I mean, this is my main view a lot, looking over the top of my iPad, on the couch, a can of Pepsi Max (sorry, Pepsi Zero Sugar), my knees. We saw all the drawings of my house a year ago (see petescully.com/tag/uskathome/ for some of them). I was having a bit of a tough week, touch couple of weeks, I think we’ve all been getting a bit like that, but there are days when you just want to focus and get the head straight. I wasn’t sleeping too well, and on this day I got up super early and started doing some work. By lunchtime I was already exhausted again, so I sat on the couch while Paris St. Germain played Manchester City in the Champions League. That was the first leg, when PSG had a great first half but fell apart in the second. I liked James Richardson’s description of the game, that “Parisians were losing their heads like it was A Tale of Two Cities, which in a way it was, the worst of the halves and the best of halves”. I wish I could have thought of that. I think of funny things sometimes but I forget them, and other people do too. Sketching often helps, it’s where I go when I need to go somewhere. That was the case at every age. I like drawing on the iPad to just mess about. I use Procreate to draw, but I use Notability a lot to write notes with, and doodle like I would on a notepad in a meeting. Constantly doodling. Ahhh, I need a sketching trip, a proper trip where all I do is go around by myself drawing everything, but right now even the thought of it exhausts me.
I have started sketching outside more lately, even though the weather is hot again (94 degrees yesterday, in mid October, that is not normal but what is). But earlier in the month I needed to sketch one evening, and even though I am thoroughly bored of drawing the living room I just went ahead and sketched anyway. I sat down to watch a replay of the Spain-Portugal friendly game (not knowing the score, and not knowing what an immensely boring game it was). Not an epic. More ‘claw my eyes out wish I’d spent my time watching something else’. Oh well, there have been a fair number of overexciting Premier League games lately. I’m thinking of changing the pictures on the wall going up the stairs, maybe taking down the prints of my cathedral drawings (three of them aren’t even really cathedrals, I should just call them big churches) and replacing them with my classic World Cup posters, perhaps to remind me occasionally that international football can be fun, even if the most fun parts are just the posters, the sticker albums and sometimes the kits.
I should have watched Star Wars. I’ve been listening to some Star Wars podcasts (well one, called Full of Sith) and I’ve been thinking a lot about Star Wars, especially the prequels. I love the prequels, and even more so now the sequels are all done with (I was much less impressed with those – although I loved Force Awakens, I was undecided on Last Jedi, but I really disliked The Rise of Skywalker, despite a few good bits, it was overall poodoo). I might some day write an unnecessary blog post about it accompanying some tangentially related sketch. But I love the prequels, I have a lot of good feelings and memories around those, and I love them even more knowing that a lot of people are very sniffy about them. That said I love that one episode of Spaced where Tim is really annoyed about Phantom Menace. Maybe I should have watched Spaced, been a little while since I saw that series. Or maybe Shawn of the Dead, or Hot Fuzz, I love those films. I was less impressed with the final ‘Cornetto trilogy’ film, The World’s End, but maybe I should watch it again. I did watch a film last night, Knives Out, which was directed by Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, and starred Captain America and James Bond, it was a whodunnit sort of film. Why do we say “whodunnit” rather than “whodidit”? Speaking of the genre, you know the board game “Cluedo”, in America they just call it “Clue”. So why do we Britishers call it “Cluedo”? What about “Ludo”, do Americans just call it “Loo”? If only there was a way I could ask them. What about Ronaldo, is he just called “Ronal” over here? I’ve never thought about it. I wish I had thought about it during that Spain v Portugal match, because that would have made the game slightly more interesting.
These are our stay-at-home cats. Stay-at-home orders are nothing new to these two. They probably like having us around more, or they don’t, it’s hard to say. Whiskers and Sawyer. two brothers. However with all of the disruption that happened in our downstairs when we had that flood, what with moving out the furniture and everyone staying upstairs, the noise from all the air dryers and the work, it took a toll on the kitties, and one of them, Sawyer, got very ill with the stress and ended up twice having overnight stays in the animal hospital, poor thing. Not the TV show, but the place. He had to be nursed back to strength, amid all the confusion with the living room, and on top of that his brother started acting as if he didn’t know him. As soon as he came back from the vets Whiskers was hissing and growling at him, Sawyer didn’t know what it was all about, but Whiskers couldn’t get over all the new smells on him, to the point where we had to keep them separated while we worked from home, and it took weeks for them to be ok around each other again. We learned a lot about cat behaviour during this time! Thankfully they are friends again now, but it really took a while.
Animal Hospital, remember that show? I remember the sweet music and the little puppies being nursed to health, I remember also that it was presented by a kindly sweet old man in glasses, my memory isn’t great so I need to google that one, can you guess who it is yet, oh it was – never mind, never mind! I forgot he presented it. Wow, even Animal Hospital memories tarnished. Those guys were creeps, the Rolfs and the Jim’lls and the weather man bloke on the floating map in Liverpool, and all the rest of them. There was another show I remember though, Pet Rescue, I think it was presented by the former Chelsea and Romania player Dan Petrescu, but I may be confusing that one. Before this turns into another “remember this old TV show” post (and I do want to do another one of those), let’s get back to the drawings. I don’t draw animals often, but I really wanted to draw the cats again, after all they’ve been through. They are finally friends again now, maybe not as close as before, but not hissing and fighting as much, they are even back to cleaning each other, and occasionally alternating each other’s napping spaces. Now that the living room is normal they seem a lot more content. Cats are funny.
While I was messing around testing some new paints recently I did try a couple of quick gesture sketches of them looking out of the window. Always fun. They like to look out of that window at the other cats outside, the outdoor cats from down the block, and the birds in the trees. We get a lot of hummingbirds here, they like to come and hover about looking right into our window.
Well the living room is all back to normal now I suppose and people are starting to go outside again, places are starting to slowly open up once more, and 2020 is starting to settle down into – no, no, this just in, 2020 is still a diabolical disco of dumpster fires mixed up with a party of poopy diapers dancing around a carnival of crap. 24 hour mental anguish, thy name is 2020. I’ve been feeling the weight of the world lately, the missing life in this bleak year. I can’t take any more news, or opinions, or anger, or politics, or lack-of-context-and-nuance-this-person-has-said-this-one-thing-so-scorch-them-from-the-earth, or this disease, this bloody disease, still racking up the numbers and not caring one jot about the angers and opinions of us puny humans. And the second half of the year will bring an election upon us, so no more watching TV shows with advert breaks in our house. But, small but important comforts – we have our living room back, and we can lie on the couch avoiding the news and turning off social media (ha! as if) and watching Shakespeare and HGTV and the Bundesliga. Football, football, football. The Premier League is finally back next week too, to give my mind a rest from all the real chaos and anger in the world, though speaking of which when is Tottenham’s Amazon show coming out? That will be a feast, though probably painful for such an avid Spurs fan as myself, given the season we’ve had. Formula 1 is coming back too, and not soon enough. I have watched so many old races. I rewatched the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix last week, oooh I had forgotten how crashorrific that race was, but also that they could just jump in the spare car and carry on! I miss watching F1 in the 90s though, I was well into it then. I’ve enjoyed the Shakespeare too, I’ve decided I want to build a Lego version of the Globe and put on little animated versions of the plays. I really liked the Globe’s production of the Merry Wives of Windsor, the silly performances really working with the crowd, and I watched the Donmar’s Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston, that was good, though I admit I never finished it because it was long and I wasn’t really into it, I just really enjoyed the staging and the occasional Hiddleston histrionics. I cant wait for all the plays and movies and everything about this lockdown period, the COVID age, the Coronavirus times. I’m kidding, I definitely am not looking forward to those things. I’m also not looking really forward to the many ways they will restage Shakespeare as set during the time of lockdown, though you could have some fun with it. Shelter-In-Place-Shakespeare, the Social Distancing versions. The Merry Wife of Windsor, The One Gentleman of Verona, Romeo, and Juliet (staged as two separate plays – actually that might work really well) etc etc and so on. It’s not limited to Shakespeare. There’s Six Characters In Search of a Zoom Host (Pirandelli), Abigail’s Google Hangout (Leigh), the Caucasian Social Distancing Chalk Circle (Brecht, I’m stretching that one a bit, but he was into his Verfremdungstechnik so he’s fine with a bit of distancing) and of course Six Degrees of Separation (Guare, which speaks for itself). It’s not just with Shakespeare that I’ve been getting through this time, I’ve also been running a lot more than usual. It helps when I’ve got a head full of news, when the world seems too much, running and running and running is a good way to shake it off. And if you think “hey that’s very healthy of you,” I’m here to tell you that donuts are a good way as well.
And here’s my son’s room, it’s very much a not-quite-teenage boy’s room, it’s also where he’s been doing all of his distance-learning schooling (until this week – he just left elementary school and will start middle school at the end of summer, in person we hope) Sure his room is not exactly tidy, but it’s considerably less messy than my room at the same age. I think at that age I may have still been sharing with my brother, who had on and off times of living at home (he’s ten years older than me). I remember we had bunkbeds and he would come home at all hours and he’d be sat on my bed playing Donkey Kong. He and my uncle would play tricks on me, such as holding my arm down the side of the bed and writing rude words all over it and sending me downstairs, haha. I remember he used to kick the bottom of my bed from below for a laugh, until one time it actually collapsed in on top of him, and that was a laugh, I still bring that one up. Fun times! One time I thought I’d play a trick on him and set up a trap above the bedroom door, I placed some empty bottles (plastic, not glass) above the door so that when he opened it they would all fall on his head. The problem is, he didn’t come home that night, I think he crashed at a mate’s gaff, and so my mum came in in the morning to wake me up, the bottles fell on her and broke her glasses. Whoops! As you can imagine I was in big, big trouble. I think the neighbours were woken up by the shouting, I mean the neighbours in the neighbouring counties. My brother laughed so much when he found out, he still brings that one up. Fun times! I used to draw that bedroom too, years ago. I wonder if I can find any old drawings from back then, probably. Well, these are the last ones of the house I’ll be doing for a while, now I can sketch outside when I need to. Thing is, I don’t know that I have missed sketching Davis much. I’ve drawn it so much already. Who am I kidding, I say that all the time and yet I always find things to draw! So in the next few posts, I’ll show some of the Davis sketches I did in the earlier part of 2020 before we were all ordered home. I miss the old outside world, as it was. But at least we have the living room back.
A couple more on the iPad drawn in the bedroom, or the Bedroom Office as it now is. Both drawn before we got our living room back (which was over the weekend, hooray!) so this was also the dining room and watching tv room. It’s also where I draw and write (haha, I hardly ever write at the moment), and it would be where I do my Lego animations but I’ve not done those in a while either. I felt like installing a running track around the bed and using it as a gym too. With all stuff from downstairs shelves all over the floor it would have been more like a hurdle track. Ah well, it’s where we are right now. I notice from some of my fellow sketchers in Europe that things are slowly beginning to open up there, and I think that they will here too soon, but extremely cautiously. Well most of us, some aren’t. I also can’t wait for the shelter-in-place to be over, because then the walking and running paths around here might not be so busy, people might stay in more. I don’t know, I want to go places, get on a train and wander about the City, but I don’t know how we’ll all feel. I have a nice mask. Lately I’ve been obsessed with the idea of going on week-long hikes along the national trails of England, as if that should ever happen. I used to think about that sort of thing when I was young but never got around to it, except my time in Cumbria when I was 17 doing the Outward Bound thing. In the meantime, stay at home, it’s very hot outside again in California. These two sketches were done on the iPad, sat on the bed, the one below while watching Revenge of the Sith (I do love ‘Sith’, one of my favourite films), the one above while monitoring an online seminar/workshop for our department. The bookshelf was moved from downstairs during the flood but I am going to keep it there as I like having books close by my bed. I have already moved the dvd shelf downstairs and replaced it with my old collection of Fighting Fantasy books. And right now, I’m watching the Bundesliga, as football has returned to Germany, albeit in empty stadiums. Unlike the quiet first round of games, the Dortmund-Bayern game has crowd noise pumped in, and the tv cameras are angled to show as little of the empty stands as possible. I’ve watched so many old World Cup games lately it is nice to watch some actual real new games. I feel like a teenager again, when I would rarely leave my room, just stay in there drawing and watching football or Star Wars or reading. Still on top of the recent flood which left us without a living room for a month, one of the cats got sick and was in hospital a couple of times, he’s recovering now the poor thing, but he did wee all over my side of the bed one night. Go home 2020 you are drunk! One thing all of this disruption and time at home has given me is time to go through things and organize stuff, get rid of what I don’t need, and one day I might get started on that.
In the meantime I’ll draw round the house. Tomorrow our local sketching thing Let’s Draw Davis will have a virtual get-together, less of a sketchcrawl and more just the show and tell bit, showing what we have drawn while stuck at home during this whole thing. I had an idea over the weekend that I might put a video together of my stay-home sketches, and the I thought I could do a series of YouTube videos giving a tour of Davis through my sketches, focusing on a different area or theme each time, make about 8-10 of them. Summer project.
Different times, before the Shelter-in-Place, before the downstairs flood, before a lot of things, last Christmas in the living room. Our little fake plastic Christmas tree. Drawn on the iPad which is the first time I can draw the tree and not have to leave little spaces for the lights and ornaments, I just draw them on top digitally. One of my cats looks on. The cats aren’t talking at the moment; one of them got sick last week (he actually had to go to hospital overnight, poor thing), and now the other one won’t go near him without hissing. Hopefully once the house is back in shape they can all get along nicely again. Cats eh, it’s almost like they’re a whole different species. On the wall in the background you can make out the various advent calendars I have made over the years for my son. I made another one last Christmas, this year it was Hawaii themed, because we were going to spend Christmas in Hawaii. Those sketches will be posted soon. Seems like a million years ago. Anyway, the Hawaii advent calendar is below. I drew it on the iPad while flying back from England at the start of December (so it was a couple of days late), trying to grapple with Procreate while squeezed into a narrow seat in the dark with a large man with big elbows sat to my right, while also suffering with a stinging nose. I was looking forward to Hawaii! Be nice to be there now, with a Mai Tai and my ukulele.
I wish I had an advent calendar counting down the days until the Shelter-In-Place is over. Actually I now call it the “Global Coronavirus Shared Experience”, or “GCSE”.
If the flood has done one thing, it has cut my commute time down by quite a few seconds, now that I don’t have to go downstairs but just roll out of bed to the desk next to my bed. I’ll still be late, but I do work at all hours these days and nights, what even is time. This was the desk where I did my Lego animations (I have a number of lamps, there’s one on the desk with a yellow gel filter hanging from it); despite all this time at home these past two months I haven’t done a single bit of animation. I am still drawing that sketched virtual tour of Britain, I have just reached Sunderland so I’m getting close to the end. I’ll scan it all in one go. I drew this before I moved the bookshelf and a bunch of other downstairs stuff up to my bedroom, so I’m feeling a lot more cramped in here now. But it’s working for me ok. I have my books close to me, although I should find a way of putting them behind me like all the cool people do in their Zoom calls. Actually I have been rotating virtual backgrounds for Zoom, although sometimes half my body disappears when I move, making me a floating head, like Holly from Red Dwarf. I usually have a sketch of my room as a virtual background.
So, I’m living in a small corner of the upstairs for now. I get out for a run every day or so, but then it’s back up here to work or draw or read or eat. The internet went down one day, very disruptive for those working from home, or doing anything from home. So I drew my bathroom. Spot footy shirts in laundry basket. I did manage to cut my own hair ok, I did a good job. And then below, this sketch was from a month ago, before the flood, another one playing with the mad pencils on grey paper, this time late at night watching the Formula 1 show on Netflix. That’s Ricciardo there, it was announced this week he will join MacLaren for 2021. If racing or sport ever comes back. Of course the Bundesliga returned this weekend, in front of empty grounds, and I got in a few jokes, “Glad to be Bach” (in the Frankfurt-Mönchengladbach game), “All Quiet on the Westphalian Front” (in the Dortmund game) and I slipped in a “Don’t München the VAR” when Bayern had a goal disallowed today. As far as silly puns this is as good as it gets in these difficult times, these strange unprecedented times, these very confusing times; they may be no “I pity the foal” but I’ll take what I can get.
So we are still at home here in California, sheltering in place. As it turns out, I’m glad I drew the living room so often when this coronavirus period started, because it looks totally different down there now, I say as I type from the desk upstairs. This sketch is from nearly a month ago – time flies when you’re having fun, huh. The Global Shared Experience is evolving, as different countries and different areas grapple with different rules and reasons. I want things to return to normal but they will not do so just because we want it to. So we carry on. It’s hard to believe it is mid-May already. I should have been preparing for the Davis World Cup next weekend. As it is I’ve been watching lots of old FIFA World Cup games, including the one pictured on my iPad above, Argentina v Cameroon from 1990. A classic game I last watched while getting my hair cut in the barber shop behind Tesco in Burnt Oak when I was 14. This is – was – my desk downstairs, my workspace working from home, and my workspace when doing anything else as well. Bit close to the kitchen snacks, mind. Well, a couple of days after drawing this scene, late on a Friday afternoon, I stood up from my seat and felt a splodge at my feet. There was water coming up through the laminate flooring, getting worse toward the wall, and it was obvious there was a huge leak coming into our house from next door. It’s a good job I was home, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get all our furniture out of the way in time, and get someone out to do something about it, there was nobody next door. They had some sort of bad leak in there, thankfully it was stopped but it soaked our walls and floor. So, they brought in big noisy air dryers and dehumidifiers to try and dry the place out. I moved that desk, and put the bookshelves in a different spot. We stopped the water getting any further.
I sat up that night with a beer and sketched the view from the couch, while one of our cats lay on the top shelf, not really minding the noise I guess. I drew some of the noisy green machines in our dining area. I set up a new desk area upstairs. A few days later our landlords sent us a large pod to put our furniture into while the floor is torn up, and prepared for more drying of the walls – another week of noise.
Eventually they took away the air dryers, satisfied the moisture had gone, and our living room looked like this. We’re basically living and working in just one half of the house now, not ideal. People have come in and patched up the wall, they’ll be doing more this week, and hopefully giving us a new floor too. So all this has been fun during this already fun time. I’m glad I drew the living room so much now.
The dishes keep piling up don’t they, during this Shelter-In-Place. No sooner have you turned on the dishwasher, the kitchen fills up again. Even when I wash a cup for my next cup of tea, I find that I have somehow used several others, and it’s just me that drinks loads of cups of tea. Don’t get me started on forks. The trick is to make sure that you have some cutlery left out of the dishwasher so the couple of hours that it’s running you aren’t desperately seeking teaspoons. Ever tried making a cup of tea without a spoon? Pouring the sugar in from the sugar bowl like some heathen, stirring it with whatever cheese knife you can dig out of that draw where you put all the odd kitchen stuff you never use, the apple core devices and the blunt pizza cutters and the wooden skewers, you know the one, you all have one of those. Thing is about the kitchen, it’s where all the snacks are. I’ve started wearing my face-mask in the house now, to stop me from snacking so much. So, this is the kitchen. I’m sketching all the rooms at some point. I might not sketch the toilet though. However all of this home sketching has been ultimately useful – in the past week or so most of our downstairs (living room, desk area, dining room) has all been taken apart so work can be done on the floor, so now everything looks completely different, and of course we’ll probably arrange it all differently when we put it back in place. Except the kitchen, which is pretty much just the same. The coronavirus age continues…
So, after all of this is over, we are all just going to go back to normal, right? We’re all going to be just fine, yeah? Day one back to work, shaking hands, get the bowl of chips out to share, totally borrow someone’s pen, casually touch the handrail without thinking, all back to normal, right? We’ll all be jumping back into crammed airplanes, crowding into cinemas to watch the latest blockbuster, squeezing in shoulder to shoulder at the local bar? It’s only been a few weeks, or is it a month, I am forgetting, but if this whole thing ever comes to an end, I don’t know what the social and mental hangover will be. As for the very real current events, well those numbers just keep getting worse, and that’s already a lot to think about. I look at the date of the sketch above, March 29, and think about how much worse it has gotten just in the two weeks since then. And yet, while March felt like the longest month, April is already half over and I don’t know where that went. Perhaps because so much of it was in the Current Routine of not going anywhere, and knowing that this will be the case for the next few weeks for certain, as the shelter in place order has been extended until May, and we’ll very likely be here for another month or two. This timeline sucks. Above, I’m on my bed, watching YouTube videos about maths (with Hannah Fry, who being similarly British also calls it maths, which is of course the right way) (actually I pronounce it ‘maffs’ because I’m from Burnt Oak). Maths it turns out is very interesting. I don;t remember it being quite as interesting when my old Maths teacher Blindty was drilling it into us, old-school. It wasn’t really my subject. I liked (surprisingly I know) Art and Languages most at school, though I did enjoy History (except when I was spectacularly not very good at it at A-Level) and English (although I had a teacher who told me I would not pass the GCSE; turns out she was wrong, and I ended up getting a Master’s degree in it). Still, if she saw my writing now she’d probably say the same, and the way I ramble on I can’t really blame her.
And so I’m continuing to draw the house. I’m also occasionally looking out of the window. We had some great storms pass through recently, dropping a lot of rain and making me feel much better about being indoors. I looked out of the window last Sunday and sketched the view. I don’t spend as much time looking out of the window as when I was a kid, when I’d stare at the sky above my part of north London, but now I mostly see trees. You can see the head of my guitar in the bottom corner. I bought that in December 1996 at Macari’s in Charing Cross Road. It’s my dearly beloved acoustic, but I don’t play as much as I used to. I really should. Should I though? Maybe not. I was never that good at it. I enjoyed music more when I was younger, and had a good ear for picking things up. I let that slide too much years ago, and ah well. It’s funny, while This Whole Thing* is going on we might all feel a lot of pressure to start doing all of these things we should be doing, start playing an instrument, learn a new language, make hilarious quarantine videos with the whole family (people were doing that after like one day, weren’t they?) but there’s so much anxiety I can barely do anything at all some days, except what I usually do, which is work and draw. And drawing really helps. Lately I have started a new drawing project, to fill an entire book with google street view sketches of the whole of Britain. Problem is I am already finding it hard to decide where to draw and what to miss out. The book can fit at most 60-something sketches, so I’m capping it at 66. It’s a mystical number in Britain after all. I’ve just reached Devon. There’s a really long way to go until John O’Groats…
*I realized that “This Whole Thing” is what I have been calling this whole thing. That’s my name for it. I have been writing down a list of some of the phrases I have heard or read. Strange Times. Odd Times. Unusual Times. Extraordinary Times. These Difficult Times. Uncertain Times, Unfamiliar Terrain. Unprecedented Times. Living Through Something Extraordinary. The Current Health Situation. The Current Virus Thing. Twenty bastard twenty. (I made that last one up).