Literary artiness

fat mo cover7Some of the prints on sale at The Basement are from my book, Not Being First Fish, which is on sale at Steyning Bookshop. Also on sale there is Fat Mo, the cover of which I painted at school when I was about seventeen. I’ve manipulated the colour in Paintshop Pro and added the text (obviously, or that would have been well prescient!) Fat Mo is alternatively available from here where all the revenue goes to a charity, Respond, that supports adults with learning (intellectual) disabilities who’ve experience sexual abuse and exploitation. As you might imagine, Fat Mo is not a cheery read; First Fish though – different kettle. Here’s a snip:

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 Glastonbury, Meteorology, and Shouting at Swans

Saturday and I’d spent most of the morning keeping an eye on the weather as we had been promised our seasonal blend of sun, showers and thunder storms and, finally judging it safe to head for the fields without a wetsuit, I strapped the dogs into their harnesses and hit the road. Naturally, as soon as we arrived at a wide open space devoid of any cover, the sky assumed the quality of the inside of a biscuit tin and the rain came down in stair rods, thereby putting paid to any chance of a future career as either a psychic or meteorologist. On reflection though, the latter may not be entirely out of the question as, in 1987, Michael Fish famously dismissed the approach of the hurricane that flattened most of the south east and left me with somebody else’s shed in my garden and a bemused looking sheep outside my garage. That kind of meteorology I can manage.

Of course, the biggest clue to forthcoming weather conditions is the open air music festival calendar and this week it’s Glastonbury where the mud is traditionally at chest level and after about half an hour nobody knows what gender anyone else is because of the layers of variously baked on and reapplied primeval loam. Liberally mixed with E.coli and various exotic herbs, this stuff is guaranteed to expand the minds of sleep deprived and over-indulged punters or at the very least peel off a few layers of alimentary epithelials and chuck them over the fence into next door’s tent.

There’s something remarkably special about Glasto; it’s not polished, it’s not slick – well it is if you’re up to your fundamentals in sludge and you take a run at something – it’s raw and intimate, personal and communal. Back in the day when I was spritely enough to leap about in a field with several thousand other people to a band of unwashed youths at a headline gig rather than sofa-bopping in front of the telly, there weren’t any such shindigs to go to. Hendrix pretty much started it at the Isle of Wight, and Glastonbury followed with a hippy, folksy, medieval fayre event that got entirely upstaged by Hendrix himself who’d had the bad grace to pop his clogs twenty four hours earlier. These days we have multi-acre swamps for the hardy young creatures of the twenty-first century who are willing to queue in the rain for the privilege of taking a leak in an oversubscribed and thoroughly dispiriting portaloo. Probably the wacky baccy and litres of Stella Artois go some way to knocking the edge off that particular experience while, curiously enough, enhancing the rest.

Back in the fields, there is a bit of a ruckus going on up ahead. Apparently, a large swan in an ugly mood is attacking another that has got in the way of him and his mate who is sailing majestically down-river with her flotilla of tiny cygnets. People on either side of the river are doing what people do when two large entities start slugging it out – they are standing back and shouting ‘Oi!’ One group is smiling; they think the birds are mating. We give them a country look as we pass by; ‘stoopid townies’ it says. It’s Saturday.

I’ll be taking copies of First Fish to my pitch on the art trail, along with some cards and prints from the book. Mo, you’ll be relieved to hear, will be sitting out that gig.

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This large lady with the world-weary expression is an enhanced version of the one in Not Being First Fish where she illustrates a story about townies not shutting gates because why should they, huh?

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She may be appearing in a shop near you*, well near me anyway, in the new year. There’ll be a copy of the book too, for perusal, and copies for sale over the road in Steyning Book Shop, bless ’em.

*The Basement93, Steyning High street. You’ll find them on Facebook, and also Instagram where the whole shop-full of loveliness is presented in pictures.

Getting all sheepish at the Basement

Joining the flock at The Basement93 tomorrow, and giving those cats a run for their money, Her Royal Woolliness of the House of the Red Wellies.

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The print is from an original pencil drawing coloured digitally in Rebelle software made by Escapemotions. Her Woolliness appeared originally in Not Being First Fish and other diary dramas as an adjunct to a Michael Fish anecdote (obviously), and if the wind’s in the right direction, there’ll be a copy nearby for a browse and possibly for sale. Several other illustrations are also available as prints so if you see one in the book and not in the shop, ask. If it’s not been ‘upgraded’, tell Susanna or Sarah and I’ll see about dusting the digital magic over it. There’s Yoda working on checkout for a start …