22 May

Dolly Mixtures

So, I was researching something I was thinking of writing and my fruitless search for information had come up with bugger all. However, I did come across the name of a band called ‘Dolly Mixture‘, which struck me as being a particularly bad name for a band, especially one that’s labeled post-punk/new wave. It’s a name that’s overloaded with meaning and, for me, is a bit off putting. I mean dolly mixtures were a bag of toffees you’d be bought as a child and the name evokes too many memories good, bad, but mostly sweet. They were basically an the more sugary alternative to licorice allsorts but without the promise of a good bowel movement.

And then I started to listen to the band of the same name and I began to wonder again how talent can so easily go missed and unrecognised. Somebody has posted their entire Demo Tapes on Youtube and I think they’re worth a listen.

Maybe I just don’t know good music but I wonder if they’d had a better name and had been American, they’d have been bigger and I’d have already heard of them. Dolly Mixture feels like a name plucked from the 1960s, when female bands had to have clever quirky names like The Liverbirds and The Debutantes. Call them the ‘Razor Blades’ and you’d have had a different perception of the band going into your first listening.


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20 May

New ink!


Well, I have a day of deep nozzle cleaning ahead of me, which sounds like the sort of thing a man should either enjoy or fear. The reality is much more banal. New ink arrived for my printer which has not tasted ink in a very long time. I used to use the printer daily but, for various reasons, the old beast has been slowly gathering dust on the end of my desk.

I am now in the process of trying to wake it up. Initial print test patterns look good but I’m having trouble with the nozzles on my cyan.

There is a chance that none of my efforts will get the old printer working again but the alternative is to buy a new printer and that way madness lies.

Printers come in two types: cheap and expensive. If you buy a cheap printer, you will usually end up paying a fortune for ink over the course of its lifetime. Not sure if printer ink is still as expensive as gold but it still comes in at ridiculous prices for small amounts. Yet if you buy an expensive printer, then the ink will usually be cheap, which says to me that printer ink is essentially a scam. The trick, I think, is to buy cheap ink unless you really want your documents to be ‘archive quality’. I’ve never bought original ink for any of my printers and I’ve generally not had much trouble. This Canon MP620 has been running years on the kind of ink that the manufacture would tell you would bring it to its knees. (Apropos of nothing: electric shavers. I bought a shaver years ago and the instructions told me to change the blades every few months. That was years ago and it’s still cutting the stubble every day or two. So what game where they playing, expecting me to fork out £20+ every few months? So much in the world seems to be a scam.)

Back to printers: Epson have a new ‘tank’ system which looks clever as hell but is also expensive as hell up front. [Dear Epson. Any chance of a test model to review?] It claims to come with two years of ink which, when I get printing in heavy duty mode, would save me about £100 (though that’s buying really cheap non-OEM ink from Inkredible). Yet £100 off the £250 still makes it an expensive printer to buy.

But as I type that, another sheet emerges from the old Canon MP620. Colours seem to be clean and solid. Cyan is working! I can proceed with my plan. That machine is a beast!

New ink in my printer is only part of the reason I have a new ‘private’ blog, which is now alive and open to regular readers. Not that this now becomes my ‘old’ blog. This is still my main blog, where I’ll continue to post the occasional bit of work. However, maybe not as many cartoons. Day to day, I want to live over there where things will be grubby and disorganised and, more importantly, ‘unpublished’. Only a crazy fool gives all his best work away for nothing and I’m tired of being a crazy fool. So, if you do read regularly and want to come look in, send me an email or leave comment. You are most welcome.


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19 May

Going Dark

I have a secret private blog which I’ve not updated since Friday, 17th June 2011 and I hadn’t looked at since… Well, possibly, Friday the 17th June, 2011. Tonight I opened it and started to read.

It’s really strange going back to a blog you had largely forgotten about. Yet, at the same time, it’s my favourite blog. I had more fun writing that one blog than any of my blogs. I guess it’s because it was more of a real blog, I was completely myself among friends and it dealt with an interesting period. I wrote the blog for about two years and there are nearly 1,400 posts, most of which contain a cartoon or graphic. It covered the writing of about three or four projects and most of the work there I’d simply forgotten about.

Not all of it was particularly good. The blog is really as much a catalogue of my failure as it is my success. I can see now that I was desperate for success. I was also learning to draw and I was jumping between book ideas too rapidly and my energy wasn’t matched by my skill with the pen. I was drawing too much too quickly and there’s more failure there than there is success.

Yet, oddly, not all of my ideas were crap. It’s just that I seemed to latch onto my worst ideas and see them through to the end.

Anyway, this is one of the oddities I found. A reader of the blog went on holiday and took this picture.

India 177small

I’m as embarrassed today as I was the moment I saw it.

Good times…

Which brings me to the reason for looking at the blog. I’m seriously thinking about ‘going dark‘. I gain nothing by putting all my work on show. I’m thinking about retiring back into a private realm where I can work and post things which I might later try to get published. I have two ideas that I’d like to try out but, obviously, not for public eyes. Yet I like getting feedback and, hopefully, some of you might enjoy watching me stumble about in the dark.

I’m not entirely sure if I’ll do this (or how I’ll do this) but should you be a regular reader and think you could stomach becoming a little closer to the daft things I do, then email me. If I have a few readers willing to follow me, I might consider giving this a try. I might just turn on this blog’s registered users section. I might create a new blog here. I might simply invite you to the old private blog and let you see the 1,400 posts. Yet, part of me just wants to start afresh.

Anyway, that’s my thought. Might or might not happen. I just feel that I need to change my routine.

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18 May


Last week is now a strange blur. I built the new website for ‘The What and the Why‘ in a record time of about three days, including transferring over all the posts and comments from the old site, and getting a new server up and running. It was hard work and very long hours but all utterly pleasurable. It’s strange now looking at it, since unlike any of my own websites, it’s a website that actually gets traffic.

I have a zero success when it comes to traffic. I have never written a site or blog that generated much in the way of regular readers. My sister ran a news website for a few years and it had huge readership. It was back when the internet seemed new and exciting. However, she ran afoul of her own good conscience. She actually paid for every photograph she published on the site and supported it with a small subscription model. Another site stole all the photos and pretty much put her out of business.

I know my lack of success lies with me and I’m just about coming to terms with that. This week, I want to reboot myself and think more carefully about what I’m doing. A certain person has also reappeared in my life. All I’ll say is that I’ve been writing letters…

I also want to keep drawing more cartoons for myself. So, if you find that you don’t like my daily cartoons, please try to remember it’s because they’re drawn to my own warped tastes and not because I hope they’ll ever be published in a magazine.

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17 May

Where Prince Harry can stick his National Service…

Bleary eyed, I read the morning headlines and saw that Prince Harry believes we should bring back National Service. Even half asleep, I could immediately spot the problem with this bleary brained nonsense.

His argument is based on the fact that he believes he would have ‘gone off the rails’ if it hadn’t been for the army. Let’s assume that it’s true and that youthful Harry would have become even more synonymous with having a good time than he’s already become. Yet isn’t it a bit of an overreaction and just a mite selfish to force the entire nation into conscription just to keep him off the front pages of the tabloids?

And since when should the rest of us measure our worth on the slightly bent would-be ruler that is Prince Harry? I never went off the rails. I imagine quite a few of you who read this blog didn’t go off the rails. In fact, I’d guess that most people didn’t come even close to going off the rails in their youth. So why the hell should we be stuck doing laps on a parade ground simply to save the skin of some thick necked Palace dodo?

What worries me more is what National Service would have done to me. Oh, I like to think that I’d have taken to it like the proverbial water-bound duck. Inside a month I’d have been leaping from aircraft with a dagger between my teeth and a backpack full of fury. The reality, I think, is that it would have broken me. If I hadn’t become ‘Private Pyle’ in Full Metal Jacket, complete with the 1000 yard stare, I’d have just gone off the rails, which is precisely what the experience of army life was supposed to save me from. I’d have rebelled and caused myself all kinds of grief. So, whilst Prince Harry would be enjoying rugby (a game I detest) with the lads, I’d have been trying to climb the electrified fence or caught trying to flee into Belgium or some much more enlightened country where I could just go sit in a corner with a coffee and a good book.

Not that there’s any chance of National Service coming back but we do have a government led by a leader who has repeatedly proven that he’s not immune to dumb ideas thrown casually into the public domain by celebrities. Given that the government have a problem with the size of the army and that they’re never above forcing people into cheap labour, I’d be slightly worried if you are young and the thought of living in barracks appals you. Or perhaps they’ll just make it a condition of entry into the UK. You can come in but you have to do three years in the military. Inside a couple of years, we’d have armed the entire youth of Eastern Europe who would turn on us and take the country by force…

These are crazy days filled with stupid ideas. National Service begins to look sensible compared to the breakup of the Union, petitions for the North of England to join with Scotland, and Britain leaving the EU.

There’s just too much madness about today and I’ve not even finished having my breakfast.


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16 May



* Yes, I release that’s a bit short for a blog post but what’s a man to write when he’s completely lacking in energy. It’s been a mad four days since I agreed to build the website late on Tuesday evening. However, it’s been damn fun. Intend to get back to proper blogging tomorrow, perhaps even draw something tonight.

Of course, if I had the energy, I’d make this footnote long enough to prove that I do have the energy to blog. But I don’t. I’m knackered.

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15 May

Sorry sorry sorry…

Been working. Constructing a new website (not mine) so I’ve been burning the oil around both midnight and dawn.

I’m glad to be busy and too busy to draw or write. Pretty depressing reading the day’s papers. Not much of a fan of Chuka Umanna (a bit too slick for my tastes) but Labour seem to be going into meltdown at the moment. This isn’t helped by the media who seem to enjoy the sight of the Labour Party going into meltdown. What I find shocking, though, is the extent to which the news and political news is dominated by people wanting to stick the boot into Labour.

Since when was news media meant to attack the opposition party mercilessly and leave the government alone? I intend to write more about this in the coming days but last night’s Question Time was a perfect example. Jeremy Hunt spent the entire show looking slightly smug and barely saying a word, whilst the audience attacked Nigel Farage and Tristram Hunt. Both, incidentally, acquitted themselves well and all the nonsense spoke about Farage’s leadership status seems ridiculously overblown. Not a UKIP supporter by any means but, damn it, they hold quite valid political positions, which aren’t breaking any laws. Seems like they have the right to express themselves just like everybody else and these attempts to shout them down only aid their cause.

Urgh. Need to get cracking. Deadlines to meet.

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14 May

Hurray! Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons

No cartoon today. Last night I was putting in some long hours on a website. However, time this morning to quickly write about the news that Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons.

Normally I’d greet such news like I’d trapped my thumb in the dentist’s door. I was and still am a big fan of The Simpsons but, truth be told, I’ve not been a regular viewer in a long time. It’s easy to say that The Simpsons isn’t what it once was yet I don’t necessarily think that’s true. The times I have seen it recently, the show has still been strong. What it is, perhaps, is too familiar. I watch so very little TV these days that it takes something special to make me move outside of my usual routine. There are lots of shows I love but I don’t get around to seeing. I’ve not seen the new series of Mythbusters, Veep, or even the new Vic and Bob comedy for the BBC. I’ve guess I suffer a bit from the increased fragmentation of TV in the UK. I don’t have the time to study the thousand channels to spot when my favourite shows are being broadcast.

However, one thing that did make me move out of my usual routine and search the channels was last year’s Nixon’s The One. Nixon’s The One is the main reason I’m not too upset that Shearer is leaving The Simpsons. Shearer is better than The Simpsons and has always been better than The Simpsons.

Of course, people usually nod when you say something like this and say ‘Spinal Tap’ but Spinal Tap isn’t my favourite Shearer moment. My favourite Shearer moment is the close of The Mighty Wind, a film I prefer over Spinal Tap simply because the songs are so damn catchy. He’s great too in the other Christopher Guest movies he’s been in but it was the Nixon show last year that made me hope for more from him. Nixon’s The One might well have been my favourite show of last year. It was a very odd little drama but so compelling. Shearer was astonishing it it too and seemed to have channeled the spirit of Nixon.

Leaving The Simpsons might be the sign that it could happen. He must be as wealthy as Elon Musk’s nanny’s butler and able to afford to make anything happen. It’s bad news for fans of The Simpsons but Harry Shearer fans should probably be happy today.


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