The Indomitable British Spirit

People dressed in warm clothing sit at tables with their drinks outside a cafe on a snowy day.
Come what may, we’re eating outside today.

Now that non-essential shops have reopened the desperate public have been unleashed onto pubs, restaurants and cafes en masse. It’s like we’ve all been doing a long stretch in prison and are finally tasting sweet, sweet freedom in the sunshine.

Well, I say sunshine but even with the thing gleaming away it still seems to be unrelentingly cold at the moment. Did you see the snow falling the other week? Eating outside is a joyous experience… in the south of France or Spain for example, but in the cold, wet and windy island of the UK it’s a battle of wills between diner and the elements of nature themselves.

You end up being stuck in that rather unfortunate situation where you want to make the most of a rare opportunity to eat out, but at the same time you’re also inhaling your lunch at break-neck speed before it goes completely stone cold. Still, if that’s what we’ve got to do then by jove we’ll do it with gusto!


Lights, Camera, Lancaster!


In this week’s Lancaster Guardian, an article about a new Netflix series starring James Nesbitt being filmed in Morecambe. This is separate to the filming of the TV series The Bay and also Peaky Blinders being filmed up at the park, plus let’s not forget Paddington 2 and Get Santa were filmed at the castle and there’s been a few antiques and ghost things filmed at The Judges’ Lodgings too. Oh, and there was the Prunella Scales documentary along the canal. Gosh… Seems to be film makers are swarming all over the place round here. I’m surprised you don’t need to join Equity just to go fetch the milk in.

Film Crews in the Lancaster and Morecambe Area


“Apparently in the Lancaster and Morecambe area, you’re never more than six feet away from a film crew.”

Whilst possibly a *slight* exaggeration to suggest that film crews are as plentiful as all that, it’s certainly true that there seem to be an increasing number of them in the area lately.

Whilst up at Williamson Park they’re filming scenes for Peaky Blinders, down on the shore they’re filming for a TV series called The Bay as well as a new Netflix original series starring James Nesbitt and featuring, amongst other notable names, Eddie Izzard.

In the city itself they’ve played host to film crews from Most Haunted, the Antiques Roadshow, a documentary on castles, Paddington 2, Get Santa, a documentary about the slave trade and a documentary about canals. I seem to recall there was also something with Rupert Grint in it, but goodness knows what it was.

There was one notable occasion when I bumped into Gordon Ramsey in a nightclub that has since been knocked down (probably for unrelated reasons). He was as unashamedly offensively vocal as you would expect him to be, particularly after a few drinks, in front of a small audience of his friends/colleagues on a night out after filming. Ah… memories.

Girls and Boys


I don’t want this blog post to come across as sexist, so hear me out. The thing is, more and more recently I’ve noticed that Twitter, the internet…maybe even the world – is snowed under with women only stuff. Every time I see an award opportunity available on Twitter, 9 times out of 10, it transpires that it’s only available to women. I saw someone looking for writers the other day but upon closer inspection it became clear they only wanted writers of the female persuasion. Time and again out and about I see ladies night, ladies days, ladies only gyms, ladies only insurance companies, women in business networking events etc.

There’s #WOW every single Wednesday on Twitter, an award that I found out this morning stands for “Women on Wednesdays”. There’s also #mumpreneurs for mum sole traders too, is there a dad version? Well, yes, but they’ve not posted a single solitary tweet!!

In real life, there’s the EVA’s which I’ve heard ladies talk about many, many times, it stands for Enterprising Vision Awards and it’s “specifically for ladies who excel in business”. I decided as an experiment I’d do a quick internet search for that exact quote lifted from their website, only instead of ladies I’d substitute the word, men. Unsurprisingly, no results.

I know I haven’t scoured the length and breadth of the internet and the world to see if anyone has set up men only awards but as far as I can make out, the only thing I can see at the moment appears to be a Twitter award called #Kingof which pairs up with its equivalent #Queenof and takes place once a month.

My thoughts are, if these female only awards were men only awards, there would be a hue and cry and protestation. If these things were specifically and exclusively available only to men, surely women would feel extremely left out and cry “sexist!”

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be awards, or that I should win them all or anything. I’d just like the opportunity to at least put my hat in the ring and give it a go, you know? Yet every time I find an award opportunity, the door slams shut in my face simply based on my gender. It’s a little hurtful. Let me make it clear, I don’t actually want “men only” awards, I’ll be honest with you, I find large groups of men really rather intimidating, and the thought of business driven suit wearing power houses clustered together swilling beer in a dog eat dog race to the last man standing finish line gives me the chills.

What would a woman do if the situations were reversed? Would they have the time to set up and monitor their own version of an award? Would they complain and write a blog post about the inequality and unfairness of it all? Would they just enter the men’s competitions anyway like the suffragettes of old and say “to heck with you!”

Something for me to ponder anyway, and like I said at the start, I’m not being sexist am I? So I hope you don’t think badly of me for feeling left out.

Off On A Tangent


You know how you start doing something, thImageen get totally distracted and go off on a tangent. Well, I set off to declutter and tidy my office and, being already exhausted, began by going on the internet to read articles about how to tidy an office. That way I could pretend I was actually working, you know, without actually working.

So in my search for handy hints and tips on decluttering, there were many other checklist type articles to choose from. I didn’t look at any, but I decided instead to imagine what they would say if I clicked on them. Presuming they were written by someone on a deadline.

  1. Valentines day checklist. – Get boyfriend or girlfriend. Check.
  2. Get organised with checklists. – Check.
  3. Helpful moving tips and checklist. – Pick up object. Move it. Check.
  4. What to include in a babysitter’s checklist.- Baby. Check.
  5. How to find the energy to declutter. – Sleep. Check.
  6. Secrets to cut down junk snail mail. – Fit shredder to letter box. Check.
  7. Top ten spring cleaning tips for excellent and quick results. – Hire ten cleaners. Check.
  8. How to get your child to love reading. – Sell TV. Check.

The Best Superpowers You Could Get Away With In Real Life


Where do you get the term “sick as a dog” from? Are canines typically more susceptible to germs than humans, are they poorly more often? Maybe one dog cold is the equivalent of seven human colds? *ponders*

I was beginning to think I might be Bruce Willis from “Unbreakable”. It had been so long since I last succumbed to a common cold – or any other malady for that matter – I thought I had at last developed some kind of super power. But alas, it was not to be. Starting on Tuesday and slowly kicking me into touch over the course of the last couple of days, a cold has set in. What began as aches and pains and a general feeling of “some thing’s not right here” evolved into dizziness and nausea before finally coming to rest as cough, sore throat and blocked nose.

I’m not a happy bunny.

Partly because I now have to continue with the mundaneness of household existence whilst suffering the eleventh plague of Egypt (yeah, true story – the colds and flu plague, they didn’t put it into the final draft), but mainly because I have to do this suffering with the knowledge that I don’t have any superpowers.

Boy, I’d love to have some kind of supernatural ability.  There are just so many to choose from, when people ask me, what kind of superpower would you have (and with the circle of friends I’ve got, this question comes up more often than you’d think)? I’m often over whelmed by the dilemma of having so many options, so many potential choices each with their own merits. I couldn’t just stick with one, surely? Most superheroes can do more than one thing, if you’re stuck doing one thing you end up with a very two dimensional ultimately boring character.

Sorry Ben, but, you’re kind’ve lame…please don’t hit me.

What superpowers would I have then? Mental check-list superpower breakdown!

Super strength, ok that’s a nifty little item. Popularised by the boy scout of course, I’m not Superman’s biggest fan. He’s my father’s superhero, not that that’s the reason I think he’s lame of course. He’s lame for a veritable host of reasons, but it’s not my dad’s fault, he got into comics when he was a kid and comics were pants, he didn’t have a lot of options, but he were grateful!!

With the super strength, on the plus side you’d feel very self assured in every wretched hive of scum and villainy you wandered into, and you might even find yourself secretly hoping someone will start a fight with you just so you can show off and paste them through a brick wall. Of course that will inevitably end up with a whole pile of dead civilians and you’ll have no recourse but to turn yourself over to the police and….no… sorry, I meant, pretend it never happened and high tail it to Oa.

I will kill again…

Ok, so super strength is out. What about super speed. As a man with a powerful love of The Flash, this is definitely one of my favourite abilities, but the real world practical applications of being the fastest man alive? Um…might be a little tricky. What with sonic booms at street level, hurricane slip streams, not paying attention and accidentally carving a path clean through the middle of a fat man…super speed would be fraught with issues. And even if I somehow managed to use my power to travel through time, would I really want to meddle with history? What kind of temporal universe are we living in? To put it simply, am I Kyle Reese or Marty McFly, that’s the real question here.

Doc…are you absolutely certain I have to be naked to time travel?

So with the comic book glamour of strength and speed cast at the way side of practical reality, what else is there, well…lots. More than can comfortably fit into anything approaching an easy to ready blog post. Once the flood gates of graphic novels and superhero literature have been opened it can sometimes be quite a task to close them again. However, there are some powers that have, in my careful consideration, definitely merited real world, practical approval.

The power of invisibility!

You’re invisible, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Whatever your answer to that question is, says a lot about who you are as a person. You think about that.

Being invisible at will would be awesome, wouldn’t it? Being able to vanish in a crowd, hide from people you don’t feel like talking to, get into movies for free. There’s plenty of things you could get away with if no one could see you, it’s not the most glamorous of powers I’ll give you that, it doesn’t woosh or bang or boom or do anything spectacular. That’s why they tend to give it to characters that don’t really merit much importance but don’t want to be left out.

You may fancy her, but her power’s still a bit rubbish.

In order for a superpower to be realistically applicable in every day life, it’s going to need to be visually unassuming. Otherwise mysterious government types and the press will be all over you like a rash. Super speedsters will be shackled into enormous hamster wheels, forced to provide the nation’s power until they die! Probably.

The ability to stop and start time, now that would be a great one. Unassuming again so it fits the bill nicely in terms of discretion, the whole universe will be put on pause except for you, all the benefits of super speed without any of the showiness. You could be amazing in a fight, you could have fantastic reflexes, you could nip to the toilet mid-way through a movie and not miss anything and of course, you could sleep in every single morning and never be late for work. Gosh, the practical applications of being able to stop time are phenomenally vast, and if you’re careful about things you could get away with it indefinitely.

I’ve often mulled over the idea of telepathy and telekinesis. They’re both very cool powers, telepathy is much more unassuming than telekinesis though, so for real world applications that renders the ability to move stuff with your mind out of the running.

Telepathy, well it would definitely have to be fully under your control, you don’t want to go around hearing everyone’s thoughts 24/7, you’d go insane! But, now and again when you really want to get to the truth of a matter, it would be marvellous to be able to find out what someone’s really thinking. However, this does pose the awful dilemma of what do you do if you hear something you really shouldn’t have heard, it’s the same moral problem of reading someone’s diary and finding out some juicy gossip, you can’t reveal you know it without also revealing how you found out about it and then it’s hello mysterious government types again. (Yeah, MI5 really hate their diaries being read.)

Even on a small scale, prying into the thoughts of close friends and family could be a terrible thing to do, we’ve all had our off days when we’ve silently wanted our nearest and dearest to just be quiet and go away – how awful would everyone feel if those thoughts were public? Hum…scrap telepathy then, ignorance is bliss.

How about the power to communicate with machines, a la Mika in Heroes? If you had the power to put your hand onto the screen of an ATM and command it to give you money, you’d never have to work again! Plus there’s no moral dilemma because that was already addressed in the series when the kid explains that he didn’t steal the money because it was…I dunno, floating around somewhere. I can’t remember what the exact excuse was but in my mind it was something along the lines of the Superman 3 wage scam that Richard Pryor’s character Gus pulls. We can fine tune the ethics once we get hold of the power. Wouldn’t it be funny to be able to vanish money from badly behaved rich people’s bank accounts! You could be some kind of futuristic Robin Hood!

So, in brief, other powers we don’t want  include:

  • Laser vision (Practical applications?)
  • X-ray vision (possible long term health implications – see Drawn Together)
  • Freezing breath (discreet uses would be limited to beverage chilling, and no one wants to be the fridge!)
  • Banshee shriek (very limited potential and not in the least bit subtle)
  • Turning into rock (stupid.)
  • Flight (too many radars, other air users, satellites, too cold, not enough air.)
  • Communicating with marine life (too depressing.)
  • Stretching like a rubber band (Yeah, ’cause THAT’S cool…)
  • Becoming encased in flames (very, very dangerous and far too obvious unless you work in a crematorium, and even then, they have their limits.)

Basically anything showy, blatant or designed only to deal damage, they’re all off limits! Alright!?

What we do want are nice subtle powers that will make our lives really awesome but won’t cause us to get locked up in Area 51.

So that’s a yes to invisibility, temporal control and communicating with machines.

I’m sure if I gave it some thought I could think of dozens and dozens of other ideas, but right now all I really want is just the power to fight the common cold. Is that too much to ask?

Something to Remember If You’re Feeling Blue


Very tired.

Before I retire for the evening I thought I ought to perhaps blog a little something short and sweet. A picture’s worth a thousand words of course, but I want it to have something to do with art or artistic principles. I’ll make a meme, I decided, that contains the word “perspective” whilst simultaneously conveying an important message. Job done.

Branching Out


Decided to try and broaden myself, do some painting for a while. Usually my work is hand drawn and then computer coloured but the last week or so I’ve been sketching and painting in acrylics. I don’t usually paint, it doesn’t have the lovely bonus of an “undo” button, you’ve got to go with the mistakes you make. So far though, seem to be going alright, no major mishaps and the finished results aren’t half bad. I’m posting them up onto my website and as and when they’re finished and dry, I’ve fallen a little behind actually, I’ve only posted up two out of the the four I’ve done so far.

I’m also working on the illustrations for a fantasy novel that’s in the works, it’s aimed at a twelve to fifteen age range and it’s about magic, adventure, that sort of thing. Lots of illustration opportunities, always fun. I don’t know what I’d do with myself if I wasn’t drawing, I think it’s one of those addictions that you never have to feel oblidged to get rid of. Maybe as a new year’s resoloution I should endevour to draw even more than I do now…although that would really be quite hard as at the moment I tend to be doodling away for anywhere up to fourteen hours a day.

I know what I’d really like to happen this year, well, aside of course from surviving the hike in VAT which is really unsettling, and aside from not catching the dreaded flu which is actually sweeping round and causing people to die, and aside from the wish that I always have enough money to pay bills and buy some food…

As long as all those things are covered then what I’d like to happen this year is to really start to make some money doing what I love to do, art. I’d love to sell my art. Either as illustrations or framing on the wall type pieces. Of course I know you can’t just sit on your backside and wait for something good to happen, you have to go out there and make your own luck, I just need to figure out where “there” is and the best way of getting to it…


Always On The Go…


I’ve been really busy recently, working part time in a job which is fun, plus I’m doing a lot of illustrations in my free time. No surprises there. Working on a new series of images at the moment, it’s all very hush hush but I’m planning on putting a whole heck of a lot of effort into this, the plan is to seriously market these images on calenders, notepads, coasters that kind of thing and see what happens. Fingers definitely crossed.

I’ve also been given a commission to do which has me head over heels with happy if everything goes ahead without a hitch. Although I have learned by now not to count my chickens before they hatch, the best laid plans have an alarming tendency to go horribly wrong at every turn so, I’m not holding my breath on the commission until money has changed hands and I’m definitely hired. Everything up to that point is just idle promises really isn’t it, no matter how friendly they sound. I’m really hoping I’m not going to be let down, really hoping.

If you’ve got any tips, tricks, feedback or leads I can follow for illustration opportunities then please let me know, I’m trying out every angle I can attempt. I’ve got the dream and I believe I’ve got the drive, so hopefully the combination will mean that my ultimate goal of working five or six days a week designing illustrations for people will be achieved in the not too distant future.

Watch this space, as they say.