway. There we are bimbling up the M5, trundle trundle. Somewhere around Worcester, the engine falters. It picks up, falters again.

"The petrol pump needs thumping," I say; "Is there a stick in the back seat?"
"There's your umbrella, that'll do. Where do I hit it?"
"On the bulkhead, next to the immobiliser switch"


The engine picks up again, and we swing back out onto the slow lane from the hard shoulder.

By the time we're on the M42, it needs a thump every few seconds.

"They really ripped you off for this car"


"Yes, but it's a nice car, and there aren't many you can keep going with a brolly"


"There aren't many you need to keep going with a brolly"

At the service station, I clean up the points with a bit of sandpaper, and spray WD40 at the pump. It works.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

a fit of the vapours

The skies are full of vapour trails as jumbo jets criss-cross the sky again, repatriating refugees from Disneyland and carrying mange-tout from Kenya for a hungry nation! We are saved! It's a bit like Dunkirk and the Berlin Airlift all mixed together, really. the way, there is a really good website called Flightradar24, where you can see what aeroplanes are flying in Europe and where they're going, and so on. And, in my case, you can then pop your head out of the skylight and see them in real life, and know that they are a Lufthansa Airbus en route from Dusseldorf to New York, or whatever.

Sunday 11 April 2010

ticked-off faggots with peas

This is a promo shot from my new short film, Ticked-Off Faggots With Peas. It's about a shopping trip, as you've probably guessed, and will premiere at the Tripeca Food Festival.

It isn't about gay men with incontinence, obviously, because I wouldn't use the term 'faggots' in that way, as I don't own it and it would be disrespectful.

Unlike the chap who made this film, with his use of 'trannies'.

Friday 9 April 2010


Lovely weather here. I took a break from the accounts and took a walk along the Severn with John, who hates this picture of him, but I like as it's lively and I like the light.

This was an exercise in writing a triolet in between putting the coffee machine on the stove and it making bubbling noises.

I munch a bowl of muesli
Though there's bacon on the shelf.
Last evening passed quite boozily.
I munch a bowl of muesli.
Today I shall eat choosily
And worry 'bout my health;
I munch a bowl of muesli
Though there's bacon on the shelf.

(as Suzzy pointed out, the shelf is an odd place to keep the bacon. I replied that it's hard to find a good rhyme for 'fridge', and the fridge has got shelves in it anyway)

Wednesday 7 April 2010

poetry at Halo

David Bosankoe, who does technical stuff at Acoustic Night as well as playing a mean mouth harp, kindly sent a recording of me reading two poems at Halo on Monday. So here they are. Thank you, David!

Monday 5 April 2010

rise up singing

Today I finished this picture for Katy-Louise, who kindly gave permish for me to post it up here. Hi Katy-Louise!

As a bit of a pagan myself, I feel rather untouched by the Easter malarkey. Not that I felt particularly affected by it in my innocent youth; we'd sing "There Is A Green Hill Far Away" and we'd get a Cadbury's Cream Egg at Sunday School, and I at least would feel rather sick by the time I'd finished eating it.

The idea of a great outbreak of self-flagellation followed by rejoicing, as practiced by the more enthusiastic Christians, seems a bit excessively theatrical. Though I'm happy to join in the celebration of rebirth, which is a pretty pagan notion too. So I was glad to be invited to join some friends for lunch yesterday, Easter Sunday, which was a very happy occasion. They're Catholics...

There was another of those odious spokesmen for the Catholic Church on the radio this morning, mistaking criticism of the Church's leaders' history of failure to act upon child abuse by priests, and the continued presence within the Church of people who are at least guilty by their failure to act when they could have acted, for some great anti-Catholic campaign.

Funny lot.

I quite like my Catholic friends, and they are good and decent people. It's a shame that their Church is apparently being run by a bunch of men who seem more interested in power than in truth or justice, and who seem to think that they occupy ground of sufficient elevation to allow them to make pronouncements about People Like Me. Silly arses.

Never mind. It is springtime, and not everyone is nasty. Rejoice, therefore!

Off to a poetry reading this evening, where I shall read out my Egret triolet, which is possibly fairly spiritual. And possibly just a poem about birdwatching. Decide for yourself, gentle reader! It's in the next post down.