Monday, January 07, 2008


I took my big sketchbook round with me all of Saturday. I'd like to do a sketch diary like this all the time, but it's not very practical. I've tried a couple of times before but if you're not careful you only draw when you sit and end up with a book filled with nothing but drawings tvs and the insides of buses and toilets.

(click it to see)

All the most interesting bits of the day, of course, are the ones that don't get drawn. Even on this Saturday. For as well as the documented episode of me-watching-Char-eat-soup there was the much more exciting event of me being accosted by a dishevelled chap threatening to "get mad" if I didn't give him some money ("for my shopping" he helpfully explained). Fortunately I managed to shake him with the old mumble-something-apologetic-and-then-suddenly-stop-and-pace-off-in-the-other-direction trick, but unfortunately all without taking time to prop up my easel and draft his likeness.

A second incident, also occuring in the brief two-block stint between the tube and home, followed soon after. I turned the corner, somewhat elated by my near escape, to be confronted by what the media (and my subconscious) would call a street gang. Being the liberal minded Guardian reader that I am though, I reminded myself that they are but children. I walked through the four boys, head down, and emerged unscathed. As I continued I tutted inwardly for even considering crossing the road. Crossing the road? From four children? If I was Jamie Oliver I'd probably have just started chatting to them all about growing your own organic veg, there and then. Not cower in fear. I would offer them jobs in my restaurant and turn their lives around. Cowering wouldn't have come into it. They would be an inspiration to their community. Drug profits would go way down, beetroot profits way up. They would put a picture of us all hugging in an allotment in the Guardian Weekend...
And then crack.The car window next to me exploded. The gang already knew about communicating through food: they'd just thrown an egg at me, and only narrowly missed.
It was only an egg though. I could do something. Chastise them there and then and show them the authority they want to see in society. I could work a joke into telling-off them off, thus setting a delicate tone of harshness and humour: "that deserves a beating", say. Chastise them and nip it in the bud. They're probably only ten years old. If noone stops them now, a perverse evolution will take place: eggs will become stones, stones will become bricks, bricks will become knives and so on. But knives that you throw. Sais maybe, like Raphael had in the Turtles.
But I didn't stop them. I didn't even turn round. What if they already had Sais? Or a sword? Or nunchucks or a staff? I didn't want to be another slayed footsoldier on London's streets. So I just carried on walking, without even looking back.
And I didn't draw that either
In the evening I went to a lumberjack-themed party without realising that was what it was and spent the duration sitting in a corner tutting at everyone slavishly following the lumberjack fashion. With their trendy little checked shirts. And deerstalkers. And big axes.
I didn't draw that either.

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