Carix’s Diary ’11 – 13

02/01/11 – Civil Partnership

Drove from Folkestone to Sutton Coldfield (250 miles) to attend a lesbian wedding, which made a nice change. The Brides were very relaxed and the party crowd in general were very open to some ridicule from my pens. I consumed my bodyweight in caffeine and soldiered on through the evening in a well heated marquee. Worth coming back for all-in-all.

27/01/11 – Mayfair One

Corporate evening in a fab swanky venue in central London. Gourmet  food bars; FREE,  Champagne and cocktail bar; FREE, beautiful jazz singer on the bar; FREE, Burlesque Dancing show; FREE, 3x excellent Caricaturists; FREE!

Jazz singer
Jazz entertainment was classy

This could’ve been a fantastic evening, if only the clients weren’t humorless, pompous, egotistical, conservative Property Agents!! I was working with fellow Carix Jed Pascoe and Sara-Louise and we were required to draw all 300 guests over a 4 hour period. But try as we did, we were consistently avoided, ignored and shunned by this herd of pompous, rude oafs.  To add to the lack of atmosphere, we were instructed to usher away the drawings to a dark corner, in order to mail the clients at a later date; we interrupted, we drew, we were shoo-ed away. Luckily we were paid some days ago Lol.

Mayfair One

The job was not an easy or happy one, but we gave it our all. To help us, the venue was lit mainly with Disco lazers and filled with dry smoke… JOY.

smokey venue

Luckily our promoter was easy going and allowed us regular breaks, free food and champagne. This helped. We all worked hard as we could, all things considered, but were constantly thwarted by customers turning their backs on us as we drew them. We battled on and found the most accomodating and friendly customers were the group of ‘Glamour Girls’ hired in to entertain the business-men. Much as we disapproved of the call-girls, they were great customers and helped to add some humanity to the evening Lol.

Property Moguls… out of their context? Lol

 

29/01/11 – Local 🙂

Corporate anniversary dinner tonight, in Shearsby Bath, 2 miles from home. This came as a great relief, after recent marathon journeys. It was a marquee gig and I was festooned with punters all night, so much so that the Director slipped me a few quid (30 minutes fee) to stay for an extra 45 minutes. I agreed but explained that I had but a few sheets of paper left and so had to leave by 10.30pm…. he asked how many, I foolishly sais “15 or so”… he counted out 15 people in the queue and promised them all a drawing!! I was then working for around £3.50 a head! 😦

The clock struck 10.35pm and it was time to go! The crowd grew ugly and started accosting me, demanding to be drawn and asking why I was ignoring them… I made a dash for it!

PHONECALL

Received a call today from the previous night’s client, thanking me for my efforts and telling me how popular I was. She then went on to invite me along to her company premises during the next week, in order to draw for a further 3 hours!! BARGAIN!

I love making clients happy. 😉

13/02/11 – Valentine’s Mass-a-carix

Its that time of year to gather the clans at our annual Caricaturists’ piss-up! This year I took it upon myself to send the invites out and make the effort. Simon & Sheba suggested a pub in Clapham Junction and the date was haggled over, but eventually Valentine’s weekend was chosen. I setup a FB page and made it easy for folks to co-ordinate before hand. A good turn out was promised and on the night a few extra guests turned up. Glad to say I met 2 Carix for the first time in 20 years; Helen and Picasso Griffiths. Wine was drank, food was eaten ond much chatter was heard.

A 'wunch' of caricaturists!
A ‘wunch’ of caricaturists!

16/02/11 – Tattoo, Folkestone

Had been saving all Xmas to get more artwork done on my right arm and thanks to a generous taxman this year, I had a few quid in my pocket! So off I went to Folkestone.  As is traditional (each winter), my car was off the road and awaiting repair, so the long journey had to be made on two wheels. I dusted off the Harley Davidson and donned my best waterproofs in readyness, then with a huge breath and gritted teeth I set off on the 200 mile ride. I arrived, soaked thru, at my destination, some 3-4 hours later and looked forward to my luxurious hotel suite…. riiiiiiight! The Britannia hotel was basic to say the least and I ended up dragging a bunk bed across to the tiny electric heater, in order to dry my gear. Nest day and I mooched around town, had breakfast and some sugar, then met with my tattooist Amanda once more…

tattoo george

After another 5 hours of pain and blood, my tattoo didn’t seem to have progressed any! Amanda is a fab artist and good tattooist, but she certainly takes her time… at one point she spent 35 minutes over-drawing lines which were already done some months before. She claimed to be a perfectionist, but I suspect she was just bored and trying to kill time!! After £750 I feel my arm should be 90% covered by now, don’t you?

Generally I was disappointed with this session and the next day I was smarting all the way home, partly from pain and partly from disappointment! My next visit will be May and my arm had better look like a masterpiece or I’ll want a refund!!

18/02/11 – CAR FIXED!!

After nearly 4 months of dodgy steering, knocking and whining wheels, I finally found a garage capable of fixing my Peugeot! Back on the road at last; if only they’d fixed the knocking and whining, I’d be even happier!

25/02/11 – Battle/Hastings

Drove all the way to Battle near Hastings for a wedding, decided to book a hotel as its 180 mile journey each way. I arrived early at my hotel and checked into my room, then made my way downstairs to the Italian Restaurant below. Once seated I soon realised it was ‘Kids Hour’ as I was surrounded by at least a dozrn screaming 5 year olds, running around the restaurant. I needed food, so undetterred I ordered calamari and pizza. Being children’s hour, the food had been toned down accordingly and was divoid of all herbs, spices or garlic! I endured the blandest Italian food I’ve ever eaten and headed to my wedding gig.

I arrived at the venue (middle of nowhere) and was left standing in the foyer for a good 15 minutes before barging into the speeches and installing myself at the bar. The Bride was a little tipsy already and so the groom explained how late they were running and suggested I wait in the lounge. 45 minutes later I started drawing guests and things were going well, a queue was developing and I enjoyed observing the guests. One in particular was sweating, while chomping wildely and glugging down water. I had observed the guest some 30 minutes before in the car park, doing dodgy deeds with his chums and so assumed he was under the influence of narcotics!

wedding raver
wedding raver!

His pupils were so dilated that I drew him with black eyes and watched him squirm with paranoia as I stared at him! Lol… Who takes drugs at a wedding for goodness sake??! Wedding over and I headed to my hotel, where I discovered no bar and so headed to the pub next door. I walked into a local Rock Disco/Karaoke, in my finest suit, to a wall of staring faces and whispers. I supped a pint and left in a hurry. I walked the high street looking for a decent bar, but settled on the only other pub instead. I walked in and was accosted by the Landlady, thinking I was a taxi driver!! Shortly afterwards the Police arrived also; this place just gets weirder! I gave up and headed to my hotel room for some sanctuary. In bed by 11.30pm, I was soon asleep. Suddenly I was awoken by the sound of a key in my door and sat up to see an old lady walking into my room in silhouette!! Was this real, was this a ghost? It was 1.30am and I was confused to say the least, so shouted “OI!”  The lady left and closed the door… spooky! I lay awake for an hour or so, wondering what was going on, then drifted into a sleep (not before barrackading my door with a suitcase). Sure enough, 6.30am and she was pushing her way into my room again! This time I fended her off and decided to get up and complain. I was nearly dressed when she let herself into my room a third time; this time I gave her a mouthful and told her to “GO AWAY!”  I made my way to the Manager to complain at 7am. He laughed and explained she was a ‘nutter’ just out of a home, then offered me breakfast.  I was un-amused and scoffed my food with haste before jumping in my car and hitting the road. It was a quiet saturday morning and I was home by 11am! Another place to avoid; Dudley, Dorking and now Battle!!  

16/03/11 – BORED!!!!!!!!

I was due to fly to Bahrain on 8th March to work at the F1 circuit, but following the unrest in the country, my booking was cancelled and I was grounded. Expecting to spend 5 days in the sun, I had turned away other bookings in March, assuming I would be well rewarded from Bahrain. This left me with just one wedding and two corporate gigs in March… not very good.

The month began with 3 wedding cancellations and that wasn’t the end of my bad news, as more couples found themselves redundant and re-examining their wedding budgets. I just wish people would return my contracts and deposits, instead of making me wait, while turning away enquiries in anticipation of what turns out to be another “can’t be arsed to book ya, can’t be arsed to cancel ya…” scenario. Ugh So here I am, twiddling my thumbs, no work, no money, crap weather! I decided it was time for a detox and diet; Cabbage Soup Diet it was.  I shared a long history with cabbage soup, after my days in Spain, trying to get into shape for the beach and sun. The diet is a week long abstenance from all things bad, concentrating solely on a vat of cabbage soup; no fat, no salt, no sugar, no caffeine, no starch, no alcohol, no dairy…. just cabbage soup!! It sounds awful and it is, but after just 7 days I’d lost 7-9lbs and my tummy was almost flat!  This was the boost I needed and soon I was hurtling though forests on my mountain bike, in the pursuit of fitness and shaving more pounds. Three weeks later and I’m still off dairy, bread and caffeine, cycling twice a week and hoping April finds me as a NEW MAN! Please god (En Shallah) let there be no more cancellations!!

19/03/11 – Busy weekend

Saturday began by me packing my car with banners and leaflets then making my way to St Martins in Leicester to exhibit at a wedding fayre. I always enjoy showing off at these events and meeting new contacts, as well as fellow performers. I spread myself across a prominent corner and waited for the influx of Brides… and waited and waited. Someone had forgotten to invite any Brides!!  The clock was ticking and soon I had to call it a day, heading for my car and the epic drive down to Southampton for a wedding.

3 hours later and I arrived in Ditcham, near Petersfield, where I snuck inside the wonderful venue; Tithe Barn, to aiwait my cue.

Tithe Barn

Again I waited and waited…. one hour later, the speeches finished and I began my entertaining. It was a nice evening and I was on good form. I had to call it a day at 8.45pm when my eyes began closing, it had been a long day and I was not obliged to stay any longer than 8.15pm. The drive home was hazardous!

20/03/11 – Wedding Exhibition

After 6 hours sleep I packed my car once again and headed to Kelmarsh Hall for an exhibition. Though bleary eyed, I managed to wow the crowds and gained interest from a steady flow of Brides. Worth getting up for on a sunday 🙂

29/03/11 – Bored!

Had an empty week last week, other than drawing actor Russell Tovey for a new TV sitcom “Him & Her”…

russell tovey

then a busy weekend (riding Rutland, riding the Harley, Cycle-Mass protest in Leicester, then Tattoo Convention and a meal) so this week started very slowly, with a major hangover on monday!! I decided to take my sorry ass to Cannock for some heavy mountain biking as a cure. It worked wonders 🙂

Tuesday saw me sat at my PC oncemore, looking for work and sketching Reece Shearsmith for a future project (more to come next week).

04/04/11 – Chattoon (Reece Shearsmith)

Today saw me driving to London to sketch comedy actor Reece Shearsmith (League of Gentlemen, Psychoville), during an interview for ‘Chattoon’, a pilot TV idea. On arrival we were ushered into the stage door entrance of the Novello Theatre and crammed into a tiny dressing room. The crew consisted of a Director, Producer, Camera-man, photographer, interviewer and me… 6 of us in a room for one!  I felt cramped to say the least and was worried that I might melt in the heat, but filming was soon underway and so was my sketching. Half an hour later and my drawing was presented to Reece, as we all filed out of the room and spewed onto the street outside. A job well done we thought!

reece shearsmith

10/04/11 – Brighton

My lady’s birthday and so I took her down to Brighton for a few days of fun, fish, chips and fizz.  I booked a ‘Morroccan’ Room in a boutique hotel and had bought tickets to see Marina Celeste, singing at Concorde…. but the gig was cancelled, so we made our own entertainment.

Lucy powerkiting
Lucy power-kiting on Brighton Beach

The sun was shining, the sky was blue and we enjoyed lobster and sea-food a-plenty! We found a cool tattooist and some wicked graffitti…

George in Brighton

A great time was had but all too soon it was back to reality and the deafening silence of my office…

20/04/11 – Wedding Cancelled

Today received a cancelled contract regarding a wedding on 1st May and whilst I am glad the Bride filled out the Cancellation slip, the only reason given was “Unforseen Circumstances”.  Leaving me with 11 days notice also meant I am due full payment (as per signed contract), but no cheque was enclosed. I politely emailed my client to remind her of the clause and ask for a cheque by return. No response. I followed this with a letter, again politely reminding her of her obligation to me. No response. I waited one week before sending a second email, again polite, but mentioning ‘further action unless payment was sent immediately’… two days later and I received this email: “Dear George, you will receive your money shortly. I do not wish to discuss the situation, but the wedding was actually cancelled  due to very tragic circumstances, and your pressure is not in any way helping me at present. Other contractors are not being so aggressive due to the circumstances….” I am stood up for payment regularly without excuse or reason, often with no resolution and so I treat all such contract breakers equally, tragedy or not. I was not aggressive, but could offer no sympathy, as no ‘tragedy’ was ever mentioned to me…. no excuse at all in fact! I wait to see if a cheque is forthcoming. If not then I shall bring a hanky to Court for her.

29/04/11 – So work begins…

An all day wedding… NOT the Royal one, but a very colourful mixed race wedding in StAlbans today, began my weekend marathon of work. After so many weeks of twiddling my thumbs, this was a shock to my system. As were the cerese pink table dressings and the neon light clad Indian drummer boys! Certainly blew some cobwebs away today!

St Michael's Mount
St Michael’s Mount in St Albans

Saturday saw me driving to Haymarket Race Course for a day of entertaining the NOBS and GENTRY at the Guineas Festival Races. I was working alongside my colleague Jed Pascoe and between us we were expected to entertain 18000 punters per day!! We were positioned near the Premier Entrance and left to it for 6 hours… Needless to say, with that many people flooding in, we struggled to get anyone’s attention. However we did our best to impress, with our best suits and hats!

George at the races
Spot On George looking like a Hack!
Jude Law?? Jed in the background too

We were forced out of the wind and into the bar areas, where we were swamped with Staf Parties and suited yobs, but at least they were happy to see us!

07/05/11 – Claridges

I was up early and groomed ready for a long day today; wedding at Claridges in London, then wedding at a Farm in Hertfordshire. Made my way first thing to London via car and tube, arriving at London’s swankiest hotel in a pale pink shirt, which had turned purple with sweat!! Damn those boiling tube trains. Luckily I was early and had 30 minutes to dry off and cool down.  The Toastmaster had it down like clockwork and I was in and out within 90 minutes, no sign of any celebs this time, just a young couple with fake tans and cleavage. I headed underground towards my car, still in best suit and sweaty shirt. One hour or so later and I was pootling down single track country lanes in search of a ‘Farm Retreat’…. An altogether different wedding. I parked up, unpacked and got stuck into the guests. All was going well apart from one annoying guest who insisted on being ‘Alpha Male’ by constantly criticizing my performance and making crass jokes over my shoulder. This I could handle. However, when he then loudly barracked my appearance, declaring that only criminals, ex-cons, hooligans and Japanese gangsters had tattoos, I was nearing my breaking point! Luckily I had focussed on a ‘Chandler Bing’ impersonator and exchanged sharp witticisms with him instead. I was glad to leave after a 12 hour day and more verbal abuse than one man deserves.

17/05/11 – TATTOO @Folkestone

Monday saw me pack my car and hit the road to Folkestone, for yet more tattoo-torture! After a 3+ hour drive I rolled into the Harbour and marveled at the site of my regular Grand Burstin Hotel… lined with OAP coaches outside and the smell of wee and fagsinside.  I checked in and headed to my room, which was on the 2nd floor and overlooked the front foyer, hence the stench of cigarettes coming from the gaggle of septuagenarian  smokers, all desperate to meet their maker! I closed the window and heald my breath… but then noticed my sofa had a brown skid-mark stain in the center of it!! That was my last straw and I demanded another room. I soon settled into my 4th floor accommodation and looked forward to my day of pain to follow at the hands of Folkestone’s finest Amanda Ruby. I treated myself to breakfast at Googies Cafe and ambled upto my Tattooist’s studio. At midday the doors swung open and I made my way inside. Customer care isn’t their strong point and I was made to wait until 12.40 before I was asked to lay on the flat-bed. I made some suggestions to Amanda, who was struggling to get her head around the cover-up of my existing artwork. “Only if I like your idea…” she barked at me.  I touted my suggestions and she slowly scrawled them onto my arm in felt-tip. She then cranked up her gun and stuck me at 1pm. She had decided to ignore my wishes to complete my lower arm piece and instead spent nearly 3 hours on yet another mandula (flower/center-piece) under my arm.

George's new tattoo

She surfaced to have a fag at 4pm and I hopped up to take a look at my artwork. I couldn’t believe it had taken all afternoon to finish one small piece. I bit my lip and laid back down for round 2, still gasping for a coffee or sandwich. The needles ripped and the clock ticked, but the hands were turning faster than the needles were moving, so at 5pm Amanda declared she was pooped after a busy weekend and wanted to stop! I pointed out that she had two small fills to finish then we’d call it a day, so she persevered until 5.40pm when she downed tools for the day.George's tattoo

The finished artwork was impressive as usual, but I’d booked in for a full day (12 – 7pm) in the hope of filling in and finishing a full arm piece, so one mandula that I couldn’t see wasn’t raising a smile. After a 400 mile round trip, a 2 months wait and a hotel bill to pay, I wasn’t about to pay the full fee and asked for a ‘half-day discount’. Amanda kindly offered me a £50 discount, which bought my total to £950 spent on my arm so far. After 4 sittings and 23 solid hours under her needle, I was beginning to wonder if I’d found the UK’s slowest tattooist?!?! I have another two day sessions booked in after which time I’ll be looking towards Brighton for my next arm-pieces methinks.

22/05/11 – Fawsley Hall

Attended a lovely wedding at stately Fawsley Hall, around 60 guests dining.  I made my way round a static audience, table-hopping at random, while avoiding the tables attended by the Magician. Standard practice is to spend maximum 10 minutes per table, then move on, rotating between entertainers. Unfortunately I was limited by the Magician’s insistence on remaining at one table for over 30 minutes! I made myself comfortable at a table with the Groom’s father and an assortment of mature ladies. After drawing the father of the Groom, I turned to the lady beside him and started drawing her, while scanning facial features to work out which side of the family she was from (a hobby).  I was stumped and asked if she was immediate family, to which she responded “I’m Stephen’s mother”… The Groom was named Guy and so I asked who Stephen was; “Stephen is the Father of the Groom’s partner” came the response!  I must say I would never have guessed that particular twist to the family dynamic. I blushed slightly at asking her to explain herself, then moved on. It was a jolly affair and rounded off my weekend nicely.

26/05/11  – Migraine

Unmotivated! Went to bed with a migraine last night and woke with my head still pounding and only partial sight today. I’m sat at my desk struggling to type and praying for motivation to get my day started. Four drawings to do and no will to do them. Oh well…..

03/06/11 – Busy/Disaster!

My day started with me packing my kite & buggy, then heading to an airfield to catch some air and have fun. I arrived at 11am and was bombing across the field until 3pm, when I had to pack up and make my way home, to prep for a gig near Stafford. I showered, got suited and booted then hit the road in scorching temperatures on the busy M6 across Brum. I was making good time and looked like arriving an hour early, which is when the troubles started; My car began playing up, with flashing lights and smoking engine, coupled with loud noises from under my bonnet. I knew I was just yards from my exit and so continued to my destination, hobbling noisily along. I pulled to a hault in the hotel car park in Acton Trussell (where?) and popped the hood to take a look. It appeared to be an alternator problem, which would need proper garage attention, so I called the RAC. I was on hold for 40 minutes when I finally spoke to an asshole, who claimed I was not on the RAC system and so could not help me!  I knew I had a membership card at home and so had to wait til the next morning for my girlfriend to retrieve my card and details.  I resigned myself to a night in the hotel and sat nursing my beers in a day-old suit all night. Next morning I began ringing round; first Lucy to get my card number, then RAC to shove it down their throats, then the Wedding Co-ordinator for my saturday wedding in Manchester (which I now would not make). RAC told me I hadn’t been a member for 2 years, but forgot to remind me… helpful! I was also told I would pay a premium for being a non-member and in a breakdown situation… so I told him to shove it!  Meanwhile the C0-ordinator was not happy with me and told me the bride was livid, as the DJ had also pulled out!! I offered to refund the deposit, but she insisted that I find a replacement, to avoid making her look bad also! ***Please bare in mind; this was the same bride who had cancelled one week earlier, due to a dead dog*** I hate letting clients down and so I spent the next 2 hours (while waiting for my lift) on the phone to various artists, local to Manchester, to fill my booking. I eventually got lucky with Mick Hollinworth, who happily hopped in his car and filled my shoes. I notified the Co-ordinator who was relieved. My wonderful girlfriend drove to my rescue, though suffering herself from a hangover and we were soon on the road home. That afternoon I joined the AA and one day my car will be recovered I hope. ***The bride had the gaul to send me a shirty e-mail, demanding her £75 deposit refund!

*** Hotel = £100 Lost fee = £340 AA recovery = £140 Car repair = £350 Look on Bride’s face when I tell her I can’t repay her deposit “cos my dog died” = £Priceless

09/06/11 – London City

My car had once again suffered a break-down and was currently languishing somewhere near Stafford and so I grabbed a train to my corporate gig in London. A pleasant enough journey in the Quiet Carriage, then a slow amble across town to EC2, where a gaggle of financiers awaited.

London City

The day was fine and the architecture was awesome, so I was set for a good evening. I arrived at the bar to find I was in a dark, private club, with zero lighting and even less space to draw. dark venue

I drew on regardless, ever the professional, until conditions became impossible, when I moved to an exit for lighting. The darkness made my drawings somewhat minimalistic and I was turning them out every couple of minutes!

dark caricature

This is what you get in total darkness!

12/06/11 – Visit

Today I took time to visit an old friend in Malmsbury, now with his family of 3 children and a very settled life in the Cotswolds.  During conversation he mentioned a local artist who had visited his sons’ school (Bath)  and drawn everyone there. Apparently parents were asked to contribute £4.50 towards each drawing and this was the result…

crap_caricatureI was gobsmacked at the appalling quality of the drawing and asked if they knew the artist’s name. He draws for BEANO apparently… “Kev F Sutherland”!!  I hold no love for Mr Sutherland following my attendance at a Comics Convention, where he set-up nearby my stand, offering FREE caricatures, the only cost being a massage of his ego. This ruined my trade for the weekend and I have never forgiven him for that. So to find the mighty ‘Kev F’ resorting to drawing school children… for a pittance, made me smile a great deal.

28/06/11 – Norfolk

Time for a few days holiday, so I packed mt tent, duvet and kite buggy in my car and headed to Wells-next-the-sea with Lucy. The rain began as soon as we hit the A47 and didn’t stop until I stopped to pitch my tent…

We made the most of our time, with the world’s best FISH & CHIPS then a night in the tent. We awoke next day to brilliant sunshine and winds of 10mph+, so I took my kites onto the beach, looking forward to riding my buggy… only to find a sign welcoming local sailing club members, wind surfers, water-skiers, swimmers, horse-riders and dog walkers… but NO KIT BUGGIES!! I hate conservative twats who manage to suck the life out of a potentially vibrant beach. Instead we walked along the deserted beach, dodging the horse-riders and flying my kite in the dunes.

Lucy and I braved a swim in the sea too and made the most of our sunny day together. The campsite was very civilized and peaceful, so after a day and a half of relative relaxation, we packed our kit and headed back to rainy Leicester and the prospect of 3 more days on the road!

Clunk.. Grind… Creak!

My car made it happily back to Leicester, where it decided to throw a CV joint and give up steering!! I clunked my way across the city, with limited steering and dropped in at Rick’s Autos; my reliable low budget car cow-boys!  I had 500 miles to drive the next day and panicked at the thought of letting down 3 weddings, due to lack of transport! My lovely lady offered me her car, but luckily one hour and £80 later, my car was once again road worthy! Arriving home I was greeted by a message telling me my hotel for the weekend was full and so I had to re-book my ferry tickets and hotel the next day!

01/07/11 – Marathon pt1 – Gloucester

Having fixed the car and re-packed my bags for my next three day marathon of weddings the night before, I sat at my PC searching for affordable hotels and ferries for my trip to the Isle of Wight… with just 30 minutes to spare. Having chosen an Etap in Southampton and a same day return (as opposed to a night of luxury in Cowes), I headed off to Nailsworth in Gloucester for my first wedding gig. This was an early one, on the lawns of a quaint Cotswold Mill and I managed to finish by 3.30pm, only to realise (in my haste) I hadn’t packed enough plastic sleeves for all 3 weddings… so off I drove into Gloucester to find a Staples to re-stock. Thank god for my new Garmin Satnav, which found one easily. Re-stocked and I headed to my friends’ house in Malmsbury, to relax and catch up over a drink…. turns out we were obliged to attend a school fete that night! I trotted along to see all the conservative parents, with their chinos and well behaved kids, discussing politics and ‘Polly’s new school’ etc. I was settling into an evening of poker-faced mundanity, when the Headmaster announced the ‘Malmsbury Tribal Belly-Dancers’ were about to perform! My ears pricked up and I was amazed to see two scantily clad young ladies perform some new-age, boddy-popping and belly dancing in a Burlesque style, to an audience of bemused children and smurking fathers!!

My evening was looking better and I retired (on a sofa-bed) with a smile that evening, after several glasses of wine with my friends Nick & Erica (& family).

02/07/11 – Marathon pt2 – Isle of Wight

I woke on a small sofa-bed with a badly stiff neck to the smell of bacon downstairs. I had an hour to chill with breakfast before I was due to head to Southampton to my next gig. A short Ferry ride later and I was on the Isle of Wight for a very sunny wedding at Osborne House. The venue was incredible, with austentacious gardens and a stunning view of the bay of Cowes.Osborne House

Osborne House IOW

The wedding itself was in a tent! Fab couple though and I had been booked all day including a meal. The only problem was my now spasming neck, which needed constant pain relief! Six hours later and I was heading back to the Ferry port, to await the last boat of the day back to a cheap hotel in Southampton. I must say; the Etap hotel (tho very cheap & simple) was perfectly good and I had a restful night.

July Marathon

I worked a further 11 bookings throughout July, too numerous to mention, but details of the weddings can be found HERE

BRITISH WOMEN’S OPEN GOLF TOURNAMENT

I got the call to travel to Scotland to entertain at a golf thang, not really my scene and a very long way to go. Hence I tried to over-price my fee and pass it along to a colleague. The client however (Ricoh) was adamant that they wanted me at any cost! So my flights were booked, as was my room at the Carnoustie Golf Club Hotel and courtesy cars to ferry me to and from the airport. How could I refuse?

Glamis Castle

So I flew upto Dundee on the early morning flight on 27th July and was whisked away to a glorious room, overlooking the first tee. I managed to grab 3 hours sleep before I was suited & booted and waiting for my car to Glamis Castle for the evening’s reception. I was to draw for 2 hours in the most glorious surroundings, the childhood home of Queen Mother. For full details, click HERE …

01/10/11 – Shifnal

Having been in Folkestone for 2 days for more tattoo-work, I headed back to Leicester on my Harley at 9am, then changed into my suit and hot footed it to Shifnal (Telford) for a 3 hour wedding. I arrived to find the wedding party were eating starters; which meant they were an hour behind schedule and after a 300 mile journey and 5 hours travelling in order to make it on time for 5pm, I was not amused! I decided to put on a smile, down a Red Bull and make a start by drawing the head table during the meal. Everyone seemed happy for me not to wait until after and so I ploughed ahead.

Bridal caricature

Groom caricature

I drew when I could then took a break during eating time, until 6.30pm, when I was rudely interrupted by the hotel manager announcing speeches. I politely put my pen down and moved from the center of the room to a glass of Coke at the back of the hall. I sat and supped for 40 minutes, while the speeches went on (2 Best Men)! Until just after 7.10pm when a round of applause marked the time for my next set; I entered the hall to see not a soul remaining….

The guests (mainly overseas, Ireland & Australia) had all retired to their rooms in the hotel and I was left twiddling my thumbs for the next 45 minutes. I do wish couples would listen to my advice when it comes to timing. It was towards 8pm that I began to worry, as I had not yet been paid and finding the Bride & Groom would be a task in itself. Luckily the couple showed up at 7.55pm and I was thanked with a cash hand-shake. My time over, I made my exit towards my car and the drive home once-more.

27/10/11 – Samsung at Battersea

I received a last minute enquiry to draw on a mobile phone at Battersea in October. I gave the client a quote based on 2 hours. A week or so passed without word, then the client revealed my brief; the official Samsung Galaxy Note launch at Battersea, 5 hours onsite for half the fee I quoted.  I shook my head and explained my costs to attend would outweigh the fee! The client then offered cash on the day, which was very appealing with a long trip to Abu Dhabi (with empty pockets) looming and so I accepted the terms and thought of the kudos from such an event. I decided the train would be easiest if I booked in advance and so invested in a ticket, £46. The client was clearly prone to changes of brief; Change 1– Client then decided all artists (4 of us) should attend a Training and Orientation day on site before the event. I saw more expense, but the client offered to pay for the day and accomodation, so I went with the flow.  I changed my train ticket, arriving the previous day, £32. The client agreed to pay for this ticket. Realising that an overnight stay would mean 28 hours of thumb twiddling in London, I decided to drive to the training day and back at a cost of £30. I arrived to find Rick Coleman, Steve Hearn and the lovely Luisa Calvo languishing in a winnebago!

Luisa Clavo in Winnebago

We were handed the new phones and given a couple of hours to acquaint ourselves with the new software and hardware. It became apparent that the tiny 5″ screens were gonna be a pain to try and work on, but Luisa was already producing masterpieces, while others scrawled. We were sent home to practice on our new toys, after a hearty cottage pie and peas.

Change 2– The client emailed us to ask if we could spend some time producing colour caricatures on the phone, for display the next day. I pointed out that a 5″ image would not look so impressive on a big screen and duly retired for some sleep. The next day I decided to use my old train ticket and hopped on the direct train to London, all clad in my new black trousers and white shirt (uniform – £60), with black leather jacket and trilby, feeling swish. We all met up at Vauxhall and had a coffee and a chat, pre-gig, then headed to Battersea, which was looking mighty impressive at night.

Battersea at night

Change 3 – We were told our services would not be needed until 8pm, after arriving for a 6pm start, so we were all ushered into our winnebago once again and sat waiting for the next 2 hours. Our nerves were beginning to show. We were all resplendant in our black & white outfits, except Steve Hearn, who seemed to have missed the ‘black & white’ brief  LOL.  Steve then proudly told the tale of when he was kicked out of a Police event that he was working, for joking that “London had too many Blacks”!!  My jaw was on the floor and frankly I didn’t know how to take this confession!

George & Luisa

Luisa Battersea

Change 4– Mr Samsung decided we should be choreographed to walk from the stage to our seats and easels, instead of revealing us sat. So we were ushered back stage during the presentation and did the show-biz walk to our stations, though the crowd didn’t care, as they hurried past us for cigarettes outside! We all sat and began sweating profusely as we began to scrawl on our tiny glass screened tablets. We each were given a stunt double (be-hutch) to look after us and to hand us a new phone after each sketch was finished, to maintain the flow of custom. The first hour flew and we were all keeping time rather well, though results varied. I’m not proud to say, but my artwork was far from my finest, as I struggled to get to grips with such a small, slippery medium. With no calligraphy, no layers and a tiny stylus, I simply could not produce the kind of artwork the client was expecting. I looked in on the others and they were all doing remarkably well, Luisa in particular was shining on her new Samsung.

Samsung Caricature

Samsung Caricature

Samsung Caricature

Samsung Caricaturist George

The evening came to a close and I headed off towards Vauxhall station. I was paid in cash on my way out, which came in handy as when I came to collect my pre-paid return ticket at St Pancras, I realised I had paid for it with a credit card, which I didn’t have with me… so had to buy a new ticket for £50!!!  All-in-all it was a very expensive experience for me and one that I would not wish to repeat in a hurry. It was good to see my colleagues and I got to work with Steve Hearn at last and hear his tales of Florida, Vegas and his friends in the USA. Thanks you Samsung, but the Galaxy phone really isn’t the tool for me.

02 – 15/11/11 – Abu Dhabi & Dubai

Please visit my UAE page for details of my two weeks in Dubai with retail caricaturist ANON, though since publishing ANON has chosen to fall out with me, so no longer has my friendship or respect.

22/11/11 – Streetsweeper’s Ball

Its that time of year again when the UK caricaturists get together and chew the fat. This time I chose November, as it was my 20th Anniversary in the Carix business! I set up a FB page and invited some 23+ Artists and spouses to attend the festivities. As the weeks went by, the RSVPs were few and many of my closest friends declined attendance. The conomy has hit us all hard and many are struggling with petrol costs, so this was understandable, however, I couldn’t mask my disappointment. I was spending £200+ to be in a room with people who on the whole could not be bothered to leave London, but I grinned and hoped for the best. I made the journey with Lucy and decided to book a hotel room near Vauxhall, from where we could go shopping in London beforehand. We both bought new shoes from Camden, a pair that IO had been lusting after for 10 years or more…

We returned to the hotel and opened our cases, reaching for new clothes to change into for the evening. My case was empty! I’d dragged an empty case across London, having forgotten to pack in my rush. D’oh! Sweaty T-shirt it was then, at least I had my new boots 🙂 We headed to the pub to discover Rick Coleman was first to arrive, we were soon joined by Helen Pointer and others, so we made our way upstairs to a private room.  I was very pleased when the new lads turned up; Mike Carlon and Wayne Savage, who made their way from far afield. As the evening wore on, more arrivals; Paul Baker, Matt Lawrence and Guy Carter showed their faces and soon my smile had returned, as I realised what a bumper turnout we’d had after all!

caricaturists
A Giggle of Caricaturists
Matt, Paul & Sheba
Matt drew Mike

The newbies had brought pads & pens, so the drawing flowed. We worked both Mike and Wayne hard, while the Elders told tall tales and spoke wise words…

For wee Paul, the excitement was too much!

Much fun was had by all and my faith in Caricature-kind was restored once more. Until next year my friends 😉 X

29/11/11 – New DUBAI Website

Just finished tinkering with my new Dubai specific website, aimed at customers in the UAE. It seems there are no good caricaturists over there, so UK talent is regularly flown over. This is my local competition…

Crap caricatures

Any guesses who they are?…. Ben Affleck and “Barack Obamat” apparently! Looks like they need an influx of talent to me. My new site is www.caricaturist-dubai.com   and is not yet finished, but already generating interest. Fingers crossed.

10/12/11 – Doncaster

Was offered a last minute gig by colleague John Roberts, Xmas bash in Doncaster. I’d normally pass this onto Mick H, as he’s a Leeds man, but he’s recently lost all pass-on privileges, so I took the gig myself and bit the bullet. Doncaster is a bit of a drive for me, but its the WMC at the end of it that fills me with dread. These clubs can be harsh to say the least, but I’ll be happy to deal with real folks, rather than the stuffed shirts in London, who proclaim “I suppose its amusing in a way!” after each drawing, before binning it! Suit and boots… perhaps my new steel toe-caps this evening methinks 😉

The venue was a big hall, with only a handful of lorry drivers in attendance, all necking Pernod & black, before hopping a taxi to a nightclub! The punters stank of stale booze, fags and one or two whiffed of weed!! Took me back to my early days LOL. What a night!

13/12/11 – EC1

Tonight saw me hopping on a train for central London, to entertain a wunch of Bankers! The venue was packed full of suits and braces, with the usual scattering of high paid eye candy for the lusty gents. I must say I enjoyed the evening and relished drawing the stiff, smarmy haired oafs.

15/12/11 – Ricoh Arena

Coventry booking for E-On, 500 electric meter readers in a stadium… they ate me for breakfast! I had endless tables of people yelling “Oi, Mr Drawer… You ain’t done us yet!”

Three hours of relentless drawing later and I headed to the dark, icey car park, only to hear (from a huddle of smoking yoofs) “You the Drawer Bloke? Draw me!”… I smiled and walked on!!

16/12/11 – Coventry 

Tonight I pulled up at the doors to the Bedworth Ex-Servicemen’s Club, to see bright lights of the fruit machines inside and a hoard of smoking ex-teddy boys outside. This evening was a Venetian Theme night and so I had donned a silver suit, black & white Spats, flared shirt and Venetian mask… I could see me getting a kicking tonight!!  The venue inside was close to darkness and this, coupled with my inhibiting mask, caused me many visibility issues.

dark venue

dapper George

I made my way round the tables, mostly packed with ladies, donning the strangest hairstyles, more suitable for a 17 year old punk than the throng of 50+ ladies they were. I struggled with my mask, also with my new paper on my heavy clip-board and new heavy plastic sleeves; all giving my shoulder severe RSI twinges. I wasn’t having fun.

caricatured punters

I beavered away, tho the music was too loud to make witty conversation and soon enough the smoke machines kicked in, the remaining lights were extinguished and it was time to go. I pride myself on my crowd control and rashoning techniques, ensuring a fair mix of guests are drawn. I had already explained to my guests that I had time for 4.. 3.. 2.. 1 more drawing before leaving, but they insisted on shouting at me for not including them in the 50 or so faces already drawn. I hate getting abuse before I leave a venue, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Not my best night this season.

18/12/11 – Late Night in Leicester

My last Xmas party of the season was a local John Lewis booking at the Grand Hotel, Leicester. Fab venue and really nice bunch.

Mercure Grand Leicester

I had been booked for a 5 hour stint, with an hour for eating my free Xmas meal. I had been out drinking the previous night and was not the sharpest button, so it was looking like a nightmare gig. However, my host was a lovely, smiley lady, who was chatty and positive, which really helped my frame of mind. Coupled with my new boots and dapper suit, I was feeling OK…

Spot On George

Soon I had rattled through the first hour and was table-hopping until main course was served. I retired to the main bar and awaited my meal… and waited… and waited. My host was good enough to chase up my food, which came eventually, but only after the guests had dined, leaving me at the mercy of bored punters in the bar; “Are you busy, can ya draw me?” came the cries, as I lifted a fork-full of turkey to my mouth… Some people just don’t get the hint! I finished my turkey, then profiteroles and set my table up for a static spot and waited for the queue… and they came.

caricature

caricature

caricature

Much fun was had and I stayed the course, thanks to 2 Redbulls and a Pro-Plus tablet! Home to bed around midnight, ready for a busy monday.

22/12/11 – Wedding – Braintree

Last wedding before Xmas and I was hoping for an easy night, the venue was Hedingham Castle and a well lit marquee, but the wedding was running late. I was looking at a 9.30pm finish and a long drive home, so decided to stay overnight at my brother’s house near Stansted.

Hedingham Castle

A pleasant enough event, but I was glad to be heading home, with Xmas in mind.

Xmas 2011 Christmas day was was spent with my partner Lucy and her two daughters, I cooked traditional roast dinner for us and we relaxed for a while, before the kids were whisked away by family and friends.

30/12/11 – Wedding Newarke

A quick drive to Newarke for the last wedding of the year, before heading down south to Southampton and a ferry for…

Cowes – 30/12 – 02/01/12

Took Lucy and her youngest, Finn, on the ferry across to the Isle of Wight for a few days R&R in a fishing cottage on Cowes.

matching kilts
My new kilt!

Young Finn loved all the fancy dress on New Year’s Eve, though we had to smuggle her to the back of the pub, as under 18s wren’t allowed… How rubbish for kids on NYE??!!

02/01/12 – Surrey

Hopped the ferry back across to Southampton, then headed up M3 towards Chobham, Surrey for a gig. When I arrived at the restaurant it looked dead, so I went in to investigate. It was the smallest restaurant I had ever worked in and I was struggling to stand upright in most rooms!

giant George

Giant Georgie!

This was going to be a challenge. Soon enough the punters arrived and what was a dimly lit room became a dark, claustrophobic corner, shrouded by shadows and over-heated by the log fire! I was suffereing!

However, I battled on and managed some minimalistic masterpieces in the dark of my corner…

The guests were overjoyed and the client wanted me to stay longer, but with Lucy & Finn waiting in my car, I had to head home, on the last 120 miles of my journey!

13/01/12 – Matlock

I drove to Rowley near Matlock for an evening wedding gig, expecting 150 guests in a marquee… On arrival I dsicovered the wedding was small, with just 27 guests, all in the bar and lounge. So I set about entertaining my guests, as their only distraction for the evening and was received with warm smiles and laughter. What a pleasant evening! The bride (Sharon) was particularly impressed and would not let go of her caricature portrait all evening. After chatting about my famous clients and my TV appearances, the happy couple insisted on having their photo taken alongside me. How flattering.

wedding photo

wedding caricatures

wedding caricature

wedding caricatures

16/01/12 – CANCELLATION

My February was already looking bleak, with only two gigs booked in (both on 18th) when one of them emailed cancellation. Joy 😦

21/01/12 – Manchester

The Place, Manchester

Drove to central Manchester for a wedding in a swanky hotel ‘The Place’ with 100+ guests. I drew before the ceremony, then again after, before the meal. Have to say, I didn’t manage to raise a chuckle and most were more baffled by the drawings than amused! It was a long drive and I had no food or drink, so was a little light headed by the time I left and headed to Stoke for my next gig.

Stoke – Oscars Night My second gig was a 40th birthday party in a hotel, themed for Oscars night (Hollywood). I was working alongside some fantastic lookalikes, including Inspector Clusoe, Charlie Chaplin and Cap’n Jack Sparrow!

lookalikes

As the night went on I realised that Stoke housed some of the roughest looking men I’ve ever seen in bow-ties! They made for great caricatures though and the fake tans were hilarious. All-in-all I got a much better reception than the first booking and enjoyed myself much more; hence the drawings flowed much more easily…

caricature

caricature

fake tan caricature

24/01/12 – Tattoo…..

Off to Folkestone to see my tattooist again, booked 5 hours on the tattoo couch to finish my right sleeve (hopefully). I can ill-afford it, but she is a popular tattooist and to cancel now would be foolish and lead to a long wait for a next appointment. I booked my Best Western for £36 per night and headed for the seaside.  Gotta say I still love Folkestone, with its live music and quirky Artists’ Quarter, so looking forward to the visit. Amanda recently moved to a new studio in the Atists’ Quarter and I was looking forward to seeing the new space. It was a clean little white room in a shared block, off a cobbled street, which Amanda tells me costs just £200 pcm all included!! I can see scope for a new studio there myself!

Amanda tattoo

Amanda set about adding a fine dot-work, net-like pattern behind the bulk of my design, to fill the spaces with a subtle water-colour web. I have to say though, after 5 hours I was black & blue, with no subtlety in sight!!

tattoo

After a total of around 40 hours needle-work, Amanda downed her gun and I was done… Actually not, as I had more shading to finish, but had booked no more appointments, so this was my last visit to Amanda, for the time being. I was un-impressed at the bruised blue mess on my arm and could only wish for a calmer, less black end result. Stay posted for later photos, once the healing is done.

28/01/12 – CANCELLATION!

I was preparing for my last booking for a few weeks, a wedding down near Bath, looking forward to £420 cash to tide me over the next few weeks. I dug out the contract and realised that no deposit had been paid and no contract had been signed. The booking had been taken (last minute) just two weeks ago and often the paperwork gets lost in the mail before the date arrives, so I didn’t panic. I was slack not to have checked a few days before, but none-the-less I was confident of the booking, as the client had been quite enthusiastic in their e-mails, confirming the gig.  As it was a long drive (200 mile round) I decided it best to check with the venue, so I called the hotel and left a message for the Wedding Co-ordinator. An hour passed and I was slipping on my suit jacket when I called them a second time and left message.  I was ready to jump into my car when I realised I had not heard back and so called a third time. The Co-ordinator then explained that the groom no longer required my services and had infact hired someone else!!

THANKS FOR THE NOTICE!!! An email is not hard to write after all. I have written clearly across my contracts ” NON RETURN OF CONTRACTS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AS CANCELLATION, SEE REVERSE TO CANCEL” but clearly some people don’t have the manners they were born with or perhaps cannot read. Either way, I am now left flat broke, with a very sparse month ahead. Joy 😦

February – Downtime…

The month began with me finding things to occupy my time, doodling movie posters and caricatures for friends, which turned out quite well.

Robin ‘Crazy’ Crowley

Just as I was settling into a boring month, I had a few exciting calls; WOWCHER wanted to offer cut price caricatures and use me as their artist, then SAMSUNG required a team of artists to follow the Olympic Flag around the UK, as digital entertainers! Wow!  Suddenly I was busy finding artists to hellp with 600 drawings for Wowcher, then a team of artists to work 66 days in a row, all over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Whilst I hate the idea of mass-marketing cheap-as-chips caricatures to the nation, I managed to get a decent price of £10 per head and decided to farm the work out to a colleague who was used to mass studio work and had recently lost his post at a theme park, so was in need of pin-money. I setup my new email address and Inbox, plus a Wowcher button on my site and waited for the offer to go live! That should fill up my February.

The client for Samsung required an artist to work cheaply, from their tour bus, for 66 nights in a row!! This was unlikely to happen as most had previous commitments, so I contacted a network of Carix and put the dates to them. Two days were spent on a spread sheet, displaying availability and areas covered, which was then emailed to the client. Luckily I have weddings booked every saturday through summer, but this meant I could not offer my services for the tour bus. I was happy to recommend my friends however and the client appreciated my effort, so fingers crossed that they like my proposal. The client had been researching far & wide however and so there is a real chance that one of the BIG 3 Supermarket Agents will pick up the work and farm it out to a struggling newbie for peanuts! We shall see 😉

Meanwhile, my month trudges on, without cash, without inspiration. My colleagues have all been hired to work on Samsungs at a London shopping center, which I appear to have missed out on. £500 a day woulda been handy I must say, but them’s the breaks. I have no lack of enquiries coming in but my inbox is also suffering from a deluge of abusive messages from a former colleague who has developed a grudge against me, which does nothing for my positivity, but I try to remember it is HIS problem, not mine. Onwards and upwards for me.

10/02/12 – EUREKA!

Just had a fabulous business idea, I’ve secured the FB page, 3 domain names and just building some link buttons for it… watch this space!  Applied for a Trademark, still waiting to hear about that, very excited!

14/02/12 – WOWCHER!

The Wowcher discount offer started today, slow start but I’m happy to avoid a rush. Three days later and I’ve sold 176 vouchers, so just waiting to receive all the emails now. I’ve asked a colleague (Mike Carlon) to help out, as the thought of all those emails and photos, waiting on a 3 week deadline, was driving me crazy. Will start drawing them next week I guess.

18/02/12 – Wedding Rowton Castle

Wet day for a wedding and my head is throbbing from a touch of ‘Man-Flu’ so the drive across the Welsh borders was looking hard to me. I felt like death and hadn’t eaten or slept for days, so my hands were shaking and my eyes were bleary, but work is work and I must not disappoint.  Rowton is a picturesque mini-castle and I always love seeing it with the Welsh mountains beyond, reminds me of fun times riding nearby. The couple were lovely and the guests were appreciative, which helped, as I limped through the day.

wedding caricatures

wedding caricature

I had to stop my hands shaking and so stole some shortbread biscuits for a quick sugar burst. It worked and the second half flew by. I was exhausted by the time I got back to my car to begin the 100 mile drive home, but was glad to be back at work, after a few weeks of hibernating at home.

PHONE CUT OFF!

The lack of work and regular wage has taken its second toll; my 0845 number was suspended! No wonder I am losing work, if the phone isn’t working. My few bookings in February had already paid and I am not looking at a wage now until end of March, so it’ll have to stay cut-off I’m afraid.

01/03/12 – Dorchester

This evening I drove to central London with my colleague Jed Pascoe, to attend a swanky awards ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel. It was a late starter at 10.30pm, after the awards ceremony, but timings were running late when we arrived. Clare Balding was in full swing on stage, with a video presentation of awards. We waited in the lobby/bar area…. and waited…. until at 11pm the doors flung open and the penguin suited hoards flooded out for a glass of Champagne.

dorchester caricatures

dorchester caricatures

dorchester caricatures

The punters seemed to love us and I even made a tip; One punter turned around to show me his behind (best side) and so I quipped “Thats another £1 towards my yacht please!” then continued drawing. On completion the guest handed me £2, so I joked “I’ll make it an extra long yacht now!”… to which he replied “You only asked for a Quid!!”. My next client slipped a £20 in my hand on completion, to make up for the previous embarrassment. Nice man!

The evening went quickly and at 12.30am we headed for my car and where stopped by one guests demanding a last drawing… so at 12.40am we headed down Park Lane towards the car, then headed home, via Bedford. I made my door by 3am, then took an hour to unwind before bed at 4am… Zzzzzzzzzz

03/03/12 – Samsung, Bullring

I picked up two days work in the Birmingham Bullring, drawing for Samsung on the Galaxy Note. My first introduction to the device ended with me cursing it and swearing to never touch one again…. but money talks and I would NOT be beaten by technology! Saturday was an early start; up at 5.50am, to catch the 7am train to Brum, ready to start for 9am. I was understandable bleary eyed and dismayed to find no toilets were open at the center when I arrived at 8.15am!

My fellow artists arrived and we soon had to plug in our phones and start drawing the screaming babies in the queue. One thing I like about my job is the control element, unfortunately this does not exist when it comes to ‘Retail Jobs’ where a queue of impatient people demand drawing, you cannot choose who you draw and who you don’t. I sat through baby after baby, each as bland and un-co-operative as the next!

Samsung team

The phone itself, is undoubtedly a funky gadget, lusted after by many… but as a tablet, it lacks! The screen is tiny, the stylus unresponsive, it has a basic drawing package without layers or pressure sensitivity and is impossible to hold whilst drawing, without pressing one of the many buttons round the edge, prompting ‘Volume increase’ or ‘Auto-save’ or simply turning the phone off!! Couple this with the fact your hand is hovering without a surface to lean on, the phone has two cables hanging heavily beside your leg, not to mention  the phone’s quirky processor glitches (delay in line drawing, mis-aligned pen tip, line auto-refresh while drawing) and it becomes a working nightmare!!  At several points I was prepared to un-plug and walk away from the job, but the punters seemed happy, so maybe I was being unduly harsh on myself?!

Samsung caricatures

Samsung caricatures

Finally, as I was giving up on hope, I was thrown a few juicy faces to draw and found I was much happier.

Samsung caricatures

Samsung caricatures

I was a little happier by the end of my two days drawing, but still cannot say I have conquered it. Other artists like Luisa Calvo and Matt Lawrence are already fluent on the Note, producing enviable artwork on the difficult medium, but their technique is better suited to small, precise illustrations, where mine is suited to grand sweeping lines. I take my hat off to them, but have given up trying to emulate their success and merely accept my place at the bottom of the Samsung team. I can see the appeal of the Samsung Galaxy, it is very funky and I dare say I shall draw with it again, but it causes me great frustration and anguish!

06/03/12 – DIVORCE!!

Had an email today from my wife, who now lives in South Africa, having fled the UK, with £30,000 of my equity and leaving a trail of debt and re-possessed houses, some 5 years ago. She tells me I am now officially divorced! WOW…..  Was expecting jubilation, as this woman had caused me many years of hardship and hurt, but instead I feel strangely sad. The divorce was originally my choice and I spent 3 years and chasing her for it, but it still came as a blow. No apology, no financial compensation, just an email. Then the cheeky B**ch asked if I could parcel her furniture and freight it over to Cape Town!!  I am speechless today for so many reasons.

10/03/12 – Samsung @ Lakeside

Late shift at Lakeside shopping center tonight, a 2 hour drive south, to an Essex Mall of chavs! Wasn’t looking forward to it, but as I settled into my first drawing, something seemed to ‘click’… I gave up worrying about being as technically good as Matt Lawrence or Luisa Calvo and instead just did my best.  I was cruising through the faces and actually began enjoying the results; the punters seemed to like them too, so I was happy at last!

Samsung caricatures

Samsung caricatures

Samsung caricatures

I went home feeling happy, just to discover this was the last Samsung gig for the foreseeable future… D’OH!!!

13/03/12 – D’OH!

Was wallowing in woe, without an enquiry or booking to my name, wondering how I would pay my Mortgage in March… When a client for Samsung emailed, asking about an Olympic project. Can’t say much, but it would involve a lot of Samsung work for a lot of artists!! To top that I had two enquiries for dates in Dubai during April and a London digital conference. Things may be looking up, though I don’t expect all to come to fruition. Fingers crossed!

22/03/12 – Decree Absolut

Finally received an email with a photocopied piece of paper, which declared my marriage ‘dissolved’…. I celebrated that night with a garden incinerator, the last reminders of Anne-Marie Bodal and a bottle of champagne. Liberated at last!!

24/03/12 – Dudley

A colleague (Glynn Edwards) very kindly passed me a booking on for a corporate gig in Dudley, working with him and Geoff Tristran. I gotta say I don’t like working Dudley in general, but the promise of a large, posh dinner event sounded good. I turned up at the venue, to see a 1970’s Variety Club style building, with photos of Little & Large, Bernard Manning and Les Dennis on the walls. This was going to be a cheesy night! We were three caricaturists, accompanied by 3 Magicians, all ready to entertain 250 dining guests. Unfortunately the dining room was laid out in rows, which made it impossible to work during the serving of food or when guests needed the loo… so half the evening was spent standing in the wings, waiting for the aisles to clear!! To top it all, the venue was swaying to the piped sounds of The Carpenters… ALL EVENING!!

Grumpy Boss, in the center…

We did our best under the circumstances and made our exit. My view hasn’t changed: all towns with a ‘D’ should be avoided; Doncaster, Dorking and DUDLEY!!

29 – 30/03/12 – Samsung Galaxy at Derby Westfields

The Samsung team were once again called upon to draw at another Westfields shopping Mall, this time in Derby. Being local, I was happy to volunteer for the early 9am slots, which were frankly baron of customers! A couple of new faces had joined the team; Bill Huston and Mark Nesbitt, both were getting warmed up by being thrown in the deep-end so to speak.  I have to say, their different styles were quite refreshing and both quickly took to the tiny Galaxy Note, with impressive results!

Samsung Galaxy caricatures

Samsung Galaxy caricatures

I too was getting in the swing and with fewer customers queuing to be drawn, we could take our time, polishing our techniques. I had abandoned the use of heavy lines and instead concentrated on heavier colouring. We had no way of outputting the images this time and so had to export the files to Facebook or Bluetooth them to mobiles, which caused a few hiccups!

Samsung Galaxy caricatures

There were some interesting characters in Derby, including a ‘crack-head’ who slipped Luisa his address and whispered “2.30pm, be there tomorrow!” and a skateboarding 50 year old Rasta, with Croqs on and cheeks covered in what appeared to be cocaine, who  had neither Facebook access nor a mobile phone…. Paul Baker had fun trying to get rid of him!

All in all it was a much easier time than previous Mall experiences, but we were glad of the extra work and the chance to practice on the devices once more. Fingers crossed for the Olympic team too. 😉

14/04/12 – Civil Partnership

After a nice Easter break, I had a busy weekend with two weddings today, the first a local affair with two Grooms. I enjoy Gay weddings, but they can often go two ways; either Prima-Donna style, with a demanding couple or nicely relaxed with the happy couple just glad to be together. This wedding was the latter and the young guys were nicely relaxed and smiley.

civil partners

I had been booked as a surprise wedding gift and everyone loved the fun, it was a good start to my day.

I then drove across the Staffordshire Moors to my second wedding, in a local College. This was a far more structured affair, with the Bride leading me to every guests and taking charge of proceedings. The guests loved the drawings and soon enough the Disco kicked in and it was time for me to retire.

wedding caricatures

As the darkness crept in, I headed back across the Moors to my bed, preceeded by late night pizza (and stomach-ache). It was surprisingly hard work, even though I was only on the road for 9 hours and drew for 4 hours, though I don’t think my food avoidance helped! Must remember to eat between gigs!!

18-24/04/12 – F1 Bahrain!!

Visit UAE Travels page for details….

25/04/12 – Intel London

Had a horrible 12 hour journey back from Bahrain and got zero sleep, so after one night’s rest at home, I drove to Hilton Metropole in London for an Intel conference. I was drawing digital, on my new Samsung Slate 7 tablet, which had proved itself already in Bahrain and so I was looking forward to this job.

I arrived to setup on the Intel stand, using their tablet, plugged into the monitor on center stage. I was busy configuring the new tablet when one of the stand supervisors began insisting that I vacate my position and walk about amongst the clients. This was clearly a misunderstanding and so I moved my tablet to side-stage instead and began my work. The same lady soon returned and asked if I could produce my drawings and FASTER!!  I’m happy to explain my logistics to anyone, but an introduction would’ve helped by now.

Soon I set about drawing all the Intel staff and I was drawing a crowd of tech-heads, all wanting to know what software I was using.

intel caricatures

Everything was going well and the first evening flew by, so to my hotel room and a steak via room-service!  That evening the steak had its revenge and I was a regular visitor to the toilet, so the morning saw me in some discomfort, with a stomach ache and bleary head. But my professionalism didn’t let me down and I soldiered on through the day, without further sustenance, other than jelly babies LOL.  My contact showed up and so I gave hi my best effort;  not too bad for a 12 minute caricature…..

Intel caricatures

All in all I was happy with my results and so was the client, with a possible trip to Bratislavia coming up as my reward!  Day over and I drove 3 hours home, through rush-hour traffic, to my bed and my empty house.

27/04/12 – Brockenhurst

Today I drove down to Southampton for a wedding. I woke feeling distinctly jet-lagged and so the journey was not fun. Didn’t get time to contact the Bride beforehand, so was hoping I’m still required!! Turned up in good time, tyo a lovely wedding party at a stunning venue; Rhinefield House in the New Forest…

Rhinefield House

The couple were lovely and everyone was mad-keen, so I really enjoyed the return to A3 paper, after weeks on a tiny digital screen!

couple caricature

The wedding ran slightly late though and with a second booking near Richmond, central London, I was a little panicked. My continuing stomach cramps and general fatigue didn’t help, as I headed up the M3 towards London, into a traffic jam. I decided it was best to pass the second booking (Mayor’s Dinner) onto a colleague who was much nearer the venue and so called Matt Lawrence who happily filled my shoes for the evening.. Shattered and broken, I headed north, to my bed once more.

29/04/12 – Fawsley

Wedding at Fawsley Hall today. All my recent practice had paid off and I was on fire!! The punters were enthusiastic and my pen flowed. I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon , knowing I had 4 days off until my next booking 🙂

wedding caricatures

Not everyone had a BIG nose! LOL

4 – 5 May 2012 – Olympic Stadium

I drove to my hotel in London’s Dodklands and prepared for two days drawing at a Stratford Westfields venue; The Cow, which was hosting a Visa (VIP) tour of the newly opened Olympic Stadium. It was attended by many athletes, including Sir Steve redgrave, who declined to be drawn. I began my stint on the friday, arriving to be greeted by my clients, who requested that in addition to my 3 hours drawing, I should fill two chalk-boards with Olympic images… using chalk-sticks, while fully suited and booted! The logistics of this job were ridiculous, so I simply pointed out how long each board would take (1 – 2 hours) with chalk-sticks (not pens) and got on with my caricatures. The crowd were receptive and I was drawing non-stop all evening. This did not stop the client from regularly tapping me on the shoulder to suggest people to draw and interrupting my drinks break. It was clear I was expected to draw for 7 hours, non-stop, without drinks or food and thrust myself upon EVERYONE, willing or not! I did my best to stay professional and smile my way through the event, having approached every single attendee for a drawing.

At the end of my first evening, there were some questions raised; the client was most concerned that I had not yet filled the chalk-boards!!

The following day began in good form, as I ploughed my way through the attendees, with some great faces…

Olympic stadium caricatures

Olympic Stadium caricatures

Overall the event went well and the punters were all impressed, so I was a happy entertainer. The clients however seemed most anxious throughout, watching my every move and making sure I didn’t stand idle for a second or stop to take a drink. I think the most telling action was when (on the second day) the client took the microphone to address the audience, standing infront of both the singing duo and myself, then asked the crowd to thank the entertainers; “Soul Vibe” but not the caricaturist!!  That said it all…. He did this TWICE!  😦

I went home feeling seriously under-appreciated, but the following day received a glowing ‘Thank You’ email from the PR co involved, who were very impressed with me 🙂

11 May – Birthday!

I was awoken on my brithday by balloons and cake and gifts gallore, from my girlfriend and her adorable (ten year old) daughter. I however had opted to work today, as I’m not a big fan of birthdays…. so drove a van across Birmingham to deliver a motorcycle and pick up a new 5.5m KITE!!  I always buy a ‘Gift To self’ just in case LOL

That evening I was attending a wedding near Northampton, which was in a marquee. All went well and the punters were well pleased.

wedding caricatures

wedding caricatures

wedding caricatures

I was pleasantly surprised by a rather cute young blonde lady, who seemed to be loitering. She was asking about my piercings, then my drawings. Then she asked if my name was George… I was slightly un-nerved! She then went on to explain I had drawn her some 14 years before, when she was just 14… and she had been a fan ever since!!!!

I blushed, but was mighty flattered that she should remember me 🙂    A good Birthday all-in-all!

22-14/05/12 Olympic Flame Team

I had put together a team to work on Samsungs, while following the Olympic Flame around the UK. Each artist had upto 20 dates and it was a great opportunity to shine, however Carix team morale is not good. See HERE for full story so far…

Twist & Pulse and George

28/05/12 – BIKE CRASH!!

I had just MOT’d my Harley and was riding it the 3 miles home, in the sunshine, when I pulled into a bus lane, to find a car under-taking me on the inside lane. He clipped my handlebars and brought me off my bike, throwing me down the road, onto my elbow and knee. I managed to pull the bike aside and remove my helmet, to find my arm was bleeding badly, so too was my leg!! I sat down a realised the extent of my injuries, as the Police took my details and called for an ambulance.

Due to my lack of leather protection, my left arm and left leg were both badly injured, with deep wounds on both. I was ferried to hospital and X-Rayed, before being wheeled into the suture room, to be sewn up!

The wounds were small but very deep, as I had been impaled by my handlebars and needed an Orthopedic consultation (involving poking his fingers in my wound, to the bone) to see if muscles or tendons had been damaged. The upper part of my limbs was most sore, looking like they had been cheese-grated!!  4 hours later I was discharged with stitches, crutches and drugs.

31/05 – 01/06/12 Olympic Flame Team

I hobbled my way to Bolton then Liverpool to do my bit for Samsung and the team of Carix, currently on the road.  I was bruised and battered,but soldiered on!

George olympic flame

02/06/12 – Wedding Boston

Despite my injuries I had drafted in a friend to chauffeur me to Lincoln tonight, to attend a wedding. I was extremely giddy (due to antibiotics, anti-inflamatories and pain-killers) and due to work London the following day from 5.30am, but determined not to let my client down. The Bride and Groom were glad to see me, though expected a cancellation, so my effort was worth it. The evening went well.

My friend watched my efforts all evening and was shocked when the happy punters turned aggressive towards the end, as my time drew to a close and I turned punters away. At one point I barked at a drunk couple who would NOT take no for an answer. When offering me cash, I had to explain my injuries and ended up giving a slide-show of my wounds to the audience, who then understood my need to finish for the night LOL.

My chauffeur got me home safely, around midnight and I prepared my case and clothes for the following day’s travel.

03/06/12 – Queen’s Jubillee Flotilla

5.15am and my alarm went off for my next gig… I had been offered a very ‘Special Gig’ by a colleague some weeks ago and asked to send my passport details to London. I was very excited at the prospect of meeting the Royal Family on the jubilee weekend and so treated myself to a new Versace suit (blue/lilac pinstripe) to mark the occasion. No details were given and it was all ‘hush-hush’! The weeks went by and no word had come. My contact simply told me to turn up at Tower Point, to join a boat for the day, no boat specified!!  I took my chances and hopped a train to London, via Melton and Rutland, which arrived some 2.5 hours later. I made my way to Tower Bridge and was made to queue in the rain while the Army passed by. Eventually, at 10am I made it through security and onto the dock, where I was told no boats would be arriving until midday!!!  I was dispondant to say the least and decided to go back through security for a coffee, where I met my colleagues for the day. At 11am we made our way back down, to find we had to queue through security AGAIN…

Once on the dock we awaited the Royal Barge and our escorts for the day… and we waited. Two rusty river cruise boats arrived, which were to be our venues for the day. We shrugged our shoulders and made our way on boars, to be greeted by a Captain who knew nothing about our presence.  At this point we should’ve walked from the boat and spent the day in a pub methinks. But we soldiered on and waited patiently for the silver-haired punters to board the vessel and be seated. It soon became apparent that we had been allocated no seats and no food for the 7 hour voyage. My leg was not happy with this arrangement and so my mood changed to worse…

As we finally made our way up the Thames, I could see that my £900 suit was wasted on our guests…

George's suit

George on Thames

By 2.30pm we were docked near Westminster, awaiting the rest of the Flotilla. I dusted off my clip-board and launched into s few drawings, which were well received by the elderly punters. Around an hour later and the boat began listing to one side, as everyone flocked towards the edge, to catch a glimpse of Her Maj…

Royal Barge

Her mAJESTY

My medication was having a strange effect on me and after a glass of Champagne I was distinctly light headed and so took a break to chat with the Tour Operator. Lovely lady. Having been on my feet since before 6am (some 10 hours total) I began to lag a little and my productivity dropped, but trying to draw people who are soaking wet and jossling past to grab a seat was impossible, so I sat down for ten minutes and waited our homeward voyage. We eventually joined the Flotilla and made our way back to the Tower dock, after 7 hours on a boat without food or seating, I was fit to drop on the spot!!  I prayed that my leg stitches wouldn’t open and the wound start weeping, while my left arm and elbow was throbbing with pain. This had a been a memorable day, but I was glad it was drawing to a close I must say.

06/06/12 – Legal threat

A fellow artist took offence over an article on my blog some months ago, which involved me reporting on several client complaints. The complaints were relayed to me by a handful of colleagues and all focused on one individual artist. I took these complaints to be genuine, as my colleagues were of 20 years standing and the artist was new.  I simply reported these complaints and added my opinion. The artist concerned has since branded me a liar and threatened legal action against me.

This came as a shock to me, but in order to calm the waters, I removed the articles and apologised for any distress caused. Fair enough I thought. However, this now leaves me branded as a liar and my good name sullied. The whole episode has shaken me; the Libel action is no concern, as I can provide witnesses if required, but the continuing barrage against my reputation is hard to stomach.

Bit pissed off at being painted ‘The Bad Guy’ here, when I’m not the one making customers cry. One quick phone call I’m sure would clarify matters, but I guess we’ll wait and see how this plays out.

PS: Just dug out original email complaints from my colleagues and have a client’s name and details as a witness. If this gets litigious… BRING IN ON!!! I can prove I’m not libeling  anyone (libel is only relevant if untrue) and this artist is a charlatan!

07/06/12 – Saddler’s Hall, London

I was hired for a very high-class event at the prestigious Saddler’s Hall, celebrating the Royal Jubilee. I was originally required to wear evening suit (DJ & bow-tie) which I politely refused, explaining that this lead to me taking wine orders or simply being ignored! An agreement was reached and I wore my best Versace suit instead.  I was working with a lovely young silhouettist on the evening (whose name escapes me now) and it promised to be very civilised. As expected, the evening was very grand and Royal Guardsmen were on hand, guarding the stairwell.

The evening was swathed in pomp and grandeur, with the most Conservative of diners, quoffing Champagne and making witty quips.  Most drawings were met with “I suppose its quite amusing” or “Oh how funny!” as opposed to the usual hearty laughter and tears from the lower ranks of society.  I usually take no interest in upper-class chit-chat, but could not help chuckling when I over-heard a discussion regarding one of the Raffle prizes;  “An evening with Elton John? How frightfully dreadful!”   Ha ha ha… I couldn’t agree more.

posh caricature

09/06/12 – Paris

Had a corporate booking for 3M in Paris, for two days… very long days; from midday sat til 5pm sunday, with a 4am wak-eup to start with!  Full details can be found in PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOBAHNS

3M caricatures

Was a very intense couple of days, with little sleep and even less food, but Paris is always worth a visit, even if only a ‘whistle-stop’. Fingers crossed for Barcelona next year.

22/06/12 – Warwick CANCELLATION

I had been booked some months before for a wedding in Warwick, but just days before the wedding date I received an email cancelling my performance, due to lack of cash. Of course I had a signed contract with cancellation fee of 100%, which I pointed out to the Bride. I was then unceremoniously re-hired to attend the wedding that weekend.

One thing an entertainer hates, is to attend an event where he is not wanted, so the prospect of this wedding left a bitter taste in my mouth. None the less, I donned a smile and made my way to Warwick. The venue was an upstairs room at a local bar, which made me both nervous and guilty. The Bride & Groom arrived and sat me in a corner, while they fed me punters to draw. I must say the Bride was lovely and really friendly, being an illustrator herself, I think a Caricaturist was her idea. The Groom however (an insurance salesman) was less than happy and scowled at me slightly all evening. After drawing most of his family, I realised that none of them were happy and thought perhaps the frown was just a genetic trait.

wedding caricature

I had a lovely chat with the Bride and it turns out they were married in Warwick Castle, but couldn’t afford the Reception there, hence the nearby bar. I then watched her sit and tuck into a plated burger and chips, in front of her sandwich fed guests… which made me feel even more guilty. In hind-sight though; hiring a £12k Castle and cutting the catering budget was never the best plan and my £325 fee would only have fed 10 of the 75 guests anyhow… So not my fault really!  At least she got her dream wedding and she danced all evening long with her friends. She was indeed a happy soul.

25/06/12 – Olympic Tour; SHEFFIELD

Hopped a train to Sheffield with my suitcase in hand for the next leg of my Olympic Torch Tour with Samsung. I had already experienced several days on the stand and so knew what to expect. This time I was joined by Luisa Calvo, who hadn’t been on tour as yet. She was quick to pick up the general vibe and the technology wasn’t new to her.

We were positioned in Sheffield City Center, main walk-way, so expected heavy traffic. Due to size constraints the stand was limited in size and so we were out on the pavement, drawing the throngs. Strangely enough the queues were 99% East Asian and during the 4 hours drawing, we never drew a single caucasian face!

samsung caricatures

samsung caricatures

26/06/12 – Olympic Tour; CLEETHORPES

We rolled into town the evening before and so had the morning to explore the seafront, which was desolate to say the least. Our stand today was in a field, miles out of town, so we didn’t expect a great turn-out. As usual, the wind and rain kicked in, followed by extreme sun, so the gazebo was little shelter for any of these. We did our best though.

samsung caricatures

samsung caricatures

27/06/12 – Olympic Tour; LINCOLN

A great day of sun and rain, with a fantastic flt-by from the Red Arrows.  Boy Lincoln is beautiful but it sure has some steep hills!!

Lincoln hills

28/06/12 – Olympic Tour; NOTTINGHAM

The storm clouds loomed over Nottingham as we arrived at our pitch, which was considerably smaller than usual, so activity was kept to a minimum. Indeed we were asked not to draw today at all, just take photos.

Nottingham flame

29/06/12 – Olympic Tour; DERBY

Hopped a train to Derby, then walked the long trek to Darley Park, to a muddy scene and an extremely windy landscape.  We battled on through the wind though and produced some more masterpieces, this time with colleague John Roberts.

Samsung caricatures

Samsung caricatures

30/06/12 – Scunthorpe

Long drive north today for a wedding in Scunny, followed by another in Darlington.  Was a little nervous as the Bride hadn’t been in contact for 8 months, so no guarantee of payment for the first gig, but I made the journey anyhow. Luckily I was greeted with cash and so the day passed.

wedding caricatures

01/07/12 – Darlington

I drove straight from Scunny towards Darlington, where I had booked a central hotel for the night, hoping for a good selection of local food on my arrival. I drove past the hotel once, as it bore no resemblance to the quaint photo and its entrance was shrouded by hoody yoofs, smoking and being a nuisance. I parked and made my way inside to an un-manned reception. I rang the bell. I pressed ‘0’ on the phone and let the phone ring off the hook… Ten minutes later a man hobbled towards the desk, looking puzzled. I checked in and made my way to an un-lit 3rd floor, fought my way past groups of German teenagers, running up and down the corridors, to my skanky room. The room was indescribably hideous, with broken window locks and a flat roof, inviting any one of the other guests to come and rob me. I frantically rang every local hotel in search of a room, to no avail. Resigned,  I packed my pockets with my valuables and left my room, window ajar, to go find some food.

Darlington is not the prettiest of towns, neither is it the best equipped for eating. Pizza-Hut was my only option, which was in the process of closing as I arrived at 9.30pm.  I quickly filled my belly and made my way to a local bar, to drink myself to sleep. Every bar was full of screaming Hen parties or dark Discos, until I hit local gold. A brightly lit pub, selling homemade lagers. I put up with the stares and enjoyed a beer and a rum… and another…

local pub Darlington

I made my way back to the hotel, collapsed into my bed, with ear-plugs and slept soundly til 10am! I woke with a stonking hangover and blurred vision…. Not good.

I had 3 hours to kill til the next wedding, so slept in my car, after several coffees. Somehow, I made it to the next venue and apparently was a big hit with the wedding party.

wedding caricatures

This truly was a case of drawing on Auto-pilot, as I was not on my sharpest form and cannot remember most faces I drew. However, the Bride was a big fan of mine, having paid top dollar to bring me 170 miles to her wedding. She was chuffed, so job done 🙂

04/07/12 – Tinkering

Had a few days at home before my next job, so been tinkering with my Harley. Its still off the road, following my prang, but a few special body parts turned up, including wide bars, so I spent today fitting the new stuff. Gone from brushed silver to black carbon look in one swipe!  Delicious!!

12/07/12 – Newark

Booking via one of the few Agents that still use my services; “Corporate Event in Newark”. So I donned my corporate suit and blue-collar shirt and headed north a short stop to find the Restaurant in question. Turned out to be a nice enough location and a sunny day to boot.

The Moorings

I could think of much worst places to spend the afternoon, until I realised it was a BarBQ!! Following the speeches, the T-shirt clad drinkers headed outside to enjoy flame grilled burgers in the sun. This would’ve been fine if I had been warned by the agent, but I was swamped in smoke and sweating my shirt off, while my punters tucked into their feast. I felt like a nun in a pub…. I really must remind agents to be more specific with their contracts, so I don’t end up ruining another suit!

That said, I turned out some pretty intuitive drawings and they loved me, though I wasn’t on sparkling form and felt a little drained towards the end.

16/07/12 – London

Had a corporate booking in central London, followed by a hotel stay and 3 days travelling with Samsung, so I chose to dress light, in corporate blues and boots and headed for the Aqua penthouse. I arrived to discover a stunning restaurant/cocktail-bar/venue.

aqua london

I made my way inside and was greeted by a lovely hostess, who informed me the evening was a high-fashion, hairdressing awards evening.  Kinda wished I had made the effort with my outfit now! My hostess went on to tell me that I had been chosen for my ‘FLAIR’ and ‘EDGY STYLE’… which made me very happy and I blushed a little. She did not want a cardigan toting, bow-tie wearing cheesy entertainer, who sat in a corner or looked like a waiter. I was happy to live up to her requirements.  I settled in and waited for the models to arrive, which they did, thin and fast, tall and lovely!

The evening was full of slightly surreal characters and some wonderful faces to be drawn, accompanied by some fragile egos, though I must say most were up for some fun and I fitted in surprisingly well!  LOL!

I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle and soon enough it was time to hit the pavement and head for a train to Hastings, next booking.

17/07/12 – Olympic Tour; HASTINGS

My late night train arrived just after midnight in Hastings, where I was due to draw for Samsung once more. The hotel was (of course) closed for the night and so calls were made to gain me access. I looked forward to 3 more days of cock-ups and last minute changes, as the Olympic Flame Tour limped on. The wind howled, rain threatened, but we drew on.

Hastings

We were told at the end of the day, that the town was locked-down until 11pm, so we should go and feed ourselves for a couple of hours, before joining the coach.  I headed to town with Sara-Louise for a drink and a chat. Suddenly I had a call, telling me the coach was waiting and I should head for it ASAP…. typical last minute change of plan. I ran for the bus, hungry!

18/07/12 – Olympic Tour; DOVER

We drove on to Dover for the night, where I joined the crew in the bar and began a very late night drinking session, accompanied by two shaven headed German bikers (drinking Port) and a local promoter lady, who fed us cocktails until 4am!!  Much bonding was done and much conversation had, but the next day in Dover was difficult on just 5 hours drunken sleep!!

Dover

The wind blew and the rains drifted in, soon drenching crowds and crew alike, with horizontal rain-fall. This would not be a day to enjoy, though at least the rain did quell the queues and at one point I had NO CUSTOMERS!!

no punters

Wot, no punters in my queue?!?

19/07/12 – Olympic Tour; LEEDS CASTLE

We arrived at the Castle near Maidstone in good time and took a wander around the grounds. This was a very picturesque setting.

Leeds Castle

The sun was out and the grounds were teaming with children, all wanting to be drawn!!  this was going to be a busy day!

I had booked two trains home that day, in case of traffic on route to the station, but I made the first train in good time and looked forward to my next 3 trains on the journey home!

21/07/12 – Weddings; Ledbury

Eastnor Castle was my first stop and a grand site it was too, with an arsenal of armour inside and beautiful views without. This was a very high-class wedding, so poshest behavior was required! The audience were pleasant enough, though I failed to raise hearty laughs, instead hearing “How amusing” and polite platitudes.

Eastnor Castle

Eastnor Castle

A pleasant time was had, but the Bride & Groom had been seconded for photos and so at the end of my session, I had still to draw the happy couple! With a second wedding to head for, I had to make my apologies and head to my next booking, promising a drawing from photos.

Weddings; Stratford

Billesley Manor was my next venue, a familiar site and a friendly crowd welcomed me. Meal was over and all were relaxing outside in the sun. I began with the rowdiest looking gang, to get the ball rolling.

wedding caricatures

The crowd were receptive and the drawings flowed. A more easy vibe about this wedding, some great characters too.

wedding caricatures

23/07/12 – Olympic Tour; LONDON, TOOTING

The final few gigs in London were at Tooting, Ealing and Hyde Park, which was a huge day. Queues were massive and the sun was out, so work was hard, but some fun was had! Gotta say we were glad to see the end of the tour, though we missed out on the ‘End of Show’ party and walked away from Hyde Park without so much as a ‘thank you’ from the team we had been touring with. It was a mixed experience on the whole. I nearly made it away with a souvenir….. LOL

olympic torch

August – HOLIDAY!!!

Following several wedding cancellations in August, I took the opportunity to book myslef a few days’ holiday with Lucy and her youngest daughter Finn. I had planned on 2 weeks away, but a wedding fell midway and so we designed a camping trip around the booking. We started by camping on the north Norfolk coast, near Brancaster – a beautiful spot.

Brancaster beach

The week started well, but a mini tornado hit our camp after just 2 days camping and totaled our family tent!! With a structural pole snapped, we were forced to move to a more glamorous Pub/Hotel, which was very plush… but it doubled the cost of our holiday!! We made the most of the first week and indulged in Sea World, kiting, swimming and canoeing.

Georgie canoes

Finally we had to drive south to Brands Hatch for my wedding booking, which went smoothly. We ditched the camping trailer at my brother’s house and headed for the south coast; Folkestone… My fave place 🙂

George in Folkestone

I managed to book a slot with my tattooist Amanda Ruby while I was there, to add some touch-ups to my right sleeve tattoo. We had a fab time and enjoyed the sun, surf and chips! Was glad to see, though in temporary decline, the High Street had filled its empty windows with artwork, instead of charity shops or £-shops!!

Folkestone High Street

Had a fab time, found a new Mexican restaurant and enjoyed several cocktails on our last night!!

Was a long drive home to Leicester on 22nd, back to reality and a wedding the next day!

27/08/12 – London

Had an email from an Argentinian colleague, with a very similar drawing style to mine, who I admired very much; Marcelo Guerra.  Seems he was visiting London and wanted to meet up, so I could draw him! I jumped at the chance and headed to smokey for a day of sketching and international relations.

Marcelo Guerra

george's caricature

George & Marcelo

Was a fun meeting, though I was ashamed to find my Spanish had all but been forgotten, so we struggled through our chat in Marcelo’s more impressive English. I had wanted to meet Marcelo for some time, he seems like a great character and I’m sure we’d have a lot in common. I promised to brush-up my Spanish language before our next meeting. We exchanged drawings, but were obviously both struck with nerves and promised to forward better artwork when we had time. I was chuffed with Marcel’s caricature of me though… made me look 21!! :-))

15/09/12 – Wedding, Sutton Cheney

This was a last minute booking, at a local pub, famed for its exotic cuisine and fabulous hospitality. I arrived fresh from a previous wedding in Dudley, to find a small loft room with around 18 people at a table. I was greeted with a hearty cheer from the whole table and made to feel very welcome. It was a cozy setting, in the Hayloft, where a wedding reception was being held for a mature couple with close friends.

I set about my business and my audience were riveted by my scribblings. I thrived on their gasps and flew round the table, to cheers and guffaws!! I managed to draw everyone in around one hour and left to a round of applause. If only all bookings could be that way.

wedding caricature

wedding caricature

wedding couple caricature

The Happy Couple

19/09/12 – Park Plaza London

Had a corporate booking in London’s Westminster, for a previous client. Only two hours, during a networking evening, drawing on pre-printed paper. I was on good form and heartened to be welcomed by a familiar smiling face. In fact, I was widely recognised by many staff at the event, which was held at the swanky Park Plaza Hotel.

The young lady at the front desk remembered me and explained that they had used many Caricaturists over the years, one of whom stayed in her mind. Apparently he had drawn her, making her look like ‘Chunk’ from The Goonies, with features all over the place and for that she hated him! He was a tall guy with mad frizzy afro blond hair… sounds familiar LOL. I can only guess that Simon was having a bad day, as he’s a charming witty and talented artist, but anyone can catch you on the wrong foot! LOL   I made amends and drew her again…

corporate caricatures

The event was subdued, but a queue soon formed. There seemed to be a proliferation of Nordic ladies attending, from Sweden to Finland, they came to our stand and I had the pleasure of drawing them, particularly one lovely lady with hair to die for!

Swedish caricature

Helsinki caricaturist

corporate caricatures

I did my best to network and land a gig in Helsinki, so fingers crossed for that one!!  All-in-all a pleasant evening and many smiles raised.

20/09/12 – GQ!!

Came home from a corporate gig to find a promising email waiting for me, from the Art Editor at GQ! It seems he has ‘been enjoying my artwork and hoped to fit me into their magazine’. To this end he gave me a brief to produce a caricature over the weekend, deadline tuesday morning! My jaw hit the floor, my heart raced and my eyes sparkled at the challenge. Then I remembered that I had weddings to attend, friday, saturday and sunday, plus a commission to draw 15 Nuns, for the same deadline!!  This was gonna be a tight deadline, but I knuckled down and worked day and night to finish all pending work.

Monday arrived and I proudly emailed the finished illo to GQ; etiquette dictates that I cannot divulge the subject,  nor publish the illo until magazine publication in November…. so buy a copy of GQ in November and see my first published piece in many years!! 🙂

22/09/12 – Wedding, Nottingham

My second wedding of the week and I was in full swing. Nice couple, though a few guests were a little ‘tantastic’ to say the least. I got stuck in, against the crowded bar, with a WAG yelling obscenities behind me and children running over my toes! Light was scarce as was space as I edged towards the well-lit cake in the corner. I was never short of customers and most were happy, until I came across two sisters, both well endowed in the jaw department, one who looked like Terry Hatcher (Desperate Housewives). I smelt the vanity radiating from the first one, as she begged me to be kind and not draw her chin, her nose, etc…. I got stuck in and was pleased with the end drawing. She seemed happy, though not ecstatic.

Looked better from her left, as she had a crooked nose and chin

I went on to draw her sister, who was much more receptive and had a good laugh.

Meanwhile, a boyfriend was raising gripes behind me, complaining about his partner’s lack of hair. She had asked me why her hair had ‘no body’ and I explained it was damp in the air (then smiled)! The B/F then tugged at my sleeve and asked me to redraw her with more hair and less nose! I (mid-drawing) politely declined and continued working my way through the eager punters. He remained at my elbow, this time with the drawing out of it’s sleeve. Once again he demanded I add some hair to the drawing, to which I responded with a lengthy explanation regarding my integrity and a lack of time. He became shirty and claimed he could do better. I was left with 3 choices; simply redraw the picture (thus one guests loses out), punch the guy and walk out, but I opted to give him a pen and tell him to draw it as I was busy! He took the marker and scrawled all over the drawing, ruining it for everyone! I grew red with rage, but smiled on. The Groom came to the scene and asked what was going on… I explained that someone had not read my warning: “MAY OFFEND THE FRAIL, VAIN OR UGLY”!  Which was there for a reason!

This incident truly spoiled the evening, as my mood was low and so all drawings there-after were sub-standard and I left with a cloud over me!

23/09/12 – Wedding, Ware

This wedding could only be better than yesterday’s and so I looked forward to it, particularly as I had already drawn the Groom and two Best Men;

The venue was familiar to me and so were some of the faces. Being so close to my hometown, I bumped into an old friend (of my brother) who I hadn’t seen for 24 years!!

Terry Rallings caricature

The mood was high and all were happy, not a sniff of vanity or stroppy punters! I settled in and enjoyed the buzz. The Bride and Groom were happy too, so my job was done and I could return home with my head high again.

wedding caricatures

29/09/12 – Weddings

Two more weddings this weekend, one via an agent, which I wasn’t looking forward to; Its always preferable to organise my own bookings, as agents usually pull surprises at gigs, like walking into a children’s party when expecting a wedding or a dark disco full of 100 people, all of whom the agent promised I would draw etc…

Have to say though, the couple were lovely and greeted me warmly, with much enthusiasm. They volunteered to be drawn first and paid me promptly, so the booking went with a swing. This put me in an instant good mood and my drawings were of a high standard!

wedding caricatures

It always helps when the Bride & Groom share my sense of humor and we all laughed at the ‘Simpson-esque’ likeness of the Groom!  The photographer buzzed around me all evening, which always annoys me, but at the end of play he remarked that I had been ‘by far the best caricaturist he had ever seen’!!  This  rounded off a pleasant evening and bolstered my confidence after last weekend’s fiasco.

13/10/13 – Daventry

I had been booked by an agent to attend a corporate dinner for 200 penguins, a very well paid gig, via a very well respected agent. I hadn’t worked a Corp dinner for some time and turned up to be met by a couple of familiar Magicians, also working the tables with me.  We hung around the bar until the punters arrived, at which point my sponsors (clients) began pushing me onto unsuspecting punters, most of whom did not want drawing, but the client insisted! Pretty soon it all came back to me; the dark overcrowded bars and foyers, full of humorless diners, all ignoring me or shoving their wife in front of me. The noise was too much to allow any light banter, so it was a matter of ‘heads down’ while enduring the usual comments; “Looks nuffink like me… Draw a dick on his head… You MUST draw my Boss, without him knowing”!

corporate caricatures

I was amazed at people’s indifference and lack of enthusiasm or praise, having been told the week before how talented I was, I was now being ignored, pushed and shoved in front of people, to little or no reaction. These people clearly did not want to be embarrassed in front of their work colleagues! Then they were called into dinner and I was working round the tables, between courses. This can often be difficult, as most dinners are 2′ below my eye level when seated and facing the opposite direction, so impossible to draw, not to mention their lack of attention. However I have worked around this by picking on willing volunteers and making them spin their chairs to face me, thus gaining their full attention!

corporate caricatures

corporate caricaturesThree courses later, after much dodging of waiting staff, I was thanked by the MC and made my exit to the bar. There I was met by the same pushy waiting staff, who asked for a free group caricature… My response was polite but firm!!   Oh how I enjoy weddings, this evening only made me realise the difference in clientelle.

14/10/12 – NEW CAR!

After suffering RSI pains in my left shoulder, I felt the need to look for a new car, preferably an automatic, to ease the shoulder stress. I investigated the Mercedes A180, which is a tiny wedge shaped car, designed for mums and hair-dressers, but diesel and auto. However after much searching, I discovered that for the same money, I could buy one of my all-time favourite cars; Chrysler PT Cruiser!!  These cars have bags of character;  loosely based on 1930s gangster limmos, with wheel arches, running boards and a proper hood, dressed with lashings of chrome. Critics have called them ‘Black Cabs’ and many people think them ugly, but they have no taste!!

new PT Cruiser

new car

I paid £3000 for the base model, without chrome or alloys, but intend to dress it up to my spec. Its not an automatic, but its so comfortable and smooth to drive, with a 2.2L Turbo diesel engine and a gorgeous deep cherry red colour (matching dash). I fell in love with it and can’t believe I finally have the car I’ve lusted after for the last 10 years! :-))

26/10/12 – Monster Mass III

I went along to the third annual Leicester Critical (cycle) Mass Halloween ride-out! Always good to dress up (was Pin-Head last year) and this year I had invested in a Bane (Batman) mask, so just had to invest in a sheepskin, some knee-pads and throw together some old bits of fetish gear…

Bane mask on George

It was a slow ride as always, but much fun and scaring to be done!! Xmas ride is next I guess…

28/10/12 – Wedding Exhibition

I was offered last minute space at an exhibition in Cheltenham, at a lovely venue; Pittville Pump Rooms, which sounded great. So I set off at 8.30am on sunday, with my new car packed full of cases and banners.

Pittville Pump Rooms

The hall was stunning and I was soon set up and ready to walk around for the next 5 hours. Its always nerve racking, turning up at a new venue, full of locals who view me with distain, in my blue Versace suit and black & white spat boots! But I bite my lip, fix my smile and make the effort to network with all the stands, by systematically drawing each of them and having the drawings displayed on each stand. This works really well, as it breaks the ice, earns respect and raises smiles all day. It also advertises my services on every stand!! LOL

wedding caricatures

wedding caricatures

wedding caricatures

I must say, for a sunday morning, after a 75 mile drive, I was on pretty good form and I enjoyed every sketch. I particularly enjoyed chatting to the Polish, Hungarian and Czec beauties on the make-up stand…

wedding caricatures

After several hours of pacing the room, it was clear that no-one was coming to the event, other than maybe 5 or 6 couples who drifted in over the day. I find that promoters are very hit/miss when organizing wedding shows, I prefer to attend shows organised by venues, as they have a vested interest and will make sure the doors are busy all day! Still, it was a nice day, met some new faces and I was in a good mood, so no harm done… Just £100 out of pocket for expenses.

I confess, I did make the supreme effort and was approached by all who attended, so perhaps I’ll gain some bookings from the day afterall, time will tell.

29/10/12 – NOVEMBER 😦

Woke up this morning, looked at my calendar and realised November is upon us. I then also realised that I have only one wedding booking this month and they have already paid me! So looks like a good time for that Riveta diet!! Don’t know how November always manages to creep up on me and surprise me every year for the last 20 years?!

30/10/12 – Wembley

Had an agency booking for a corporate evening near Wembley. No more details than this, as is customary with Agents, who prefer to drop surprises on their artists and maintain client confidentiality. So I drove down to Wembley, with the prospect of paying £18 for local parking, somewhere near the stadium. I followed the first P signs to a large pavement at the gates of the stadium, with no signs or lines… so parked up and crossed my fingers!

I had arrived just 15 minutes early, following London traffic and made my way to the Ballroom of the Hilton. I was introduced to the client, who was rather fraught and worried that I would not turn up at all!! I fixed my smile and was lead into the room, full of 500 mainly Indian/Asian punters, then told I was the only walkabout artist to entertain them! This turned out to be false as I met a young Magician in the wings too.  Frankly the event needed another 4 entertainers to keep the crowd busy, but they made up for this with some half-naked Brazilian dancers and Indian dancing girls.

Brazilian Dancers

It was a busy gig and I wandered the room, picking on punters, but in between drawings my employer would catch me and ask me if I was having a problem finding punters… which felt rather like a whip cracking!! At one point I was lead to a young girl who was goaded into being drawn, but after 5 minutes of her squirming, she flatly refused to be drawn and I explained to my employer this was my reason for not simply picking on people and wasting my time! The evening moved on and my drawings proved very popular, there were some great faces too…

caricature

caricature

After 3 solid hours, I packed away my pad and said my goodbyes to the client, who asked if I had drawn the CEO, MD and Director… I nodded and smiled, not knowing these people from Adam in a room of 500 nameless faces and made my way back to my car.  Found my car hadn’t been clamped and so I made a hasty exit, without having paid for any parking – BONUS!!

As is traditional with Agents, some three weeks later and I’m still awaiting payment, despite several emails (all ignored) and my insistence on prompt payment. This is why I trust no-one and would rather not work via agencies!

08/12/12 – Nursery

I picked up a local booking at a Toddlers’ Nursery, to draw 30 ladies at their Xmas party. The venue was just 8 miles away and the fee was acceptable, so I turned down several other enquiries, in favor of the local option. I was unsure what to expect, as an all-female audience can be unimpressed and rather  rowdy if the mood takes them. With this in mind, I arrived at the nursery building to see two naked male strippers at the window! Oh Lord I thought…

IMG_1635

The venue was rather unconventional, but I was assured the lighting would be lowered soon. I had to laugh at the children’s toilets, next to the kitchen, without doors on (for safety), which were used by the ladies while I was busy drawing in front of them! LOL   Soon enough the evning hotted up and I paused my drawing to watch the ladies play a game of “Throw the hoop on the stripper’s cock”!

IMG_1636

I did my best to draw as many ladies as possible, despite the distractions, though I suspect I was eclipsed by the naked waiters, who were getting the most attention.

IMG_1638 IMG_1637

A fun time was had and it was a nice local warm up to my Xmas season, considering I could’ve been on the motorway from Slough or Central London instead. I was happy, so was the client. All good.

11/12/12 – Ride round Rutland Water

I took the day off to ride the shores of Rutland Water, though the weather wasn’t favorable! It was freezing fog outside, so I packed my fleece and  layered up for my epic ride! I arrived expecting an icy trail and stunning scenery, but the fog had thawed the ground and it turned into a foggy mud-fest!

Rutland Water IMG_1642

I’d like to say I enjoyed the brisk ride, but with construction work around the lake and freezing fog, it felt like wading through frozen porridge and took me over two hours to circumnavigate the 23 mile circuit! I was frozen and glad to be finally home, in a hot shower afterwards.

13/12/12 – Xmas parties

Two parties today, first a lunchtime in Cheltenham for Waitrose, then a London Club for a classier event later. I do love canteen gigs, though they sound a little tacky, they are always well received by the workers, who openly engage in banter with me and I never run out of fans on the day, eager to be drawn while stuffing their faces with Xmas lunch!

Xmas caricatures 131212c 131212d

All in all the lunchtime was fun and I was on form. So, to my car and a rapid drive to Central London for a gig near Harrods. I made the booking with little time to spare, despite having just 80 miles to travel, it took me over 3 hours! I hate London for that!!!

The venue was a small Members Club and the clientele were a much swankier bunch on the whole, so swanky that I struggled to find punters willing to oblige me at first. The curse of the Upper-classes; the inability to recognise fun due to a serious lack of basic humor! I eventually collared a few velvet blazered Harry Potter-alikes tho….

XMAS CARICATURES Xmas caricatures

Xmas caricatures

“Noooo, no no no no no!”

The evening was divided by dinner and speeches, then operatics and finally I drew my last set and made a hasty exit for my last train home.

 

14/12/12 – Rainham

Works party via an Agency in Kent tonight, with a long drive round M25 to look forward to. I arrived to find possibly the least impressive venue I had seen in many years…

crap venue IMG_1653

I was not looking forward to the evening ahead and I strolled the floors, waiting for guests to arrive. The client had insisted on an early start (7pm) though the guests didn’t start arriving until after 8pm and so I was swamped by Polish food packers from 8.30pm until 9pm, when I had to pack away and leave. As I drew my last face, I was subjected to the usual abuse, with one claiming to be ‘The Boss who hired me’ but I explained that as ‘Boss’ he should be aware of good time-keeping! I headed for my car and tried to wipe the memory from my mind.  Not my favorite gig of 2012.

 

20/12/12 – See Sushi

A welcome re-booking from a London sushi bar tonight and as it was casual, I wore black jeans and shirt, black & white brogue boots and fur coat. I arrived to some strange looks from the staff and I wondered shy as they surely knew me and were expecting me? Eventually the manageress welcomed me, asking who I was… she went onto explain they were expecting a harassing visit from the local Mafia and thought I was a GOON!! Seriously!!!!

Initial impressions aside, the evening went well and I had a steady stream of smiling Eastern faces to draw, all loving the results.

xmas caricatures xmas caricatures xmas caricature xmas caricatures

At one stage I was collared by one small 50 year old Vietnamese lady who insisted I draw her ‘Nice’. I obliged, even tho she wiggled and squirmed… The end result was a pretty, Manga-esque rendering, with big eyes and pretty smile. At the end of the evening I noticed the lady was at my elbow, asking for yet another drawing. It seems the first one didn’t look like her! I sternly took her aside and explained; “You can have NICE or you can have YOU… which is it?” I then stood her still, told her to stop squirming and drew her, wrinkles, bags and all… it was ugly, but honest… she loved it, the crowd loved it! THAT’S why I draw ugly and not NICE; I’d rather people complained at my honesty than the lack of likeness LOL.

I left a happy restaurant and headed to meet some colleagues for Xmas drinks and a gossip.

21/12/12 – Solihull

A wedding in Solihull tonight, with a gorgeous tattooed bride and a reception with around 30 small, screaming children, running, screaming, jogging, snotting and screaming! I did not enjoy the evening, due to the constant barrage of kids and the unusually hot corridor I was drawing in.

brides caricature

wedding caricature

I drove home that evening, feeling rather hot and uncomfortable. On arriving home I spent the next 12 hours vomiting from both ends and curled up with stomach cramps. It seems I had contracted Norovirus (winter sickness) which would go on to wipe me out for the next few days!!!   Xmas Joy!!

21/12/12 – NOROVIRUS!!!!

I had wondered why I was feeling so hot and uncomfortable at the Birmingham wedding and squirmed all the drive home. On arrival at home I exploded into my bathroom and was treated to carcophony of diarrhea.  To top that I was then violently sick and vomited for an hour or so. The ordeal went on all evening, for 12 hours or so. The morning came and I had evacuated all body fluids and felt decidedly weak and frail… Unfortunately I had a wedding booking some 150 miles away to attend and could not afford to lose the wage!

22/12/12 – Godalming

The curse of the self-employed; no sick pay! At the time I was unaware of the virus and assumed my sickness was due to a dodgy sausage the day before, so thought it not contageous. I popped some pills and peeled on my suit, then jumped into the car. Nearly three hours later and I found myself in a Conservative Golf Club, with surprisingly attractive decor, in Art Nouveau stylee.

Art Nouveau glass wedding caricatures

Despite feeling close to death’s door, I managed to draw and chat and think I came across as professional, so I was happy. The day passed and I was soon in my car, on route home again. I was glad I hadn’t let my client down, though I had taken the precaution of briefing a stand-in (Matt Lawrence) just in case was incapable of working. I would NEVER let a client down last minute!

25/12/12 – Christmas…

I hate Xmas, it never fails to disappoint, no matter what… this year was no exception. I was given a woolly hat and a Diet book by my parents….  Roll on 2013!!  Lucy and I did spend a lovely day with her friends, who cooked for us and entertained the kids, while we snuck off for an evening together, which was nice.

27/12/12 – Coombe Abbey

Beautiful venue, just down the road, so an easy evening. I popped some Pro-Plus just to pep me up and it worked a treat. New pad, new pens, swift wrist and everything was flowing very nicely. I settled into a corner near the bar and worked the queue, which seemed never ending, with a scattering of heavily made-up ladies and drunk men! I enjoyed the evening and when it came to my time to go, the Bride insisted I stay for another hour, for cash recompense of course.

wedding caricatures wedding caricatures wedding caricatures wedding caricatures wedding caricatures

29/12/12 – Richmond

Wedding in Richmond today, I set off on what should’ve been a 2 hour journey, with 3.5 hours to spare and still arrived late, due to lack of signage and parking; I drove past the venue twice then ended up paying £6 for 2 hours parking in the village! This was not a great start and set my mood for the day.

The venue was a tiny restaurant/hotel, with barely enough room to swing a pen! This was overcome by ushering the guests OUTSIDE!  It was December; cold, raining and dark!! I simply could not believe I was having to muster enthusiasm from guests who were shivering and frankly unwelcoming, in the rain and darkness. My mood was not improving…

The reception was lovely, with a small scattering of guests, who I did my best to entertain, but frankly I was being constantly barged and interrupted by the management and waiting staff, who were milling around me. Suddenly one of them walked into me with a tray of cream cheese hors d’ouvres, dipping my elbow in a selection of them and potentially ruining a £900 Versace suit! I looked in dis-belief, but no apology was forth-coming from the errant waitress. Luckily a guest jumped to my aid and mopped the food from my cuff… My mood took a sudden dive and I prayed for the end of this squeeze!

I took no photos, as it seemed inappropriate as the guests didn’t seem up for much fun. However the Bride had commissioned a signing board from me:

wedding signing boards

The Bride and Groom were lovely and made me feel appreciated, but the staff were severely lacking in manners and I made my exit without thanks from the guests or staff and headed for my car, with another 3 hour drive home ahead of me. Sometimes events just don’t manage to make me smile and today was one of those events.

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