Saturday, 6 February 2016

On visiting brain doctors in Chester and @MartinRowson in Sale

Chester just isn't built for big people. I realised this about the time I demolished a display of Jonathan Dimbleby books in the city's cramped Waterstones. The destruction didn't bother me too much. Richard & Judy's blurb for the book says 'fascinating', which is a whole word more than I got for the book written by the UK's top Richard Madeley lookalike... Besides, Jonathan is only my fourth favourite Dimbleby (after David, Richard, and Alphonsus (no relation)). I did, however, feel bad for the young toddler whose mother scolded him for toppling the pile. I wasn't about to disillusion her and admit that my right elbow was the guilty party but I think I had good intentions. That child will grow up with a lifelong phobia of Jonathan Dimbleby and that's not a bad phobia to have. Hell of a lot better than an old friend of mine who had a phobia of tomatoes. Not sure if there's a tomato-based form of Tourettes but he would scream 'c**t' every time he saw a red vegetable in a sandwich.

But I digress...

I was in Chester because my sister had an appointment with a neurologist for her condition which continues to baffle medical science but could well be some magnificent fuckup with her sympathetic chain. The NHS have taken 20 years to spot what might be this magnificent fuckup in her sympathetic chain hence our travelling to Chester for expert advice. I've taken to joking that her sympathetic chain ends somewhere around me but that's clearly not true. My middle name is 'Sympathy' which also, quite possibly, is the name of one of the minor Dimblebys.

I joke but it's been a hell of a week, most of which has been spent accompanying my nearest and dearest as they have had hospital appointments of one kind or another.

The oddest day was Thursday, which is saying something given that I spent this morning sitting in a hospital reading Christopher Hitchens's account of having his balls waxed. Yet Thursday was one of those surprising and wonderful days that defined my week, month, year, and decade, depending on how you view the day I spent in London meeting a publisher who agreed to publish my book. That day was a sublimely good day but not a surprise. It also subsequently become tinged by the sadness of what happened to poor Stan Madeley. The status of 'best day of my life' was up for grabs and Thursday definitely grabbed it by its ears and rode it like an incontinent pig.

I went to Sale to attend Martin Rowson's cartoon workshop and lecture and it all turned out rather amazing. I'm trying to finish a proper full length review of the talk but, as you know, I rate Rowson as one of the best cartoonists in the country. Dare I say the best? Well, sod it. Some people rate Shelley higher than Byron but I prefer my poets madder and badder rather than happy, clappy, or all skippy through the dandylions. Rowson has a dark vituperative edge which elevates him higher than the rest. He's Byronic in his anger, satire, and wit. Byronic too in his kindness when it comes to treating a humble writer/cartoonist to a curry. Yes, that's right: I felt a bit John Cam Hobhouse as I had a curry with Martin Rowson. One day I might actually be able to put that experience into words and explain how much it meant. What I'll say is that he taught me a lesson in how to say 'fuck you' to the world and 'fuck you' to critics. No longer will I be plagued by the words of the 'Welsh Rockweiller' who greeted my book with possibly the shittiest review that Amazon has ever seen. Fuck you, Welsh Rockweiller! Fuck you!

The actual workshop also gave me a new way of approaching caricature and I intend to get at least one cartoon finished this weekend. Sadly, the use-by date has passed on a nice little drawing I'd started of Julian Assange pissing on the head of Philip Hammond so it will be something new I work on tonight as I try to stay awake for the Republican debate. I might not. I'm spectacularly knackered.

This coming week, I also have to try to write some new articles and attempt to 'place' them which means hope that somebody will buy them. I've had real strangers write to me in the past week saying how much they've enjoyed the pieces I've been writing. Short of getting paid for what you love to do, praise is possibly the best part of being a writer and/or cartoonist. That and being able to sleep late on a Tuesday...


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