Friday, 14 February 2014

The Hairy Cornflake Effect


I shouldn’t eat cheese late at night, though it's rare that I do. I can’t recall the last time I did eat cheese so close to my bedtime but around 10pm last night I was offered a quality cheese and I couldn’t resist. It was a lovely crumbling Wensleydale flavoured with cranberries, though I shouldn’t wax too lyrical about the creamy texture. My accent already makes me sound like an extra from Wallace & Gromit  without my mentioning my cheese fixation.

I’d heard, of course, all the myths about what happens when you eat cheese late at night. ‘Don’t have nightmares!’ I was warned but, like the fool I am, I laughed it off. I had a couple of hours of cartooning to do before I’d go to sleep. The cheese would have worn off by then. But an hour later, I was restless. I couldn’t finish the cartoon. It hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped (right). I’d wanted to draw Dave Lee Travis as one of those storms on a nautical map but it didn’t look quite right. I was also enormously tired so I gave up, sure that nothing would disturb my solid seven and a half hours.

Yea gods! How wrong could a man be? I woke up in the middle of the night plagued by a large hairy man dressed as Donald Duck chasing me through a Nigerian housing development. I escaped thanks to the intervention of Tony Soprano and the adventure rapidly moved to the home of the Boston Red Sox where my blog had been taken over by venture capitalists and I was swamped by boxes containing everything I’ve ever done on The Spine: all the files, the words, the pictures... The whole thing was a fiendish mess of half-recognised associations – cartoons I intend to draw, people I know but in unfamiliar places, jobs I need to do or have recently finished. But all of it was given a sick and powerful twist by the late night Wensleydale flavoured with cranberries.

Why is it that you can wake up from a bad dream, shake your head and think ‘Wow! Glad that was only a dream’ yet no sooner do you put your head back down to your pillow than your brain resumes the horrorshow as though you have no control over it? That was my night. Waking relieved and then falling back into the same tormented dreams.

Now I’m awake the whole thing seems ridiculous and every part of the riddle makes complete sense. The thing I wanted to blog about this morning seems almost trivial by comparison with  dream. The hairy man chasing me was clearly meant to be Dave Lee Travis and he was dressed as Donald Duck because I have to draw a cartoon today about a duck. The dream moved to the Boston Red Sox because their owner, John W Henry, also owns Liverpool and today I also have to draw a cartoon for the fanzine and the deadline is tomorrow.

None of which is significant to the point I wanted to make which was this: I know next to nothing about Dave Lee Travis. I know he’s a DJ, bearded, known by his initials or by the nickname ‘the Hairy Cornflake’ and he’s a favourite of Burma's pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, Aung San Suu Ky. He’s just been the latest celebrity to face trail relating to allegations of a sexual nature. In the case of Travis, he faced accusations of groping women and yesterday he was found not guilty on 12 counts and it’s not yet known if he’ll face retrial regarding the remaining two.

What I find astonishing is the media’s response to the story. Over the last few days, thousands of people have suffered from the storms and have been forced out of their homes by floods. Some of our most valuable historic buildings are now under water (though that has given rise to this stunning picture). Trees have fallen on cars and power lines have been damaged leaving whole communities without power. Trains from north to south of the country have been forced to stop and it’s impossible for travelers to get to Cornwall by train. Another storm is meant to hit today and the government is struggling to keep on top of the whole sorry mess which might (or might not) have been made worse by funding cuts to the Environment Agency. The country hasn’t seen a national emergency like this is perhaps half a century or more and the government has been hit by infighting and the worst kind of political gamesmanship. Could this be the most obvious example of Global Warming or is it just one of those freak winters that might hit us once a century? Questions haven been asked and the country awaits the answers…

Yet all it took was the acquittal of a radio DJ to bump the national story from the headlines.

DLT was the lead on most newspaper websites as I went to be last night and you only need look at the morning newspapers to recognise the power of celebrity in this country. A celebrity name is even more powerful than that of Mother Nature herself, who sadly, never had her own game show or got her tits out on Channel 5, otherwise we might listened to what she had to say long before now.


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