please beware: this is the bald-faced stag

"please beware: this is the bald faced stag"

It actually says that on a sign on the door, honestly. This is the (infamous) Stag, on Burnt Oak Broadway, scene of many a late-night punch-up over the years. Everyone knows the Stag, it’s one of those pubs which are always there, central to a neighbourhood, not just any old boozer, a character in its own right. I don’t go there, personally, but I did pop in to finish the colour in this drawing in the warmth. I did feel a little self-conscious getting my little watercolour set out, not exactly hard-as-nails, but nobody cared. I hadn’t set foot in there for many many years, since I was a kid. My nan (‘nam’, we called her) used to drink in here every single day, she was a true regular. I imagined her sitting in that seat by the window where she always sat. I got all nostalgic. I could smell the cheese and onion crisps. There weren’t many people in there, but the conversations were generally littered with “f***ing this, f***ing that”; having lived in the swear-free States for a few years now I had forgotten how many times you are supposed to put the word “f***ing” within sentences when you come from Burnt Oak. It’s really a f***ing lot.  

After sketching this, I popped into a Romanian cafe/bakery across the road, and had a cup of tea with the owner, a Romanian man I hadn’t seen in over twenty years, an old family friend. That was nice; he gave me a huge plate of Romanian cream cakes to take home to my family. A fun first day back in Burnt Oak, the f***in’ town where I was f***ing’ born, innit.

home again

mum's kitchenI just got back from two weeks in London, where the weather was changeable and there was Match of the Day, trifle and turkey rasher sandwiches to look forward to. And now the scanning and posting begins in earnest! I sketched a lot in London. There was a lot to sketch. But it was cold, very cold, sometimes wet, very wet, and the sun went down at about half-past three, so it was dark, very dark. I loved it. I do miss my home town sometimes.

However, by being across the pond we were missing Thanksgiving, so my American wife cooked my British family a lovely Thanksgiving meal of roast turkey, mashed potaoes, green beans with caramelized onions, gravy and amazing pumpkin pie to finish it off. Thanksgiving is my favourite of the American holidays, by far, so it was nice to share that with my family in Burnt Oak.mum's living room

I got up very early (jetlag) and sketched in the kitchen, pre-meal. I also drew a slice of the living room. I wasn’t involved with the cooking; my job that day was to entertain my son, so I took him out and we explored the town where I was born (well, the suburb), the park, the shops, the library. This is the house where I grew up, drawn quickly in purple micron pen.

It was nice being back home in the UK, though it was only for a short while. I enjoyed Match of the Day (Lineker and his banter with Hansen), I lapped up the trifle (especially my brother’s, he has a secret recipe), and I ate a lot of turkey rasher sandwiches. Bliss.