have I got queues for you

queen lying in state sm

In the end, they put the Queen in the ground, and changed the national anthem. Next will come the new stamps, bank-notes, post-boxes, coins, and change all the jail names from Her Majesty’s Prison to His Majesty’s Prison. Before they put her in the ground though, the Queen’s coffin was displayed in Westminster Hall for a few days while the entire nation popped in to have a look. The whole thing was broadcast live, like they used to do with Big Brother, so I tuned in and sketched the view.

The Queue was a pretty big deal though wasn’t it. Not being in Britain, it feels like I have missed out on my home country’s massive cultural water-cooler moment. There’s no way I would have spent ten, eleven, twelve hours queuing up myself to see the big box they kept the Queen’s body in, though I would have probably gone down to draw the Queue. It was a Genuine Historic Occasion. The Queue itself became the attraction. People were probably queuing up to see The Queue. I’m surprised the government didn’t charge people a pound so they could use the alliterative phrase, “Queue for a Quid to see the Queen” (from the people who brought you “Bung a Bob for a Big Ben Bong”, which is a real thing an actual British government came up with).

For those who don’t know, The Queue (official title “The Queue to attend Her Majesty The Queen’s Lying-in-State”) stretched from Westminster Hall, where the late Queen lay-in-state, down Lambeth way (Oi! ‘Ave a banana), and all the way down the south bank of the Thames, where cab drivers once feared to tread, right past Tower Bridge, all the way into Bermondsey where it zigzagged round Southwark Park like a Pokemon Go party. It was said to be between five and ten miles long, and maybe half a million people lined up in total. Maybe more, almost certainly more. I would not have wanted to be in that line for so long, but it must have been infectious. Perhaps I’d have gone there and found it hard not to join The Queue. All sorts were in that Queue, even David Beckham waited in line for twelve hours, doing his bit, before going off to join a different Q, Qatar, as an embarrassingly well-paid ambassador. At the time, I wondered to my wife how long it might take until this particular Cultural Event is turned into a movie, a kind of ‘Love Actually’ style film, just called “The Queue”. It would feature seven or eight different storylines from people within The Queue, as they move along the Thames, people of all walks of life, with hilarious relationships forming, commentary on the 2020s-era cultural wars. Just like Love Actually it would feature many of the usual actors who show up in these types of things, your Grants, your Thompsons, your Neesons, plus a few newer ones like Tom Holland who would for some reason get into a caper that leads to him falling into the Thames and being fished out by a copper, probably played by Idris Elba or someone, and keep being made to go to the back of The Queue, blushing at the girls as he is dragged past a second or third time. There would be a few comedy cameos: Rowan Atkinson would have a small role as play that guard who fell over; Matt Lucas would play Boris Johnson in a mop wig; James Corden would be that awful bloke who rushed to the Queen’s coffin knocking down that little girl, annoying his grandmother who is played by Catherine Tate (there would be an after credit scene where we find out they actually got together and you see them having afternoon tea and the girl shoving Corden out of the way to get a coronation chicken sandwich, to rounds of laughter). There would be small cameos from famous Hollywood stars; Harrison Ford would play Joe Biden, and Mark Hamill would play one of the guards standing by the coffin, and Ford would say to him, “Aren’t you a little short for a Beefeater?” (Credit goes to my wife for that joke). But it wouldn’t be about the Royals or the VIPs, it would be about the Real People in The Queue, because the Real People are the ones who this whole Cultural Event really for. In fact we wouldn’t see The Royals at all, if they appear it would be just the backs of their heads (though we would find out later that they were cameos from other really famous people like Lady Gaga or Woody Harrelson). Between the actual movie bits there would be actual footage from The Queue with some of those real people, with the usual music, like those airport scenes in Love Actually. I actually kinda want to watch this film now. The taglines would be great/shite. “You can choose your friends…you can’t choose who you spend fifteen hours in a queue with” “The best things come to those who wait…in line” Etc and so on. It would be turned into a Broadway musical, “Queue: The Music”. Ok, this movie’s being made. “God Save The Queue”.

first street’s changing face

1st St Davis 110222 sm

I like drawing construction, because you get to see a place in transition, and your sketch will forever be of a specific moment in time. This was last November; if I went back now, this building will look different (it might be finished, I haven’t checked). I remember that I was listening to a podcast at the time, Adam Buxton interviewing Richard E. Grant, which was really enjoyable. I like Richard E. Grant, of course I’m of the generation that loved Withnail and I. The sort of thing we would quote a lot at university. I studied drama. Seems a lifetime ago, now. I like looking at this sketch, the lines are kind of doing that thing where they seem to skew upwards in a slightly different direction on the right than on the left, as happens in a lot of my sketches, probably because of the angle I hold my sketchbook, but it’s something I’ve come to rather like, though I don’t look for it. 1st street is quite a busy road, usually a lot of traffic, and there was work going on in the adjoining street, I think that was D Street. Yes, that’s right. This was the corner where there was an aging frat house, that I have drawn before, and was recently demolished. This is probably a replacement, or maybe it’s something newer altogether, I never bothered finding out. I probably won’t draw the finished building, it’s probably a bit similar to many other buildings and won’t look as interesting as it did during the construction phase; isn’t that the same as all of us? We’re all quite interesting as we are being ‘constructed’, in our youths, while we are at university watching Withnail (actually no, I was pretty uninteresting then), then we grow up and look and dress and talk the same as everyone else (yeah, maybe; I think this analogy doesn’t really stand up if I’m honest) (This is more the sort of thing you can have a character say in a play, and the audience goes, oh yeah, that sounds about right, I know what you mean, and then you have some other character, let’s make them Scottish, say “does it f*ck! Ye’re talking shite!” and bring us back to reality). Forget that analogy, buildings being built are not like people growing up. Though, buildings do age like people, things start falling off of them, they get ignored, and eventually they get knocked down and replaced with something new. As Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter used to say, “It’s Nature’s Way.”

TLC, the grand opening

TLC opening 100422 sm

Back in October, the brand new Teaching and Learning Complex (“TLC”; not “talc”) had its formal opening ceremony, which I of course went along to and sketched. I sketched the current Provost Mary Croughan above, describing the TLC as an “absolutely beautiful building”, and it really is. The Chancellor Gary May said that the TLC “marks a new era for learning at UC Davis”, while former Provost Ralph Hexter (who was executive vice-chancellor during the original planning for this building) said “TLC – I’m surprised no-one made this obvious – is Tender Loving Care”. (This by the way is why acronyms are important, and why I probably won’t be allowed to come up any acronyms on campus, because I’d probably make them silly). After this, there were tours of the building, and I was particularly impressed with the top floor’s tutoring center with it’s little sound-proofed pods. I really liked the views as well, and so I came back over the next couple of days to draw them.

TLC view 100522 sm

This was the view from the stairwell, looking northwards. I’ve always been interested in that observatory dome on the top of that one building, I think it is Storer Hall, as I can see that from my office. Lot of windows in this one, but that little bit of pink foliage was quite striking, especially as it was October.

TLC view 100622 sm

And this is the view from the top of South Steps, where the first sketch was drawn, this time looking southwards at the new wing of the Engineering Building that is pretty much being completed as I type, but was still wrapped in orange back in October. Another building project completed. Speaking of building projects, you can see all of my sketches of the Teaching and Learning Complex at the following link: https://petescully.com/tag/teaching-learning-complex/. And by the way, the team behind the construction of the building gifted me a very special present last summer for all my sketched documentation of the project, a Patagonia sweater with their logo on, and an embroidered version of one of my sketches on the sleeve! That’s a pretty cool honour. It’s also a pretty lovely sweater, though I had to wait about eight months to wear it, because it wasn’t cold enough until about December.


How cool is that! Here is the sketch it is based off of, drawn a couple of years and a couple of months before this grand opening, in the bleak midst of the pre-vaccine Pandemic Time:

Teaching Learning Complex UCD July 2020

You can read a good article about the TLC’s opening ceremony at UC Davis Dateline: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/tlc-gets-final-tenants-celebration (my tweet about it even got a shoutout…)

any old iron

Lego Ironmonger 091822 sm

I’ve not drawn any Lego for a while. I still have a few Lego sets I’ve not build yet; finding the time (sorry, I mean finding the shelf-space) has been an issue, plus my increasingly bad eyesight means I can’t find those little bits of Lego I drop under the couch until one of my cats spits it out (they’ve never actually done that, funnily enough, though they have done the ‘push a massive Lego set off the shelf’ act). This was one I drew back in September, on the brown envelopes, this is the Lego ‘Iron Monger’. That was the main villain in the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Iron Man. The MCU has got pretty big since then, which I’ve been a big fan of. Like the Marvel comic universe itself it is basically a massive soap opera. I have loved the series, the most ambitious movie project of all time, culminating nicely in Endgame which I thought was a nice stopping point for the Avengers era. Then came the various Disney Plus series of Phase 4, coming just in time for the pandemic when cinemas would be closed and we were all at home streaming telly anyway. While I’ve enjoyed many of the series (Wandavision and Loki were especially fun) some of it all has tailed off a bit. The movies have been less re-watchable than the first three phases, though I enjoyed the most recent Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, everything else has been ok to hmm, yeah. Maybe it’s the lack of Robert Downey Junior. Nevertheless I am interested to see where it goes, since it is heading to Secret Wars (the original was one of the first Marvel comics I read back in the mid-80s, and I really loved the 2015 massive crossover special). But I just watched Quantumania, and while it was largely fun, it was a bit middling. I know a lot of people are very meh about the super-hero/comic-book movies anyway, but I loved Marvel comics and these ones did a really good job (unlike for example the recent DC films which have been fairly atrocious; don’t get me started on Dawn of Justice). I think it’s because while the first three MCU ‘phases’ were all new and “are they actually going to do that? Oh they really are”, they had a through-line and a clear focus, especially being tent-poled around the Avengers series, and as they started introducing new characters and ideas to the mix it was done organically and brought together in the most comic-book-crossover structured movie of all, Infinity War. I could watch those over and over and over, like Star Wars, or the Dark Crystal, or Father Ted. Now with films like Eternals, which felt like it went on for an eternally long time, it feels like the series is not sure where it’s really going. The Multiverse Saga, right, Kang the Conqueror, Secret Wars – but it’s not clear how they are going to get there, or if they will bring us all along with it. Still, I loved Iron Man, and I still love all the Lego. I haven’t made a Lego animation in a while (since the Dr Strange one I made a few years ago), but it’s really fun to draw.

take a seat on G Street

G St Davis 101522 sm

The catch-up on my 2022 sketches goes into October; this panorama of G Street was drawn on a Saturday afternoon in mid-October on a hot Fall day, sat on the kerb (that’s ‘curb’ to Americans) until my body hurt. I used to be ok sitting on the kerb, but these days I’m so used to standing while sketching that I don’t like sitting right on the street as much, so I ‘curb’ that activity. I don’t even bring along the little fold-up stool like I used to, though I still have one that’s nice and light to carry. I have this idea, not so much in Davis but in other places (London for example) where you might get hassled by a busy-body who thinks you shouldn’t be there on the street near their place, their office or their shop, and try to move you along. It’s rarely happened, though I’ve heard of it and it did happen once in London to my friends who were sketching in the city of London with me on a Sunday, they sat down to draw a church, and a security guy inside the office building next to us came right out and tried to move them along for, I’m not sure what, blocking the view from the window? It was as far as they were concerned their sidewalk (not actually true, they were on the public right of way), and it didn’t matter that they were obviously just drawing the church, this guy wanted them to move. I was standing; he didn’t talk to me. I have heard of other sketchers and artists being moved about by busybody street security guards who like to overreach, even when standing. So maybe that’s one reason I don’t like to sit when sketching? Not really; I usually know my rights. The main reason is I get a better view when standing, and usually if I sit, the worst thing that will happen is a car will park in the way and block my view. Well on this occasion, I did feel like sitting down on the kerb. This section of G Street has been informally pedestrianized since the pandemic, when the restaurants along here were forced to take their businesses out onto the streets – go to the kerbs, or curb your business, I guess. It’s pretty much stayed that way, so on these balmy summery afternoons (in October) it’s usually full of people, drinking outside the University of Beer or eating outside Woodstocks. On this day it was not super busy, but still pretty vibrant. I sat on the kerb (with some subconscious trepidation, obviously) and drew the view of the Kathmandu Kitchen, the G Street Wunderbar, and the sushi place in between whose name I forget. I went to that sushi place once, back in (wow) 2006, when my friend Terry visited (he likes Japanese food; he lives in Yokohama now). My only memories are that you had to go into the G Street Pub (as it was called then) to use the toilet, and also Terry asking if I’d heard of ‘Teriyaki’ before and me pretending I hadn’t so he could explain it. I think I’ve only been to Kathmandu Kitchen once too, maybe in 2006 or 2007? I remember we weren’t that impressed, comparing with the similar foods we would get back home in London, and so we never ate there again, though I keep thinking we’ll try it again some time. Finally, the G Street Wunderbar. I’ve not been there in years; I always associate it more with live music, or loud music, and young people, or loud people, just a different vibe from the regular pub feel of De Vere’s (may gawd rest its soul). I’ve sketched it a few times, first when it was the old G Street Pub, and one time about ten years ago, during a particularly busy Spring Break week, when I really needed to draw a complicated curvilinear panorama, I came here and sat in the middle of the bar and drew all those bottles, while the bar light around me changed colours and people filed in taking shots of whatever and talking. That sketch is below. I really loved a bit of curvilinear then; I need to do more of those, I enjoyed looking at rooms in that style. That’s why I’d sit in the middle of the bar, to get as central a view as I could. You have to be a little bold to do that, when your instinct is to hide away and be unnoticed. Perhaps I could have approached the sketch above in this way; if I had, I might have to have sat right in the middle of the road, to get a more close-up view, and let my vision of the buildings curve naturally. Which is a thing I can do, since G Street is closed up. Actually I always let things curve, even if only slightly, although in the above panorama my awkward seating contributed to the curviness having a little bit of wonkiness (more ‘curbilinear’ than ‘curvilinear’) (or ‘kerbilinear’). Right, new new year’s resolution (my birthday was last week so it’s a new year for me anyway), draw more curvilinear interiors and exteriors again, like I used to a decade ago.

g street wunderbar

A Hot Afternoon in the Mission

SF Mission St 090322 sm

Part two of my day exploring San Francisco last September. I’m writing early in the morning in February, realizing that there were still sketches from 2023 that I had not scanned, including the one above. I was hoping to go on a sketching day down in the City today, but it was pretty rainy when I woke up, so I thought sod it, stay home and watch Spurs (we are currently losing 2-1 to Leicester, and I’m rethinking my decision). It was very hot on that day in September though. I don’t remember the temperature in Davis but probably about 110, it was during that horrible wave of extreme heat we had. San Francisco is usually about 30-40 degrees cooler at those times, the bay area having its natural cooling system off the ocean, but on this day it still felt very hot, and the Mission district is usually the warmest part of the city. A day of walking around, but a day of stopping and getting something cold to drink. I did want to draw this old theatre building on Mission though, I may have drawn it before but I wanted to get all the colour from the street. There were some characters around, music was playing, it was a classic hot day in the City. Mission is very much the main Latin American part of San Francisco and I always look forward to a delicious burrito here, and I love all the little shops and the colourful murals. I wandered about a bit down parts I’d either not been to or hadn’t seen in a number of years. there are changes along Mission, some older buildings gone, but it still feels like Mission. Something about Mission Street, I can’t explain it, but it feels a bit like some streets in London I know, feels familiar while also being completely different. We don’t have palm trees in London, and it’s usually cloudier. It was really hot though, and my foot was already hurting, so I went down 24th and found that old Irish pub I had been to once before (in 2008?), the Napper Tandy.

SF Napper Tandy 090322sm

Spurs are losing 3-1 now, at half-time. Maybe I should go to San Francisco today, but I want to see how we get out of this in the second half. Let’s go back to September. I found the Napper Tandy, nice and shady inside, and got a cold beer (probably an Anchor Steam) and started sketching the bar. there were quite a few people in there, mostly regulars, a lot of people knew each other sat around the horseshoe bar. I remember that from when I went all those years ago, it was a pretty friendly atmosphere. There was live music from a band playing just outside the adjoining bar area, which was a little loud but provided a nice backdrop. I was in no hurry, and was too exhausted to explore more streets for a bit. I stayed for a couple and sketched, making it look greener than it is because of all the Irish stuff, but didn’t got for full colouring in. The music was getting a bit loud and I was starting to feel a bit antsy to explore more of this neighbourhood before the long trip back to Davis.

SF Shotwells Mission 090322 sm

Well as I write, Spurs are now losing 4-1 to Leicester; they’ve gone down to City, while should have gone down to the City. The rain has stopped and it’s sunny out now, though I guess it’s still planning to be rainy down in the Bay Area, so I’ll stay at home. I just tidied the kitchen and ate breakfast while watching that Spurs ‘game’ on my iPad. I think the rest of the day will involve playing the bass a lot, and getting further into Horizon: Forbidden West. Anyway, this last sketch from that day in September was another old Mission bar, a historic saloon I had read about called Shotwell’s, at the corner of 20th and Shotwell. I’d never been to this part of the Mission before so it took a little exploring, and by the time I got there I was very in need of a cold drink. I loved this place, it was perfect on a hot sunny day. This saloon has a long history, going back to 1891, starting out as a bar at the back of a grocery shop run by a couple of German immigrants; after the 1906 Earthquake it just became a regular saloon and the lovely wooden bar that is still there was brought all the way from New England. The saloon had many iterations in the following decades, but became ‘Shotwell’s’ in 2006. You can read all about it on their website: https://www.shotwellsbar.com/history.html. I just had the one beer, while some people played pool and darts nearby, while some good music came out of the speakers. Alas, the BART, the Emeryville bus and the Amtrak train were calling, so I slogged through the hot streets for that burrito I’d been thinking about, and made the long trip back to heatwave-stricken Davis. I was planning to run a 5k the next day (some preparation huh), but I knocked that on the head due to a bad foot, the silly heat even at 8am, and just generally being knackered. Can’t wait to go down to San Francisco on a sketching exploration again. Maybe tomorrow.

San Francisco – Noe Valley

SF Farmers MArket pano 090322 sm

Occasionally I like to have a day sketching down in San Francisco. I don’t go very often; it’s a long (and not cheap) train journey, with a connecting bus from Emeryville, I spend a lot of time wandering about (and I get tired), and then I have to get the Amtrak bus and train home (which takes ages), and because I like to eek out as much possible sketching time as I can, I leave super early and come back super late. Every few years I might stay overnight, which makes me feel a bit more relaxed while marching about the city, not having to worry about getting back to the Amtrak bus stop near the Salesforce Tower, and then I might go to an interesting pub in the evening for a bar sketch. But then next day I am always a bit tired and always thinking, get the earlier train back, still a very long way, get home and have a Sunday rest, maybe colour in some of the sketches I’d done. Another thing about going to the City, I like to try and explore somewhere I’ve never been, or maybe have not been in a long time (places have change rapidly since I moved out here). On this occasion, a very hot day in the very hot early September of 2022, I started at the usual spot of the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market – been getting these delicious bombolini there for years, a sugary way to start the day – and drew the panorama above. It was a good spot to draw the latest iteration of this skyline (click on it to see it larger, on my Flickr site). Lot of people out and about; I remember once years ago seeing Robin Williams here, just about a year or so before he died. I don’t usually recognize famous people, but I recognized him. Actually, no my wife pointed him out. I am terrible at recognizing famous people. If ever I became famous, I would instantly forget what my own face looked like.

SF Folio Books 090322 sm

When I was done with hanging out at the Ferry Building, I hopped onto the BART towards the Mission district, and got out at 24th Street for a long-ish walk uphill towards the Noe Valley neighbourhood. This was a place I had never been, but had heard was quite nice, and full of trendy types. Well maybe not trendy types, more middle-class professional types, young families with expensive strollers and small dogs, that sort of thing. I don’t know, yuppies. People with mobile phones and fil-o-faxes who go skiing and have pagers. I don’t know, I’m not very good at categorizing places, or remembering what decade it is. “That’s a cute neighbourhood,” is the sort of thing I think people would say when they come here. There are nice shops and little restaurants, but it’s not too much, or too few, it’s not full of every Starbucks or Peet’s that you can imagine, nor is it wall-to-wall hippies and grubby smoke-shops (it’s not the Haight, a street I almost never enjoy), and it’s not as edgy and colourful as somewhere like Mission (a street I almost always enjoy) but it’s a pretty nice place to spend a Saturday lunchtime. Sutro Tower rose above the nearby hills like an insectoid alien overlord, but I walked up to see if I could find a shop I wanted to sketch. I found Folio Books, which was a lovely little bookshop that I spent an unexpectedly long amount of time in. I love to visit these little bookshops in the City, they are my favourite places. I always want to buy loads of things, but I think I just got one book (can’t even remember what now! Probably a travel writing book) because carrying too many books around in my little bag all day gets heavy. I sat outside and sketched though, and that is always time well spent.

SF Noe Valley 090322 sm

I had lunch further down the street at a little burger place, getting a nice chicken burger and about a million garlic fries, that would be me set for the day. As I ate I spotted a guy wearing a Spurs badge on a t-shirt, always love to see it. It had the signs of Haight Ashbury on it, so I asked him what that was. He said that it was for the fan group ‘Haight Spurs’, which meets regularly at a pub in the Haight to watch Tottenham matches (with those early kick-off times too), they had been up watching Spurs huff against Fulham that morning, a game I’d watched on my iPad on the train. I said ‘Haight Spurs’ sounds more like an Arsenal fan group than a Tottenham one, but I don’t think he got it. There are a few Tottenham fan groups in the Bay Area and beyond from what I understand, I know there’s one in Sacramento that I have never met up with (7am at a pub in midtown vs 7am on my sofa with a cuppa, not really a contest; I’m sure people would get sick of me shouting “Shuttup Lee Dixon, you dunno what you’re talkin’ about!” at the screen every three minutes like I do when watching on NBC at home). I remember Ossie Ardiles met with fans in San Francisco ahead of our game against the San Jose Earthquakes in 2010, I was at the game but not at the Ossie meeting; if he did another, I’m there. Anyway this Haight Spurs fellow seemed a bit reluctant to tell me too much more (I think it was more he wanted to go and eat now, please) but maybe one of these days I should look up where people are watching games in San Francisco and do that, but we all know I would actually just stay in my hotel and watch it in bed, where I can berate Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux’s co-commentary in peace. Anyway, suitably well-fed and ready to draw the whole world, I sketched the scene outside the burger place on 24th Street at the corner of Vicksburg, watched all the people go by, all those the middle-class professional dot-com yuppies and yummy-mummies with their Pagers and their Barbour jackets and Swatch watches, copies of the Financial Times tucked under their arms and poodles in their handbags (I’m such an observant people-watching urban sketcher), and then walked up and down a few more hills back towards the Mission district. I’ll post those sketches next.

three bay area hydrants

hydrant san ramon 102222

Continuing with posting the sketches from the second half of 2022, while in the meantime 2023 steamrolls on, and I’m playing catch-up on my sketching. At least there are always fire hydrants. I’ve sketched them all before I know, and I do prefer to look out for new models I have not sketched, but sometimes there’s just one I have to draw. Here are three from different places. The one above, which I drew before a 15U soccer game in San Ramon on my iPad, was hard to resist. I love a bit of rust.

SF Mission Hydrant sm

The next one (above) was drawn in the Mission district of San Francisco last September, when I took a day down in the city to sketch and explore. I’ll post those sketches next probably. That was a super hot day. It’s possible I have sketched this very one before, it was next to a burrito shop on Mission Street.

This last one (below) was drawn in San Mateo (all three of these were drawn in places starting with ‘San’), after another of those soccer tournaments. Downtown San Mateo looked pretty interesting, and the main plaza with the big domed city hall was quite grand. There was live music in the square, and a bustling streetlife. The team all ate at a Chipotle while waiting for the results of other games that would determine whether we would advance; we didn’t. So I drew this bright green hydrant. It was the brightest green hydrant I’d ever seen, and I’ve seen quite a few.

hydrant san mateo aug2022 sm

sketches from the sidelines, 2022

ayso united stanford cup 1 2022 sm

Let’s travel once more back to last summer. Since I stepped down from coaching youth soccer, I had been able to spend more time on the sidelines as a parent, and that means I can sketch more rather than take note. I still take notes, force of habit, but it’s nice to try and capture the games in a way that the photos taken a long-distance on our not-zoomed-in camera phones do not. Did I just use the term ‘camera phone’? Ok grandad. I know you are supposed to just say ‘phone’ instead of ‘camera phone’ now, and nobody has cameras now unless they are a photographer, so we say ‘phone’ to talk about the thing we primarily use for taking photos, and occasionally use to make calls on. One day I might invent the sketchbook-phone. My poor eyes cannot zoom in, but I tried to draw the action as best I could. Here are some sketches form various tournaments our team AYSO United Davis went to. Above, and the next couple below, are sketches from the Stanford Cup, which was held in various locations around Silicon Valley. It was bloody hot, and I stood in what shade I could find. In the end the team did not advance to the final, though it was close, but they played well and didn’t give much away.

ayso united stanford cup 2 2022 sm  ayso united stanford cup 3 2022 sm

The third match was at a big high school football stadium. I only drew half the field, but the other half looks like that so you can imagine it. When playing soccer on these American football fields it is always difficult to know where the lines are, as the soccer field is wider, and will often use less-distinct yellow lines. So you get people taking throw-ins from the wrong place, about a metre or so inside the bounds, and as for the penalty area, there’s a lot going on on these fields. Still with all the extra lines it’s easier to spot an offside (or ‘offsides’ as they say here). We were quite high up and had a good view of proceedings.

ayso united wolves cup 4 aug2022 sm

These ones, drawn in one of those pencils I got at one of the Urban Sketching Symposiums, were form the Wolves Cup tournament down in one of those places in the East Bay, I forget now. Diablo Valley, Antioch, that’s it. The local Diablo Valley teams had badges like Wolverhampton Wanderers, I think they might be connected. I know Tottenham had an ‘East Bay Spurs’ youth club, though I don’t think they are still connected. Last season we played one team in San Francisco that had a historical connection to Celtic, they knocked us out of the State Cup (1-0 with a last-minute goal, that was gutting). It’s quite common over here, though when a club has a name like Juventus or Ajax I don’t know if they are actually connected or just named after them. I liked meeting the people from all the youth soccer teams over the years, and had some good sideline banter with some of the nicer coaches; though you get a few who are a bit much, most were very friendly. Parents can be a thing, oh yes. We always had a good parent culture on our teams and strived to keep everybody positive, though we played some teams were parents would be sent off the sidelines for their behaviour. Those refs have a tough job; respect the referees. This was a good little tournament though, everyone was nice. My son scored the first goal, in our opening 4-0 win.

ayso united wolves cup 2 aug2022 sm

The sketch below was against a team who I can’t completely remember, but played in neon yellow, so I did a few sketches. This may have been the team where the opposing players were really quite unfriendly, and the parents were saying pretty unpleasant things too, and our coaches actually stopped the game and took the players off. Fair play to them for that. This might have been a different game though. It’s not always clear what’s being said out on the field, and I was off in the shade sketching. It was not long after my skin operation so I was sticking to myself and avoiding people in general, getting what shade I could. One thing I learned was that if you use a neon highlighter to colour in the neon shirts, that won’t really come out in the scan, so I had to add the neon yellow scribble back in with Photoshop afterwards.

ayso united v elk grove sm

This final one was done digitally on my iPad, so no scanning issues there. It was from a Halloween themed tournament in which our team dressed up as Minions, and ended up winning the whole thing, their first medal as a team. They won the final on penalties, with my son’s best friend scoring the winning spot-kick. The game sketched below was a group game against the team they ended up beating in the final, and they lost this one 2-1 in a tight contest. I like drawing these on the iPad because I can use layers and get the background drawn quickly, adding in players over the top. Still had to be quick.

san ramon oct 2022

holier than thou

hole punchers sm

This is a three-hole puncher. It’s very heavy and fairly large, taking up an excessive amount of space in my office for the little work that it does. It’s like the SUV of hole punchers. It’s even called a ‘Hummer’ as if to say, I may be made of steel but I’m full of irony. It was one of those days, one of those lunchtimes. I wanted to draw, but I am sometimes out of inspiration when drawing Davis on my lunchtimes these days. So I got the extremely filling Chicken Over Rice (Spicy) from Shah’s Halal food truck, took it back to my office, and drew this big hole puncher on an old brown envelope. It’s a beast. If you dropped it from high up enough it would certainly destroy a car, and maybe even threaten some smaller life forms with extinction. I don’t have a lot of things that I put into three-ring binders any more. I still have a few, and some that I keep on my desk and refer to because it’s easier than looking up on the screen, and I can bring those binders to meetings and show people, but that happens far far less than it used to anyway. In my old office there is still a range of ring binders, colour-coded by theme of what was inside, which seem to have been kept in there now more for the nostalgia factor. I use this hold puncher far less than I used to, but I still use it, so it stays. This was a big difference I discovered after moving to the U.S., the ring-binder system with three holes. In the U.K., we use two, fairly close together, middle of the page. That means that my handy little two-hole punch, the sort you get for a couple of quid from Smiths and is light and small so you can keep it in your backpack or your jacket pocket, is useless over here. People do have the single-hole pinchers, but honestly they can be a little crap. They never punch through that many pages at once, and if punching three holes in a page you’ll always get at least one hole just off. With this big puncher you can measure the edges better with a little sliding metal ruler that comes out, but the three holes are always the same length apart. You can really punch through a lot of pages at once as well, if you press down quickly enough, although I’m sure the mechanism has blunted a little over the years. The paper size we use in the U.S. is also different to the U.K. In America, it’s letter size, while in Britain we have the standard A4. It’s like we are completely different countries. Now I am used to the letter size, if I find old papers from England in the stuff I brought over years ago, documents and certificates and such, the length of them is a little jarring, and they are that bit narrower. I do like the letter size, it kind of feels a bit nicer, like an old TV screen. I see the benefit of the three-hole system though, because after a while papers in British folders tend to get pulled down a little at those top and bottom inside corners; not so much with my American binders. This has been here a while; it still has the name of a former employee, Prather, who I think left us at least a couple of decades ago, before even I joined the department. It’s probably been in the department a lot longer than that. This is starting to feel a bit like an episode of Time Team, like I have dug this out of the shores of the Thames or something. This thing could probably last the centuries too. In the 41st Century, someone may come across this and wonder about this ancient civilization where we needed to press little holes into things, perhaps in that ancient substance they called ‘paper’, or maybe in their skin, or as a way to identify animals, and there would be this major debate as to why the large devices they have found on the big western continent are designed to make three holes while the smaller devices on the eastern landmass only make two, and they would become known as the ‘three hole civilization’ and the ‘two-hole culture’. And of course there would be people that say no, people back in those days could not possibly have had the technology to create such a device and made their holes using sticks fashioned out of fish spines, and that these devices can only have been made by aliens. And people would believe it of course, because people in the 41st century are not that different from people in the 21st or the 1st, and they would still believe in aliens, and they still definitely would not have ever met one. Or maybe, and I’m wrapping this up now I promise you, maybe they would think this had some religious purpose. And someone would realize that ‘hole puncher’ sounds a bit like ‘holy puncher’ and, wow. It was a device to make things ‘holey’. There you have it. The Holy Hole Puncher.