Saturday, 20 July 2019

The Moon is NOT a Balloon, Niven, You Div.

This is a post about the Apollo Eleven Moon Landing and my small, but significant connection to it.
Okay, cards on the table. I do not now, or at any time up to this point, have ever considered the actor David Niven to be a div. I thought it would be a thigh-slappingly hilarious heading for this post as it alludes directly to the title of his first book of memoirs The Moon's a Balloon. I bought my Coronet paperback copy in the mid-seventies and I have it still - along with the follow up,
Bring On the Empty Horses. The title is a quote from an e e cummings poem (my copy styles the poet as E. E. Cummings which is only right and proper, so well done Coronet). I just thought it would be funny to rail against a poetic metaphor. How wrong I was!
 When the late Barry Norman (I removed a plaster cast from his wife's leg, you know. Diana Norman, author and all round nice human being) was collecting material for his book, The Hollywood Greats, he could not find anybody to say a bad word against David Niven, which is probably a good mark by which to measure the man.
Why all this pre-amble? The Best Wife on the Planet thought the title of this piece was unkind to the actor, so it was beholden on me to set matters straight.
Blimey! It was only a joke!
Now then, my connection to the first Moon Landing. Both my parents were Dubliners and my dad was an engineer. He worked for English Electric in Luton before we all upped sticks and moved to Stevenage when English Electric became part of the British Aircraft Corporation. As a little boy I had absolutely no interest in engineering, despite being bought what must have been, a rathe expensive Meccano kit.
Enny whey. My parents split up in the mid-sixties and my dad went to work as an engineer in the New World. Canada, initially and ending up in California. In the very early seventies (I think 1970 or 1971) he came back to see me in Stevenage. This did not go down well with my mother, but she allowed him to take me to the London Planetarium and Madame Tussauds, next door. There was a life-size replica of the Lunar Module (the LM or LEM. Not Len, pay attention.) and my dad pointed out that one of the details on the leg was wrong. How did he know? Because, he had worked on it! I don't know in what capacity he worked on the first craft to land on the moon, but he wouldn't have just been a nut and bolt tightener. All I know is that he worked in the Tool Engineering Department of a NASA sub-contracted company.
Four months after the first men walked on the moon, my dad received a commemorative medallion to mark the event that took place fifty years ago today and I present the evidence below, m'lud.

Monday, 24 June 2019

An Addendum to Starless.

When the best wife on the planet bought two tickets to see King Crimson celebrating their 50th anniversary at the Royal Albert Hall, I was a little worried that said best wife would have a miserable evening. The best wife on the planet has never been a great lover of King Crimson and if she happened upon me listening to Mr. Fripp and co. would politely request that we listen to something else. It has to be said that King Crimson have never been purveyors of easy-listening (Just Easy Money - ha ha!) and so I have always complied with the best wife's wishes, turned off the music and slammed every door in the house (paradoxically, the best wife on the planet is married to the worst husband on the planet).
As I stated in the previous post, In The Court of the Crimson King was released in October 1969. I was introduced to King Crimson by a late schoolfriend, George Russell (still sorely missed) and I bought my copy of their first album on 19th August 1974. So, as you can see I came late to the party. By the time I had made my purchase, they had already released Larks' Tongue in Aspic and in October 1974 would release Red, their last studio album, or so I thought. With a somewhat heavy heart, my last King Crimson album was U.S.A. and it actually had R.I.P. on the sleeve.
To cut a long story short a new King Crimson arose in the early eighties and I hadn't heard any of these new recordings. Prior to the Albert Hall gig of 20th June 2019, I thought that I had better listen to some of this new-fangled music and picked out a few unfamiliar pieces from the previous two nights' set lists. I liked what I heard.
The best wife on the planet sat side by side with her as-excited-as-a-teenager-again husband and waited for the evening's performance to begin. Performance. It was fan-bloody-tastic. An exhibition of joyful musicianship exploded from the stage. That's right, joyful. Even the best wife on the planet was caught up in the whole evening and even downloaded a particular song that she had enjoyed. All three evenings at the Albert Hall ended with 21st Century Schizoid Man as an encore. During our evening's performance the saxophonist, Mel Collins, slipped in a sly little reference to Take the A-Train and the drummer (one of three!), Gavin Harrison slipped in a nod to Colonel Bogey.
It was a brilliant, magical evening and I cannot thank the best wife on the planet enough.

Thursday, 20 June 2019


I have no idea how this text will relate to the image because, as I type, the cursor has taken on a life of its own.
Oh well. What you can see (wherever the hell it is) on this entry is a bit of Brendini juvenilia. Now, it could be argued that my artistic endeavours have not moved on over the passing decades. Indeed, it could well be argued that they have, in fact, degenerated. Well. Don't care! So, nyerr!
This is a watercolour what I did in February 1975. I can be that precise because I writted it on the back. It is called "Starless" and I know that because I also writted that on the back too. I also writted, in a different coloured ink the following legend: Based on a track from the album "Red" by King Crimson. 
Red was released in October 1974. The final track on the B side of the vinyl platter which I had excitedly purchased, was called "Starless". See how it all starts to add up?
King Crimson released their first album, In The Court of the Crimson King, in October 1969 and they are currently on tour supposedly playing fifty gigs in celebration of their fiftieth anniversary (They are actually playing fifty one, but never mind). 
The  reason for the ancient painting being posted here? I'M ONLY GOING TO BLOODY SEE THEM AT THE BLOODY ROYAL ALBERT BLOODY HALL!
It's an early birthday present from the best wife on the planet. I have never seen them live and for the first time in my life I am going to see Robert Fripp perform live and in the flesh and all. I am so excited, I feel like a teenager again!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Inktober Musings

Inktober, as a concept, really filled me with optimism and got my creative juices going. I mapped out the suggested titles for each day and even did a few preliminary sketches for one or two of the days. But, alas and alack, I pretty quickly fell by the wayside very early on. Nevertheless, what I did produce represents a number of hours very enjoyably spent. It was also nice to dig out a bottle of ink and a dip pen again.
I am going to re-produce my two favourites here; Tranquil and Spell. Tranquil, because Kenneth Grahame was wrong, well not wrong, but not entirely correct when Ratty tells Mole  "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." he should have added that wallowing in a hot bath with a good book and a good red wine by candlelight runs messing about in boats a pretty close second.
So, on to Spell. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this although I may have tried to be a little too subtle for my own good. The more eagle-eyed viewer may spot the fact that there is only one corkscrew, one cork, one bottle of wine and a large number of goblets. I wish I could work that magic.
From the two examples I have shown here it would be easy to assume that there is an emerging theme of oenophilia. Those that know me personally will understand that my only response can be "guilty as charged m'lud."

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Stockings Versus Tights: A Question of Practicalities

This is my entry for this (sort of ) week's caption competition. All the entries for the weekly CCGB battle may be seen here. The theme was Bank Robbers and I came second!
I think, personally, my attempts to loosen up may be a bit too loose low tech.
Too loose low tech. Toulouse Lautrec. Keep up!
But still, second place!
My head is currently so big that it can only be housed in one of those hangars at Cardington.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

The Re-emergence of an Old Obsession.

The cartoon above came second with a total of 15 points in what was, it has to be said, a rather small field. Nonetheless, I am still very proud of that fact. All salient information can be found on this link.
Once again, time and tide would not wait for yours truly, so this was done rather hurriedly, but I am very pleased with the Dr's posture and demeanour. It is, of course, William Hartnell's incarnation of the Dr. I won't say the first and the best, but perhaps the first and the scariest?

Monday, 21 May 2018

Bad Boy, Brendini! Bad Bad Boy!

Well, hand me my hair-shirt and pass that scourge, will you? Mea culpa, mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. Yes yes, I know. The cartoon is of questionable taste, but that is merely par for the course for me as regular readers will know (won't you both?).
 No, I am ashamed to confess that this one is in particular poor taste. I owe D. C. Thomson, in general, and the late, great Jack Prout specifically, a huge apology. Close scrutiny (and if you click on the picture you may scrutinise in great detail) will reveal to readers of a certain age that two of the protagonists very strongly resemble the shepherd, Andrew Glen and his faithful Border Collie, Black Bob. The explanation lies in the fact that I based two of the characters on Andrew Glen and Black Bob. Simple as that.
You may be too young to appreciate Black Bob's qualities of bravery, loyalty and steadfastness, but he was very popular and had eight annuals dedicated to his adventures.
This is why I hang my head in shame. Black Bob would never participate in the shenanigans depicted here.