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Monday, 28 September 2009

Guardian - All Ears 26th September

Exploring the art of rodent contraception this week...

(Article by Michael Holden)
I was having dinner in my local Chinese when a couple sat down. They seemed cheerful but uncommonly convivial and eager to please. I pinned them as a first date till the man said, “you’ve seen the floorboards in my bedroom?” and the woman clearly had. Oh well.
Man “There are big spaces between them. I think this is where the mice get in. Sometimes I’m lying there at night and I can hear, like, mouse sounds, getting louder. And then they stop and I think, well perhaps they’ve gone. But then it starts again.”
Woman “Don’t put your heating on. They’ll go next door, where it’s warmer. They don’t care.”
Man (reassessing his fellow diner in light of this new nonsense) “Actually, they are quite selective about…”
Woman (not listening) “I put down traps. ‘The Little Nipper,’ one was called. It breaks their spines.”
Man : “I find all that a bit…”
Woman: “ In the end it’s less mice and rats on the planet and that’s what it’s all about. That’s the objective.”
Man (losing it somewhat) “It’s not though, is it? Mice are highly organized. They’re just seeking food and shelter. If you were a farmer-storing grain then you might have a point. Anyway, you’ve got a cat, that’s why cats are domesticated. We fed them to kill mice. So without the mouse there is no cat. Rodents are real survivors, we should admire them. Spontaneous ovulation, short gestation, large litters. We can’t manage any of that.”
She looked at him with clear contempt now. In a world where opinion is valued over knowledge he had just talked himself and his seed out of the evolutionary process, at least with this woman. She wouldn’t be looking at the hole in his floorboards again, that much was clear.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Guardian All Ears 19th September

Possibly the fastest All Ears I've ever done - completed in record time while desperately attempting to make the 14.30 to Portsmouth Harbour en route to the Isle of Wight - talk about skin of the teeth - you can almost seee the sweat!

(article by Michael Holden)
Not for the first time I was stuck in a queue marvelling at how the preparation of a mild stimulant-coffee-takes far more time than one could possibly hope to save through the sensation it eventually delivers. If you’re not even buying coffee and you’re stuck behind people who are then a further irony is that the frustration you feel is like taking some some kind of cheap hit in its own right. The women in front of me, one of whom was pregnant-the other with a child of about 4,-were hesitating over what type of coffee they might eventually buy when the little girl interrupted them
Girl “Can I have an orange juice?”
Mother “No, because they’re very expensive here. You can only get the big ones.”
Girl “Oh.”
Woman (finally deciding) “I’d like a decaff latte please. I’ll get her an orange juice.”
Mother “Oh no.”
Woman “I don’t mind.”
Mother “Really?”
Woman “Yes, unless she’s not allowed.”
Mother “No, it’s fine.”
Woman “What are you having?”
Mother “Latte. But I’ll pay for that seperately”
Woman (seizing a snack) “I might have one of these.”
Mother (prenatally alarmed) “You’re eating peanuts?”
Woman “I read some new research. It says they’re ok.”
Mother (offering change) “Let me get the orange juice…”
Woman “No. Because then that wouldn’t be a present from me, and want it to be a present.”
And so it went on, as they tied themselves ever deeper into an aimless knot of protocol, wound at my expense.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Sure plays a mean pinball

New bit of work destined for this year's artbook with an affectionate nod to trash movies, pinball & Camden goths

Jiggy McCue covers

Cover illustration for the 'Jiggy McCue' series by Michael Lawrence for Orchard books has allowed me to commune with my inner 9 year old i.e. books about pants, toilets & snot. I had to endure some very pitying looks from fellow tube travellers while I was skim reading these. They've got some nice little flick books inside too - should be out very soon - will post a link so you can buy them & stroke the embossed covers over your eager little faces you lucky people!

Monday, 14 September 2009

All Ears 12th September

(Article by Michael Holden)

Some conversations are not so much overheard as inflicted. I was in the countryside dependent a infrequent bus service that arrives so seldom, takes so long to get anywhere and consists of a bus so small that not conversing with your fellow travellers is not an option. It would be like trying to ignore a fellow astronaut. And in the case of the only other passenger on my journey-an elderly astronaut with some strong opinons about the local opticians.
Man “Been into town?”
Me “Not this time.”
Man (undeterred) “Been at the opticians..”
Me “Oh?”
Man “My wife’s in China. All I have to do is send her the prescription and she’ll get the specs made up there. I make it very clear I only want the test and they take me for an idiot!”
I made a face that said ‘opticians-bastards-what can you do?’ and he continued.
Man “I turn up on time and they keep me waiting for twenty minutes. I have an appointment of course but that means nothing to them. They do as they please. I won’t accept that. Eventually I summon the manager and I say you hav wasted my time-now I shall waste yours!”
Me (genuinely curious as to how such an approach might play out in the high st) “How did that go down?”
Man “Like the preverbial -but what could they do? I am the customer. They offered me ten pounds off. Big deal! My time is my own. They cannot squander it. I will take their time. This is the onyl way to respond!”
I retreated to a nod. He carried on.
Man “Seen the paper today?”
Me “No.”
Man (admiringly) “The mayor of Doncaster-he’s a real maverick. But don’t get me started on Gordon Brown.”
I wasn’t about to. I looked outside and it had stated to rain.

Monday, 7 September 2009

All Ears 7th September

More scary madmen, some drug paraphernalia & a guest muppet! - am realising I may have to ration 'mobile phone action' in these pictures in future as it's cropping up very regularly although it means I'll probably be able to draw one in my sleep now - (a very useful talent you haters!) : )

(article by Michael Holden)
I was about to exit a cubicle in the toilets of a large public building when I heard a man come into the bathroom and start speaking into his mobile. He must have thought he was alone since what had started as a whisper soon rose to yell that bounced of the tiling as he stammered with long-feremented rage over the issue of a posted letter-while I took detailed and clandestine notes and wondered what he looked like.
Man: (hissing-as though he had been stepped on) “Yessss! I posted them the, ‘welcome to your new home card’... Two hours ago. Yes, yes and that’s the reason you’re phoning is it? To see if I’d done that?”
There was a pasue while he absorbed more of whatever was coming over the phone, until he could take no more.
Man (shouting) “This is part of the reason I’m so irritable! The whole context of why I’m irritable is that I understand that there are lots of things to do...Now one of those things, I agree is sending them a ‘welcome to your new home card’... but there are a lot more things, more important things...
He listened again and paced around the room before responding.
Man “ We should have drawn up a checklist of things that need to be done! That’s why I’m so angry about all this-rubbish -about a card! If there’s one thing I’m aware of... because there’s lot’s of things on the agenda ...”
Man (more placatory) “I understand that you’re not as young as you used to be but there are lots of things to remember.... Right, right...Yes!”
There was a long pause, and then he really went for it.
Man “Well I’m, I’m furious and I’m furious about this because there are lots and lots of other things to think about. It’s high time to sort things out-given the change of circumstances...It should be decluttered, It is important now . I’m moving now. I know there’s an echo! I’m leaving the bathroom!”
And he did.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

All Ears 29th August

(Article by Michael Holden)

Hotel bars are strange places-venues for people who should never have met. That said, the two men I found myself seated next to at a long bar in a place that raked back in alcohol prices what it saved you on a room, seemed well acquainted.

Man 1 (concerned) “You like running though?”

Man 2 (sadly, as though bereaved) “I love it’s just it’s…got a bit out of hand.”

Man 1 “You’ve injured yourself?”

Man 2 (confessional) No. I just think I’m taking it too seriously. I entered a race a few weeks ago, a 6K thing, for charity. I won.”

Man 1 “So?”

Man 2 “Well-it was like a fun run-but I sort of misread it, and went full tilt. I was out on my own from the beginning. Soon I was so far ahead I was passing stewards who were setting stuff up. And I started to have a go at them, saying they should get their act together.”

Man 1 “What, and you stop running to do this?”

Man 2 “No. Just look back and shout really.”

Man 1 “Right.”

Man 2 “I’m not proud of it. I can see now that I’d gone mental.”

Man 1 “Well that’s the main thing.”

Man 2 “I crossed the line and there was no one there, I felt very strange”

Man 1 “I imagine death to be like that.”

Man 2 “And there was a steel band playing the theme from Blake’s Seven.”

Man 1 “Jesus.”

Man 2 “Then a photographer from the local paper and asked me if I’d cross the line again so he could get a picture.”

Man 1 “What did you do?”

Man 2 “Well I refused.”