here be dragons

ninjago four-headed dragon
It had been a while since I drew in my son’s toys-and-other-things book, so I decided to get back to it with more Lego. This is his four-headed Ninjago dragon, part of a big Lego set he got for Christmas. Really big and a little unwieldy to actually play with (all the other Ninjago stuff is semi-permanently all over the floor, it’s a boy’s favourite) but was immense fun to build (I did all the hard work). The wing span is impressive when flying but I needed to fit it all on the page so it is in standing mode. Imagine having four heads. Well I suppose we all have foreheads. Some people (my dad for example) pronounce forehead as “forrid”, whereas I pronounce it like fore-head, which may lead to fork handles style confusion. So, the four-headed dragon from the Ninjago series. I have drawn erroneously with the golden ninja as the rider, but it should in fact be ridden by the green ninja, though they are in fact the same person a.k.a. Lloyd Garmadon, son of Lord Garmadon who used to be the main bad guy (having in his youth been bitten by the Great Devourer, a giant snake creature who lives underground until he was resurrected by snake people and who devoured the ninja’s flying pirate ship, until being defeated by Lord Garmadon himself after a battle with the Ninja and the four-headed dragon) oh and who also had four arms (not fore-arms) so that he could use the four golden weapons, resurrect an ancient being called the Overlord to destroy and rebuild Ninjago City in his image, until that went awry and Lloyd became the Golden Ninja to defeat the Overlord (though he would later return first as a computer virus and then as head of an army of cyborg ninjas before turning himself into a giant spider) and turn his father back to the good side where he became Sensei Garmadon and went back to having two arms and no longer wearing a bone in his hat. Oh and the dragon’s four heads represent the four elements of earth, fire, um, lightning and, er, ice.

Lego is waaaay more complicated than it was in my day.

here be dragons


The City of London – the square mile, the original city founded by the Romans as Londinium Augusta and re-established a few centuries later by Alfred the Great’s Saxons, the separate city governed by the Lord Mayor and the Corporation of London with its own police force, local laws and customs, and pubs which never open at weekends – is a realm guarded by magical beings. Of course it is. The silver heraldic dragons (often erroneously called – as I did above – ‘griffins’, because as you know silver hybrids save you money on the congestion charge) which stand at the major entrances to the City serve to remind us of this ancient boundary. The Queen for example cannot cross this boundary without invitation from the Lord Mayor. Pretty annoying for her when she has to take the tube from Westminster to Tower Hill. “Oh bugger, one has forgawten to bring one’s invitation with one, one will have to get orf the tube at Temple and walk along the South Bank instead.” Sorry guv, it’s the rules, yer majesty.

The dragon holds the shield of the City, which is the cross of St. George (which I’m sure would offend dragons these days) and a little red dagger, which is widely believed to represent the dagger that was used to stab Wat Tyler at Smithfield, ending the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381, but may just as well represent the sword of St.Paul, patron saint of London. Or it could represent the London media’s obsession with knife crime.

I sketched this after a nice afternoon with the family in London, when I was on my way to see the house of Dr. Johnson. A nice festive dusting of snow had just fallen, and everything looked pleasant. Next day a massive blizzard came.