Category Archives: i hold my pen in an unusual way

30 pieces of an autobiographical nature

drawing to a close

30, drawing

#30 of 30, and that’s that. This sketchbook is finished. These are some of my current sketchbooks – the moleskine is in between the big watercolour one and the small wh smith one. I’ve had a pen, or a crayon, in my hands ever since I had hands. I’ve always drawn, always, even if for some years I didn’t really draw all that much. It’s funny though, but I feel it’s just the last few years that I have really come back to it and put myself into it, drawing daily and posting online. It’s like, full circle; I have had many many interests, and things I’ve tried out, and I still do, but drawing was the first thing I did, and it is still what I do.

So the series ends. This was a series of thrity things about me, that you may or may not have known. I specifically chose a mixture of fairly mundane things and fairly interesting things, but these are not necessarily the most important things. Similarly, I’ve drawn different views around the apartment (similar to the How to Save the World series), and kept the words as unkempt and off the cuff as possible.

Here then is the final list. Makes sense when you look at it like this.

I hold my pen in an unusual way

telly-apathy

29, tv

Penultimate entry, #29 of 30. Funny I should do this on the day of the Emmy’s. Don’t tell me, oh you should get BBC America. If I wanted to watch back-to-back repeats of crap shows like ‘Coupling’, I would have gotten it by now. But they don’t show Match of the Day, so sod ‘em.

If you want a vision of the future, they say, imagine a reality tv show, stamping on a human soul, forever. But isn’t Big Brother ending next year in the UK? Long, long overdue, that show, from the man whose ancestor gave us the London sewage system.

And so, this particular reality series is almost over (in fact I just drew the last one), a series of mundane facts about the author, not the most important or interesting parts, but just what I happened to come across while rearranging my head. And my apartment. And it may even be fluff, but hey, I’m fluffy.

one falling leaf does not an autumn make

28, i like autumn

#28 of 30… the autumn of the series, “I hold my pen in an unusual way“. This is how it was last weekend. May be about a hundred today though. When it’s a hundred out that means it is still Summer, according to the Wikipeteia. One leaf does not an autumn make. Even so, the halloween candy is in the store. I love autumn, season of changes; but changes can sometimes be a pain, sometimes it is nice when yesterday is like today. I’m just looking forward to when I can wear nice warm jumpers again. I have so many, and yet I live in the scorching Central Valley.

so let’s see your kit for games

27, football shirts

#27 of 30. Some of you know my love for football shirts (or soccer uniforms, if you prefer). I’m a bit of a connoisseur, an enthusiast. Not really a collector, but I have a few. I have a Spurs away kit from the early 90s which is signed by Klinsmann, Sheringham, Anderton, Ardiles, and the rest. I do wear my tops at weekends sometimes, but all that static polyester turns me into a walking van de graaf generator. 

I’ve wanted to have a chat – my annual chat, for sure – about this season’s footy kits. All summer I checked daily the following sites, footballshirtculture.com and football-shirts.co.uk, for news on every new shirt release around the world. As always, the South American and smaller British clubs choose practically naked women to promote their tops (almost oxymoronic there); see Linfield’s away kit if you don’t believe me. Some kits this year have been nice – England’s new tailored home kit is lovely, and is the first England kit I’d even consider buying. I’m incredibly envious of Arsenal’s two new away shirts. But there have once more been a slew of lame blah-blah kits this year, with few really original designs for clubs, particularly from the larger companies such as Nike and Puma. Oh, Puma – will I ever like a Puma kit? It’s funny, because the answer to that is yes – I will always like the previous one better than the new one, because they are getting worse. The current windscreen-wipers /chevron template they are overusing has produced some horrific results, but none more ghastly than Tottenham’s current home kit. Awful sponsor aside, the introduction of yellow streaks (cue jokes all over N5, “what do you mean ‘introduction'”, etc) to produce this monstrosity means I’ll be waiting another year for a home kit I might want. It’s not just Puma though – even Adidas have gone for the shock factor with Newcastle’s new yellow-and-custard striped away shirt. Poor Newcastle – they get relegated, and are then told to wear that shirt in front of thousands – okay, hundreds – of people.

But the foulest kit, the most shocking kit of all time perhaps, even more so than Arsenal’s early 90s away kit, has to be Partick Thistle’s new away kit, surely done as a bet, a pink/grey/white camouflage kit. It just has to be a joke. It’s chavalicious. And Puma again.

You can see many of the best and worst kits of all time at perhaps my favourite site on the net: historical football kits. The research these guys have done at HFK is beyond phenomenal, showing images of shirts from all years of English and Scottish football. Its readers help out by forwarding any information they may have; I once sent them a photo I’d found of the Spurs laundry-lady hanging out kits in the mid-30s, showing that we wore navy and white hoops away. Highly exciting stuff for the football kit historian!

And so there you have it, my football kit obsession. It’s funny really, because apart from the beloved adidas trainers, I actually really hate most sportswear.

dog bless

26, dog person

#26 in a series of 30. Dogs. Not my thing. I’m just not that into them. People – and not smart people – love to think the world is divided into ‘dog people’ and ‘cat people’, elvis people and beatles people, lib’rals and cons’rvatives, celtic and rangers, tea and coffee. And it’s not. I don’t even like the whole pigeonholing thing. I happen to like cats a lot though. And tea, and lib’rals, and the beatles and celtic, but you know what I mean. And then people act as though liking both cats and dogs (as many do) is a novel and radical buck of the trend. It isn’t. They’re both animals, they both poo on the carpet. Personally I love tortoises. They don’t leave hair on your best black clothes.

So in this drawing there is a toy dog. It’s not mine, and no I’m not scared of it. There is also a lead, to continue the dog theme. Ok it’s a power cable type of lead but you know what I mean.

For me however, Dog People has another meaning. When I lived in Aix-en-Provence, the centre-ville had a small but prominent population of ‘dog people’, scruffy ‘swampy’ types who would hang about the fountainsides beating drums and smoking and letting their many dogs, possibly their daemons, chase each other around the town squares. The Dog People. Everyone knew them.

I like that phrase though, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’. It’s true, too. We had a dog when i was younger (‘Soppydog’) and it used to tell some whoppers in its sleep.

its sculptor well those passions read

25, british museum

#25 of 30. Nearly there folks! Yes this is lego. Baby-lego. Since my son got them, I have regained my incredible lego building skills. I’m not an architect, but I am certainly a legotect, and can build any manner of planes, trains and space-rockets with the stuff.

The British Museum…Yes, I did a bit of Interactive Theatre years ago, I was really into it, running some performance-and-games-based workshops, using the methods of Ali Campbell, the brilliant guy who taught me, and Augusto Boal, the brilliant guy who taught him (and father of the art). It’s something I was good at, but never did get back into. Anyhow, the Hidden Histories project was a major eye-opener; a series of workshops with inspirational performers from Shape Arts, a disability arts organisation in London, culminating in an abstract promenade performance among the statues, ruins and spectators of the Greek rooms in the British Museum. We were told (and it might even be true) that it was one of the first (if not the first) time the British Museum had been used to host performance art. It was themed around the histories that are hidden not only in the statues and stones, but also in the people you pass every day, able-bodied and disabled. One thing I learnt was that a lot of the people we were calling disabled were a great deal more able in so many ways than most able-bodied people.  I was involved with a few other projects with the Shape performers but this one was the most educational, and most fun.

As did the others, I kept a journal to document the process – not full of the sort of drawings I do now, but cartoony diagrammy stuff, notes, quotes, scribbles, quibbles. The journals were in fact displayed at the British Museum on the days of the performances, down in the education centre. I even made little plasticine figures to represent one segment of the performance. I recall, in the wine reception after the main show (and the press were there), a woman was browsing the journals and was spending a lot of time looking at my one, and she asked me (not knowing it was mine) how old the children were that made these. “Well that child was twenty-five,” I said. I was elated.

losing my trainer thought

24, adidas trainers

#24 of 30. Trainers, or sneakers, or tennis shoes, or whatever they’re called. I’ll never say ‘a-dee-das’ though. It is ironic however that I absolutely hate shoe stores, I cannot stand the places. I hatebuying shoes, it fills me with dread. I also hate sports stores (except those devoted to football shirts, like the one in Davis, which is really cool). And yet I love shopping for adidas trainers. Not that I do it very often of course. But for me, once every couple of years or so is often.

bravely ran away, away

22, athletics

When I was in my teens, I learned to run. My mate Terry was really into running at the time and so he always wanted to run around the park after school. My dad, and I don’t quite know why, got a running machine at home, put it in the living room, and I used it to practice. And I got quite quick. Not as quick as Terry, but pretty quick. At sports day I would usually do pretty well, in the 100 metres anyway – I didn’t have the stamina for much else, except 200m. Oh, and the javelin. I tended to get lucky in that I’d race against really slow people too. I obviously won enough races that the sports teacher picked me for the athletics team one time, to race at Copthall in the 100 metres sprint. I think Terry may have had something to do with it. I was about 14. Everyone I was racing against was at least 16. Even though I was just as tall as most of them, I felt tiny. You never know, I told myself. Maybe the Force will be with me. And then they bolted. Sure, I gave it my best shot, but contrary to lying cartoons the tortoise does not beat the hare, came a woeful last. Oh well. I went back to the art class, and never raced again.

I don’t run any more, don’t exercise much at all.

#22 of 30. Incidentally, I have decided to name this series “I hold my pen in an unusual way”, after the first (and most appropriate) entry.

all we are saying is give peas a chance

21, I do not eat peas

#21 of 30. No peas for me. Don’t even try to convince me because I will not eat them. End of. Frozen, they are good for nursing scrapes and bruises. Give me baked beans any day. Beans on Toast, the staple of growing up. Gotta be on toast. Noodles too, as you know, my favourite food. A funny thing, this week my wife was looking in a recipe book for toddlers and it suggested sardines, on toast. “Who’d eat that?” she asked. “Me!!!” I said in excitement. The book was obviously British. I loved Sardines on Toast, especially sardines in those little tins of tomato sauce. They don’t really do the “___-on-toast” dinner choice here in America like we do back home. I grew up on it of course. But I’ll tell you one thing, you don’t put peas on toast, and that may be why I don’t like them. No, the reasons are listed above. It was those school mushy peas, alongside the domes of pure white ‘potato’, tasteless and dehydrating, that swung it for me. And I’ve not looked back. I will not give peas a chance.