Carix’s Diary ’07-11

02/12/07 – Leeds

Well; no sooner have I shrugged off this year’s wedding season than the Xmas season has bit me on the bum. Had my second Xmas party last night and thankfully enjoyed my first (and possibly only) Xmas dinner of the season. I was drawing caricatures fro RBS in Leeds at 3 Albion Place, a very nice venue, ex-gentleman’s club don’t ya know. Check out my creepy host below….. eeewww *shudders*

Smarmy Benny @ Leeds

 

 04/12/07 – Football-tastic

 Manchester this time, Lowry Hotel, very posh and swanky. I was drawing at a Grenadan charity football event, swimming in Blackburn Rovers footballers. I managed to draw Emile Hesky, Chris Kamara, Cyril Regis and Robbie Savage, plus a host of other players, whose names I didn’t know (me being a footballophobe).

George & Robbie Savage

08/12/07 – WORST venue

  happisburgh-1.jpg

Blimey…. Happisburgh, the armpit of the world. Just worked the WORST gig this year, apart from that shopping centre in Dudley. Attended a wedding in a small hut on the outskirts of no-where, in Norfolk. When I arrived at the hut, it was lit only by 8 small glowing wall-heaters, which were then turned off once the disco started going. The DJ then started pumping fake smoke out, blinding all inside, which was compounded by the ‘Indoor Bar-B-Q’, which made the bride cry with the fumes. Has to be an all-time worse for me I have to say, but being the professional caricaturist, I soldiered on and caricatured the masses!

happisburgh-2.jpg

happisburgh-2.jpg

13,14,15/12/07 – Cheshire

Had a few caricature bookings in Cheshire, so stayed at a friend’s near Warrington for a few days. Visited liverpool and Manchester, drew some yuppies in Alderley Edge. Have to say I drew the most obnoxious old lady, who instantly told me to ‘burn the picture’ I’d just drawn! Not often I lose my cool, but I took the drawing back and walked away…. no sense of self awareness or humour that one.

Yuppy Guy

17/12/07 – Norfolk sucks!

Norwich beckoned me for a night of drawing in the second dingy nightclub of the season. It was so dark that they positioned me beside the front door, next to the cloakroom, where the 15 year old party-goers were taking turns to snog!! Ooh that was dark, drafty fun…

dingy disco

20/12/07

Last jobs for a month! Had a fab booking in London for some financial consultants, where I met the loveliest Croupier. Had a fab row with the chef; after asking for a cup of coffee on my arrival, she came all the way from the kitchen to tell me she was too busy! I said that after a 200 mile drive, this was the worst treatment I had recieved… She glared then returned with a pot of coffee and a cup full of spit!Then had to rush off up the A1 to Peterborough. Why is it always when ya in a rush that the client stands looking at their watch saying ‘You finished already?’….

Peterborough was a posh house party… you know, the kind thats full of middle-class middle aged people who’ve forgotten how to enjoy themselves!!! Wasn’t fun, but cash… which was nice.

That’s me done now for Xmas and New Year, no work now until 24th January!! 😀

 HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 01/01/08

I was in bed by 9pm, then woken up at midnight by a handful of drunken phone calls. Woke up at 4.50am, ate my porridge, drank my cocoa, then packed my bike on my car and headed for Wales! By 9.30am on new year’s morning I was hurtling through the clouds, down a Welsh mountain on my mountain bike.

Dyfi

It was the best start to a year I’ve had in a long time. Not had much to celebrate in 2007, so looking forward to world domination in 2008! I gotta say, if you like adrenalin packed descents, thru rugged forests, over 2000 feet up, negotiating slate boulders and neck-breaking drop-offs….. Dyfi ‘ClimachX’ is the trail to test you. Left me grinning like a Cheshire cat, even after 2 laps and 20 miles later.

Difi trail

05/01/08 – Harpenden

Last minute wedding booking. What a lovely town. You can tell the locals have taste when all the town’s Xmas lights are pure white and not an inflatable santa in sight! The couple were very chilled and I blended in seamlessly with the guests, who were chuffed to bits with my caricatures. Even got a glass of Champagne!! Blow me if they didn’t pay for an extra half hour too… nice start to 2008.

08/01/08 – At Home :-/

New washing machine installed, paid part of my tax bill and spent the last 6 days re-vamping and updating my main website www.caricatures-uk.com  with new photos, up-to-date caricatures and some optimisation. The things ya do when no-one wants your services eh?! Oooh a new project, working on character design for a couple of new computer games; Only Fools and Horses and Poker Face. Should occupy me for a couple of days. “Luvvly Jubbly”!

Del Boy Trotter

18/01/08

Had a kinda lazy time, optimizing my website, with great success!! Just type ‘caricatures’ or ‘caricatures uk’ or wedding caricatures’ or ‘caricaturist for hire’ into Google and I’m right up there on the first page!! All thanks to my ‘Be-hutch’ Emma and her t’internet html skills 🙂  Also started work on a new face – Gordon Brown, for a highly finished painting. Need some new artwork in my folder, too many talented young whipper-snappers showing off excellent studio work online. Thing is, you can only have so many Kruger imitators til ya get bored and studio work bears no relation to live work anyhow… not that the average punter knows that!

Gordon Brown PM (for now)

Gordon Brown PM (for now)

 17/03/08 – Barcelona!

Hola, que t’al?  I hopped off to Barcelona for a few days, working for Hewlette Packard, bless their cotton socks! What an opportunity; I was asked if I could draw on an HP tablet… ‘Of course, can’t everyone?’ I replied through my teeth. Having never touched a tablet in my life, I then had 4 weeks to become fluent in both hardware and software!! This was made all the more difficult when HP didn’t deliver the tablet to me until 2 days before flying out :-S…..  I was undaunted and embraced the challenge. As learning curves go, this was more a vertical climb up a 60 ft butter mountain, wearing only celephane socks and boxing gloves in 85 degree heat!

I arrived in Barcelona and was greeted by Harold, a Dutch caricaturist who specializes in tablet drawing and has for 10 years. He was to be my drawing partner for 2 days. My penis shrank to the size of a californian raisin, my ego soon followed.

The tablet was configured, the printer installed and the laptop plugged into a 42″ plasma screen… which popped out each time I moved the tablet. I had to draw portrait caricatures on a 6″ landscape screen, then export them and load them onto a succession of memory sticks, which were thrust into my face every 7 minutes! The first day was an absolute mare… the next day however, I ROCKED!!! I loved the HP tablet and couldn’t get enough drawing on it, which is saying something from an artist who lost his love of drawing some 10 years ago. I loved it and can’t wait to purchase my own to play with now. I drew people on my plane over, in the hotel and didn’t stop for nearly 5 solid hours in the exhibition itself. Fab!!

HP digital caricatures

07/04/08

Yawn… what a quiet month this is for me! Worked an interesting 60th Birthday party in Harpenden on saturday. I was working at a private house from 2 til 4.30pm… then had to find a quiet car park, fall asleep for a few hours, then return for 8pm to mop up the evening guests. Everyone was chuffed with their caricatures and the birthday gal was quite happy to pay full-whack for a full day of my time. Happy Georgie.

Woke this morning to discover my site had completely dissappeared from all Google and MSN searches under my most popular search terms…. JOY! I’m struggling to pay the mortgage this month and my sole marketing tool decides to be a bastard to me, for no apparent reason! GGGRRRRRRR!!!!

Had a fab enquiry to fly out to Geneva and draw caricatures for some rich Arab company, which I’m praying comes off, cos I’ve never been to Switzerland!  I think May is gonna belong to me!! Fingers crossed eh.

21/04/08

Oh well, I was offered $3000 for Genever, but needed $4000 just to cover costs, so that went out the window I guess… On the plus side; MY NEW TABLET NOTEBOOK ARRIVED!!!!!   I picked up an exhibition booking for the end of April, but they required digital caricatures, so I had to bite the bullet and invest in some new hardware. I was looking at £1400, until an agent showed off their ‘new tablet’ to me… last year’s model – £699!!!!!   Its black, sexy, with twice the standard memory and a DVD driver! How cool?? Look out world, I’m fully tech’d up now and raring to go!

Been stuck at home all month, no dosh and little work 😦    …I’m gagging to go to Wales and free-ride some mountains, so might have to get packed tomorrow and feel the wind 😀

 23/04/08

I packed my bike, headed for Wales at sparrow’s fart today… 3 and a half hours to get there! Dyfi promised some awesome scenery and nail biting descents, but I was dissappointed to find that the trail was still being forested, so I had to climb nearly 6 miles on boring fire roads! The descent was hairy; the winter rain having washed away any mud from around the slate rocks, leaving it particularly gnarly.

over the bars!

Understandably, I took a tumble!

01/05/08

Three days drawing at Earl’s Court, Internet exhibition. Was very interesting and my new tablet laptop went down a storm! The client was rather troublesome however, insisting that I turned my phone off and checking when I took breaks, not so much as one free cup of coffee, let alone lunch. It cost me around £50 per day just to be there, travel, park, eat…. better than kicking my heels I guess. Made lots of contacts and lots of prospective clients, though my client was unimpressed that I was doing better business than they were.  Exhibitors never learn; You can spend a fortune on an eye-catching stand, but if you staff it with socially inept office fodder, you’ll only lose customers. Sue me for having a personality and good marketing skills!!

09/05/08

Well, took a booking in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall to celebrate my birthday. The gig was a wedding and I gotta say the bride was a beautiful Asian girl, but the groom was the scruffiest oik I’ve ever seen!! Great bloke, but dressed in an open neck striped shirt, with casual brown trousers on…. odd to say the least!

The wedding over and I relaxed for a few days in Newquay and awaited the impending 40th birthday celebrations. I had one day alone before my brother and guests arrived to join me. Just enough time to get a new tattoo

 new tattoo

Then a walk on the beach before picking my bro up from the airport on my Harley. Some Cornish friends joined us for the evening and a fun time was had by all!! The following day I was dissappointed by the remainder of my friends, for whom a 280 mile journey was too much to bother with. Friends suck!  However this meant a full 2 days of beach walking and bonding with my brother (without killing each other hopefully).

My brother and my Harley on the cliff at Pentire

So now I’m 40 and its time to begin re-evaluating my life I reckon… my former plans fell by the wayside when my marriage fell apart, so time to make some new plans methinks!

15/05/08

What a day! Up at 6.30am then drove to Ponsbourne near Potters Bar for my monthly Tesco booking. This dragged on a little and I ended up leaving there around 1pm and headed straight to Liverpool Docks for my next gig. I arrived in Liverpool before 5pm, so stopped to get suited and booted and enjoy a cofe, before heading into town to the ACC. Parked up and ready for a 6pm start, I mooched around the venue. Eventually a young lady told me I wouldn’t be needed til 6.30pm in the VIP suite. I asked if I’d still be finished by 8pm…. she then explained that I was expected to draw til 8pm, then take an hour’s break and carry on in the dark auditorium from 9-10pm!!!!!!  I’d only quoted for 2 hours, so this was of course a surprise to say the least!!

I had my little strop and settled into the evening’s work, drawing the penguins as they queued for their dinner. They were then subjected to an hour of awards, as their stomachs rumbled and tempers frayed. By the time 9pm came, I’d been awake for over 14 hours and on the road for most of that, without yet eating, so was not in best spirits. After 4 hours in my car and 3 hours in the venue, I was gasping for refreshments, but the host was nowhere to be seen and there was no hospitality suite, so I called upon all my super-human powers to finish the final hour. By the time I rolled back to Leicester I’d completed a 430 mile loop…. good job I didn’t have a Tacho in my car!

Needless to say, the agent received a stearn earful from me the following day and I doubt that I’ll ever work through them again… I hate being fleeced by agents!

24/06/08

Blimey June turned into a busy one after all, with a 3 day convention for the British Dental Association in London, Coventry and Manchester. Nice little earner. Don’t you hate it when the client follows you around, grabbing unsuspecting and often unwilling punters at random, while drinking, eating or in mid conversation?! However they kindly asked the staff to put a meal aside for me, which was fine… until I came to eat it, then the queue of waiters insisted I drew them before eating. I explained I hadn’t time and left… stomach grumbling!

01/07/08

Wollaton Hall, Milton Keynes, school disco – JOY! I gave myself a seat for this one, kids just love to queue, its ingrained in their psyche after school, so easiest to remain static. Everything was swinging until the end when the teachers decided they now wanted drawing… an extra half hour! I told them would be invoiced for the extra time and they were happy. That’ll go into my pile of unpaid invoices!!!!! Sooooooo many punters now seem incapable of supplying a cheque on the night as requested. I may need a Credit Controller soon to chase my money up; musta lost £1200+ this year alone.

03/07/08 – Wales

Off to Afan in South Wales today 😀   Mountain biking!!!!

George begins his decent!

George begins his decent!

Was a fab day and the rocky decents were awesome. My friend Alex was braver than me tho…

Alex bouldering

Alex bouldering

After two mountains and 30 miles of gruelling climbs and hazardous decents, we hobbled home, wet through from the rain and puddles, with huge grins on our faces!

24/09/08

Ok, so after like 6 weeks of 4/5/6 bookings per week (3 weddings each week) I’m officially knackered but seem no better off financially!! I spose spending £400 on new stationery, £250 on new advertising in wedding mags and £220 on SEO probably swallowed some cash… Having a girlfriend in London doesn’t help either I spose – £100 per week just to see and dine her!

Its been a manic time, with projects for Total Swimming – Aquateers (developing characters for several Olympic medal winning swimmers) and a some prelim work for a Berlin booking dominating my time. Just finished digitally drawing 5 famous couples for that project:

Paul McCartney and John Lennon

Paul McCartney and John Lennon

04/10/08 – Berlin

Well, finally the oddyssey begins. Today Luisa and I flew to Berlin for 4 days of solid digital caricaturing. Berlin was unimpressive, but a good time was had and the client seemed impressed. See details here https://spotongeorge.wordpress.com/home-abroad-berlin-2008/    Digital drawing can be very frustrating however and so I could not wait to let loose on some A3 paper with a much slower marker pen!

24/10/08

October has been an extremely quiet month, with rumours of a ‘Recession’ and job losses everywhere, its a worrying time to say the least! I muddled through though and have kept myself busy, spending my bounty from two previous exhibitions… mostly on maintaining my car I must say. Poor thang needs replacing really. Fat chance with my cashflow!!  Managed to save money on new Car Insurance, Home & Contents Insurance and Life Assurance though, also paid a lump of my tax bill off, so my monthly outgoings have slimmed slightly… just in time for a mortgage increase!!!!! 11/11/08November is even quiter than last month, after 2 weeks without work I’m seriously worried about paying my mortgage this month! got 2 jobs on this weekend, but one has already paid me, some weeks ago. Just spent 3 days with my new gal tho, so I’m all loved up and hung over… ready to face what remains of the week ahead!

14/11/08

Had two bookings this weekend, the first a local gig; Insurance Institute. Lots of big-wigs and good contacts, many cards handed out. Client paid me some weeks ago though, so went home empty handed. Then a wedding at a Holiday Inn… what can I say?! Classy wedding and to top it all I was short changed by £130!!!!!!  The groom had the nerve to tell me it was all in the envelope when his wife checked! Later he admitted that the Hairdresser may have recived a £130 tip by mistake and I was paid… after a 30 minute delay.  Weddings… gotta love em; some good, some not so good.

20/11/08 – CANCELLED!

Great… just had a call to tell me that tomorrow’s booking has cancelled. Ooooh I’m so happy I could fart! My bank has just charged me £150 to tell me my Overdraft has been extended for another year… this made me over my limit, so they charged me a further £38! I’ve had a mere 3 bookings this month so far and I’m flat broke, with £1600 to find by next week for the mortgage etc…. Am I happy about the cancellation??…..

27/11/08 – Amanda Holden’s Hotel Room!

Ok, so my Agent tells me its a Hen party in Norfolk for Amanda Holden… so I gave a good price and thought I’d throw in a visit to my folks’ too. My Dad acted as Chauffeur and drove me to The Hoste Arms, where I expected to see 20 or so loud TV luvvies getting sloshed and screaming for a stripper! We arrived early and waited quietly in the Restaurant. Half an hour late, the guests arrived, snuck quietly in the back door, 8 young ladies, lead by Miss Holden. Amanda seemed fascinated by me and made a point of staring at me across the room… irresistable ya see! LOLThen I was asked to go and wait upstairs for the party to arrive… so I was lead up some winding stairs in an African Safari themed block, to a bedroom door. “In here?” I enquired. “Yes, its a pyjama party!” came the response. So I found myself seconded in Amanda Holden’s hotel room, hiding among the champagne, chocolate fountain and bags of ladies panties… on my knees, thanking the Lord for his bountiful mercy!!

the African suite... impressive

Ten minutes later, the door opened and a small party of now nine women (most the cast of BBC’s ‘Cutting It’) came in and squealed with surprise at seeing a very strange man lurking in the room!! Then Amanda explained that they thought I was Paparazzi and so were relieved to find I was just a stripper!… EXCUSE ME????  Once the confusion abated, the ladies proceeded to get changed into their pyjamas (I averted my gaze naturally) and the fun began!

Angela Griffin & Amanda Holden Sian Reeves and Amanda Holden Sarah Parish BBC's Cutting It cast (plus friends)

What can I say, but a fun night was had by all and I got a much needed uplift from the gig. The best booking I’ve had in…… well, ever I reckon!  :-))

27/11/08 – Eynsham Hall

Eynsham Hall, Witney (Oxon) and a corporate party. Beautiful place, looked great in the fog. Back to reality; drunk office temps being loud and telling me how crap I am, while trying to chat up the office’s own page 3-alike! Ah well, let the Xmas festivities begin!

Eynesham Hall

Eynesham Hall

Ideal Xmas Tree!

30/11/09

A weekend of shopping in London with my gal! Regents Street was gorgeous as we walked down around midnight… just before we realised we’d missed the last Tube!

05/12/08 – Petwood Hall

Tonight I was in Woodhall Spa, a pleasant Xmas party, repeat customers, a nice start to my Xmas season. Got into my car at 11pm and found the battery flat! So had to wait til midnight for an RAC van to start my deisel Peugeot, then I was on my way once more… 1.30am to bed!

06/12/08 – Wooton Under Edge

A dreaded booking south of Gloucester, an hour and a half before dinner for £260; hardly worth the bother! 8.15 and I sprinted for my car and hit the M4 to London. Made it to Elephant & Castle by 10.30pm, just in time for cocktails and pre-party festivities, while I changed into my costume; For tonight was Torture Garden’s Xmas Ball!!!!!

 

Torture Garden!!

torture garden

9/12/08 – CRAAAASHHH!!

Driving home from a weekend with my lady in London, after 120 miles I decided to pop into town to pick up some food. BANG!!!! I looked up and the Skoda in front had stopped, I slid straight into him…. the end of my Peugeot 306!!  Not such a good start to an Xmas season after all.

10/12/08 – NEC then London

Up at 6.45 to catch a bus to the train station, to catch a train to Coleshill (Birmingham) then another bus to the NEC for 5 hours at a stationery exhibition (JOY!)…. Then hopped a train to London for an evening of drawing screaming ladies at the BHS Xmas party in Piccadilly Circus. A tube, a train and a taxi later, I was home at 1.30am!!  GOD I MISS MY CAR!!

11/12/08 – NEC then Manchester

Up at 7am to catch a bus to the train to the bus to the NEC again… only 4 hours today. Good job, cos I then had to hop the bus and train back to Leicester to pick up a car from a mate in town, to drive hot-foot to Manchester!! I arrived at Leics station, after realising I’d left a work bag on the train (which was by now in Cambridge) and awaited my car… and waited… until eventually my mate picked me up in a van and explained that he’d forgotten to bring the car and we’d have a half hour drive to pick it up! I gritted my teeth and remembered it was a favor!  We dr0ve on thru the rush hour traffic at snails-pace… my nails grew shorter.  The van pulled over, my mate explained that he needed some shopping and out he popped, into the local Pharmacist, then Off-license, then Grocers… my nails were now bloody stumps. After 10 minutes he hopped back in the van and produced a bottle of ‘Sailor Jerry’ Rum and offered me a swig. Tho sorely tempted I could see the dangers and declined, watching him take a swig and drive on! We eventually arrived at his house, where we decanted to the kitchen as he made a cup of tea… I was by now visibly gnawing bone where once finger nails had been. I declined the tea and asked politely for the car keys, explaining I now had less than 2 hours to drive to central Manchester!! “Why didn’t ya say?” That night his Vauxhall Astra had wings! I made it to Deansgate just 15 minutes late and proceeded to draw a drunk bride and groom. The evening was a blur of adrenalin and exhaustion. I arrived home at 2am.  I miss my car  :-((

 

12/12/08 – WinchesterI pulled myself outa bed and made my way to my mate’s house to borrow his work van for a couple of hours;  My wife had left me, absconded to South Africa and allowed our home to be repossessed. I had just hours to clear the house of furniture, so off I set.  Two hours later and a complete fitted bedroom and a kitchen sink were strewn across my new living room, making it rather ‘un-livable’! E-Bay here I come! A knock at the door and my Courtesy Car had arrived; a gleaming Chevrolet Matiz – for anyone unfamilliar; imagine a 6′ square shoe box with a 8″ wheel on each corner. Such luxury…. but no time to complain. I was suited and booted an by 2pm on the road toward Winchester. The car was surprisingly nippy and economical, even iff it only carried 25 litres of fuel and needed topping up twice! Arrived at 5pm, an hour early. I was greeted and told that the party started at 7pm!! I waved the contract that stated 6-9pm, but who could I draw in an empty Hotel bar??

An empty foyer and a one hour wait

An empty foyer and a one hour wait

I collapsed with a beer and fell asleep for an hour. When I awoke, the room was buzzing with penguin suited guests, all wearing fancy dress hats; OF COURSE – I simply love drawing people when ya can’t see their faces and the tables are unlit!!!!!! JOOOOOOOYYYYYY!!! To say I was rather stressed and uptight would be an understatement. That evening I made a descreet exit at 9.45pm and hit the road home. I opened my fridge at 12.30am and polished off a bottle of Champagne I’d been saving to celebrate the loss of my last attachment to my wife – our marital home. Time to move on

13/12/08 – NOTHING!

Due to a particularly crap December, I find myself at a loose end now until Xmas… Hmmmnnnn

19/12/08 – Ludlow

A works party for 250 construction engineers… and just me to entertain them! I was torn apart, almost literally. People shouting me across a room, then moaning when I left their table, then firing paraphanalia at me. Thank god it was the last one of 2008. Hopefully the cheque should arrive at the end of January, just in time to pay the mortgage.

31/12/08 – Newquay NYE

"HAPPY NEW YEAR"!

“HAPPY NEW YEAR”!

05/01/09 – Office

First day back in the office, happy new year! No enquiries, no calls, no e-mails, a bleek looking month all-in-all. If December was anything to go on, January is gonna be testing to say the least. Gotta get my thinking hat on and drum up some business to pay the bills.

06/01/09 – Last minute

Booked 3 weddings over the e-mail, had an enquiry for Barcelona in February then got a call for a last minute booking; restaurant, other side of Birmingham, TONIGHT!!  Agent gave no details, just quoted me their budget and told me to be at the venue by 8 – 8.30pm. First I had to hire a car! This time I lucked out and got a Cheverolet Kalos, automatic luxury hatchback… very nice. I rolled up outside the venue at 8pm and decided to park up and sit in the car, enjoying the heat for a while. Finally headed to the ‘Restaurant’ at 8.30 as requested, to find the doors locked and not a soul in sight. I hung around in the sub-zero icey street, until a crowd rolled off a coach at around 8.50pm and banged on the door. We were let in and I was welcomed with a free condom and drinks tokens! I tentatively made my way through the smoke and lazer lights, past the ‘Test Your Punch’ boxing machine (a classy joint) and into the dodgiest Bar/Night Club I’d seen this year!

Dark & Dingy, just how I like 'em!

Dark & Dingy, just how I like ’em!

Xmas wouldn’t be the same without a dimly lit night club full of drunk teenagers. Thats what ya get when an Agent calls (last minute – swearing you’re their first choice) and refuses to reveal the client, venue or working times, while insisting it’ll take at least 30 days to get paid for it! I love my work… no really I do. After the prospect of unemployment, even this booking was music to my ears!

22/01/09 – Ascot

Finally found a new car; Peugeot 206HDi for £1400. So glad to be back on the road again!! Took delivery of my shiny new car and filled it with deisel before heading south to Ascot. Leaving the petrol station I noticed a large puddle underneath my new car – deisel was gushing from my tank!! I clearly had a hole in my fuel tank, but no time to sort it, so headed down the M1, heamorraging fuel!! Just made it to the venue, having lost an extra 15 litres of diesel. Very pleasant gig for previous customers, financiers, doing very well by all accounts. Didn’t seem to mind me stinking of diesel!!

25/01/09 – CARIX LUNCH!!

Sheba very kindly invited everyone out to lunch for a traditional sunday roast in London. The invitations were sent, but just 5 artists turned up with their partners, which made the atmosphere more cosy. We settled down for our trad roast in ‘The Picadilli’ – a traditional Italian Brasserie… the Prosecco was flowing and the chat was jovial. Most ordered ‘The Roast’ and waited with mouths drooling in anticipation. What turned up however could best be described as chicken breast with spinach and chipped new potatoes… in tomato sauce! LOL. No yorkies, no rast spuds, no stuffing, no sprouts… no veggies??  We tucked in none the less and after our fifth bottle of vino, we didn’t care. The day passed quick and much fun was had. Eventually the pens were outed and the staff were drawn, earning us two more bottles of free wine and some liquers. I think this was to soften the blow of the extortionate Bill!  We moaned, we paid and we staggered out onto the sprawling London streets in search of tubes home. Much fun was had and Jagoda made a lasting impression methinks.  Thanks again Sheba x

2 – 6/02/09

SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW!!!  Been snowed at home for a week, luckily got no travelling to do and no money for fuel anyhow. Spent all week busily drawing movie posters on my PC https://spotongeorge.wordpress.com/latest-artwork/ I must say I’m rather pleased with the results, managed one each day this week. Got  a wedding to attend tomorrow though and its thick snow outside… as per usual, I’ve already been paid for the booking, so I cannot default on it or I’m in debt £350!!! UGGHHHHHH……

09/02/09 – Biking in the snow/slush

Today saw me riding across snowy fields, through icy puddles into muddy ditches with my brother!  20+ miles of cold, hard work round Hertfordshire.

Darren across a slushy field

Darren across a slushy field

16/02/09 – Betws-y-Coed

After a 3 hour drive, three of us climbed the Welsh mountains and enjoyed the breath-taking views… then endured the breath-taking descents!

Alex and James, overlook a lake on top of a Welsh mountain!

Alex and James, overlook a lake on top of a Welsh mountain!

"Dragon's Tail" descent...rocky!

Me at work, looking intense!

Me at work, looking intense!

22/02/09 – Last minute

Thanks God for last minute bookings (takes my monthly total to 4 bookings)!  Had a call friday night offering me money on monday. Usually my alarm bells would ring, the call went; ‘Gig monday, Nantwich, starts around 6.30, ends around 10pm, £*** cheque on the night… see you there’!!  But I was desperate for cash and so took a chance. Golden rules; beware new agents offering last minute work, never accept without something in writing (at least a company name), always ask for cash unless you have time to clear the cheque, always define performance times, prepare for surprises! Sure enough, I turned up 6.20pm at the venue, to discover a Circus Theme. The new Agent  asked if I could make my drawings in a ‘Circus theme’… “Certainly, if you’d given me 5 days notice to prepare the paper” I replied. I was then told the punters would arrive after 7.15!  I waited, as all the bar  and hotel staff buzzed around, asking for free drawings.  I asked for a cheque… the Agent spluttered and muttered about his ‘gal in the bar… with cheque-book’ so I let it pass. The evening went well and the punters were all pleased with my drawings and impressed at the stilt-walking juggler too. 10pm arrived and the juggler was still going strong, but after 3 1/2 hours of hanging around I was ready to go. I pestered the Agent once more for a cheque then made myself inconspicuous, to avoid the usual “Awww I’ve been waiting aaaaaalll night! Can’t ya just squeeze 3 of us on one page??” The Agent was a nice enough guy, a little disorganized; he hadn’t actually written out my cheque or supplied an invoice address, but when a blank cheque was waved under my nose I accepted with gusto and made my way to the car. Lets hope its worth the ink printed on it!

27/02/09 – INTERWEB HELL!!

What a nightmare few days!  Was told recently that my webhost Lycos was closing down and so I had to transfer all my 12 domains and 3 websites to another host ‘Stratos’ which would be done automatically… a few days ago I was told to move all domains manually or lose them… by 28th!!  I spent the next 2 days trying to use the recommended transfer method (Stratos), which crashed without fail everytime! Then began my quest to find a new webhost and transfer my portfolio of names. This involved trawling online, then sitting in a phone queue for several hours to; Tucows.com,  Demonhost.com, Nominet UK, Icann.com, Internic.org, LCN.com and of course Lycos and Stratos (both of whom weren’t taking calls)!  Once I had finally gained permission from the relevant people and purchased new web-space, I sat back and waited for harmony to prevail… only to be reminded that the sole copy of my website was about to be erased by Lycos in 24 hours. Back to the PC and onto the interweb to try and find an FTP copy of my very expensively produced site. 3 hours later and I tracked down the FTP address and downloaded my files. SO….. now I’m sat on PC full of html files, with 12 pending domains, no e-mail service, wondering how I fit all these things together and make them work!!!!  ANY IDEAS??????

05/03/09 – Stratford

Two day conference for the Brewery industry. Working at a small table in a crowded conference room… not ideal, but nice folk and it went well. Musta invested around £250 in their display… I was their prize investment and so had to work for my cash, which is hard to do when trading was only allowed during occasional 30 minute breaks in the conference AGM!

07/03/09 – London

Had a small booking at a basement birthday party, full of rich young kids, playing at Dinner Parties! Drew 11 people for a handsome payment, which covered my 3 day stay at the City Airport Travel Lodge.

08/-3/09 – Berkley Square

The envelope with the contract was embossed “Prada – Milano” and being London Fashion Week, I expected an exceedingly swanky dinner party, oozing with the fashion elite at an exclusive restaurant in Mayfair. I dressed Jagoda to impress (8″ platforms and all) then made our way to Grieg’s restaurant to face the glitteratti! Not quite what was expected; a secluded, oak and leather-bound Gentleman’s club style Bistro, hosting a long table in a darkened room, filled with tele-sales operators in cardigans!  Needless to say, I drew 19 of them before main course, downed copious amounts of Champagne then hurried Jagoda away (stomachs rumbling) to the sanity of my hotel. The next evening saw my return to the Bistro, to draw the remaining 7 ladies… This time I wooed the staff and enjoyed a fillet steak with my champagne!  So much for Fashion Week eh?!

28/03/09 – Andover

Another wedding, this time far south near Andover. The couple were nice enough, though the afternoon fell a little flat as guests disappeared to their rooms and I was left baby-sitting around a dozen kids… how many times can my shoes be trampled before my toes are finally broken?! Guess what?? Another cheeky bloody photographer… snapping and flashing away over my shoulder, without permission. Then he has the gaul to queue up to be drawn!! I insisted he send me some photos and handed him a card, stating my intention to prosecute unless he did. Strangely, I haven’t heard from him either! Thats an estimated 300 wedding photographers, all earning a fortune from my entertainment and at most 3 of them in the last 10 years have had the courtesy to send me some photos. TWATS!!! Hang on a minute, STOP THE PRESS….

Wedding at Andover, 28/03/09

Wedding at Andover, 28/03/09

I take it all back!  Two weeks later and they sent me half a dozen photos in the end, so they get a link on my new site 😉

31/03/09 – NEW WEDDING SITE!!

After spending the last 5 days tinkering with a template for a new website, I finally uploaded my new Wedding Site today. Introducing “the WEDDING ARTIST”  let me know what you think.

09/04/09 CRAAAASSHH!! (pt2)

Its not my lucky year is it? Just popped to London to pick up my girlfriend, when an idiot in an MG sportscar rammed my 206 from behind! At least it wasn’t my fault this time and it should be fixed by next week. Blimey!

10/04/09

I’ve spent the last 2 weeks solid, building a new website, launching it, optimising it, exchanging links to it and publishing various articles and wedding blogs to support it, coupled with a few crafty site submission tricks and hey presto; its listed on page 1 – Google – “Wedding Artist”.  I’ve since spent every minute pushing the site onto unsuspecting exhibitors and previous clients, while chasing down new marketing leads… but still no bookings! GGGRRRRRRR!!!

19/04/09

Charity Fun Day for Autistic children, a challenging job to say the least; a Working Man’s Club, full of tables and autistic children, running, screaming and squirming! I wasn’t looking forward to this booking, but I have to say, though the children suffered from varying degrees of autism (from sensitivity to sound to wheelchair bound) on the whole they were better behaved than the majority of un-affected children I’ve ever dealt with! Why? Possibly because their parents and families had obviously lavished them with love and attention, instead of planting them in front of a PS2 or X-Box before watching some reality trash on TV! The children were charming and the afternoon went with a swing.

25/04/09

Been mountain biking all week, then gardening, then praying for emails. Managed to field a couple of enquiries and even took 2 bookings for later in the year. Still nothing on this week though. The mortgage is gaonna be a problem next week! My car still isn’t fixed and they’ve lumbered me with a Ford Ka. To top it all, the dishwasher is broken! My new wedding site is working a treat and I’ve launched a secret offensive on the NEC exhibitors, so fingers crossed for the future.

03/05/09

Another wedding, 3 hours in Northampton, nice crowd, good afternoon’s drawing. Low and behold; another two wedding photographers loitering around me! “Don’t be hostile, give them the benefit of the doubt” I thought…. and so I let them hovver at my shoulder, flashing away at every guest. After two hours, they still hadn’t said a word, instead one of them seemed to be breaking wind at regular intervals. My patience was waining. I turned to hand them the usual business card and the buggers had disappeared after making a handsome living from snapping away in my ear all afternoon!!! Thats the last time I co-operate with a photographer!! OAFS!  

12/05/09 -Signwritten Finally had my new car signwritten, complete with some special guests in the rear, should turn some heads! LOL Angelina & Elvis!

30/05/09 – BUSY DAY!!

10am I arrived at Barclays Bank in Leicester, to open a new branch. I was ushered into a small glass-doored side room and left to unpack for a while. The hours passed and not a soul had been in for a sketch; they had opted NOT to use my advertising banner and had dressed me in a blue coporate T-shirt… so no-one knew who I was or what I was doing there!!  Money for old rope I thought and sat blowing my nose and popping Flu tablets all day (stinking flu virus). The poor girl next to me was giving massages and had driven from Slough to work all day for around £140 – her agent was taking around 60%… I felt lucky and didn’t mention my extortionate fee. 6 solid hours later and I managed to finish a pad of paper when I packed up to head off to my next wedding. Another local job for a mate in Rutland. I was hyped up on caffeine and glucose tablets and so enjoyed every minute of it. Happy Couple Musta drawn over 90 faces that day…. and all with a head full of flu!

12/06/09 – Mountain Biking in Wales

6.30am; Packed my tent, my bags and my bike, then headed off to south Wales for a weekend of riding the mountains and camping the great outdoors! Met up with my mates in a van on the M69 and off we went… 4 hours later and we shook off the traffic jammed motorways, heading for Afan (Port Talbot). Not before a trip to Morrisons for provisions though and some bar-b-que fuel! 1.30pm and we were pitched on a hillside, next to a fire-pit and static bar-B… ideal. We were finally ready for a ride :-)) We steamed off across the valley and started the first 5 mile climb through the forests, over the hill and far away.We reached the peak, then headed across the top to the neighbouring mountain. This promised brethtaking, death-defying descents… and we weren’t disappointed! By the bottom I knew my legs were shot!! The lads pushed me onwards and we began another 5 mile climb up Whytes trail… which was unrelenting. Across the top again and we threw ourselves down the last descent (the Wall). We approached a tricky section of rocks, on a steep forest trail, called ‘The Graveyard’… I knew my legs weren’t upto it, after 27 miles of gruelling mountain riding, but I tried the section anyway.

The Graveyard trail

The Graveyard trail

BIG MISTAKE!!  My tired legs pedalled wrong and I hit a rock, throwing me off my bike, over a rock and down the hill; all that saved me from a long drop was the bike which had fallen on me, impaling my leg and hand, binding me to the rock! Dave rushed to help by lifting the bike off… I thanked him as I tumbled down the hill, thru the forest!! I managed to finish the trail, all 29 miles of it, despite having a new hole in my shin.

ewww bloody shin!

ewww bloody shin!

We all settled down to our evening’s bar-b-que, laughing at my mishap… all the while unaware of the cloud of biting Midges over our heads. The evening was spent heavily wrapped in rags, in an attempt to avoid the vampire bugs… we thought we had succeeded… until the morning;

Bloody Midges!

Bloody Midges!

Saturday morning saw me packed and heading back to Leicester, in agony, covered in hives (turns out I’m allergic to insect bites)! Not the best weekend!!!

15-16/06/09  – HTML!

Just spent two solid days trawling through my site’s html, in search of errors. I came across a site verifyer http://validator.w3.org/   which shows how many code arrors your site may have. I averaged 30 errors per page of my 13 page site! This inspired me to fix the errors in an effort to streamline the reading of my site for Google robots… hope its works

21/06/09 – Empire, London

9am saw me making my way to Leicester Square’s Empire cinema for the Premier of “Ice Age 3”. I turned up and found I was one of the first to arrive for our 10am kick-off… Today’s caricaturist dream team consisted of 8 in all (Terri Christien, Paul Raymonde, Simon Ellinas, Sheba Cassini, Sara-Louise, Matt Lawrence and Jed Pascoe), flown in from all corners to draw hoards of screaming children and a smattering of celebrities, prior to the movie screening.  A long, drawn out day, with just two short drawing sessions of less than an hour a time… which flew by! It was great to meet up with my colleagues and have a good gossip, followed by several amber nectars in the bar round the corner. Much fun was had and chins were wagging until late afternoon! I must say I was shocked and disgusted to learn that a prominent caricaturist was apparently proud to share his racist views at a recent gathering. I don’t wish to name names, but if true, he’d better wipe me off his ‘Friends List’ from now on and give me a wide berth. There’s no room for small-minded racists in my life and I shan’t be giving him the time of day from now on! Not what I’D call a good Ambassador for our art!!

26/06/09 – Friends and Aliens

My client base is divided between tow camps; those who treat me as a FRIEND and those who treat me like an ALIEN! Yesterday was no exception. I spent all day at Telford, drawing on an exhibition stand for a Vehicle Recovery Service. The day hadn’t started well; when I used the M6 toll to find my debit card had split, meaning I had to reverse from one toll lane to the next, to use the last of my change to pay my toll. This rendered me broke for the day!! When I arrived however I was greeted warmly and offered coffee. I was a celebrity, with a gathering of fans, following a well publicised appearance in the Exhibition Press. I was watered regularly and chatted with the friendly folk all day. When time came to leave, I had made friends and the client promised to book me for the following year… FRIENDS

  • Just a quick line to say thanks again for your efforts last friday at the Tow show. It was great to see you in action and the delight on peoples faces at the finished article. It certainly got our name known around all the other stands and was an excellent talking point.
     Many thanks again George, appreciate your hard work and enthusiasm, and hopefully we will see you again sometime soon. Certainly if we decide to do another exhibition, you will be first call, and of course if anyone asks i’ll recommend your services.”

I then jumped in my car, empty stomached and headed south on the M6 (not being able to afford the toll). This was a huge mistake, taking 2 hours to cross Birmingham, instead of 45 minutes, which meant no stop-off at home to feed or change clothes. I ploughed on through the rain and thunder, to Kettering Hotel. When I arrived I was greeted with this sight…

Twat! (I thought)

Twat! (I thought)

A Brace of Twats!!!!

A Brace of Twats!!!!

I should’ve guessed the caliber of client I was about to encounter! I braced myself and went on a game of ‘hunt the client’…. “Arrive at 6.30 please, start at 7pm” and of course no-one is there to greet me, so half an hour wasted! I walked around the dimly lit dining hall, then spied the darkest bar I’d ever seen… THIS was to be my work place…

Darkest bar in town!

Darkest bar in town!

Why oh why do people book an artist then assume they can draw in the dark?? I was not in best of spirits by this time. I was to share this venue with 3 Casino tables and a photographer, so I had no sitting space, this meant another 3 hours on my feet… following a 5 hour standing exhibition and no food or refreshments yet.  However I understood this was a Staff Bar-B-Que and was looking forward to the prospect of food. I launched into my routine only to find the bulk of my audience were bland faced Air Hostesses and Travel Agents, all with matching pulled-back hair and fake tans!! “My nose ain’t THAT big… Be NICE!” echoed around the room and it was clear the natives were restless. My drawings were met with indifference and I was brushed aside by the ego-centric men.  I felt as welcome as a SPACE ALIEN! To top the evening, as the speeches began I decided to sneak a hamburger from the Bar-B-Que as they cleared it away. Just as I squirted ketchup I heard “There’s a Caricaturist somewhere if anyone dares”… all eyes turned to me at the buffet! Then with a click of a switch, the DJ began and the lights all went out!!!! I was forced against the bar to draw in the bar light. The bar staff of course smiled and assumed I would be drawing them all, despite not having offered me a drink in the last 2 hours. FAT CHANCE! The final straw came as a drunk under-age girl behind me dug me in the ribs repeatedly, jogging my pen. I made my excuses, grabbed my case and slipped out the back door without delay. I was 15 minutes short, but thought I had put up with enough from these ALIENS.

27/06/09 – MOD

Officer’s Mess at Donnignton… aaaaah the Pomp, the Ceremony, the Grandure, the Civility! I was greeted by a Guardsman in full uniform, medals, brass buttons and spurs included; given a guided tour, then offered a drink. The doorway was guarded by two Guardsmen of the Royal vein, swords drawn, chrome shining.  I was welcomed by the Band of the Royal Scotts Guard, on drums and bagpipes, they really shouldn’t have bothered LOL!  All that was missing was the Queen.  The lawn was strewn with red buttoned tunics and and yellow striped jodpers, truly a sight to see. I was awestruck by the abundance of medals on what were otherwise unassuming young and middle aged men; to think these were all won in battle! Manners were abound and despite our obvious differences, on the whole I was treated as one of the family.  Nice to be treated as a gentleman for a change. I must say I am a huge fan of National Conscription, imagine if everyone was as polite and disciplined in everyday life?? These are the bookings I live for. An all round pleasant evening and a true spectacle.

04/07/09

Private party in deepest Norfolk, well organized, caterers, pianist, Elvis and all. I was greeted by the poshest Events Organizer, who proceeded to lay out the evening’s events for me; which included me drawing all 30 guests… before the meal! I was only booked for 2 hours and though possible, I knew the likeliness of drawing all the guests within this time was slim. I explained this and estimated that I’d need an extra 30 minutes to finish the guests. I ploughed into the penguin suits and party frocks, with the blazing sun beating down on my black suit, the bugs swarming over my bright white paper and the sweat rolling down my forehead. We moved inside for the meal around 8pm where I pinned down the last few reluctant guests in just 10 minutes extra!  I let the extra time slide, hoping the client was impressed at my extra speed and slipped out to rapturous applause!! I hate it when Agents make promises on my behalf; if they’d consulted me prior to the event, I would’ve recommended 150 minutes instead of 120…. Cest La Vie!

25/07/09

A wedding in Woodhall Spa at one of my favourite haunts, Petwood Hall. The couple were lovely, middle aged and mixed race, so lots of interesting faces to draw!  I was well fed and watered, tho the groom was concerned that I would run out of customers! 260709003 260709002

27/07/09

Monday bloody monday! Just taken a last minute booking for this week… making 4 in total. August is looking very busy, with lots of promising new enquiries, some chain bookings (TBC). Good job, as I’ve just broken up with my beloved girlfriend Jagoda, after a year together, so feeling blue :-((

31/07/09 – another wedding

The bride was feeling rather tipsy after several bottles of wine, but good humoured none the less. No sooner had I arrived and unpacked my pad than; “Hi I’m the photographer, can you draw me with my camera?” I had to stifle the words in my head and unclench my fist, before responding; “If the groom doesn’t mind giving away £50 worth of artwork, then neither do I!”  Bloody cheeky free-loading twat!  I handed him a card straight away, which states that he cannot use any of my images for re-sale. Then I settled down to draw and a good time was had by all…

A happy wedding guest

A happy wedding guest

07/08/09 – Bournemouth

I stayed over in Fleet following a small wedding and traveled to sunny Bournemouth for my next wedding. A lovely hotel, reminiscent of Fawlty Towers, but charming and after a day spent asleep on the beach I was nicely relaxed and ready to entertain. I took my seat outside on the patio and began to draw. To my delight I was being shadowed by a gorgeous young photographer called Natalie, snapping away over my shoulder. I was glad of her company and so the day progressed. We chatted at length and discussed her recent world travels and intriguing tattoos. I was smitten and gave her my card, asking for copies of the day’s photos. To my utter amazement I received a CD with 40 pictures just the other day!!

copy_Simon_Lucy_(41)copy_Simon_Lucy_(6) copy_Simon_Lucy_(3)  

14/08/09 – BBC TV Center

Fame called once more and I wash rushed down to Shephered’s Bush TV center to be filmed for BBC’s One Show once more!  As sod’s law would have it; BBC TC is the workplace of my ex-love Jagoda, so my heart sank a little. This time I was to draw Lucy Siegle on SB Common, for a piece about identity fraud. We had 3 hours to nail it, while dodging the nutters, weilding Special Brew and spouting profanities! Public filming can be hazardous sometimes. Lucy was charming and we took our time, so the 3 minute article was eventually bagged and I headed home to await the edited version. I’ll of course share with the world its date for airing. :-))

Christine and Adrian from One Show

Christine and Adrian from One Show

25/08/09 – Wales :-))

I packed my tent, phoned and friend and we were off to Wales for a few days R&R. Matt and I drove across Wales to Snowdonia, where we found the dodgiest looking campsite (Pikey vans and dogs abound) and proceeded to pitch our tents. The next 3 days saw heavy rain every night and misty, muddy mountain trails during the day. We rode Coed-y-Brenin trail first, then Dyfi later that day. Second day we moved along to Brechfa Forest, which was a disappointing ride to say the least. However we’d managed to rack up climbs of many thousands of feet, around 45 miles of rocks, ditches, cliffs, steps and puddles!  We loved it, but by the third day it just wouldn’t stop raining, so we packed our sodden tents and headed to Leicester again.

sunrise at the campsite

sunrise at the campsite

 
Me & Matt at the trail start

Me & Matt at the trail start

Dragon's tail section

Dragon’s tail section

I had a fabulous, muddy time! Was glad of the break to be honest.  

28/08/09 – Bournemouth

Opening a chain of clothes shops during August and September, this time in Bournemouth. I set off around midday, aiming to arrive at 4pm, start at 5pm til 8pm as usual. After two hours in Bank Holiday traffic I was around Oxford when I received a call from the client asking where I was. “We were expecting you at midday, didn’t you get my e-mail with the ammended times?!”  Clearly I had not been alerted to the time change… realising the store would be closing by the time I arrived, I suggested that I turn back and offered the client credit on any future booking. Fingers crossed the next bookings will have times carved in stone. 140 miles and 4 hours later I arrived home, exhausted and condemned to an evening of TV, wine and boredom 😦

ADDENDUM:- The client later blamed me and demanded a full refund, despite the fact they wasted 4 hours of my time and effectively cancelled without notice. I politely explained that a contract of employment cannot be cancelled without paying a full wage and that the changed times were never communicated to me… hence I was not responsible for the cock-up!

05/09/09 – BAAAAD taste in my mouth :-/

Just worked two weddings, both were a nightmare!!

1) Wedding in Coventry, started really well; Usher greeted me, watered me and ushered punters to me. Everyone was happy, especially Usher’s wife, who was my biggest fan… until I drew her. “My nose ain’t THAT big!” she exclaimed. I made all the usual polite quipps about how its in my job description and how noses to Carix are like sausages to Butchers!  The tirade continued and every person I drew was to a backdrop of “Don’t let him draw ya nose… he gives EVERYONE a big nose… looks nothing like me!”  This was beginning to test my sense of humour and patience. I decided to draw one of two little girls, hanging on my jacket sleeves, begging to be drawn. Half way though my drawing, with an avid audience of willing punters looking on, the other little girl suddenly remarks “He’s drawn a moustach on ya!” a joke which I echoed in good humour… the girl’s face crinkled like a crisp packet as she burst into tears and ran to the toilets howling!!  I quietly finished my sketch and asked who would like it. I was greeted with a deafening silence as my loyal fans turned their backs on me and shunned my advances. I was now a Kiddy Bully!!!!   I quickly retreated to my favourite table of Ushers, to be greeted by more tirades about noses. I drew the Bride, who politely took the drawing, retired to a corner with her gals and started mumbling about “He just gives everyone big noses… TELL HIM!” The speaker then banged her gabble and folks were asked  to take their seats…. as I made a hasty retreat, tail between my legs!

2) I hopped in my car and headed hot foot towards Suffolk for my second wedding. I arrived early (7pm), so grabbed a coffee before making my way to the hotel. I arrived and was told the speeches had not yet begun (at 8.30pm!) and so had to hang around as the Best Man began his slide show… half an hour later (9pm) the happy couple kicked the evening off by being first drawn. A fine job I made of them as a couple and praise was abound. I made myself comfy and worked my way through a steady stream of guests. While chatting I explained to one guest that my pleasure was governed by the mood of the guests and that sometimes jobs are a joy, sometimes a chore. “Surely no-one starts trouble do they?” he asked…  At that point a peroxide WAG in a loud pink dress was pushing her way into the queue, demanding to be NEXT. When finally she was allowed to sit for me, she insisted I draw a couple of her and her friend. I was exhausted and so politely explained that I was only drawing single faces tonight. The girl insisted and demanded to know why not. I again politely asked if she would like a sinlge caricature, maybe getting a photocopy of her friend’s caricature. Her attitude was set to ‘Obstinate’ though, and she again protested. I then explained that other people were waiting and I was running out of time while arguing the point with her! For the next 20 minutes she stood behind me, telling her friends how she didn’t want a drawing because I was an “ASSHOLE”!!  I had taken enough and so around 10.25pm I took a descreet break to cool down. “GEORGE!” I heard from outside. The bullish Best Man drunkenly called me over and asked how long I had left. In reality I was due to finish in 5 minutes, but I offered to leave in 30 minutes (as a gesture of goodwill). He then insisted I draw a couple of girls for him. I guessed which ones and refused. “What’s ya f**kin problem? Is it an artist thing? We paid you good money upfront for your time so you draw who we want, right?!” he bellowed at me as he squared upto me. “You want me to lay a brick wall and serve drinks too?” I asked “Cos I won’t do that either!! I’m here to draw caricatures to the best of my ability”.  I then explained that my contract stated I do not draw couples, it also states that I can refuse to draw any unreasonable or abusive punters and that she qualified as both. This fell on deaf ears. “I paid you good money and you’re gonna draw her!” he insisted. How could I draw someone scowling at me, after publically calling me an asshole?! My adrenalin had kicked in and my hands were now shaking uncontrolably as I prepared for a physical assault, which thankfully didn’t happen, but only because I stated my position and turned away. My next punter was the Best Man, glaring at me… FUN. Needless to say, the blond with attitude wasn’t drawn and I again was forced to make a descreet exit.  I was glad to make it home safely, but rather shaken by the whole day. What exactly did I do wrong today… I thought my advertising, contracts and banners were all clear enough “NOT FOR THE FRAIL, VAIN OR UGLY” etc…  Perhaps I should add “YES I DRAW BIG NOSES>>> ITS MY JOB!” Following the above weekend’s horrors, I received this comment… my first HATEMAIL, annonymous of course. See if you can guess which punter sent it; https://spotongeorge.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/unplugged/  

10/09/09 – Bad News

I was happy to be attending an exhibition at Bolton FC, on a roll, when I received a phone call… One of my cats had been run over and killed, leaving a grieving twin brother. Could this month get any worse? Itchy RIP.

Itchy - 2007-2009. Lived fast, died young

Itchy – 2007-2009. Lived fast, died young

19/09/09 – Busy

I’m happy to say that this month has been mercifully busy, so I paid the Taxman, put my nose to the grindstone and did my best to forget my broken heart,  my abscent pet & best friend and all the bad vibes haunting my head!  

25/09/09 – Wales

I just had to get away, as another emotional anniversary approached. I decided to take my tent and my mountain bike to The Rhonnda for some R&R. Nothing better than climbing through a Welsh forest, 1000 feet up, bathing in the peace and silence… then hurtling down the side of the mountain, taking on boulders, roots, drop-offs and river beds at full speed!! Managed my fastes climb ever on Whytes Line at Afan Forest, where I passed 21 people on the way up! 😀

Ray Meres eat ya heart out!!

Ray Meres eat ya heart out!!

My pals joined me on friday night and a good camping/bar-b-queing time was had by all… much needed.

03/10/09 – Wedding

Another saturday, another wedding. This was a pleasant one; all the guests were 30 something, no children, no parents (apart from Dad & Gran) just happy young folk. A very well dressed affair too.

Blushing Bride

Happy Usher
Happy Usher
Spot the crazy lady with an eye for me (in the background)!!

Spot the crazy lady with an eye for me (in the background)!!

Why oh why is there always an asshole in the family? I guess you can choose ya friends… An Usher took it on himself to push in front of me and demand I draw him and his Thai Bride. I politely pointed out the queue and promised him my attention later. He persisted, with loud shouts of “OI – you gonna draw me or what?”  Some people simply don’t understand that a wedding is about the Bride and Groom’s wishes, not theirs! Spoiled the otherwise jovial atmos. I discovered a handy secret today; I was flagging a little and so needed an energy drink before work. I bought one of those small concentrated ‘Relentless’ shots… BLIMEY!!! How can it be legal? Gave me a wonderful buzz and I was chatting away like an imbecile! Instant personality LOL  

13/10/09 – Exhibition

6 hours today at a stand at the NEC. I arrived 30 minutes early, to witness Buck’s Fizz warming up on our stage. I asked for the promoter then sat myself at the stand and waited. Though staffed by around 12 suited reps, not one of them even approached me or attempted to befriend the ‘weird stranger’ sat at their exhibition stand… And so we were amongst ‘ALIENS’ today! The usual suspects were hanging around; Tommy Walsh, Todd Carty, Sian Hughs and of course Buck’s Fizz… surreal! Luckily the stand was also host to a nice Magician and several Promo Gals, giving away balloons, so all was not lost! I spent 6 hours chatting, drawing and watching the clock. I never once spoke to a client or stand staff!!  How rude???????

A happy Caravan Man!

A happy Caravan Man!

Caravan Club customer

Caravan Club customer

 06/11/09 – Rowton wedding

Another night, another wedding. This time I was well fed and watered before hand and with the help of a Relentless energy shot, I was at my most charming… churning out drawings at a rate of knots!!

wedding caricature of twins

Twins!!

wedding caricature

what a smile!

  09/11/09 –  C-R-R-R-A-A-A-S-S-S-H-H!!!!!!

Another winter, another asshole in a hurry on a slippery road! I was just returning from a weekend of mountain biking in the Peak District, bike in the boot, when I was waiting at a roundabout to cross the A38 near Ripley and….. THUMP…CRUNCH!!  The hire van behind me was a little too eager to cross the roundabout and ignored me sitting patiently infront of him.  My poor little 206!! I’ve only owned it 8 months and already two drivers have pounded him in the rear  :-(Oh well, another two weeks in a crappy hire car for me… This time the judder was excessive and though I have suffered 5 rear shunts in the last 5 years without complaint, this time I can feel a stabbing back pain and stiff neck. So its off to the Dr’s for me tomorrow methinks.  

19/11/09 – Battersea

The call came for an Awards Ceremony at Battersea Evolution, needing 3 artists for upto two hours. Of course this meant Jed Pascoe, Matt Lawrence and Me, all heading to London for the evening. The client was a little testy to say the least; insisting we arrive at least 2 hours early for a ‘Briefing’…. When I explained this would cost extra, she snapped about arriving with no coats, being ready to work immediately. I insisted on a cloakroom and she threatened to pull the job because I was ‘being rude’!!  I was firmly ‘in the box’ when I arrived at the venue with Jed. The client greeted me and instructed us to use the tradesman’s entrance, outside via the kitchen at the rear…. Of course we walked proudly across the dining auditorium to our posts. The venue was a familiar site to all Xmas Party entertainers; huge, overcrowded, no lights, too many waiting staff!Battersea Evolution The artists readied themselves in the darkness…Matt & Jed

The adrenalin kicked in, we worked our magic on the 34 selected tables and everyone was happy in the end. Another successful mission! Despite doing a cracking job, under difficult circumstances, our client did not supply a cheque as requested and our Banks were not credited the following friday, as promised. So we are left wanting for our cash rewards… some clients are just a PAIN to work for!!

Addendum:- January 10 2010 and we are STILL waiting for payment!  

06/12/09 – Ashford, Kent

This was a job I took early in the year, when I was broke and panicking over my lack of work and so agreed to a 340 mile round trip on a sunday morning for a heavily discounted rate. I was not looking forward to it and to cap it; I was offered a local job, for more money on the same date, but being a man of integrity, I stuck by my original contract. And so I woke at 7am on sunday, realised I had over slept and managed to shower, suit and boot in under 20 minutes! I was on the road at 95mph by 7.30am and made my way bleary-eyed south towards Kent. I was making good headway and so stopped at Maidstone for a spot of breakfast… £11.20 later I wished I hadn’t. I arrived at the venue in good time and was impressed by its stateley charm Eastwell Manor I was first greeted by Magician Adam Keisner, a talented young guy who I’d never worked with before. We were then both greeted by a colourful old gent called Fred; donned on bright burgundy, red belt and shoes, white hair and drizzeled in gold chains and sovereign rings. He warmly shook my hand and exclaimed I was ‘better looking in real life than on TV’!!   This made my day and the morning flew by. The room was abound with colourful characters and I must say I enjoyed drawing them. Fred Cooke sweet dear!

Was a taste of the East End for sure… not what I expected and a pleasant surprise 🙂  

12/12/09 – Ladies Gym 😉

When the call came thru “Could you attend a Xmas party at an all women’s gym near Bath?” a smile krept across my face at the thought of a gym full of lycra clad ladies, hungry for entertainment. This was the booking I had most been looking forward to this Xmas season and the 170 mile drive didn’t phase me at all. Even the prospect of driving straight from Bath to Nottingham for a friend’s birthday party was pushed to the back of my mind as I set off at 10am. I raced across the country and arrived just in the nick of time for 2pm. I proudly bowled into the gym, filled by the sound of excited cackling and squeals of delight…. to find a room full of ‘My Mum’!!  The average age of the ladies present was 65 and as I settled into drawing the white haired queue, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. Seems the Gym was more a Morning Tea Club for many of the ladies, with not so much as an excercise bike to be seen!

the Ladies at the gym They worked me hard for a full 3 hours of not stop cackling and I dragged my sorry ass back to my (Courtesy) car for the epic treck home…  

C-R-R-A-A-A-S-S-S-H !!! Heading past Oxford on the A34, bleary eyed, I was bombing up the outside lane in the dark rainy night, when an unlaiden lorry suddenly pulled out in front of me. It was clearly travelling too fast and the strains told as the large Aerofoil (spoiler) from afront the cab was caught by the wind and flipped over the roof of the vehicle and headed for my windscreen….   Luckily it swooped to the ground  and I braced myself as the front of my car met it, lodging the object underneath at 70mph+!  I hit my hazard lights and veared off the road onto the muddy grass verge amidst a loud scraping and rumbling. The fibre-glass spoiler was firmly lodged beneath my car and it took several attempts (in the mud) to dislodge the object, which I then photographed…

Lorry debris

I couldn’t believe the size of the thing! I also couldn’t believe that no one (lorry included) stopped for assistance in the dark night. I couldn’t believe my crap luck and was at a loss for what to do, so I took many pictures and continued on my journey to Nottingham. The next day I reported the incident to the Police, then inspected the damage and realised I had driven home on a flat tyre, which I was informed I had to replace, at a cost of £62!  Grounded again, with the promise of a further £250 excess to pay!! 😦 Always seems to happen at Xmas!!!  

17/12/09 – Dark & Snowy!

The busiest day of the year began with a journey to Cheshunt to draw some Tesco execs. Typically the session was an hour late to start, with no lunch being offered. I beavered on and once finished I slipped into the loo to change into my new shiny blue suit and boots. Emerging like a peacock, I stepped out into the icey wind and continued my journey into London. The obligatory KFC stop occupied half an hour, then I drove to Brent Cross and parked up, ready for the Tube. I arrived at the venue early and had a chat to my wonderfully eccentric client ‘Cactus’…. The venue was a Mexican Bar, which was soon full of preening Funds Investment Bankers. The darkness was smothering and the drunken guffaws were nauseating, as one punter in particular found it essential to stand six inches from my face, poking me, nudging me and generally making my work impossible. I was feeling increasingly claustrophobic…

Dark Bar

The darkest Bar this season perhaps?

I moved towards the exit, but could not escape my client’s gaze. I felt guilty as it was too crowded to mingle, too loud to talk to punters and too dark to draw them, which left me with one option… look busy and hide! The evening moved on however and my client proved to be a gem, as he slipped a continuous stream of £20 notes in my hand; I left the bar with £90 in tips, which helped ease the bitter taste. So to my journey home; it was already snowing heavily when I emerged onto the streets of London and made my way North. I jumped in my car, brushed several inches of snow from my windscreen and pulled out onto the street…. veering wildly towards parked cars and sliding uncontrollably in the new snow. Somehow I made it onto the M1 and instantly wished I hadn’t!! The next hour was spent crawling in the wake of a string of struggling lorries, at 20mph, skating across 3 unmarked lanes of motorway, passing several motorists who’d already given up and pitched tent in their cars for the night on the hard shoulder.

snowbound M1

a snowbound M1… at 20mph!

Visibility was awful and frankly I was petrified, as my hire car veered wildly across the orad, beeing battered by heavy snow wind. It was the most scary journey I’ve ever had and was glad to hit dry road around Milton Keynes. I made Leicester several hours later and turned my heating on FULL!  I vowed; Never again!!!!  

18/12/09 – Here we go again!

Started my day driving to Sutton Coldfield for a wedding. Nice crowd, no snow in Birmingham. Then I had the dreaded drive to Newmarket via the snow-bound A14… I set off some 5 hours early. Turns out, most of the snow had been melted by the heavy lorries, so I arrived several hours early and made my way inside. The venue was Newmarket Race course (Tattersalls) and I had the pleasure of  (Magician) Romany’s company for the evening. I was exhausted from my travelling and could only watch as outside the snow began falling heavily once more.

Tattersalls in the snow

My journey home was looking increasingly hazardous, especially after such a long day and over 600 miles driven in two days! Never the less I headed to the car park to find my car boxed in by two ass-hole drivers, both with a ‘dent-wish’ it seems. Rather than head back inside and try to find the relevant car owners, amongst 200 diners, I manouvred my car with surgeon like precision, through the tinyest of gaps… I wasn’t stopping to see if I’d clipped anyone LOL Two hours later and my car slid into my home driveway and I breathed a sigh of relief… two hours later and I was still wide awake, on the sofa with a glass of Scotch in my hand, desperately trying to unwind!  What a night, what a couple of days… NEVER AGAIN ……Until next year LOL  

23/12/09 – Branston

Last gig of the year was in Lincoln, a Xmas party for which I had been paid some weeks before… so this held no joy for me.  The hotel was familliar and I was warmly greeted by the Chef and Manager, both of whom I recognized as previous punters. The room was uninspiring, poorly lit (as usual) with a Disco lurking in the centre, threatening to kick off at any minute.

dark Xmas venue

Another dark venue… could you draw in this??

Luckily the octogenerian DJ held off until my third hour to dim the lights. I moved to the bar, alone, with an hour to kill!! As we all know, a caricaturist is never alone for long and the hour flew by. The hi-light had to be meeting my all-time hero – HOMER SIMPSON!

Homer Simpson

“D’oh!”

With the evening under my belt and a smile on my face I headed home, another long drive, but hopefully the last for a while.  

24/12/09 – CAR BACK!!

I called to see when my Peugeot was due for return following its damage repairs, it had been some 6 weeks now and I had grown to hate the Ford Focus that had been supplied to me. The repair center refused to release my car until the £250 excess was paid… like I had that kinda money on Xmas eve!! I squabbled with the insurance company and the repair company and wondered why I had been made to spend 6 weeks in discomfort and several hours on the phone haggling… when I had paid a full premium for fully comprehensive cover!! Finally my car was released and delivered to me. I jumped in and started the car, noticing that my stereo needed recoding – a sure sign of a flat/disconnected battery… I left the car til boxing day, when I tried to start it again, to find the battery was DEAD!  They had jump started my car and delivered it with a flat battery!! I had to fork out £63 for a new battery just to get rolling…. NOT a good start to my festivities, but I was glad to be driving my old pal Peugeot again  🙂

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2009 – Log Cabin

Xmas came and went, with the usual family squabbles and obligations. New Year was heading my way and I’d managed to plan nothing. My girlfriend hadn’t found out her work rota yet and so a fun packed NYE looked hopeless. I busied myself by preparing for a cozy drinks party in my new ‘lean-to’ complete with fire and baubels. Then…. Juliette came up trumps, with an offer of a few days in a log cabin in the Derbyshire Peaks, just a few miles from her house! I was a little miffed that this meant my 4th visit to her place in 2 weeks and wondered why I had bothered decorating my house at all… but a £700 holiday for FREE cannot be sniffed at!! I hastily dropped my DIY and packed for a trip to the hills.

A6 to MatlockThe roads were icey and the skies promised snow, the excitement was mounting as we struggled over the slippery hills towards Darwin Forest.

our log cabin

A winter wonderland

The cabin was stunning in the snow and as cozy as it was inviting. A toasty few days were enjoyed, together with a few walks on the Dales and a tasty roast dinner on NY day, I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in a better new year. Saturday arrived, under a heavy blanket of snow and we prepared to ship out, with a wedding near Rutland on offer for me. The prospect of driving in these conditions had me rather nervous and I very nearly phoned to cancel the booking, for fear of being stranded in the snow drifts if I attempted the journey.

the road home

the road home

After a short respite, I bit the bullet and thought of my impending Tax bill and empty wallet as I slid my car towards the M1, towards my first gig of the year…  

02/01/10 – Quenby Hall

A joint Wedding and Christening awaited in a very stately home; Quenby Hall, which was adorned with Christmas cheer and a roaring log fire. I was glad to have made the trip.

Quenby candles

Beautiful table dressing and tree at Quenby

I was not in the mood for working again so soon and the gig dragged on, but I made a few new contacts and considered the event worthwhile my attendance.

Happy 2010. 🙂   09/01/10 – York

The snow had been falling hard for a week or more now and I was dreading the journey to York for a small private party, but a wage is a wage and I readied myself for the hazards. I packed a duvet, change of clothes, water and a shovel, just in case of stranding in the snow. I de-iced the Peugeot and spun my way out of my snow-bound close, towards the M1.  The motorway was surprisingly clear and I levelled out at 70mph for the bulk of my journey.

snowy M1 to York

I had set out before sunset, so to minimalise danger on the road… however this meant I arrived some 2 hours early!!  I sat outside the ‘Terrace’ and watched the caterers arrive, then the magician, then I finally made an appearance. WOW! What a venue; 4 storey Regency renovation, top notch decor from marble floors to crystal chandeliers, white walls and minimalist chic was abound. Turns out the evening was a house warming, following a 2 year refurbishment by a property mogul… the place was full of money-toting prospective buyers.

stunning York venue

stunning venue

I enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the Nouveau Riche in such civilised surrounding and forgot all about my snow-bound journey. The evening over, I hopped into my car and found, at 10pm on a snowy saturday, the roads were empty – even the M1!  I found myself home safe some 2 hours and 125 miles later  

23/01/10 – Stansted, Cheshunt, Kings Cross…

What a day! I started with a drive to my brother’s in Stansted, followed by a train from Cheshunt to a wedding at Kings Cross, then back to a party at Cheshunt, then a bed in Stansted. Iset off down the A14 in ample time and wouldn’t you know; A14 East was CLOSED!!… so off across country I set, arriving at my brother’s door some 3 hours later. I dropped off my mountain bike and drove sharpish to Cheshunt Station, where (suited) I boarded a train Kings Cross. I reached Seven Sisters and was told to change for Kings X… which meant heading underground. My ticket wasn’t valid for this… so much for compoterised online pre-booking! I hopped the tube anyway and simply flashed a ‘non-swiping ticket’ at the other end. The venue was 6 Chad’s Place, a nicely converted warehouse and yuppy restaurant. The wedding party arrived and the drawing began. Things were going swimingly and the hoat slipped an envelope of cash into my satchel. The gig ended and I opened the envelope to discover I was £20 short… This leads to the embarrassing situation of asking the Groom for more money in front of his guests. I can’t be sure if it was an honest mistake, if a note has gone astray or he was trying to short change me. He thinks I am trying to pull a fast one (for the sake of £20)!!  The cash was forthcoming and I hopped the tube again for Seven Sisters, only to be stopped at the Tube and told my ticket wasn’t valid. I argued my point and managed to catch an earlier tube. This was pointless as the early train at Seven Sisters didn’t show up!! I made it to Cheshunt in the nick of time (no time to eat yet today) and wearily began my 3 hours of drawing… stood up! 11pm came and I made my way once more back to Stansted and a small iron sofa bed at my brothers. Ready for my day of mountain biking and ice skating on sunday! 🙂  

24/01/10 – FUN!

Off mountain biking with my bro today, 28 miles across muddy fields and through the Hertfordshire countryside. All was good as we made our way along the River Stort, until we came to Rye House where we stopped for water and some chocolate. When we got back on the bikes I found my brother was lacking in the energy department and we were limited to truncling along at 6mph!! This was not good with 10 miles to go before home.

  30/01/10 – Tinsley Hall

I found myself at a familiar venue with friendly staff, working for BP alongside colleague John Roberts. The gig was 3 hours and we found there were only 9 tables… with cancellations! This looked like over-kill to us, but we relaxed into the job and woo’ed the crowd (of <70). We were told at half time that we had food set aside for us and so were lead to the hotel restaurant, where we waited… and waited… and waited.  After 20 minutes without service, we had to return to the dining hall to finish our work, stomachs rumbling. We chewed the fat, discussed various artists and agencies, moaned about money and generally enjoyed the company of a fellow artist. The evening wound to a close, with punters begging us to stay longer and draw a last few faces, but John and I share a love for a safe, speedy drive home and so we exited with all haste and headed into the dark, icey cold night.

06/02/10 – MK The Stables

Another celeb event; celebrating the 40th anniversary of the legendary jazz venue The Stables. Hosted by Paul O’Grady, with Maureen Lipman and Cleo Lane. Unfortunatley it was the evening of the death of Cleo’s Husband, so not many festivities, but worth attending.

07/02/10 – BAHRAIN!!!!

Set off that evening towards a hotel near Heathrow for a 6 week adventure in Bahrain… more to follow.

18 – 25/05/10 – NEC Ipex

A full week of drawing on my digital tablet at Ipex, alongside my good colleague Matt Lawrence. This was a learning curve to say the least, with 8 hour days of solid back to back drawing. Much was learned and I was inspired to launch my new venture ‘digitally-drawn.co.uk ‘!

digital caricatures

12/06/10 – Woburn

Celebrity wedding at the Sculpture Gallery; Peter Aliss’s son Simon married Kelly. Guest speakers included celebrity golfers such as Sir Terry Wogan and Bruce Forsythe, both of whom made a rapid exit following their speeches, drivers waiting with hot engines in the car park!

Woburn Abbey

18/06/10 – CANCELLATION!

“Please accept this as a note of cancellation for our wedding on 26th June 2010.  The distinct lack of communication to my e-mails has bought me to this decision.” Miss AMC

Distinct Lack of Communication??? I do have a phone ya know and I’ve answered all your emails, so I assume you’ve found a much, much, much cheaper artist to do the job. THATS what the new generation of carix are doing for our business, thanks Chrissy and you other bottom feaders! Well, I trust my client will be popping a cheque in the mail to cover my loss of wages?! On the up-side; just had some more signwriting done on my new car…

caricature mobile

18/06/2010 – River boat on the Thames

“Can I hire you for an hour to entertain during drinks on the Thames?”  What a delightful idea, so I was booked, turned up and was ushered onto the river-boat.

London Rose

On board the London Rose

It soon became apparent that I was expected to set sail and join the cruise, which meant I was on board for 2 hours, not 1!! Oh well… a cheap friday night and some pleasant scenery.  Managed to bag some prime Oiks tho LOL.

spot on caricature

07/07/10  – Tesco

My monthly appointment to draw Store Leaders at Tesco (SLP course), nice and easy this week; only 5 to draw and all good characters. I have 10 minutes per person to include all their major strengths and form a metaphor or two….

Tesco caricatures

Looked like a devil to me!

Tesco caricature

Tall, air of authority, balanced….

28/08/10 – Marathon!

Double booked today; first StAlbans then Welwyn, both 3 hours. To make it worse, I went out for an Indian last night and it turned into a drinking session with my new gal Sarah and my best bud Nat. I feel fragile to say the least… after sleeping on Nat’s sofa! I’ve necked 2 pots of coffee and had bacon cob for brekkies, quick shower and shave then we’re off. First hurdle; M1 south is at a standstill for 35 miles!!! Great; gotta detour via A14 then A1 to St Albans. Not ideal, but I made the wedding in good time. Quite an expensive wedding, at a 4* hotel in old St Albans, nice crowd, half Italians, half Irish. Luckily I was in Auto-pilot mode and just drew out of instinct, all of which turned out pretty good. I took the precaution of drinking a ‘Relentless’ energy shot before the gig, so I was averaging one face every 3 minutes! The crowd loved me and after a very long 3 hours I sloped off into my car and headed for the nearest Ginsters Pasty Emporium LOL. After a 30 minute sit in my car at a service station, I swept the pasty from my lap and headed towards Welwyn (Tewinbury Farm). Tewinbury Farm is more a ‘Wedding Factory’ than a romantic venue, so I knew what to expect. Sure enough there were 3 weddings to choose from, all shoulder to shoulder in their pokey barns. This was not going to be a classy wedding.  I entered the venue and was greeted by the largest, loudest bride I have ever encountered; it was clear who was in charge and I knew I’d be made to work like a dog for my pennies.  I drew a few faces, then we were ushered outside into the spotting rain, while the room was cleared for the disco. I loitered outside, waiting for directions, avoiding the rain and the cigarette smoke, until  we made our way back onto the dancefloor. A few sketches later and we were halted by the cutting of the cake…. I continued, then after an hour the lights went out and I was left in the dark, pad in hand, next to the Disco.  Time for the first dance. I retired to a small back room for a seat and some light where I began drawing a queue of people, when I realised this was the Buffet room and food was wheeled out next to me. By this time I’d had 5 hours sleep, driven 120 miles, attended two weddings, drawn around 75 people and hadn’t been offered a drink or a sniff of food! My stomach was ravenous, but this was overpowered by my contempt for the people around me, scoffing their faces off and praising me to the hilt, while showing no signs of manners by offering me refreshments – A TERM OF MY CONTRACT: REFRESHMENTS THROUGH-OUT! I was severely pissed off and longed to go home and feed my face. I packed my bags, politely drew the queue to a close and headed for the door. The bride caught me on my way out and thanked me profusely… which was nice, but it didn’t stop me feeling giddy or mardy!  One more energy shot later and my long drive home began. It was a blurr, I cannot recall it, only that I woke up the next day in my own bed and thought; “Crap -another wedding today”!!!

03/09/10 – Zurich

Just back from a day of riding mountains in Wales, scrubbed the mud, packed my bags and hit my bed. Up at 4am for a bonus booking in Switzerland; a very rich lady decided she would like some entertainment at her 50th Birthday lunch, also her dinner in Zug. Apparently the Swiss have no sense of humour and as an ex-pat the client booked an artist from the UK – ME! Bleary eyed I packed my case into my car, along with 4 days’ worth of drawing kit and two suits, then headed off to London City Airport. I love to fly and the flight to Zurich was a joy.

Swiss valleys

I was met at the airport by my gold-clad clients, a lovely couple of Brits, who whisked me across Zurich to a picturesque restaurant, overlooking a lake. Beautiful!

Zurich clients

Lunch flew as I drew the 8 flamboyant guests, less than anhour later I was whisked away in a cab, to my hotel – Raddisson Blu. I was in much need of a sleep and some food, so I ordered room service and marvelled at the hotel’s wine-rack!

Raddisson wine rack

Fully rested, I was dressed and ready for my evening in Zug. I hopped a train, through the mountains and was met at the train station by my hosts, who walked me through the lovely town of Zug, on our way to a local Kellar!

Zug sunset

The evening guests were equally flamboyant and made good subjects, all 10 of them… an hour later and I was once more making my way to the train, having thoroughly enjoyed my day in Switzerland.  Oh if all bookings could be this way 🙂

Zug client

I marvelled at the Swiss Alps as I flew home to Blighty the following morning.

Swiss Alps

Those aren’t clouds across the horizon, but mountains!

11/09/10 – Woburn Sculpture Gallery

Following the cancellation of a wedding in South Wales, I was happy to pick up a booking at my favourite venue; Woburn Sculpture Gallery. Whats more the client wanted me for the whole day, meal included, so it was proving to be a much better prospect. Woburn Woburn

I arrived in good time and chatted with the DJ and Magician, then began pacing as we awaited the guests. Time ticked on and soon we were 30 minutes behind schedule, but the guests began trickling in and so my job began. We were stopped just 90 minutes later when the meal began and so we retired to the bar and awaited our meal… and waited… and waited. Being offered a meal is nice, but the waiting staff do insist on serving us last, usually with left-overs! The food usually goes un-eaten, as it is served at the time we are due to begin work again. On this occasion, we had 30 minutes spare to eat what looked like a mouth-watering lamb dish. The lamb was falling off the bone and the red wine gravy complimented the roast vegetables perfectly – YUMMY!!!

Woburn Sculpture

Most would have a miniature couple on top of the cake…

Part 2 – The magician and I returned on schedule to work around the tables for the final 2 hours. The audience loved us, a rounded mix of individuals, all over 30 as the couple were on their second marriage. Applause echoed round the hall, which is a nice change for a caricaturist to get more applause than the magician. I lapped it up. Time flew by and the speeches kicked in, giving us yet another break for 30 minutes, then a few stragglers before the light faded and we took our bows. A very nice day; two slots, a tasty meal, laid-back clients and half my usual driving. Must try and encourage more ‘full-day’ bookings  🙂

25/09/10 – Wedding Fayre season

Another wedding tonight in Sutton Coldfield. Been preparing all week for a wedding fayre at Kelmarsh Hall tomorrow, first one I’ve done in a couple of years. Had to update all my portfolios and get something printed to hand out! Spent around £700 on 2 new banners, 1000 new fliers, 2 new sets of business cards, spot lights, table cloths and general display goodies.  Should be kinda fun;  these things don’t really pay off, but they do get me rubbing shoulders and networking with other pro’s in my trade, which is nice. Almost like having ‘work-mates’!  I’m looking forward to attending and seeing if my marketing pays off once more… most of 2011 is already booked, but it keeps me in the public eye at least.

wedding caricatures

my new business cards

09/10/10 – Wedding, Leicester

Had my first local wedding booking in many years, at The City Rooms. I ambled into town, found parking then made my way to the venue, to be greeted by what looked like a Footballer’s Wake! Great bunch of people, but all dressed in black and with severe fake tans, topped off with a layer of shiny make-up LOL. At least they weren’t the usual collection of pie-eating, dole-scrounging Leicestonians, that I was expecting. I made my way into the crowd and found myself instantly wet with sweat, beads rollikng down my head and onto my page! This was not impressive and I prayed i would cool down before long. But the heat was relentless and after my 2 hours flew by I found myslelf red in face and wet in the shirt. A pleasant enough afternoon and I headed for my car with just one hour to clear Leicester and make Northampton for my next gig…

Northants Insurance InstituteI made the hotel in good time and after a can of “Relentless” I was ready to entertain! I made my way through reception, to a bar full of dinner jackets and bow-ties. Tonight, it was clear I would be a ‘Space Alien’ and I brushed the stares aside. I had been there for 30 minutes, without a drink or a greeting and was wondering if I had the correct venue. I took my pad and pens and began to mingle, full of beans I approached penguin after penguin… to a resounding “NO THANK YOU”! I was approached by a ginger penguin who introduced himself as my host. He looked very hesitant and began pointing at random figures, telling me to draw them. I explained that I had already approached the entire bar without luck. He was undeterred and led me to a group of cowering suits. They too turned me away and so I asked them; “Could you point me in the direction of your sense of humour? As I’m having trouble finding it!”

corporate dinner

a dark room full of miserable penguins… joy!

The night did not go well and I was consistently rebuffed and sent packing by table after table of stiff diners, all the while with my host watching me anxiously. The few willing punters I had found were unwilling to pay me any attention, instead facing away and talking or eating through the whole portrait.  God I hate drawing through meals. What could I do? I simply did my best and as soon as the auction began, I made for the exit. Tired and unfed, unwatered, I headed for my local Pizza emporium then bed.

I really must move away from working during meals at corporate events… I’m simply unwanted!!

09/10/10 – Double wedding

First wedding was in Newbury and simple enough, nice couple with lots of ugly friends. Unfortunately it was a ‘List Wedding’ and I was allocated an Usher to shout names from his list for me to draw. This can simplify things for me and irradicated my need to turn people away with poor excuses. However, when waiting for a bumbling Usher to race round finding people, it can also waste a great deal of time and I found myself twiddling my thumbs on several occasions. Things were moving very slowly and I noticed the complete lack of atmosphere… hadn’t received so much as a laugh or applause all day. Then I realised the bride had been stealing all the drawings away behind reception, so no one was having a laugh!  Methinks some people simply miss the point of entertainers; would they hire a singer then have them sing into a tape machine with headphones, instead of a microphone on stage… just cos they wanted to savour the music themselves??!!

I’m there to entertain their guests… or not in this case. Moving on…

Next wedding was nearby in Basingstoke and the bride had sent lovely emails, offering me lights, flexible times and a MEAL, which was welcome after a day on the road and (once agin) no food or drink so far. I arrived to find it was a ‘Tent Wedding’ in a marquee. As promised the couple had set up a well lit corner… next to the toilets (as usual). I launched into the queue of willing victims and was flying through the faces. Once again I felt like a drawing machine more than an entertainer and soon began to wayne. No drinks had been offered and I was wondering when my food would be served. I put my head down and drew and drew and drew, til 10pm arrived and I was seeing triple in front of me, after 10 hours of driving and drawing without sustainance. I was spitting feathers and my tummy was rumbling for England. Greatly disappointed, I packed up without warning and staggered to my car. I made the lights of Leicester by midnight, where I found a late-night chippy to fill my  hunger for the night. I really MUST insit that people follow the agreed contract, by supplying drinks and food when requested!

21/10/10 – Folkestone – TATTOO!

I packed the car and headed to Folkestone with my new lady for a few days R&R. Fabulous place, with a reputable tattooist. Spent 2 hours sketching a pattern on my arm, then the artiist powered up her needles and we got stuck in. Some 6 hours later, the result was a half finished patchwork of Arabic inspired patternwork on my fore-arm.

george's tattoo george's tattoo

I was disappointed not to have a full finished sleeve, but I like the start, so I must be patient and have booked another sitting in November. Fingers crossed.

04/11/10 – Corporate day

Two bookings today; HSBC in Birmingham, then HfMA in Leicester. Was glad to see the suits were spending money again.

Drove to central Birmingham and was greeted at a private car park for my first gig. As I drove in I was passed by the lovely Sara-Louise, fellow artist. Turns out the client had booked another artist for the day. I wondered what other nasty shocks awaited me; typical corporate job. We were shown to a canteen, where Sara-Louise produced reems of headed HSBC paper and 3 pre-drawn commissions for the client… great I thought, nothing like being kept in the loop. Made me look amateur!  We were shown to separate floors, where we had to make our way across a sea of booths, all manned by spotty teenage telephonists, on call. It was a ‘Call Center’ job; these were nightmares, as you had to interrupt working telephonists, to draw them and make them miss their daily target! I was festooned with eager X-Factorites and had to begin (ten minutes early). It was clear, today I was not an entertainer, not an artist, merely a drawing machine!! I hated every second of the job and was glad when I had to swap floors towards the end, for the chance to meet up with SL and have a gossip in the last 30 minutes. SL is very obliging and easily railroaded, so I was not surprised to learn she was still finishing off upstairs. My time came to an end and I snuck out the back to the car park, knowing SL would be dealing with a sea of bullying faces on the floor above, for some time yet, from the goodness of her heart!  Bless her x I made my way, hot-foot to Leicester Marriott, to draw a group of delegates following an all day conference. I was booked for 5.30pm and made it just after 5.10pm. I enquired at reception and was told to wait in the Groves Bar for pre-dinner drinks at 6pm!! I was a little miffed, but made my way to the venue and waited in the dark bar… and waited… and waited… and waited. The staff began opening the bar around 6.15pm, by which time I was ready to go home (having been paid some weeks before).  No sign of my client or any delegates, though the foyer was buzzing with people, I had no idea who I was looking for and so remained in the designated bar, for my client to introduce herself. At 6.30pm, a few people wandered in from the foyer and loytered across the bar from me. I introduced myself and discovered these were my clients… “We decided not to have a bar tonight, you’ve been here over an hour then?” one woman said. With no hint of an apology, I was fuming, but bit my lip and simply whipped out my pad. The internal rage was good fuel for me and my drawings were on top form.  Suddenly the guests disappeared as 6.50pm hailed the serving of dinner, so I followed them to a dimly lit dining room.  I did my best to table hop and draw as many as possible in my remaining time and my performance went down well. However I was still in a fowl mood and had not been offered a drink, so decided to beat a hasty exit if possible. Unfortunately I proved very popular and so, though supposed to finish at 7.30pm, I stayed and drew until 8pm, when desserts were being eaten. Turned out to be a nice bunch, but I would’ve appreciated an apology and a drink!!!!!

November Two weeks without work. Oh well, time to optimise my website further. I’ve spent all week adding new images and 50+ pages to my Gallery pages. See my additional TV Times caricatures here. Gives me a chance to get together with my new lady and meet her children. Should be a challenge! Meet Lucy….

lovely Lucy

17/11/10 – PIG Vets

Today I had a double booking; daytime with Tesco in Wyboston (as per monthly) then later upto East Mids Airport Hilton to attend the annual Pib Veterinary Dinner… yes really! I was booked to start at 7pm, so I rushed straight from my previous booking, hotfoot to the hotel. I was shown to a foyer, where I was assured the Pig Vets would be congregating for drinks shortly.

Another empty foyer

It was an uninspiring prospect, but I settled down and waited…. At 6.45pm, a sudden flood of delegates, as the doors opened and the conference ended! The event organiser then told me the delegates would be getting changed and meeting in the bar at 8pm!  Once again I was resigned to watching the lights flicker for another hour of my wasted time.  I do wish clients would get the timings right; I had been on the road since 11am and it now looked like not getting home until at least 11pm, of course a food break would’ve been nice too.

21/11/10 – Power Kiting

Busy time for me, with my new lady and social life beckoning; Today I took a 3 hour Power-kite/Kite-buggying lesson at an airfield near Loughborough, with a few friends.

kite buggy

Much fun was had by all!

22/11/10 – Folkestone

Time to finish off my new tattoo, so I packed my lady, my suitcase and my Bepanthen cream and headed off to Folkestone. I’d pre-booked the usual fle-pit ‘Grand Burstin’ hotel for £49 a night (with free wine) and so was looking forward to a cheap few days away. We arrived after 4 hours on the road, to find 3 coach-loads of OAPs clogging up reception. Un-deterred, we asked for our key… only to be told they had double booked, but could offer us another room. We took the new key and headed to discover the room was a Twin-bed… so back we headed toward reception, to find an un-apologetic manager who offered us a double without sea view. I wasn’t messing around and so demanded a re-fund!

Un-repentant, we stormed out and headed to my favourite luxury B&B ‘The Relish’ which welcomed us with open arms! This set us back £100 per night, but was worth every penny. We unpacked and enjoyed our complimentary glass of wine and slice of cake, then headed into town to sample the delights of Paul’s Restaurant; Filet steak was mouth-watering and we retired content. Next morning we had a slap-up breakfast and took a quick walk on the beach, before I headed to my Tattooist. Once at the studio, we began the usual logger-heads over my tattoo design. Amanda (the artist) is very uncompromising, to say the least and has not bowed to a single one of my requests so far! Nothing changed and I decided to let her do her own thing on my arm…

The scratching begins…

I asked for a subtle flourish on my hand, she gave me a black blob, I asked  her to complete the outline on my entire arm, she ignored me and shaded the existing outline instead… After 5 hours of wrangling and being ignored, I must say I was (on the whole) pleased with her artwork

george's tattoo

She still has 1/2 an arm to fill yet, but at least I have some impressive beginnings to show off. That evening saw me polish off a Spanish Tapas, several pints of lager, a rum and a bottle of Prosecco in an attempt at ‘coming down’ after my adrenalin rush! Lucy and I had a fab time and made the long drive home the following morning.

03/12/10 – Nottingham Lighthouse Charity

The snow had fallen heavy and transport was looking increasingly dodgy, so I booked a train to Nottingham for my afternoon at a charity function. I was in good spirits and was promised food, so my day flew by, aided by a keen assistant ‘Nina’. It was her job to escort me, while collecting cash donations for her cause, tho she chose to make it her mission to get me drunk while flirting outrageously with me! LOL

I enjoyed my Christmas lunch and made myself as busy as possible, so to avoid Nina’s attentions. The punters were all very happy with my drawings and this made me happy too.

charity caricatures

Afte nearly 4 hours of entertaining, I was ready to head for my train once again, nicely relaxed and well pleased!  

06/12/10 – BT Tower!

With ice still upon us I decided to take a train to London tonight for an evening with BT execs at the BT Tower. The air was thick with frozen fog and the top of the tower was barely visible when I arrived.

BT Tower

On arrival I hopped in the lift and at a speed of 1400 feet per minute, I was soon at the 34th floor! I was greeted by my client, who showed me around the rotating restaurant and left me to prepare. I spotted a spiky haired individual in a bad suit, licking his fingers and ignoring me near the window, I assumed this was the Magician, so I introduced myself and made small talk regarding the view. No response. It was clear that this evening I would once again have to prove myself to all those attending, before I was given any measure of civility. The hours passed and the punters were late arriving, so the Magician was forced to reciprocate my conversation eventually; I was shown the venue he had attended the previous night, to entertain TV producers, then told he used to be a stunt man,  then he informed me he was working at Excel the following day, more TV execs for ITV… All very impressive I’m sure. He then produced some kinda palm-phone thang and pointed it outa the window, looking for a direction to Excel… ??!! I lost interest at this point.

View from BT Tower

The fog was lifting when the guests finally arrived and so we began our entertainment, thankfully to an appreciative audience. The time soon flew by and the restaurant began rotating during the meal… I felt distinctly wobbly!

The London Eye was visible… “Millennium Eye” as the Magician told me!

I was astounded at the prevelence of the ‘London Fugly Effect’ amongst the guests: extremely gorgeous wives with f**k ugly business-type husbands! I encounter this phenomenon each time I attend a business dinner in London, no idea why it happens, but the anecdotal evidence was in front of me. Time flew by and I was soon plummiting down the lift shaft towards the icy pavement outside. I bid my colleague ‘adieu’ only to discover him trundling along behind me with his phone in hand declaring we were heading south instead of north! He offered me a cab to Euston, which I politely declined and instead I ran, I took 136 steps at Goodge St, arrived sweating at the last train to Leicester.

28/12/10 – Manchester

Xmas was over but I had one more wedding to attend in 2010, Wilmslow, near Manchester. I had already been paid some weeks before and so was not looking forward to breaking my holidays to drive all that way, especially with my annual car problems! But I did…

I was fab…. they were not… zero sense of humor, even fewer manors. Not an enjoyable audience to please. Roll on 2011!!

30/12/10 – NYE @ Sandgate (Folkestone)

Drove my lady down to the south coast for NYE this year, at a swanky hotel overlooking the bay near Folkestone. My steering was still buckled however and so the car was a nightmare to handle for 200 miles. The view of the beach was awesome… or it would’ve been if it weren’t for the fog!! We enjoyed a locally caught meal and settled in for the night. We soon discovered nothing worked in the hotel; heating was jammed on HOT, 24/7 and the double bed collapsed after some ‘shunting’!

Hassles aside, we changed rooms and headed for the Mexican for our New Year’s Soiree. The restaurant was empty! So we made our way to the pebbled beach with bubbly in hand to enjoy the festivities. A few fire-works later and it was all over.

New Years day saw us on a long bike ride along the coast to Dymchurch, where we enjoyed a pic-nic including caviar Blinis!!

Blinis on the beach

Next day it was hot-foot back to work……

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Comments
  1. Nuff Inc. says:

    An excellent read. But it’s stopping me working. I’ll pick up me blinkin’ pencil and come back later….

  2. Jed Pascoe says:

    Your a/w looks ok to me, dude. And you and Lulu both looked very slick and professional.

  3. simonelli says:

    Looks like you were given a special drawing app for the job. I was just using the notebook app! Very difficult.

    • George says:

      No, was just the basic ‘SS Memo’ app, but we had more time to set defaults and learn how to use colour etc… You should see Luisa’s artwork, it was faultless!!

  4. Zach Trenholm says:

    Refreshingly candid sharing on the biz life of an event caricaturist George—very much the sort upfront honesty one finds only occasionally between fellow caricaturists, let alone sees published….

    Kudos to you & thanks for venting, er– sharing!

    Yers in countenances, Zach

    • George says:

      Thanks Zach. I’m well known for being painfully honest… This blog has lost me 2 agents and insulted one client so far, goodness knows what the rest of the carix fraternity think of me, but on the whole its been positive feedback so far!
      No harm in open debate, no groundless slanging matches here, just honest opinions on matters affecting fellow artists on the job. Glad you liked 🙂

      PS: I’ve lived and worked alone now for the last 3 years+…. hence the need to vent!!

  5. Your comments ring so true!

    Hannah

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