Sunday, August 12, 2007

A hand-painted sign miscellany. These three are all unrelated except for differing degrees of faded-ness and decay.

The first is an out of business barber shop in Bishop Auckland Co.Durham, probably most interesting for the window boards which are now revealing underpainted black on green "highest quality horticulture" lettering behind the flaking red top coat.

The second is a nicely weathered board fixed onto a red-brick end terrace in Blackhall, Co.Durham. Blackhall itself is a small coastal town of such dreary abandonment that its silent atmosphere clings to you like a black cloud long after you have driven away.

The third is from a side-street in Wheatley Hill, Co.Durham. Again this is a place of forlorn decay, only disturbed by sullen gangs of pasty Chavs with Staffordshire Bull Terriers barely under control. I tried to photograph the Catholic Church in Wheatley Hill which is now closed and no doubt due for demolition but was put off by a barking guard dog at the neighbouring Dairy and aggressive teenage lads circling the area on bikes. This sign is a hand painted board over another of an earlier vintage. Both are now virtually illegible.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pope In The Bathroom. I wrote and drew the above strip for this year's Caption comic convention booklet but didn't get it finished for their deadline, so I'm posting it here. The 2007 convention's theme is "Dreams & Nightmares", not usually my kind of subject-matter, but this vivid dream was fresh in my mind and I thought it needed to be set it in the semi-autobiographical Fairfield Prodigies Liverpool neighbourhood which I've mentioned in earlier posts.

By the way, my Dad really did once wear a Tam O'Shanter like the knitted one in panels 2 and 3. Click image to enlarge and read!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Today is the Feast Day of St. John Vianney (1786-1859), Patron Saint of priests and more universally known as the Cure d'Ars (parish priest of the French village of Ars.)

The setting of St. John Vianney's life was France in the years after the Revolution, when bishops, priests, nuns and seminaries were being violently suppressed. He inherited the rural parish of Ars which was sunk in drunkenness and debauchery and through great effort eventually made it a model of sanctity. He was intent on eliminating "occasions of sin" and even cut down the apple trees in the orchard to deprive the village boys of the temptation to go scrumping. He disdained to sleep in a bed, the floor was sufficient for him. For food he would cook a pan of potatoes once a week, hang them in a wire basket and eat them until there were none left. The final potatoes were always rotten and wormy.

Counter-cultural and extreme to the last, this bony old cove somehow inspires a lot of affection in me. Pray for us today, St. John Vianney.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I like this set of I like postcards. Here is my left hand happily clutching the first paper and print examples of Anne Ward's unique photographic snaps usually only seen online on her deservedly acclaimed blog.

Anne should have an Alan Whicker style budget to further her travels with camera, husband and two children. Take a look at her collection here and I guarantee you'll be impressed, dazzled and delighted.