all you need is lava

sophia's bar davis
Another from the end of March. I did promise the staff at Sophia’s that this would be posted on my sketchblog but that it would be probably late, as I have been slow to sue my scanner; I was write, almost three months later. The past weekend involved a fair amount of scanning of several months of sketching (ironically, far less sketching than last year; in terms of volume, January-June this year is the same as January-March last year) (I do keep a chart) (this year I have been busy with learning a new job and coaching a select soccer team) (excuses, excuses). Anyway this was from the very sketch-productive weekend when I was home alone, so went out sketching the whole time. Usually I would go out of town on this weekend (San Francisco in previous years) but this year I stayed in Davis to (a) feed the cats and (b) I was too knackered to traipse around North Beach. After some sketching outside, followed by a chicken biryani at the Yeti restaurant, I popped by Sophia’s bar for a ‘Lava Lamp’ drink, which I had been told by my wife is very similar to the much-loved Lava Flow we had in Hawaii. It was delicious, so I made it the centrepiece of my latest bar sketch. It added a bit of contrasting colour to this quite golden-lit bar area. I had a couple of these. The white gel pen came in handy. This is another example of sketching in low-light conditions, and doing the paint on site if possible (not always a priority for me, I sometimes sacrifice the painting when short on time, the penwork on site is my thing) is important to really bring across my experience of the light, dark and colour. See I’m great at explaining things aren’t I. Hey, chapter 1 in my book ‘Creative Sketching Workshop’ is all dedicated to bar sketching tips. Anyway while I come in here about once or twice a year, it’s one of my favourite bars in Davis, but I love the food at the adjoining restaurant (Sophia’s Thai Kitchen), we eat there a lot.

Here are some previous sketches of the same place…

sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis
sophia's bar, davis

what’s the matter with you, sing me something new

B and 8th, Easter 2018 sm

Here is another panorama, this one from Easter Sunday. This is the Davis Lutheran Church on the corner of B and 8th. B8. “B-8-iful sketch!” a passing punster might say. “B-8-a-fool” more like. Anyway I have wanted to draw this scene for ages, not so much the church which is just a regular building, not exactly Sagrada Familia, but that tree in front is incredible. I had to draw it soon; this was the start of April, which is still leaving it late, but I had to draw it when there were no leaves. It’s too leafy after that. Like this you can see the branches and the shape and yes, it was a bit tedious drawing all those branches but no, actually it was great fun. I’m glad I drew it on Easter because there’s that big cross on the lawn. There are significantly more colourful objects on the left page of this panorama than on the right. This is the way home from downtown. Nice to sketch something I have not already sketched in Davis. There are still one or two things left to draw, I guess.

a few more here and there

Silo green april2018
Here are a few pen drawings from lunchtimes where I was not feeling too inspired, I just had to get out and draw something, anything, usually with not much time to do so (I spend a lot of time eating this spicy halal chicken over rice, well nice). Above, the Silo; below, also the Silo.
Silo purple April 2018
This is near the Silo, it’s the building that is partly the Bike Barn. On says like this I don’t have my bike so cannot go too far to sketch. I’ve drawn this too many times now.
Bikebarn April 2018 sm
This is the rear of Freeborn Hall, a little further of a walk.
freeborn hall UC Davis

cause those rosy days are few

6th and G St Davis March 2018 sm

Here is a panorama of the corner of 6th and G Streets, Davis. You can click on it for a closer look. It’s mostly trees and a couple of buildings, the usual. Couple of roads, the odd mis-shapen car. I only sketch in three chords, plus maybe a minor chord, you know what you’re getting. I should draw streets in musical order, so that they make a song. Start with C Street, then F Street, back to C, maybe up to the corner of G and 7th, you get the idea. I sketched it on the last day of March when I was home alone for the weekend while the family was in Oregon. It was one where I decided on just a few colours, mostly because I was tired. I still love sketching panoramas. There’s the Davis Co-Op on the other side of the street.

eh eh, calm down, calm down

Arboretum April 2018 sm
This was two months ago now, more than that, but the view probably hasn’t changed so much. That’s Mrak Hall across the water there, occluded by the trees, while I am in the Arboretum of UC Davis, in the shade. This year is whizzing by. The news every day is just an endless stream of avoidable depression, the inbox a constant flow of to-do-nows, and the sketchbook is a little less used than last year as I struggle to fit it in (not to mention finding new things to draw). Spots like this are a great escape. I don’t know what it is about the calming effect of water. I used to love to go and look at the Thames, that would be my escape back home. The year I spent in Belgium would often be a struggle to stay motivated, and I remember one day going to the coast, and watching the sun set on the beach at Ostend, and feeling generally mentally restored by the North Sea, just by looking at the silvery waters, just looking. Of course then I got a train to Antwerp and spent the rest of the evening exploring old watering holes, which was restoring in its own way. I did a lot of exploring when I lived in that small country. I wonder if ducks do that, if they ever get really stressed out by being a duck, to they go and just look at a field. The world is moving along so fast. These colourful flowers may well be gone now, and the summer heat is already starting to pour across the valley. Look for the good while it is still there, and feel it, and remember it. Right, that’s done, now back to work.

like the color when the spring is born

LDD mar18 3rd St construction sm
Still a backlog of sketches being scanned, and these are from March. We had a Let’s Draw Davis sketchcrawl on a very Irish-weathered (sunny! No wait, rainy, hang on no, sunny, wait here comes the rain; it was great) St. Patrick’s Day. The theme was very appropraite – draw in green. I used only green pen. Well I used other colour paints, but all the pens I used were green. Light green marker, dark and normal green fineliners, and two tones of green brush pen (double ended). The building above was the dark green pen, sketched from the shelter of the US Bicycling Hall of Fame (yep, that is here in Davis) while the rain came down. As I said I used watercolour. Oh actually there is a bit of orange pen in there too, which is ok because that is in the Irish flag. (Before you St Patricks enthusiasts say anything about green only, I should remind you that St Patrick’s favourite colour was actually blue, you’re doing it wrong) (while we are on that, my annual reminder that the four leaf clover is nothing to do with St Patrick, but the three-leaf shamrock totally is).
LDD mar18 green people sm
You can see the raindrops on this one. Quick single-line contour sketches of people passing by. Below is the corner of 3rd and A, at the entrance to UC Davis. These are all sketched in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook, which is a bugger to scan, as evidenced by the shadowy edge where I just cannot press it hard enough against the screen. Can be hard to photoshop out. Can we photoshop out the shadows on the edges of existence? Ouch that got philosophical, or maybe photoshopical.
LDD mar18 A St view sm
Here is that brush pen. It’s double-ended, and is called ‘Zig Brushables’ by Kuretake. I dunno, I bought it in a shop and I’ve not really used it since. I do this with pens sometimes, I think oooh I will draw some great and very different sketches with this one, I will be all out of my box and shit. Then I use it once and it takes up space in my pencil case like an extravangant unknown foreign footballer. I think I will send it out on loan to Galatasaray, I’m sure its morale is low from lack of sketches. I did enjoy doing this one though, it was quick, far quicker than my usual stuff. Maybe if I sketched like this all the time I would fill hundreds more sketchbooks than usual, but they would give you a massive headache.
LDD mar18 3rd St green pen sm
And here is fellow Davis skletcher Allan, who I ahve probably sketched more than any other person, over the years. This was at the end of the ‘crawl, when we all met to look at each others’ sketchbooks.
LDD mar18 allan sm

and he told us of his life

3rd and L Davis March 2018 sm
Aeons ago, when I first had a summer in Davis, I started drawing this town to build up an overall picture of it to post on my blog, so that my friends and family back home could get an idea of where I was now living. I was a Londoner, and Davis was new and totally different. I would cycle everywhere for a start, sometimes in heat that would make your eyes hurt. I would cycle home from downtown and pass this building, which was for a long time ‘Nails By Tam’ (which has now moved to F Street, or G, I can’t remember; I have drawn it, I’m sure). Well this little building was all by itself, plonked remotely at the end of 3rd St in the Old East downtown, and was the first thing I thought was totally sketchworthy in Davis. It wasn’t the first thing I sketched, but it was in that first summer’s sketchbook. Anyway I don’t cycle that way very often now, but I passed by there a few months ago and sketched it again, in the sunshine from across the street, behind the tree. It’s empty now I think. The spot has otherwise not really changed much, nobody has come in and developed it into an apartment complex or anything.

nails by tam

Oh, here is that one from 2006. I wasn’t even using watercolours then, just colouring in with pencils. And below, another one from 2009.

nails by tam, 3rd street

The Russia World Cup part two: Neymar, Harry Kane and Hopefully Shorter Paragraphs

Well that last post was unnecessarily long, so here is another one. Also, these images are really small. I’ve been drawing them this size for years in MS Paint, perhaps it is time to do them larger and use Photoshop? Or maybe resize them. Yeah, too late now. Maybe in Euro 2020. anyway my excitement for the World Cup continues, I just received a few World Cup posters to hang up, and the Panini album is filling up fast. This World Cup had better be good.



BrazilEveryone loves Brazil. Come on, you don’t want to, but you really do. When they do it right, they do it best. I know Neymar is a bit of a pouty popster, posing in Paris, but that classic canary yellow shirt, when they get going mmm baby, they are the best. I do have to say sometimes we get lost in the glamour; I could put samba music over clips of Grimsby v Southend and it would make it feel more attractive. But no, Brazil are the real deal, five stars for a reason. They have also been at every single World Cup (by the way, has anyone seen Italy? I can’t seem to find them). This year’s effort is a pretty nice one; although a simple version of the new Nike template, it has a real classy Brazil feel about it. The away kit is a beauty alright, blue with details of large stars. Brazil always has stars. I might say that Brazil will win the World Cup this year, but I already predicted Argentina so Brazil will have to go out in the semis. Headline in the newspapers the next day: “No Never, Neymar”. PREDICTION: Top of the group, but Semi-Finalists. KIT: 7/10 home, 9/10 away.


Costa RicaRemember the last one? They topped their group! Which makes me think, all these predictions, oh Brazil will top the group, blah blah blah, well we all get it really wrong sometimes because we don’t really know. We think we do but we don’t. Well, Costa Rica won’t win the group. They do have Keylor Navas in goal. He is good. That Ray Hudson commentator bloke on BeInSports thinks he is like a spider or an octopus or something. Costa Rica, that’s where Jurassic Park is, so expect a Raptor-ous welcome for their fans while they Ptera-rize Serbia in the opener, before Brazil Rex their defense and Switzerland leave them feeling very Saur. I do not apologize for any of those. So their kit, it’s made by New Balance and has very fine curved lines  on it which you cannot see in my MS Paint rendition, because it’s tiny and pixels are only so big. Nothing special but not unlikeable. PREDICTION: 3rd in the group. KIT: 5/10 home, 4/10 away.


SerbiaThe U-10 soccer team I coach was designated as ‘Serbia’ in the Davis World Cup, so I know a thing or two about Serbia. I taught all the kids how to write their name in Cyrillic (well I say taught, I definitely showed them, I doubt they really learned or even cared that much). Serbia is the largest exporter of raspberries in the world, and I presume they mean the fruit, they aren’t just standing at the border with their tongues out. More Roman emperors were born in what is now Serbia than anywhere other than Italy. Their kit is a dull Puma template which they got when they switched earlier this year from Umbro. The away kit has a bit of Serbian flag going down the middle, which doesn’t work because of the white edge, so they had to put a gold line around it and, look, lads it looks wrong. Start again, yeah. Puma have some decent designs at this World Cup (Uruguay, Switzerland) but not this. Serbia will go out in the groups, I think despite having a few big names they will come bottom. They just can’t make the Belgrade. Ok look there are a lot better puns than that I know, but I used them all up with Croatia yesterday. “Are You Being Serbed?” would be a good tabloid headline but it needs to be something specific like their defense basically giving Neymar two goals and standing around like John Inman. “Serbs You Right” again is like, one of their players gets one of the Costa Rica players sent off, and is then humiliated when he scores an own goal that loses them the game, it has to be specific like that. “Life’s A Vić”, which is good possible tabloid headline for when they go out, because it can refer to a number of their players whose last names end in -vić. PREDICTION: Bottom of the group. KIT: 2/10 home, 1/10 away. Harsh.


SwitzerlandThe Swiss have a mountain to climb. Well, no they don’t, but British tabloid headline writers love a cliche. If one of their players dive they will write something about a ‘Swiss Roll’. I won’t stoop so low, I will focus on the important things like the football and the kits. Now I think Alain Sutter and Stephane Chapuisat no longer play for them (“see ya later Sutter!”), nor does Hakan Sukur (“see ya later Sukur!”) and I’m pretty sure Roy Hodgson has left the managerial job now, so my knowledge of Swiss football has declined of late. Still, for simple red shirts, I have to say I have always loved Switzerland’s kit. The red works for them in a way it just doesn’t for, say, Serbia, or Austria (those are Johnny-come-latelys in the field of having red shirts anyway). this one is utterly incredible though, it has detailing of a topographical map all over the jersey! That is beautiful. I can hear the cows moo and the clocks cuckoo from here. They will do well in the groups, maybe holding the Brazilians to a draw before Then they will go out to Germany in the next round. PREDICTION: Round of 16. KIT: 8/10 home, 4/10 away.



GermanyGermany – who unlike three-times champions West Germany have won only one World Cup – have gone back to 1990 for inspiration this time around, so presumably you can expect rolling around on the ground and wiping saliva from the perm for the next month, until they inevitably win it. Which this time around they will not. I think Messi will mess up Mesut’s mission, and knock them out in the semis. “Neuer Say Neuer Again” will be the headline, which will not mean anything. “Can You Feel the Löw Tonight?” will be used for when the camera focuses on Elton John watching them from the stands as they beat England in the quarter finals (not even on penalties, but with a penalty nonetheless). (“Goodbye England’s Team” would be a better headline there). By my predictions though this will not happen, because England will go out to Brazil. Germany have a good team, of course they do. They always do. Their kit is really cool though. I loved that 1990 shirt, and while this is a modern reflection it is pure analogue class. Except for the STUPID “World Champions” badge FIFA insist they wear in the middle, ruining the effect entirely. Can’t they wear those on the arms? Dear FIFA, that horrible gold shield is not a Scudetto. Dear FIFA, you have zero class. Keine Klasse. Let this magnificent kit be. In fact I hope they lose on purpose, just so people can buy this beautiful shirt without  that ugly golden stain in the middle. As for the away kit, well it may well be one of Germany’s best ever. I love when they go with green change shirts, but this one references that same 1990 combo when they had the strange turquoise shirt, the one they drew with England in at the semi-finals (it was a draw, legally; a penalty shootout is not a victory under FIFA rules). It makes me think of Gazza crying. Just look at his face. Just. Look. At. His. Face. PREDICTION: Top of the group, situation normal, beat the Swiss and the English, and then Messi comes along with Destiny and gets his rewengeh. KIT: 8/10 home, 9/10 away.


SwedenAnother retro memory, making us think of those early 90s collars, the days of Brolin, Dahlin and other players whose names sound good when sung in Country songs. It’s a lovely kit. The away kit is blue with one of the current adidas templates as the pattern. It’s all nice overall. Sweden gave us the classic gutter-trash tabloid headline “Swedes 2, Turnips 0” when they beat England in Euro 92. This time around, despite crafting a great side in the post-Zlatan era (his book by the way is now well ahead of mine in the amazon charts, my last one having been ahead of “I Am Zlatan” for ages. Clearly I Am No Zlatan), I think they will come bottom. Zlatan will be up in the stands so the headlines will read “Zlat’s Entertainment” when they lose, and “Life’s a Vic” when they get knocked out, I am sure readers of the Daily Scum or Spews of the World will not remember them using that headline for Serbia hours before. You know what, they won’t use that one, because readers will be confused by the lack of diacritical mark above the c, and not know which pronunciation they are expected to use, so the pun will just be wasted there. Stick to “You’re going Holm, You’re Going Holm…” PREDICTION: Bottom of the group. KIT: 7/10 home, 5/10 away.


S KoreaI’m not doing a great job at keeping these paragraphs short. So for South Korea (Korea Republic) I will just say, I love Son Heung Min. He plays for Spurs and is the happiest footballer to have ever lived. He is so happy that he could make Mr Happy and Little Miss Sunshine smile even more massive smiles. Also he has now been granted by the loving Spurs fans the honour of having that most historic of Tottenham terrace tunes “Nice One Cyril” renamed for him. “Nice One Sonny, Nice One Son.” I don’t know many of the other players in the Korea team so we will be watching them just for him. Their kit this year is pretty dull, just the red Nike template, with black shorts this time, which I don’t fully understand. The away kit is lovely though and they should just wear that please. PREDICTION: 3rd in the group. KIT: 1/10 home, 6/10 away.


MexicoEl Tri are going for another early 90s themed style, though in the early 90s Mexico had crazy Umbro designs. It’s more, this is what we would have worn if we had been Adidas. The green is darker than usual, I feel. The away kit is reminiscent of old 1960s kits, and the red is very dark; did you know, up until relatively recently Mexico wore dark red as their colour? Even in the 66 World Cup against England. I like Mexico, they are my near-neighbours now, and I do think they will get to their obligatory second round. They still have Giovani Dos Santos, another former Spurs player. Anyway they will get to out of the group behind Germany, then lose to Brazil. Headlines: “Another Fine Mex,” “Kick up the Aztec,” “Tijuana Build A Snowman” (sorry that last one has nothing to do with football, unless Diego Maradona makes a comeback) PREDICTION: 3rd in the group. KIT: 1/10 home, 6/10 away.



Z EnglandI think this is the best England kit in years. Harry Kane and his legion of Spurs team-mates will looks great in this one. He is One Of Our Own. So, I am from England, but have always only ever reluctantly been an England fan. Too many Years Of Hurt (how many is it now anyway, 52?) My main team growing up was always Ireland. My mum was very into supporting the Irish. Well, my real team is just Spurs really. However I do sometimes get caught up in the drama, and then I find myself really Hoping, and then the quarter finals come and I am in the kitchen unable to watch the penalty shootout which inevitably ends with a ballad soundtrack from whichever indie band is big at the time. Next time lads. Then there are the excuses about the long season (fun fact – Spain has a long season too, and their top teams have been winning European trophies), the amount of foreign stars in the game hurting the England team (fun fact – England were pretty rubbish even when there were no foreigners in the English league), and whether the manager is suitable (he is at least experienced in losing penalty shootouts against the Germans). But there is Harry Kane! And that kit. I think the best England kits are plain and simple with NAVY shorts (none of this white short and red socks nonsense), and when the away kit is red shirts and white shorts (stop with the all red!). This year’s one, albeit from the standard Nike template, is super classy, like the 17-18 Spurs top was. If they win the World Cup, it should be in this shirt. Unfortunately the Years of Hurt will probably continue. PREDICTION: TOP of the group. Sadly out to Brazil in the quarters. KIT: 8/10 home, 5/10 away.


Z TunisiaRemember that really bonkers kit they wore in France 98 when they played England? It looked like it had been slashed by Wolverine. Tunisia have been to a few World Cups, they have some pretty decent players such as Wahbi Khazri, who used to play for Sunderland. Tunisia is where the original Star Wars was filmed (well, there and Elstree, nearby to where I am from) so I suppose we should have some Tatooine-themed headlines when they win or lose. Unfortunately I cannot think of any. Their kits are made by Uhlsport, who are not very good at making kits, well, not at making them interesting anyway. If there is a bright centre to the kit universe, these kits are on the planet that it’s farthest from. PREDICTION: 3rd in the group.  KIT: 2/10 home, 2/10 away.


PanamaA man a plan a canal Panama. Mr Owl ate my metal worm. A Santa lived as a devil at NASA. Never Eat Shredded Wheat. Ok I can’t remember any more. Panama got to their first World Cup, while fellow CONCACAF strugglers USA missed out this time. Cue endless headlines about hats. I would like to state that any headline writer who references hats in the review of England v Panama should be ashamed. Hang on what am I saying. It will be a 1-0 win to England and they will say “Close but no cigar.” It would work better if playing against Germany’s legendary striker Miroslav Klose. Ok, the kits. Not very interesting. New Balance. PREDICTION: Bottom of the group.  KIT: 3/10 home, 2/10 away.


BelgiumA cool throwback to the early 1980s. This shirt is lovely, with that retro paisley pattern and the centred badge. Belgium are back in all red, Les Diables Rouges / Rode Duivels, the Red Devils. Fun fact, I lived in Belgium for a year, during Euro 2000, and they love their football there. Their team this year is great, the Golden Generation, full of top stars. Golden Generations do not win anything though (remember Portugal’s one in the early 2000s?) so it’s unlikely Belgium will walk away with the World Cup. But they do have the players. Toby and Super Jan at the back, De Bruyne in midfield, Lukaku up front, Hazard, Dembele, all the Belges. Now as great as they are, I think England will win this group, beating them with an 85th minute winner from Kane, set up by Alli going past Toby and Jan and I will basically be supporting all the Spurs players. The yellow away kit is really smart, I would wear that. Fun fact: I met Kevin Keegan in Belgium! When he was England manager. He signed my diary! He was so cool. He was surrounded by reporters and doing keepy-uppy in a Charleroi sports shop I happened to be in, and he found some time to chat with me. PREDICTION: 2nd in the group. Sadly out to Germany in the quarters, but they’ve got to go to Samara and get a result and I would love it if Belgium beat them, just love it. KIT: 9/10 home, 6/10 away.



Z JapanAnd so into Group H, the Group of Oh Yeah, One More Group. 32 teams is a lot. and in 2026 they will increase it to 48. FORTY-EIGHT!! The Panini album will cost about two grand to complete. Forty-eight. And Scotland still won’t make it. If it means more African and Asian teams though, I am all for it. With Africa we do see some rotation as to who qualifies, it’s not always the same teams getting those few slots, but with Asia, there has been very little change to the usual teams in recent years, making qualification a bit less interesting. In 2026, Asia will get 8 slots (Europe will get 16). Japan are one team that almost always makes it these days. It wasn’t always so; before 1998 they had never qualified, but now it would seem strange to have a World Cup without them (though South Korea are the almost ever-presents). They wear Samurai blue, and this year’s kit is directly inspired by a samurai’s armour. It is definitely different. I’m not entirely sold on it but it is one of the nicest Japan kits in a while. The away kit is really stylish. I like Japan (my oldest friend lives there) and hope they do well but I can’t see them getting out of the groups.  PREDICTION: Bottom of the group. KIT: 7/10 home, 7/10 away.


Z PolandI know how to pronounce Lewandowski the right way, but when I see it written I just say it in a kind of New Yorker, Danny DeVito in Taxi kind of way. “Hey Lewan-DOW-ski! Get outta here!” He still scores a lot of goals, doesn’t he? He certainly does. Maybe he will take Poland far. A good bet for top scorer, if they get out of the group. They have quite a few good players. But their kit this year is a bit boring so I am going to say, no, no they won’t. Another red shirt white shirt pairing, which is very original but can’t be helped. Lots of possible headlines. “VAR-saw Pact” for when a Russian fourth official does them a video-assisted favour.”  PREDICTION: 3rd in the group. KIT: 2/10 home, 2/10 away.


Z SenegalI have fun memories of Senegal’s 2002 World Cup run. They beat France, a world-champion team full of players from outside France, when Senegal were full of players who played for French teams. They were great. I was teaching in Aix-en-Provence, and knew quite a few Senegalese students, speakers of Wolof. This time, they have the star Liverpool player Sadio Mané, and I think they can cause another stir, especially in this group. Their kit is a Puma effort, which has a graphic of a lion’s face, but the kit they had before, made by Romai, was really cool. I’d loved to have seen that there. The national motto is “Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi”, “One people, one goal, one faith. I am sure they will score more than one goal! Headlines: “The Lion’s Mané” PREDICTION: 2nd in the group…and knocked out by England in the Round of 16. KIT: 2/10 home, 2/10 away.


Z ColombiaOk last one until Euro 2020. And it’s great, Colombia’s home kit is one of those ones I would love to wear. I did work with a guy from Colombia back in London, Juan Torrenegra (he used to call himself John Blacktower), he was cool. This kit is based on another from the early 90s. They were brilliant in the 90s weren’t they. Carlos Valderrama and that massive famous hair, Leonel Alvarez and his amazing black curls, Rene Higuita and his huge curly mullet (and scorpion kicks, and other interesting lifestyle choices), and my favourite, Faustino Asprilla. He kept his hair very short. This time James Rodriguez is the main man, but has no huge mane like his forebears. Falcao is another big star. I remember when he was in The Neverending Story teaming up with Atreyu against the Nothing. The away kit is blue and orange and is a reference to the orange and blue kit they wore in the 70s. Why not orange then? Too similar to yellow I assume. FIFA wouldn’t like that. Makes sense. Headline: “And I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you Medellin kids!” No idea how hat would be used. Ok, I reckon they will get to the Round of 16 but be knocked out by Belgium in a World Cup classic they will talk about for years to come. Now I must point out that I once predicted Colombia to won the world Cup (in 1994) and that didn’t exactly work out.  PREDICTION: Top of the group, but out in the Round of 16. KIT: 9/10 home, 6/10 away.

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And I haven’t even mentioned the VAR. You know, you just KNOW that if England play Germany and there is a dodgy ‘Russian linesman’ decision tabloid writers will all  scramble to get that headline printed first, “I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.” I’m sure we’ll hear a lot about VAR being good for Absolutely Nothing, about the long delays being called “Infinity VAR” and with luck there will be a reference to VAR of the Worlds but given that this is a Russian World Cup I think we can only really call it VAR and Peace. Which is referentially a nice nod, but completely unfunny.

Enjoy the World Cup everyone! And now back to posting sketches…

The Russia World Cup, part one: Ronaldo, Messi, and that incredible amazing Nigeria shirt

“The World Cup starts next week!” I said last week to an American I know. I know quite a few Americans, what with living in California, and most of them are actually quite into the game they call soccer. Soccer by the way is a term that came from England, not America, being shorthand for ‘Association Football’, as opposed to ‘Rugby Football’ which the public school boys still call  ‘rugger’. By the way, my American friends, in England ‘public school’ is what we actually call our private schools. If that sounds odd to you, well you call bums ‘fannies’ so I think we are about even. Anyway this particular American just gave a ‘yeah, so what’ type of facial response. Ten or fifteen years ago I might have taken this as normal but these days, I know so many Americans who are so into the game that they look forward to the World Cup almost as much as I do, so indifference is more unexpected than it used to be. And then I remembered – the USA aren’t in it this year. This is a big deal. They don’t have a team to root for. They might like another country for family reasons, or because they have the best shirts or the coolest players (all reasons I myself use, after all my team – Tottenham – is never in the World Cup) but it isn’t the same. America has gotten used to having a team on the biggest stage. Not a successful one, but they are there. It will be strange this year. No USA. No Holland. My own preferred team of Ireland (family connections, and historically my main supported national team) are not there. Even Italy are not there, mamma mia! Italy! It’s just not the World Cup without Italy. It’s like Christmas without the Sound of Music, or New Years Eve without endless Top 100 List Shows on Channel 4. It’s like a World Cup build-up show not making reference to Gazza’s tears. Still, I wouldn’t rule them out, dark horses, they always start a tournament late and so on. I am excited. I love all the flags, all the anthems, all the dodgy haircuts, the Panini stickers, the nostalgia for 1990 or other random World Cup we complained about at the time, but most of all I love the kits. For me, 1994 was one of the best World Cups for kits, but this year is looking like the best one since then, mostly because many of the Adidas kits are taking inspiration from that era. And so, as I do every big football tournament, I am going to do a run-down of every team along with an MS-Paint-drawn version of the kit.

If you come here for the sketches, well I still have plenty of those I am still scanning, so stay tuned. That said, this has been the least sketchingest year, compared to last year which was the most sketchingest. And that isn’t even a word. Ok, there are 32 teams in 8 groups, I’ll do 16 teams each post for 2 posts. Let’s start with Group A, which contains this year’s World Cup hosts, Russia.



RussiaThere was controversy when Russia was selected, but that was largely because (a) England wasn’t selected and (b) Qatar was selected at the same time for the 2022 tournament. The biggest country ever to host the World Cup to the smallest. Despite current political climates, Russia is a much more traditional choice for World Cup host than a country that has never come close to the competition (cough cough Qatar), and has a long and storied World Cup history both as the USSR (Lev Yashin, Igor Belanov, Oleg Blokhin – oh yeah those two were Ukrainian, but still, played for USSR) and post-Soviet Russia (Oleg Salenko, and you know, some other people). Now the great Soviet teams played in, you guessed it, red, but the first post-Communist Russia teams played in white shirts – blue shorts – red socks, the order of the Russian flag. After a while they decided that the Soviet era was something to harken back to, so reverted to rich red shirts, and this continues with the current kit, in brighter red with white trim. It is a reminder of the Soviet kit from the late 80s, not the one they lost the Euros in, but the one they wore when they won the 1988 Olympics Gold Medal (2-1 vs Brazil, who had Romario in the team). The Soviets played well up front, they had a good perestroikers. Ok, Soviet era pun alert. This is one of Adidas’s retro feeling designs this summer and it is pretty nice. The away kit is strange, it has a graphic I do not understand. I want teams to do well based on their kits and this one should get them out of the group at least. They might not beat Brazil in the final this time though. From what I hear the team are pretty rubbish. However, I do think they will somehow get out of the group stage, if only so that Mister President has someone to support. PREDICTION: 2nd in group, out in Round of 16. KIT: 6/10 Home, 6/10 away.


EgyptThere is always a Group of Death in the World Cup, but Group A isn’t it (unless it’s in a kind of James Bond spy thriller kind of way). Egypt aren’t going to win the World Cup, but it is surprising that they haven’t been at the tournament since 1990, given that they are often one of Africa’s best teams, frequently winning the African Cup of Nations. This time they have the Liverpool star Mo Salah, coolest player in the world, though he is in a possibly-shoulder-dislocated state thanks to pantomime villain Sergio Ramos. This is also the Group of Easy, with only Uruguay likely to prove a challenge on the field. I would love Egypt to do well, however I think the hosts Russia will have the Host’s Bounce and edge them to 2nd place. Egypt play in red, with a white away kit just to be different, but the Adidas shirt this year is remarkably plain considering the company’s other offerings. Just lots of little red squares, what has that got to do with the Russia World Cup. I can’t offer anything like the ‘Perestroikers’ pun for Egypt, Pyramidfielders maybe. I’d like to go to Cairo someday, my mum went years ago and loved it, but she said the traffic is insane. PREDICTION: First Round exit. KIT: 4/10 home, 3/10 away.


Saudi ArabiaNeighbours of Egypt, across the Red Sea, the Saudis were last in the World Cup in 2006, but the one I remember most was 1994, Saeed Al-Owairan, scoring that amazing goal against Belgium. That was brilliant. Honestly I have no other things to say because it’s the only thing I remember about Saudi Arabia at the World Cup, other than they usually have really boring kits. This year Nike are providing the boring kit. Well, we say boring, you might say plain and simple, classic, no nonsense, stylish. Ok, then you can say that. My ten year old son knows more about Saudi football than I do though, as one of his friends from the country supports one of the big club teams, and he has played as them in FIFA. For me, it’s all Saeed Al-Owairan, that goal was better than Maradona’s, the sort of goal you see on the schoolyard, not on the telly at the World Cup. That by the way is the sort of cliche you see in the schoolyard, not on the telly. Actually no it’s exactly the sort of thing they say, and maybe it’s not a cliche but it’s plain, simple, stylish. PREDICTION: First Round exit, bottom of the group. KIT: 2/10 (both)


UruguayUruguay will win this group, no question. They should win all of their games, Egypt in the first match being their toughest opponent, but by the time they face Russia they will already be through and so will probably not worry too much about that game, given that they will play either Spain or Portugal in the next round. Suarez will probably not bite anyone this year, but if they face Spain I foresee an exciting clash with Sergio Ramos. Cavani would have a shot at top scorer this year if he manages to do hat-tricks in the groups, because I don’t think they will get past Spain or Portugal. You never know with this team though. Their kit is nice, another Puma effort, with a large detail showing the ‘Un Sol Para Atlántida’ monument (which is an homage to Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró), across the belly. The away kit is plain, another simple white change shirt, the typical sort you get at World Cups. PREDICTION: Top of the group, out in Round of 16. KIT: 6/10 home, 4/10 away.



PortugalCristiano Ronaldo. As always until his memory fades and the world changes and the Great River has washed the World of Men into the Sea, we have to talk about Cristiano Ronaldo when we talk about Portugal. Growing up, until the likes of Figo and Rui Costa and Paulo Sousa came along the rule was you had to talk about Eusebio, Portugal never matched anyone like Eusebio. Well the same is now true of Cristiano, and it’ll be a long time until we see another one of him. Love him or hate him (and I do think the ‘hate him’ crowd are a little bit unfair on him), he is an absolutely phenomenal player. That overhead kick he scored this year in the Champions League was spectacular. There are very few current players who can jump like him. Sure he is all about CR7, he loves to rip off his shirt and show us his abs, and he clearly spends a lot of time on his hair, but lads, he’s worth it. He has received the Ballon D’Or an incredible five times. Yet even he has a nemesis. I don’t know if you have heard but there is another player in the world who is arguably even better. I’ll not give any spoilers away but he is also playing in this World Cup, for a different team. This may even end up as the final World Cup of these two historic Titans of the game and I expect them to still be the big talking points (much to Neymar Jr’s annoyance no doubt), though I don’t think they will end up meeting. Cristiano got Euro 2016, while the Other Guy has never won an international trophy. Portugal however might not have it in them to go all the way this time. Ok that is enough going on about Cristiano Ronaldo. So Cristiano, who are you wearing? “Well I’m wearing a Nike template.” It is pretty standardized stuff, a little disappointing at this World Cup, but it is a classy shirt. I wish the shorts had been white. The away kit is interesting with a bunch of tiny green crosses, which according to the marketing “represent the amount of crosses that go into the box before anyone other than Cristiano will score from them”. PREDICTION: I think they will come second to Spain, play Uruguay in the next round, and lose to France in the quarter-finals. Sorry Cristiano. KIT: 6/10 home, 6/10 away.


SpainSpain are one of the favourites, for sure. I think they might be able to win it. They should top their group, though it is not an easy group and has two local derbies for them (Portugal and Morocco). However I can’t quite put their current group of players up there with the 2010 champions. If they win the group their passage to the quarters should be a breeze given how weak the non-Uruguay teams in Group A are. They might meet Argentina in the quarters though and that could mean Madrid vs Barcelona’s star, whose name I will not mention yet. Anyway enough about the football, get to THE KIT. It’s lovely, but only because it is based loosely on the 1994 kit, an adidas template used by Spain among several other teams (France, Strasbourg) which I just adored. Brings back good memories. I was going to buy this kit, because it is tradition for me to get one team’s World Cup shirt each World Cup (let’s see, in 2014 I got France, in 2010 I got England away, in 2006 I got USA, in 2002 I got Ireland, in 1998 I couldn’t afford one, in 1994 I got Ireland, and in 1990 I would only wear Spurs shirts). However I wear red so much less, so I went for another shirt this year. The away kit is interesting, it has a detail reminiscent of adidas shirts from between 1988 and 1992, like a blend of USSR 88 and Arsenal away 92. I think it falls a bit short with the vermillion/orangey trim though. PREDICTION: Top of the group, but out to Argentina in the quarters (even as I write it, I know it not to be true and Spain will likely beat them). KIT: 8/10 home, 6/10 away.


MoroccoI remember Morocco from England’s group in Mexico 86, and have had a soft spot for them ever since. I love it when they put in a bid for the World Cup, which they have done yet again this year (it’s their fifth one I think?). Also Casablanca is one of my favourite films. I don’t know much about their team, although one of my favourite players from the 90s was born in Morocco (though he played for Spain), Nayim, he of the Half Way Line. This kit this year is bog-standard adidas template stuff, nothing special, just in their classic red shirts and green shorts. The away kit is white but the template with the red up top is really stylish, so they get extra points for that. I think they will relish playing against neighbours Spain and Portugal, in the ‘Pillars of Hercules Derby’ (I just made that up, is it actually called that?). However, like the red shirts from Star Trek, they will fall early in the first act. (Yeah I know most of the teams in this group wear red shirts). PREDICTION: Bottom of the group, home early but will unexpectedly win the bid for 2026, annoying Donald Trump quite a lot. KIT: 1/10 home, 4/10 away.


IranIn the last World Cup they had this Uhlsport kit (I think it was Uhlsport) with an Asian Cheetah design and this year they have switched to another adidas template, pretty bog-standard. I’ve said this twice now. In 30 years time they will probably look back at these templates and go oh that was a classic wasn’t it, remember those templates, so cool and clean and classic, a bit like how we look back at some of the less interesting 1990 World Cup shirts now, like retro masterpieces. Iran are a decent team. They were unbeaten in the Asian qualification groups, only letting in 5 goals in 18 matches. Consider that my AYSO Select U10 team recently let in 99 goals in 29 matches and you get an idea for how good that record is. They are a little unfortunate to get Spain and Portugal in their group because otherwise I’d give them a shot. PREDICTION: Third in the group. KIT: 1/10 home, 1/10 away.



FranceThe French are many people’s favourites to win it this year. They have a young squad, exciting players like Pogba and Mbappe, and it is now 20 years since Les Bleus lifted the golden ball of custard aloft in the Stade de France; I wonder what Zidane is doing now, wonder if he is still winning trophies. I think they will go far as well, but alas, like the armies of Napoleon (you know this headline is coming, brace yourselves tabloid readers) they will fall at the last in Russia and be forced to take the long march home. Yes I am saying they will get to the final and lose to Argentina (or maybe Germany, more realistically). I am saying they will beat Brazil in the semis (again probably not realistic). Their kit is in the new Nike template but with the addition of a totally necessary little button on the collar. It’s pretty modern looking. I love that they will again have the classic white shorts and red socks, because they will only wear those once until FIFA says, look France please just wear all blue, we can’t handle more than one colour, thanks dudes. The away kit has a lot of people excited, with the little red and blue marks all over it, but to me it looks like a shirt you’d wear as part of your supermarket staff uniform. PREDICTION: Top of group C. Winners against Nigeria. Vanquishers of Portugal, Conquerors of Brazil. Unlucky against Argentina; they’ll lose the final.  KIT: 7/10 home, 5/10 away.


PeruMemories of 1978 are pretty distant for me now. All I can say is that I probably ate cat poo and definitely scribbled in a lot of my brother’s Beano comics. So I don’t really have the nostalgia for the Peru team of that time (Teofilo Cubillas, the great red sash on white, a really-convenient-for-hosts-Argentina 6-0 defeat against Argentina). I do remember the Baddiel and Skinner ‘Phoenix from the flames’ episode though. Peru were the very last team to qualify for this year’s World Cup, beating New Zealand in a play-off. They have such a good kit, everyone says, remembering not this one but the 1978 one. It is a Classic of World Football, no doubt, because it is slightly more inventive than simple white or red shirts. The kit this year is made by Umbro, their last one by the British firm (and the only Umbro kit of Russia 2018), and it is a decent effort, with maybe a trim or two too many. The away kit is almost a reverse. However just seeing that sash will bring back floods of 1978 memories to a bunch of people from a certain generation, or maybe they will suddenly want to drink a can of Red Stripe. I would love to see them go through but I think Kronenbourg and Carlsberg will lead the group. PREDICTION: 3rd in the group.  KIT: 5/10 home, 5/10 away.


DenmarkHave I told you all that I love Denmark? Well I love Denmark. You probably haven’t scrolled down this far. I might just talk about strawberries for this post. You won’t read this bit anyway. This whole thing is really just for myself, my future self, to look at in years to come and say, haha look at how my mind worked then, wow I was dumb. I don’t know. I get dumber as the years go by. So does the rest of the world though so at least I am finally following trends. Denmark, I spent a summer there picking strawberries in 1995. Anyone who knows me rolls my eyes like George McFly’s kids when he talks about the Enchantment Under The Sea dance, even though I didn’t dance or meet my wife there, nor punch Biff in the face. I do remember the absolute love of the Dannebrog that the Danes have, and also of the 1992 European Champions team (they were the current champions at the time as well). And strawberries, many ugly strawberries. This Danish team is good because they have Christian Eriksen, one of my beloved Spurs players. The kit is really stylish, with a barely visible X across the middle to remind us of the Danish royal guards (like on the biscuit tin). It is the little hummel chevrons though that make this retro, they are designed as a reminder of the 1986 style. Very subtle but I love it. PREDICTION: 2nd in the group, knocked out in the next round by Argentina.  KIT: 7/10 home, 7/10 away.


AustraliaThe Socceroos are more regulars now than wannabes, increasing the English language quota at the World Cup now that the USA and Ireland have stopped qualifying (not to mention Scotland and South Africa, and well it’s been a while for Wales, Northern Ireland and Canada, though New Zealand came close). Lots of other countries speak English though, but this year the most widely spoken language (official language of most countries in the World Cup, not number of speakers) is of course Spanish (8 countries), followed by Arabic (4 countries). French is next (France, Belgium, Switzerland, Senegal), and then English with 3 countries having it as an official language (England, Australia and Nigeria). Australia play in a golden yellow with a dark green trim, just like their far more famous rugby union team. I love it when countries have kits that are different colours than their flag, which I have always felt to be a boring way of choosing a kit. Italy for example playing in azure blue, the colours of the House of Savoy; the famous Dutch oranje (orange); Germany’s traditional white home shirt and green away shirt; Malaysia’s distinctive yellow and black; Japan’s classy Samurai Blue;  New Zealand’s All Whites (or All Blacks for rugby). This year’s Nike kit has a distinctive design on the arms; my pixelated drawing makes it look like zebra stripes but it really is nothing like that, it was the best I could do in MS Paint doing each pixel by hand. The away kit is dark green with a light green flash going up and another going down, for some bloody reason. PREDICTION: Bottom of the group (or ‘top’ if you look at it from an antipodean point of view).  KIT: 6/10 home, 5/10 away.



ArgentinaI know they aren’t a great team this year. I know the likelihood of them winning the World Cup is slim. But they have a certain player who may be having his last chance to show us if he is the best player of all time.  His name is MESSI. If he helps Argentina win it, he will finally have reached the plateau that Maradona sits on. Messi is no individualist. He is a team player, because everyone likes him more and so we have to say that. Do I really believe he will inspire them to win this time? Yes, I believe it, and even as I write I know my belief will be dashed against a solid dull defensive display from the first solid dull defensive team they play. But we need this! If we want those World Cup dreams, we NEED this. We needed it last time. Do you even remember the Germany team that won it last time? The guy who scored the winner, Gertcha I think he was called, isn’t even coming this time around. Ideally, an ideal world cup final in an ideal world would be Argentina v Portugal, to act as the final chapter in the Messi – Ronaldo story. It is the perfect movie finish and we will not get it. But I still dream. I was 10 when Maradona and Argentina won it in 1986, my son is 10 now. Also, they have some of the best kits. I adore this year’s home shirt, which is a reminder of the early 1990s (when they last won something…), but with a cool graphic design in the stripes. Plus it’s nice to see the black shorts back but again, you know FIFA, they’ll make them wear white shorts. The away kit though is my favourite of this World Cup (except for maybe Nigeria). It’s black and a total retro beauty, but I can’t quite figure out which old Argentine it is based upon. I am hoping it is the one they will wear when beating Germany in the semi-finals (unless Germany wear their extraordinary retro away kit). I actually bought this kit on Saturday. PREDICTION: 1st in the group, fantasy champions overall. Messi-anic.  KIT: 9/10 home, 10/10 away.


IcelandCan you believe Iceland, getting to the Euros, then getting to the World Cup? Plus they have 3 for 2 on chicken kievs right now, bargain. Yeah, everybody loves Iceland, and their viking claps (vikings were well known for getting together and doing big handclaps), and that bloke who looks like Thor (God of Thunderclaps), and of course my main man Gylffi Sigurdsson, who looks like Kevin Bacon, who might be one of the Avengers, I don’t know. Iceland have the means to do it, and get into the knock-outs, but I think they will heroically fail this time, but only because I like Nigeria’s kit more (and I want to predict an African team doing better than round one). The Iceland kit is made by Errea, whose shirts I have been a fan of for years, but has a pixelated volcanic lava style design on the upper arms. PREDICTION: 3rd in the group, and we remember the claps for decades to come.  KIT: 5/10 home, 5/10 away.


CroatiaThe Croats have made their famous red and white checkerboard kit with bigger squares this time, though the back is just plain old white, but with red arms. FIFA I think hate that they want a checkerboard kit. They and UEFA hardly ever let them wear it at tournaments (because most teams play in either red or white; boooorinnnng) so they often have to stick with the blue away kit. This year the away is black and blue and looks pretty cool. Given the blue shirted opponents in the group (plus Nigeria whose kit is like WOOOOW) I think we should see more of the home kit, but not much more. I think despite Modric they will go out early. “Don’t Cro Home Too Soon”. “Don’t Cro Fro Me Argentina.” “Yugo Out Early.” “Balkan-trol Lets Croats Down.” I’m clutching at straws here for headlines, or should I say “Zagrebbing at straws”. Ok enough, I am going to Split. Unless Croatia come up with a goal in the Dubrovnik of time. PREDICTION: 4th in the group. “Straight home, as the Cro flies.” KIT: 6/10 home, 4/10 away.


NigeriaOh come on. We have a winner. Nigeria have had good kits before but this one is insane. It’s such a fun design. The green is lighter than usual, then there is the black on the arms, it has a total 90s reminder about it. Remember that team from the 94 World Cup (that was by the way my favourite ever Nigeria kit), Amokachi, Amunike, Oliseh, Okocha, celebrating by grabbing the goal net and yelling, I watched that on my tv in my bedroom late at night. I would have loved this kit, but I cannot pull it off. I’m a pasty freckly redhead. I am not worthy of this shirt. It is an instant classic and for that reason, I really want them to get through the groups. Sorry Iceland with your special on Findus Crispy Pancakes, sorry Croatia with your Daily Star sub-editor wishlist of headlines, it is Nigeria who will go through alongside Messi’s Boys. The away kit is dark green and a bit simple but necessary, like having something healthy after a massive ice cream sundae. PREDICTION: 2nd in the group. Winner of all the kit competitions. KIT: 10/10 home, 5/10 away.

If you are still with me, stay tuned for Part Two…

uncle vito’s

uncle vito's mar 2018 sm

Slowly scanning sketches. This one is from a Davis pizzeria / bar called Uncle Vito’s. I have sketched it a couple of times before (once every couple of years or so) and on one evening in early March I needed to come out and do some bar sketching. The beer is nice here, and not expensive. And tall, as you can see from my drink. I don’t really eat the food here though; I had a pizza once that was not really to my liking (it had Thai flavours, which in this case meant peanut sauce and beansprouts), and I have also had their garlic fries, which are delicious but come in an enormous pile, I think I had it in 2009 or so and am still feeling full up. Just beer it is then. The screens are blank, there might have been sports on them, basketball maybe, too late for American Football, too early for American Baseball, maybe it was American Soccer, or maybe it was like just the news or something. Or a movie. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, stop wondering. The leg lamp-post, it’s from that Christmas movie, anyway the first time I went in there I though they had two of them, before realizing it’s just a mirror. Mirrors behind bars can be deceptive. For years I thought there was a mirror behind the bar at the Good Mixer in Camden Town, I never clocked that that was in fact another side to the bar. I never clocked that I had no reflection, or if I did I must look pretty different, Camden will do that to you. Anyway this most definitely isn’t Camden, it’s Davis.