Of puns and pictures and other distractions from the SERIOUS business of bloggage…

sketch for Xmas issue of Lamp & Owl...caption read '3pm on Christmas Day' ...possibly semi-autobiographical...

So this last week or so has been jam packed with stuff...

Last Tuesday, after a spot of actual paid work, I travelled by train to Birmingham, in fabulous sunshine and through fields full of skipping lambs, to listen to Louise Tickle delivering a powerful (by which I mean full on punch in the face zap! kapow!) speech as her take on the Bridget Lindley Memorial Lecture... Whilst there I delivered high speed gin powered tweet summaries of what was being said (still trying to fathom how a hotel can charge £12.10 for a single gin) ...blushed a little at the President of the Family Division saying he reads Pink Tape and Suesspicious Minds almost daily (along with the Transparency Project Blog) and then rushed back home on a late train just before turning into a pumpkin...

So, welcome back to Pink Tape Sir James. Please excuse the fripperies and reveries in this blog post. To anyone looking for serious content - I'm afraid this post is going to disappoint (or will possibly confirm your low expectations) - the transcript and podcast of Louise's talk will be on the FJC website soon we are told - that should do the job this post will not. There is precious little law* or gravitas to be found here today (said every judge I've ever appeared in front of with reference to my skeleton)...

in the meantime and betwixt hearings and criss crossings of the jurisdiction by train, things were moving apace with our grand plans for a house with an actual downstairs loo and enough bedrooms to accommodate all our children...there was an event explosion - the mortgage came through, the builder has a slot, the skip has arrived and the demolition is on Wednesday. What???!! I'm not mentally prepared! We've only been talking about this for ten years for goodness sakes...

And in the frantic chucking of mildewed life detritus we have been hoarding for a decade in the garage I found a box.... A box of drawings and bad poems and journals of roadtrips. Written and drawn by some other me before I had tattoos or wrinkles or children or cellulite or a mortgage....from when I was about 21 up until when I was about 23. A time when I had thought I was a sensible mature grown up. I have clearly been deluding myself.

I spent a good couple of hours on the living room floor with the whole excruciating lot laid out in front of me earlier this week. The journals are infuriating, embarrassing, immature, self absorbed, naive, stupid, illuminating and utterly unpublishable (Let us just say : PARENTS. NEVER let your daughters travel the USA on a greyhound bus with nothing but a credit card, too much confidence and a copy of Paradise Lost). The poems are mostly bad, occasionally terrible.... it was funny and strange and bitter sweet to reconnect with that other me - one thing I had forgotten was that as a teenager and young adult i always thought of myself as destined to become a writer. What a sop. That me thought by now I would be writing novels in a garret like Jo March somewhere... instead I sit hunched on a broken sofa prepping for trials each night waiting for the day i have a garret to call my own... but I guess I did turn out to be a writer of sorts in the end.

The pictures though were a revelation. They aren't particularly good pictures, and I recall vividly that I had to work really hard at some of them to achieve a reasonable standard in the final version - although I went to art college I could never reliably draw freehand. But they reminded me of a creativity that I always felt the need to express, and which I guess I probably now channel into this blog...

The pictures are mostly cartoons or preparatory sketches for cartoons that I drew when I was President of the Birkbeck Students' Union - for posters or for the Lamp & Owl student magazine (for those who don't know Birkbeck is a part time college under the University of London umbrella, where most of the students are mature students and they study for degrees in the evenings). At the time we had one knackered old Mac and no software to create or manipulate images on. If you wanted an image you had to sketch it, glue it to the page with the text on it and photocopy it. It was all very low tech...

Sometimes I've been asked why I took up blogging, and although there are some pragmatic reasons I often give (helping to keep up with CPD), I'd forgotten really how much of a continuum there was from this period when I was publishing through the Lamp & Owl, and then subsequently on my own website (before such things as 'blogs' were thought of) called diddlee.com which I coded in html myself and ran until some point after pupillage. I don't recall much of what was on it other than some very bad animations of London buses and a Bob Dylan song generator using a randomiser code I'd found somewhere...

I'm not going to share the cringing awfulness of my journals with you. That would be truly TMI. But the pictures are (mostly) harmless enough. I would take myself to task for some of them now...I don't know *what* I was thinking...

for some students at Birkbeck juggling the roles of employee, student, parent and superhero were a piece of cake...

Take for an example, this sketch of wonder woman which was intended for the Lamp & Owl - I don't remember if it was ever used. But it was intended to be about the amazing ability of students at Birkbeck (who, by the way weren't all women) to juggle children, career and college. I know now that the baby in the picture would have ended up with bilateral retinal haemorrhages from all that spinning...

This is a poster in the Lamp & Owl encouraging people to vote in the elections. I'd drawn each character, glued them onto the page and photocopied the lot...I'm not sure how I ever got anything important done, really...but one thing that my time at Birkbeck taught me was how elastic time is - it expands to make room for the amount of energy you have. That is the secret that Birkbeck students depend upon and one that I have depended upon too. This was a time when, although I had no babies, I was a little bit of a whirling dervish, working very long hours pouring all my passion into my sabbatical, and a little bit like a coiled spring. I met my husband at this time (he was my Vice President) - he was my rock then and is my rock now (Also, I'm still the Pres to his Vice Pres).

You may see where my fondness for puns comes from...

My favourite batch of sketches though, are these rough doodles of owls (the owl was the Birkbeck mascot).... I guess I shouldn't give up the day job...

 

caption reads 'the owl was a nocturnal bird of prey

caption reads 'how owls keep themselves amused in the wee small hours'

This was the end result. it went on the front cover of the Lamp & Owl with the headline under the roofline and the contents below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* no law

6 thoughts on “Of puns and pictures and other distractions from the SERIOUS business of bloggage…

  1. Brilliant blog. Thoroughly entertaining and I know something I didn’t know five minutes ago.

    Thank you!

  2. But there will never be an owl so scary as the one in Squirrel Nutkin. Just saying.

  3. HelenSparkles

    I wonder if the President reads the comments …

    (Oh and as well as Birkbeck, do we know we both went to art school – I couldn’t really draw either).

  4. What about the owls in Peake’s Titus Groan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.