jog on

norh davis greenbelt 011021 sm

We live near the North Davis Green Belt, and that’s where I walk or run most days. I started running a little bit in 2019 but after the Turkey Trot I picked it up a lot more by the start of 2020, intending to do all these 5k races, and I did the Davis Stampede no sweat and signed up for the Lucky Run, and then coronovirus came along and that was that. So I started running more in general, as if training for these runs that were not going to happen, building up to not just 3 mile but 4 mile runs (I never managed further than that), improving my times each time, usually getting up and running just after sunrise so the hot weather wouldn’t drain me. And then when the fires came and the sky got smoky from August to October, that stopped all of that, and it’s taken me a bit of time to get back to running regularly, but as 2020 ended I decided to get back out more, and I’ve been doing 2 mile runs each time, not fast, but as regularly as I can. I managed a 3 mile run yesterday. It’s the shower afterwards I look forward to most. I couldn’t run marathons, at least I don’t see that in my future, mostly because I don’t want to. Running for more than 26 miles! At some point it’s like, ok this is a bit pointless. At least, this year’s London marathon looked a bit pointless. Due to the coronavirus, rather than being an epic journey in the rain through the streets of Britain’s capital dressed as a kiwi fruit, crossing over Tower Bridge, doing the Lambeth Walk, going down the Strand, having a banana and running up the Mall to Buck House, this year they just had a few proper runner starting before dawn and just running round and round and round St.James’s Park like the Indy 500 or something. They told everyone else they had to run virtually, in their own areas, dressed up as mangoes or peaches or whatever. You do feel great after a good run though, even when not dressed as a fruit, and with all the fun stuff in the world happening,  running helps because it’s like you are trying to outrun it, like Brave Sir Robin. “Run away! Run away!” You have to be mindful on the paths though, trying to keep a good distance from everyone else, so I always end up verging off when there are people on the path. I remember early in the pandemic, everybody gave everybody a wide berth, people crossed the street or went around parked cars. That was my favourite time in the pandemic, people crossing the street to avoid you, it was like “finally this is ok”. Back then, they told everyone to stay home, so there were suddenly more people outside walking than ever. 

Anyway I drew that sketch above whilst walking the Green Belt, I was stood off of the path and on the grass, I like this intersection of several paths and that big old wooden house in the background. This is probably my favourite sketch of this year so far, I like this one. It reminds me of all the walks we’ve done this year.

 

dog statue on the greenbelt

This isn’t a real dog, it’s one that was turned into metal by a wizard or something, probably because it was off its leash. Riding a tricycle. Or as Yoda would call them, a docycle. Bit of Star Wars humour there, cheer us up in these dark times. These trying times. Or as Yoda would call them… Down below is another sketch from the path, this time of a neon yellow sign, indicating “bike” “person” “go down left slightly”, not necessarily in that order. Along with another sign lower down that says “wear a mask” “stay 6ft apart” and “wash your hands”, not necessarily in that order. I like the shape of that building in the background, it’s like an opera house made of cereal boxes. I like the way it forms triangles or as Yoda would call them etc and so on. Honestly Yoda give it a break mate, it’s been a difficult year for everyone without you giving it all that. I haven’t even got the energy to shoehorn in a joke about this week’s impeachment trial or as Yoda would call it impeachment do-al (the joke there being ‘dual’ impeachment I suppose?) because we’re done with the Yoda stuff now. 

Catalina Ave, Davis

let them eat cake

C Street Davis

This is ‘Let Them Eat Cake’, they make cakes, and when you buy them they will let you eat them. It’s a good name, they are a well-known local business. Like most people I like cake, though I don’t eat cake very often. Birthdays, usually a good time. My favourite cake is probably a Victoria Sponge Cake, classic simple British cake with a layer of jam in the middle, and maybe some of that nice icing on top but that’s not really necessary. That and a cup of tea, yes please guv. ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ is a phrase commonly attributed to Marie Antoinette, headless Austrian wife of the headless French King Louis XVI. Of course the phrase has been translated wrong over the years, she was supposed to have said ‘Let Them Eat Brioche’ but most English people would have been like, what, eh, bri-what, what’s that fancy foreign food, I don’t know what a croissant is. So they said ‘cake’ instead. Or maybe, maybe the mis-translation goes deeper. Maybe it’s “Let the Meat Cake”, that is, “Let the Meat Brioche”, which when you think about it, that’s where we get Meat Loaf. And I do mean the singer. It could also have been “Let Them Meet Cake”, like perhaps cake was a person that they needed to met to discuss their grievances about food, perhaps his name was Monsieur Brioche, maybe the famous brioche was named after him, that’s a thing that happens, see for example the sandwich. Imagine if you will that the Earl of Sandwich was in charge of free school meals, and the king’s wife said that we should “Let Them Meet Sandwich” to discuss increasing the size of food packages for those in need, you can see how it would be mistranslated to “Let Them Eat Sandwich”. We’ll never know, we’ll never know. Of course there is zero evidence whatsoever that Marie Antoinette ever said such a thing, so all this silliness is just as valid as any purported historical fact. Of course Marie Antoinette wasn’t the only historical figure with a very-probably-made-up story about cake associated with them. King Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex who was on the run from invading Danish armies, famously burnt the cakes while hiding out in Somerset at a West Country peasant woman’s hovel. “Ok Alf I will let you stay here but can you watch these cakes while I just go and feed my goats? Cheers my lovely.” “Right, right, cakes, cakes.” (A few hours later) “Alfred what the hell! Seriously, you had one job, you’re like a chocolate teapot.” “I did wonder what that smell was. I thought it was my socks, I’ve not changed them in six months.” “Well you may as well take them, perhaps you can throw them at the Vikings, they are rock hard now.” “Good idea! I’ll throw them at the Danes! Let them eat cake!” “Good idea? More like a GREAT idea, amirite?” I imagine it went down something like this, but with a lot more alliteration and no rhyming. But Alfred the Great never let the cakes burn, it’s another old myth, but again one that doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. And these days, we have the Great British Bake-Off, which Alfred the Great would have been terrible at. Not being technically British for one thing, that being something different back in 870 AD, plus also being very bad with cakes. There was a show in America called ‘Cake Wars’ for a while, but I think it was cancelled because nobody could think of any good cake / war puns, though there are many to pick from.

Coming back to reality and away from ideas for Horrible Histories sketches, I drew this late in the afternoon shortly before it got dark, and it was pretty cold out, cold for Davis anyway. This was the short of sketch that I would have loved to have taken round to the pub to warm up and finish off there over a pint, but the pubs are all closed. This pandemic, man. I need a cake.

humbug

Lego Christmas Carol

This here is my Lego “A Christmas Carol”, which I got as a Christmas present to my delight. In the run-up to Christmas this year we sat down each evening in the living room and read A Christmas Carol, which we’d never actually done before, aloud with hot chocolate and cookies and mince pies. I found it hard to read aloud with my mouth full of mince pie but I gave it a go, it’s what Dickens would have wanted. Dickens really stuck faithfully to the original Muppets version which was nice to see. While reading Scrooge’s voice I managed somehow to avoid doing a Michael Caine voice, and instead did something more along the lines of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse’s Old Gits. We always watch the Muppets version on Christmas Eve, for us it’s the best one, and of course the Blackadder Christmas Carol. I like the Albert Finney one too. This Lego set then was a really nice surprise and I made it straight away to put on the shelf. I drew this (deciding not to add the colour) on January 6th, traditional last day of Christmas, after finally turning off the endless news of the bloody awful events at the Capitol. I still can’t really gather my thoughts on that as it feels like we don’t really know where this is going, but it’s so depressing. At times like this, getting the sketchbook out and furiously scribbling away feels like the best way to get through it. I have Lego to build though. I did start making a Christmas themed Lego animation but I was struggling to find the time to work on it (despite hardly ever leaving the house, it’s finding the ‘mental’ time) and now I’m putting the Christmas Lego sets away. But here is one final festive image for you, Han Solo on a tauntaun.

IMG_0412(1) sm

keep on steppin’

Nike size 5.5Y

Right, it’s been a while since I posted my son’s footwear. These feet keep growing, and I keep drawing them. I’ve drawn every single one of his shoes in his life, though I’m still only halfway through ‘volume 2’ (the first volume having been very small black and white drawings in a tiny moleskine cahier sketchbook, a decision I made when the shoes themselves were tiny and I wasn’t really drawing shoes much; I did a few in colour on larger paper for a show, and when we got to volume 2 I started just drawing them properly in colour, at which point he started wearing almost exclusively black or dark blue shoes. Thankfully, these ones have a little bit of colour, though not as much as the old Lightning McQueen or Captain America shoes from the very young days. Actually looking back at the Flickr album, I realize there are quite a lot of shoes I have previously scanned which aren’t uploaded there. To be a completist I should put them in. Anyway, this was a fun way of showing his growth and journaling something of his during his life. When they are toddlers this is such a nice family record, as he turns into a teenager this will become something I do maybe before he starts wearing the shoes (or wear a peg on my nose) (I was a teenager with very stinky shoes) (let’s not talk about my adult shoes), and if I’m still doing this when he’s like 45 then maybe it’ll be time to stop. But anyway, the ones above are the newest, barely worn, mostly because we’ve barely left the house. In go-to-school times shoes wore down much more quickly. He likes Nike shoes, like I love wearing Adidas shoes.

Under Armour shoes size 5Y

These ones are a bit older, as you can see from the dates, although he only just stopped wearing the ones above, and will probably need to replace the ones below. The grey Under Armour ones above are nice, but I have to tell you, in real life they look longer. I’ve definitely drawn them too compressed. This is as a result of using a square shaped book for the drawings, which was another mistake, going back to when the shoes were small enough to fit easily on a small square page. I need to start drawing them diagonally, or start going over two pages. These feet are getting bigger. I have the real shoes right next to me here (much cleaner than they would be in a non-pandemic leave-the-house year). We like our Under Armour gear, they made some good Tottenham shirts (16/17 home kit is a classic), and I have this one UA hoodie which is my favourite piece of clothing, so comfortable. Below, his latest football boots, silver Nikes, worn during the 2020 Select season which was cut short a month after this by the Pandemic. This was drawn shortly after we came third in a tournament in San Jose, he scored a number of goals there in these shoes, everyone played really well, and I thought we could go on to win more medals, until the COVID came along and stopped all that. These days we are still playing as AYSO Alliance but it’s training only, no games and certainly no tournaments, not even scrimmages, and all practices are socially-distanced with strict COVID protocols, wearing masks, six feet apart, lots of shooting and passing, zero tackling or man-marking. So we’ll be brilliant at free kicks after all this, but not so great at defending. It’ll be like Kevin Keegan and Marcelo Bielsa mixed in with Ossie Ardiles circa 1994. I like how this shoe (cleat, they are called cleats here) turned out, I’m happy with this drawing. One of the last ones before the world went all topsy-turvy.

Nike football boots size 5Y

fifth street between b and c

 5th st panorama, Davis

This is Fifth Street, between B and C. (Click on the image to see it in more detail, on my Flickr site). That is the Newman Chapel on the left there, with the blue building also bein part of the Newman complex. The last time I drew this building was two years ago, January 2019, shortly after the terrible news of young Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona’s death, shot in cold blood by a man who lived a block away. That was an awful tragedy, and today (January 10) marks two years since it happened. The spot where it happened is now marked with a bench commemorating Officer Corona, which you can make out on the right of the drawing. Still unbelievable, the events of that night. I think that was the first time we had to ‘shelter-in-place’ since coming to Davis (obviously much more familiar with the term now). I always think about it when passing down this stretch of Fifth. I drew most of this at lunchtime when on my way from home to a meeting on campus at the Silo, though I did pop into the football shirt shop (Football and Lifestyle) on the way and pick up the new Spurs 3rd kit, looks great.

gateway

tri co-ops garden UC Davis

This has been a week. The despicable events of Wednesday in DC definitely shocked me, and yeah, I worry what more havoc could be wrought in the next couple of weeks. And beyond, I don’t think this sort of thing is over for a while. I haven’t much energy to gather all my thoughts about it all to be honest, other than angry shouting at a cloud. I never imagined all that was to come at the start of the week, when I sketched this. I went down to campus to get my COVID test, a weekly requirement if we are working on campus (which I will still do once or twice per week, if only for a few hours to take care of some things). These are the gardens at the back of the Tri Co-Ops, not far from the ARC. I stood next to a big puddle, it having rained a lot before this. I have sketched the other side of the Tri-Co-Ops, but not the gardens. This is a gateway of some sort. I feel like we are always passing through gateways of some sort, but this week definitely feels like a gateway of some sort, and a dangerous one. 2020 hasn’t actually stopped yet. Call it 2020 2.0. Jeez, if this is 2021, can it be 2022 yet?

snow day in truckee

Jax Truckee Diner Dec30 2020

Last week, after not leaving the house for what felt like a lifetime, and taking a few days off work to eat and look at a screen, we got out of the house and drove up to the snow. It doesn’t snow in Davis, down here in the Sacramento Valley, but a couple of hours to the east of us is one of the snowiest parts of the contiguous US, in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The first time I ever went there I had never imagined snow like it, whole cars and the lower levels of houses swallowed up entirely, icicles like something from Hoth, and so cold my eyeballs were freezing over. It wasn’t like that this time, I don’t know they get quite that much snow up there any more, but there was still a good amount of snow, and lots of ice, though it wasn’t very cold. We went up to Truckee, walked around the town for a bit, got a pastry, ate our pre-packed sandwiches in the car. I really like Truckee and it’s been more than a decade since we stopped by there. I liked the look of this diner, Jax Truckee Diner, which of course wasn’t seating people inside right now but was allowing people to get take-out. Definitely somewhere I want to go to properly once all this Covid is behind us. I posted this on Instagram and my cousin said she had actually eaten there last year. I didn’t have time to draw it on site but I really wanted to draw it, so I took a photo and drew from that when I got home.

We had a nice time walking about in the snow. We went to a country park we’d never been to before close to Donner Lake (named after the Donner Party, the tragic historical incident which thankfully was given a name that many jokes can be made out of). It was like walking in a winter wonderland. When I say that, I don’t mean it was full of little stalls selling mulled wine and mass-produced hand-carved ornaments and expensive scarves, with Bing Crosby piping out of the speakers. Nor do I mean it was like walking in Woolie’s Winter Wonderland, which if you ever shopped at Woolworths in December you will know what I mean, back before Woolworths was finally laid to rest in 2008. I mean it was full of trees and snow, a perfect place to take photos. It was just nice being somewhere that looked different to Davis for a change. I don’t think I could live full time in a place which snowed regularly, but I don’t care, there is something magical about the world being blanketed in this white cold stuff. When it would snow overnight in London as a kid, which was way less often than you might think, looking out of the window and seeing the rooftops, the ground, the tops of cars, the branches of trees all gleaming white is still something I get excited about.

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In the car, we listened to the Adam Buxton podcast, his interview with Paul McCartney. That was a good interview. At one point Paul talked about when he met with John Lennon in New York in the mid 70s and they discovered they were both really into baking bread. I imagined what if they had decided to get together again and form a baking partnership together. I imagined they had a bakery in the West Village called “Love Me Dough”. (They would probably have had to invite George and Ringo in if they wanted to call it “Il Fab Fornaio”). They would sell products with names like “Got To Get You Into My Loaf”, “All You Knead is Love”, “Baguette Back”, “Bake in the USSR”, “I’ll Be Bap”, “A Croissant The Universe”, “Here Comes the Bun”, “While My Guitar Gently Wheats”, “Ticket To Rye”, “I Should Have Known Butter”, “Please Mr Toastman”, “Being Fro the Benefit of Mister Cake”, “All My Muffin”, “Garlic Twist’n’Shout”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Loaf Away” and “Yeasterday”, to name but a few, I will think of more over the next rest of my lifetime. Flour Power. Rock’n’ Roll. Actually I’m already done with this idea. That was a loooooong journey home.

the dying spark, you left your mark on me

3rd st Davis sunset

One from mid-December 2020. I didn’t sketch much in December, I found it a tricky month to get drawing. I mean, that’s not unusual. Looking at the chart I made from before, Decembers typically make up only about 3.7% of my annual drawing. Ok I will be honest, I made that statistic up, but it sounds about right. If I ever get the inclination I will actually do a statistical study of when my sketches were made and where, and with what pen or sketchbook, indoors or outdoors, in Davis or elsewhere, with or without colour, sketches per week, if there are trends with certain times of year or days of the week. And then I will use this data to create the perfect urban sketcher. Then I can predict what my year will look like to some degree of accuracy. You might be thinking, oh he is joking here, Pete says this stuff but isn’t really serious. To which I will say “exhibit (a), look at my previous post showing my chart of sketches from 2013-2020”, and “exhibit (b) I have spent almost a third of my life working for top-level statisticians. Not that I understand even one speck of dust of the sort of statistical work they do, I stopped doing maths at 16 with my GCSE (I got a grade C, which was the highest possible for the class I was in) (when I was at school, prior to the GCSE years I was in the top class for maths, but hated it, as I was taught by a certain Mr.Blindt, who was old school before there was old school, and his classes terrified me almost as much as the subject matter itself. So I asked to move down into the second-tier class, Miss Barker’s class, which was less stressful, but it meant I could feel alright about my grades (I even came top of the class in several tests), but it meant that the highest possible grade for my final GCSE exam was a C. I think it left out all the really hard stuff like sin/cos/tan and long division, and adding and subtracting and numbers and things. Grade C was a pass, and that was enough. I was more interested in art and languages.) (Incidentally, I actually only got grade A in two of my GCSE subjects, Art and German. In GCSE Art I got an “A” for every single piece of homework over the course of those two years, with one exception – the very first piece of homework assigned, for which I got a “D”. I didn’t mind, I didn’t expect a good grade for that joke. The homework assignment was “draw a part of your body” so I drew my eyebrow. I remember the boy passing back the homework assignments was a fairly mouthy kid who hadn’t been in any of my classes before, and he said loudly “hahaha, you got a D? You’re rubbish at drawin’!” That alone made it worth it.) (A-Level was a different story. I actually got a D overall for the whole thing. I was a bit more disappointed with that, but frankly my interest in the subject of art itself had waned so much, as had my interest in school life in general. I also got a D in A-Level German, a subject I had previously won annual school prizes for, while I ended up giving up A-Level History halfway through. I didn’t really get on with the History teachers, or at least two of the three we had anyway, the third was alright but looked a bit like Bob Geldof. One of the other history teachers seemed to despise me, because she would regularly turn me away from class for being even 30 seconds late, despite the fact nobody else had taken their jackets off; it didn’t help that I would go to my German class right afterwards complaining about her constantly, not knowing that my German teacher, a usually sympathetic guy, was actually married to that same history teacher – a rookie error on my part, to be sure. The other history teacher I had left teaching at the end of the first year to go and be a Welsh-language pop star (if memory serves, it was a band was called “Ian Rush”), but not before stating to the class that “certain people in this class will either fail or not finish this A-Level”, obviously meaning me; our class wasn’t very big, only about seven or eight students. I did enjoy his classes though, learning about the Italian risorgimento, reading Harry Hearder, studying Garibaldi and Mazzini and Cavour, doing the 1848 revolutions, German reunification, Bismarck; I really thought I was doing alright in his class at least, but evidently it wasn’t how the Ian Rush singer felt, and I remember feeling really disheartened by that at the time. My D in art though was honest, and I could have appealed it (if I recall my art teachers may have even suggested it, or maybe it was my head of year, I don’t remember), but I felt that I had really hit a low ebb in life by that point, and my school work was long gone; I hated being 18. I got a place in an art foundation course that didn’t require a very good grade to get into, but then I decided I was done with art and went off to college to do two more years of additional A-Levels, in English and French, with a retaking of German for my third one. Much more successful, and then I went off to university and did French and Drama.) (The decision to study Drama came out of absolutely nowhere, by the way) 

Anyway I was talking about statistics. I think the reason this came up is not because I work with statisticians or because I need to chart my sketches, but because I came across a website this week of football (soccer) statistics called FBRef, and I can’t stop poring over the numbers. I love it, it has everything. Not just xG but xA as well. I never knew I needed to know Moussa Sissoko’s xA score before (“expected assists”) but 0.01 still seems low. Ok maybe I still need to get my head round those particular stats, but I like learning that over the past four years for example he has an 85.4% pass completion rate (3542 passes out of 4041 completed), 3317 of which were with his right foot, 382 with his left, 169 with the head, 96 from throw-ins, and 22 with “other body parts”. I could go on, I’m not obsessed with Moussa Sissoko or anything, but that’s just one example. So maybe I need to up my stats game when analyzing my sketches over the years. How long did each one take me? Was it morning, afternoon, evening? Temperature? Did I finish off at home or do all on-site? Waterbrush or paintbrush? I could get obsessive. (I do get obsessive for example with my running, I make charts detailing this stuff). But to be honest, this isn’t how I improve as a sketcher. This isn’t how I analyze what I’m doing that doesn’t feel right, what I could improve to make it how I actually want it. sometimes you just have to keep doing. Little by little you think, well ok this didn’t work last time, I’ll try that this time. It’s also not a trajectory. I’ve drawn myself into cul-de-sacs before, using one style so much that I realize after a while it’s not the style I really want, and try to pull back to an earlier way of drawing, but my fingers need exercising. Sometimes it is fun to just see what comes out, take the thinking out of it and jump in. Don’t worry about inspiration, just get the pen moving and the inspiration will come. Things such as value and perspective are important technical abilities to learn, but like when I’m coaching soccer I say that the game is the best teacher, with drawing I say that going and looking and doing is the best teacher. So the sketch above, it’s not technically a great drawing, it’s probably not the best sketch I could have done given the temperature, time of day, length of time I had been standing, but I liked it, it was quick. Whereas the one below, on 3rd Street, which was what I had originally set out to draw, I stopped because I wasn’t enjoying it. I felt rusty, it required a bit more thinking than I felt capable of at that moment (and I have drawn this building many times before), so I just turned myself around 180 degrees and drew the view toward campus. Maybe in that sketch I was ‘rubbish at drawin’ and that it was ok, not every sketch has to be an A. So that is the statistic that I can barely quantify, my state of mind, my mood, and my reason for sketching something. I like the sketch above because it represents me saying no to something I’m not enjoying and just jumping in somewhere else instead. And I will keep the one below because, unfinished or not, you can fill the rest in yourself using your imagination, so there’s no need to finish it, really. A bit like my History A-Level. I didn’t really fail at it, and I didn’t really need to finish it, because my imagination filled in the rest. Which is probably why I thought World War 2 was won by Captain America and Bucky, the French Revolution ended when Godzilla ate Napoleon, and Italian unification was achieved by Garibaldi, Rich Tea and a packet of Chocolate Digestives. Well you live and learn.

3rd st Davis

and that was 2020.

2020 sketches

And here are all the sketches from 2020. Far fewer than in 2019, but given the year it’s been, that’s hardly surprising. I put these together every year, as I go along. You can tell the story of the year this way. 2020 has been a story in everyone’s lives for shitter or worse; for me it started off in Hawaii, on the paradise island of Maui. To summarize the rest: youth soccer coaching; birthday in the ER; pandemic starting; Friday the 13th of March; sketching the house over and over; working from home; schooling from home; flood at home, sick cat; landlord deciding to sell house, and then us buying the house; fires all over California / unbreathable air; Zoom calls; family members passing away, new family being born; cancelling all travel plans; doing a virtual tour of Great Britain; sports stopping then starting and Spurs briefly topping the league; US presidential election result going as hoped-for; son starting a new school but then breaking his arm; running lots but needing to get back into it again. We’ve all had our own years, some much much harder than others, and the new year won’t be making that change any time soon. All in all, on the sketching front it was a less productive year maybe but still a good haul under all the circumstances.

Here are the comparisons year by year from 2013 to 2020. I was not surprised that 2020 was about half of 2019, but didn’t expect it to be on a par with 2015, for example. My goal for 2021 is just to match 2020, in some way, beat it if I can, and maybe to try and learn something new, bring something more to my sketching. Or just do what I can to stay sound of mind. If I have times when I just cannot draw, that’s fine too.

2013-2020 sketches

2020 poops its last

D St phonebox 123120

This was the last sketch of 2020, outside Cloud Forest Cafe on D Street, Davis. And in the spirit of 2020, a bird pooped on the page while I was sketching, as if to say, you know what, this year is not done with you yet. At least I presume it was a bird. I was standing underneath a tree, and then plop a big black splat across the page. It was really dark black as well, which makes me think maybe it wasn’t a bird but one of those oily things that trees occasionally plop onto the sidewalk, there are trees here that do that, lots of sticky paths. But it was a direct hit, missing my clothing completely, and leaving thick muck across the page. I wiped it off but was also a little delighted. This will be something to talk about! I thought, happy to have a conversation starter. Also, if the sketch didn’t turn out to be all that, I’d have a ready-made get-out-of-hard-drawing card, plus the actual effect of the black poop (which splattered bluish grey poop artistically across the spread) would make it look really interesting. Unfortunately I did such a good job at cleaning it up (I didn’t want to leave too much of it on there, in case it was diseased, if it was from a crow and I got sick it would be ironic after avoiding covid to get ill from a corvid), that it looks like a brownish smudge now. Still, whether it was a crow or a tree that pooped onto the page, I welcomed it as the last hurrah of twenty-twenty. What a year! I don’t know about you, but I thought 2020 was a little bit shit.

And now it is 2021. I saw online that if Back to the Future was made now, Marty McFly would be travelling back to 1991. 1991! There would be loads of references to jokes about the ridiculous idea of Donald Trump being president some day, and Doc Brown would be asking if Bryan Adams was still number 1. There would be payphones and cassette players. When Marty walks into a 1990s cafe wearing his 2021 clothing, someone would say “hey what’s with the face mask?” And when Marty travelled 30 years into the future to the far-off year of 2051 there would be a news report about Tottenham winning the Premier League (as well as all the usual flying cars. Anyway the point I’m making is that we now live in the future and we used to live in the past when it was the present. Wait no the point is, what seemed like ancient prehistory to us in the 80s and 90s is as far away from us then as the 80s and 90s is to us now. And when you think about it, it’s really even further. Is 1991 closer to 1961 than 2021 is to 1991? I mean, it kind of is. The internet, mobile phones (and not the big brick ones carried by yuppies in 1991), plus lots of other things I’m too lazy to think of. (Tottenham won the FA Cup in both of those years too, so maybe 2021 is our year?) Let’s just say that sounds about right, 1961 and 1991 are closer to each other than 1991 and 2021. Or maybe not, I don’t care that much.

But will 2021 be that different from 2020? 2020 was definitely different to 2019 for example. I did approximately half the amount of drawing in the past twelve months as in the previous, but then 2019 was a bumper year for sketching and travelling. I went to London three times in 2019, but zero in 2020. Right now my calendar says it is 2021, but the president is still that same tiresome person for another few weeks, people are still getting sick and dying, businesses are still closing, we’re still working and schooling from home, the pandemic is still raging as bad as ever, though at least there are vaccines now. 2020, the real 2020, won’t actually stop until we are out of This Whole Thing, in the same way that the ‘real 2020’ didn’t start until mid-March, but then again we might not be back to any sort of normal for a long time yet, so we’ll just keep on keeping on. And Happy New Year, all the same.