Sparking My Day

Today is the kind of day when somebody wiser should probably put their hand on my shoulder and tell me to keep away from a keyboard before poking me in the eye just to be doubly sure I’m otherwise kept busy. In a world of perky influencers and Australian swimwear models telling us their philosophy for life (usually involving bran and dingo glands), nobody needs me in one of my grumpier moods, wondering why my Vitamin D spray is in an identical bottle as my Dry Eye Mist, before asking you to guess which I blasted my tonsils with this morning. Tasted bloody awful…

Turns out that my optimism of yesterday was badly misjudged. I literally posted my upbeat post before my internet crapped out on me for an hour, then for two hours. When it came back, I prayed it would last through the podcast. It didn’t. It failed after about an hour, which normally wouldn’t have been so bad, but we’d wasted about half an hour with microphone problems. Today my task, should I wish to accept it, is to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

Perhaps that accounts for the monumental grump I seem to find myself in today. I can be a bit of a perfectionist and hate fixing problems that shouldn’t be problems. I full understand the limitations of my own skill set, which irks me but only in the way that I wish I could fly, have unlimited wealth, or look like George Clooney’s better-looking brother. What annoys me is when the easy stuff goes wrong. Like being able to connect to the internet…

If my internet was worse than it’s been for any longer than it’s been, I might be more prepared to live without it. As it is, I stream my music via the cloud, as well as my movies and TV shows. All my entertainment and news arrive via the internet, so last night I couldn’t settle. I wanted to know more about the explosion in Beirut, which I thought immediately was too big for a bomb and had to be a chemical silo going up. I was also keen to watch the launch of SN-5, the latest experimental stage of SpaceX’s starship they plan to send to Mars. I’d been following it for weeks and was worried I might miss it… By the time the internet came back at about 10pm, I was in luck. I watched SN-5 do its 150m hop around midnight but by then I’d already been sitting here for hours with nothing to do.

And that, really, is the root of my mood today. I don’t have a project. I normally wake up every day and know how far I am from either a word count or a cartoon count.


Since I’m also in no mood to go do the jobs I need to do – turning that sow’s ear into something listenable – I thought I’d ramble on a bit more.

Because I live in my head all the time, I’m constantly surprised by the outer reality. I guess it’s why I don’t often look in a mirror. It’s not that I’m not comfortable with how I look as much as I don’t look how my inner mind imagines me. Witnessing the disparity between the two selves is, for me, one of life’s great existential horrors, though I also know this is hardly just me who feels this. None of us can probably know how we’ve viewed by others.

I had a small moment of that yesterday, briefly browsing Twitter. Another cartoonist described me as one of the “big guns” that take part in Martin Rowson’s competitions, which was flattering but also slightly shocking. Not only do I not consider myself a “big gun”, I probably consider myself as the smallest gun in the game. I know rank beginners who’ve had more success than me. I’ve not sold a single cartoon and… Well, I was about to say that I’ve not had a single commission, but I did have one and it was a particularly good one.

I was once commissions by the band Sparks to draw a couple of press releases for their last but one album, Hippopotamus. I think they asked me because, some years ago, I’d done some fun cartoon strips about them which had been quite popular among their fans. Since I was also a fan, working for them was fun and a rare bit of paid work. Indeed, since I don’t think I’ve posted this for a while, here’s my last piece of commissioned work. It’s from a few years ago, for what that’s worth. I also didn’t write them.

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It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.