Sunday, 16 October 2011


There's a kitchen textiles company called Cooksmart. I have some of their tea towels. On several occasions I've noticed their logo on the tag and found it a bit odd. It looks like this:

Why, I kept wondering, have they used the chef's hat to represent the letter A when it clearly looks more like the M? Was it a strange oversight or a deliberate ploy to bait sad losers like me into blogging about them? It seemed so obvious that they'd got it wrong. In my head, I had already composed a slightly haughty email.

But first, to satisfy my hunch, I adjusted the logo to how I thought it should look.

And immediately I saw why they hadn't done it this way. Now it looks like Cooks' Art. The hat doesn't look like an M at all! They were right all along. In my head I composed another email to apologise for the previous email even though I'd never written it, let alone sent it.

I'm sorry for doubting you Cooksmart. I may still email you about putting the hanging loop in the corner rather that the side though. That annoys me.

The moral? Don't be a smart arse.

For the purposes of procreation only

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Limbo (or, why 1&1 equals nothing)

My new website is finished and ready to roll and I have written a suitably dull post to kick things off. But I can't direct you to it yet because I'm still waiting for my domain name transfer to go through. I registered with 1&1 because at the time I was pissed off with 123-reg. I can't remember why. Now I feel completely the opposite - 123-reg have picked up their game. Their implementation of Wordpress is a dream. Everything is great with them. We hold hands sometimes and plait each other's hair. We enjoy the best days.

The transfer appears to have gone through - 123-reg are telling me that they now control the domain and I can do what I want with it, but this isn't true because the forwarding I set up with 1&1 (to redirect to this blog) is still in effect. I can't log on to Wordpress because I just get a Blogger 'page does not exist' error.

1&1 are crap. If you try to do anything at all, they give you seven different ways of doing it, all of which conflict with each other and none of which actually work. I've tried cancelling my entire contract with them (they still host the never viewed but after further conflicting advice, I just get a 404 error when I try to confirm the decision. For professional web hosts, their website is a shocking shower of shit. To achieve anything on the site, or rather attempt to, you have to Google it first because finding the answers on the site itself is next to impossible. It's like they want to exasperate the user into sticking with them. Yeah, way to go. Don't they realise that I have upwards of zero people waiting to see my new site?

As a rational footnote, it's possible that this is not 1&1's fault. There may be other forces at work here. But they're still crap, so my ire is valid.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Moving home

I've decided to up sticks and migrate this blog to a nice new home. It won't happen for a few weeks, but a bit of notice never hurt anyone.

A couple of years ago I registered the domain with the intention of showcasing my talents to the world. I even built a website:

Which looked pretty good until I realised that 'showcasing' means that you need to be proud of the things you've done, and that didn't apply to 99% of my output. I scrapped the project but kept the domain, which ever since has been sat there, giving me the sad eyes, waiting for deployment.

My plan is to use it as the basis of a new Wordpress powered site. Over the past couple of weeks I've been teaching myself how to built a Wordpress theme from scratch and found it surprisingly enjoyable, so it feels like the right time to finally roll out Naturally I've given this very little thought and still have no idea how I'm going to populate the site, but I'm sure you've all come to expect style over substance from me by now.

I haven't started it yet, and have no idea what it will look like, but I just wanted to tell you that the end is nigh for New Trash Radio. You all thought that was a rubbish name for a blog anyway, didn't you?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Not really worth waiting for

My efforts to create artwork have not been lacking, but the results are not good. It was my own fault. I should have kept my mouth shut until I was sure I could produce something worthy of display. I haven't abandoned the mission, but it's clearly going to take longer than I expected to condition my brain to come up with decent ideas. The following items I post only to shame myself into action. My hope is that they indicate an absence of inspiration rather than ability.

1. This was my first foray into oil painting, and was intended to be a portrait of my friend Ariane's daughter Lily. I rather enjoyed painting with oils, which came as a surprise because I expected it to be much harder, but my inexperience is rather obvious. Why is she floating in a murky green sea? Why have I amputated her legs? You'd think years of photography would have taught me something about composition. On top of all that it doesn't look much like her, which is a pretty inescapable flaw for a portrait.

2. This is my first attempt at watercolour. In contrast to the oils, I thought watercolour would be a doddle but it isn't. With oils, you know that what you lay down is what you'll end up with. With watercolour, it's very hard to predict how the paint will react to the wet paper, where it will flow, what effect it will have on surrounding colours and how it will dry. All of this is evident here. The neck and nose are just embarrassing and the overall painting conveys nothing at all.

3. Another watercolour, slightly better, but still lacking focus. Her left eye is badly wrong.

4. My debut in acrylics. You have to work fast with acrylics because they dry very quickly, both on the canvas and on the palette, but the advantage of this is that they're very easy to correct if you screw up. Just wait a couple of minutes and you can paint over it. I screwed this one up so many times that it's got about 20 layers. It's probably the pick of the bunch but straight portraits aren't going to get me very far and I don't really know why I did it. It's no one famous, which is probably just as well as it bears little resemblance to the source image. And yes, it is finished.

I suppose I can use the excuse that I'm just experimenting with new mediums, but that doesn't explain the total lack of artistic merit and inspiration. There are two more that I just couldn't bring myself to post. I need to be braver! I'll write these off to experience and start again.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Why I'm painting pictures and not writing stories

This evening I was searching through some old backup discs for something and came across a story I started writing in 2003. It's terrible but it made me laugh, so I have self-indulgently decided to share it with you.

Luntell Wellingbone's Symphony

Luntell Wellingbone sat watching the rollers spin into action, contracting and moving towards him, when the idea arrived with perfect clarity. He smiled as it all fell into place – so simple, so obvious. Why had it not occurred to him before?

The best ideas always came to him in the car wash. He was glad he’d driven through all that mud yesterday; he’d have to do it more often. The last time he came here he invented the transparent rug, for those who like the look of floorboards but want the feel of a carpet. As soon as he found a suitable yarn it was bound to take off. But this was even bigger. There would be less financial gain perhaps, unless people really liked it, but that wasn’t his motivation. The feeling of accomplishment, the thrill of involvement, the overwhelming satisfaction in his creation – that would be reward enough.

On his way home he took a detour through the back roads, driving through every muddy puddle he could find, all the time desperate to tell somebody about his latest idea. The problem was that he didn’t know anyone. He had no friends, no workmates, nothing.

Before we continue, let’s explain these things. The lack of friends was hard to accept for an intelligent and likeable man such as Luntell, but he could only assume that people pre-judged him for his polka dot hair. He found it hard to blame them as it was admittedly unusual, but it wasn’t his fault. He’d always had it – naturally blond with large orange dots all over. He had tried dyeing it black, but when he did the dots just came out pink. Nowadays he didn’t try to hide it. He was proud of his appearance and everyone else would just have to fall into line.

The lack of workmates could be attributed to the fact that he didn’t have a job. After leaving school he went to the careers advisory service but they could only suggest low paid opportunities in circuses and funfairs. Luntell took it upon himself to find a suitable career and prove them wrong, but after one unsuccessful interview as a sales assistant at a jeweller’s he made a discovery that removed the need for paid employment. He was refilling his wallet at a cash machine one morning when he checked his balance and found more money than he was expecting. He reported it to the bank who said they’d look into it but ever since, on the last Tuesday of every month, the sum of two thousand pounds had been credited to his account. It was enough for Luntell to live on with some degree of luxury, and the anxious months of fear that he’d be caught out had since subsided into casual acceptance of his good fortune. It did of course leave him with a lot of spare time, but that would now be very useful for putting his new idea into action.

The one person he spent any time with was his mother, with whom he lived. However, conversation with her was limited on account of her deafness. She also had an unfortunate allergy to all forms of hearing aid and so Luntell had a stack of comment cards at the ready. The collection had grown to be quite considerable over the years and had to be arranged for easy access. At the front of the pile were the frequently used ones, such as ‘Yes’, ‘No’, and ‘How are you?’ while at the back were the ones he’d only ever used once, like ‘I saw a man tap dancing on the bonnet of our neighbour’s Ford Mondeo this morning’. He acknowledged that he was unlikely to need these cards again, but he didn’t like to throw them out just in case. His mother, not being the talkative type, had only a handful of cards, of which the most frequently used was ‘Oh’. In truth her eyesight wasn’t what it once was and most of the time she couldn’t read what he was saying to her anyway.

Luntell pulled the car over on a grass verge in front of a small detached house just before the track rejoined the main road. He had to tell somebody, it couldn’t wait until he got home. He closed the small iron gate behind him, walked up to the front door and pressed the bell. After a few seconds the door opened slightly and a small girl’s face peered around.

‘Hello little girl. Aren’t you pretty? Are you on your own?’ Footsteps thundered along the hallway and the door swung open. It was a woman holding a bag of frozen chips.

‘Listen you fucking sicko, I don’t know who you are but you’d better get the hell away from my daughter or I’m calling the police. Got it?’ She raised the bag over her head.

‘No, I’m only here to tell you something. Don’t be upset. It’s just that I’ve decided to write a symphony.’

‘I mean it! Get away from here!’ Luntell took two steps backwards, confused.

‘Mummy, why has that man got funny hair?’

‘Megan, get inside! Now!’ Luntell held out his palms to show he meant no harm.

‘A symphony. That’s all I wanted to say.’ The woman threw the bag and it hit him on the shoulder.

‘Get away!’ she screamed again. He turned and walked briskly back down the path, through the gate and back into his car. He saw the woman in his rear view mirror as he drove off, trying to make note of his number plate. What if she told the police? They might make him pay for the bag of chips. Perhaps he should have waited until he had got home, allowed his mother to be the first to know.

When he got there he was glad he hadn’t waited. His mother was fast asleep in her chair, her ‘Zzzz’ card lying on her lap. Luntell went into the kitchen to fix himself a celery and mustard sandwich, his favourite. Not only was it tasty but also convenient because if he was ever short of time, a stick of celery could be placed in a finger roll with little or no cutting required. Now was such a time as he hurriedly prepared the snack so that he could make a start on his symphony upstairs.

Up in his room he cleared a space on his desk and opened up a pad of plain paper. He took a bite of the roll and picked up an HB pencil. He sharpened the pencil. He emptied the sharpener in the waste paper basket by his feet. He took another bite of the roll. He opened the window and then took a further bite of the roll. He brushed some crumbs off the pad, closed the window because it was draughty, then finished the roll. Some three hours later he gazed down at the blank paper and decided that it was best to take a break. He turned the pad ninety degrees and wrote in large letters I’M WRITING A SYMPHONY!, then tore it off and went downstairs.

His mother was awake now and he held the piece of paper up to her. She in turn held up her ‘Oh’ card, farted, and took a sip of her celery juice. Mrs Wellingbone farted a lot, often loudly, but these things appear to be of no consequence to a deaf person. Luntell loped into the kitchen and sat at the table. It occurred to him that his lack of normal conversation was possibly affecting his creative powers. Maybe if he found someone to talk to, relate to, spend time with – maybe then the symphony would be easier to write. His last creative project had been less problematic. Though only a haiku, it had been written in little over an hour and it was surely no coincidence that back then he had Bubbins the cat for company. How he missed Bubbins. They always made time for each other at the end of the day to swap stories and jokes; it was what Luntell looked forward to most. He still regretted the time when he went to the supermarket for some celery and asked his mother to feed the cat while he was away. His mother had apparently misunderstood his instructions and fed Bubbins to next door’s Rottweiler.

It was time to do something about his lack of contact with the outside world, for the sake of his self and for the sake of his symphony. Tomorrow he would go out and try to meet people.


Luntell had never been to the local community hall before but it was always in use. Its name would appear on posters for WI markets, blood doning sessions, jumble sales and just about anything of mild interest to well meaning citizens. If it were human it would be quite the celebrity but right now, as bricks and mortar on this muggy Sunday evening, it was the venue for the unambiguously named Making Friends Club. The small advert in the local paper had said newcomers welcome and it seemed like a good place for Luntell to start, well, making friends.

It was three minutes past the advertised starting time and the handful of people who had turned up were milling around ignoring each other. Although not wishing to pre-judge, Luntell did find himself wondering how many of these lost souls were likely to become lasting companions. The middle-aged man with dandruff who was scraping the inside of his nostrils with his little finger and wiping it on his belly looked like the pick of the bunch. The rest were rather less animated, like they were just looking for someone to leave all their pressed flower collections to when they became too bored to carry on living. The door then swung open, banging loudly against the wall. Through a shaft of sunlight came a plump but well groomed woman whose perfumed scent, as she marched through the group, was one classification away from chemical warfare. There was little doubt that this was the event organiser.

‘Oh smashing,’ she said, looking around. ‘Lots of new faces.’ The corners of her mouth drooped slightly as she continued surveying her subjects. ‘Are any of you here from last week? Well never mind, we can start afresh.’ She pulled up a chair and invited everyone to join her in a circle. ‘My name’s Maureen Chapman and I’d like to welcome you to the Making Friends Club. I’m so glad to be able to offer this opportunity of meeting new people because it’s so important.’ Her emphasis was so heavy that she pursed her lips and looked around for a moment as if to recover. ‘I used to be a lonely person. After I lost my husband I used to sit in front of the television night after night, not wanting to face the world.’ She took another long, surveying pause and Luntell thought perhaps he ought to say something.

‘Did he ever turn up?’ Maureen shook her head slightly in confusion.


‘Your husband. You said you lost him. Did he turn up again?’

‘No dear,’ she managed through a professional smile. ‘He died.’

‘Oh goodness!’ said Luntell. ‘Double whammy! I’m sorry.’

‘Anyway, as I was saying. I felt as though I was all alone in the world, as if I didn’t belong. Then one day I woke up and I said to myself Maureen, you’ve got to snap out of this. The world won’t come to you, you’ve got to go out there and find it. And do you know what I found?’ Expressionless faces met her latest sweep of the room and she said her next words softly in fragments while leaning forward. It’s not. As hard. As you think.’ She looked down at her clipboard and Luntell wondered if she was expecting applause, but just as he was about to clap she spoke again. ‘Now, I’d like you to work around the circle and introduce yourselves, giving a little bit of background on why you’ve come to be here this evening. Shall we start with you?’ She gently touched the arm of the woman on her left.

We’re not going to hear what they all had to say because that would mislead you into thinking they have some bigger part to play in the story. The truth is they’re unimportant because Luntell won’t be coming back next week. He hasn’t quite decided that yet, but he will very soon. The only significance this meeting has is that in a second, the refreshments will arrive courtesy of the café down the road.

‘Ah!’ said Maureen as a girl entered carrying a tray of hot drinks in polystyrene cups with lids. ‘The coffees are here.’ Luntell turned around – he hadn’t heard her come in – and by the time the girl had collected her payment he was already planning the wedding. She was perfect in the way that celebrities were perfect; he knew nothing about her but all that he could see became the very definition of his ideal woman. She was slim, petite, had brunette hair and a smile that could melt an iceberg. After she had left, Maureen turned to Luntell and said ‘Okay, your turn.’ He placed his palms on his knees and sat up straight.

‘My name is Luntell Wellingbone, I’m 24 years old and I’m writing a symphony. I don’t want to be friends with any of you and as soon as I’ve finished my coffee I’m leaving.’


The girl’s name was Sarah. She had just completed the short walk back to the café and stood with her hands on hips as she looked around the near empty shop.

‘How was the freakshow?’ asked Nina, her colleague.

‘Even worse than last week. There was a bloke there with spotty hair.’

‘Spotty hair?’ Nina repeated, checking she’d heard correctly.

‘Yeah. His hair had coloured spots in it.’

‘Right. I always said you’d meet your ideal man working here.’ Sarah took off her apron and looked at the clock.

‘Don’t suppose I can knock off early tonight? I’m whacked and this place is dead.’ Nina shrugged.

‘Oh, go on then. You on tomorrow?’

‘No. Tuesday.’

‘Okay. See you then.’ Nina wiped down the counter for the umpteenth time for something to do. The solitary customer stood up and left, smiling faintly at her as he went. Perhaps she’d give it five minutes then close early. That time had almost expired when the door opened and Luntell walked in. He took a quick look around and then faced Nina.

‘Is the girl here who just served coffee at the Making Friends Club?’

‘Oh my God. It’s you. You know for a stalker you’re not very discreet.’


‘Well you don’t know her, do you? She told me about you. She thinks you’re a freak, and frankly I think that’s being charitable. Is that a wig?’

‘She spoke about me?’

‘Woah there, don’t get any ideas. Just go back to your screw-up buddies and leave her alone. Her boyfriend is twice your size and isn’t famed for his reasoning. Hear what I’m saying?’

‘Mmm. So what’s her name?’

‘I think you should leave now.’

‘No, I think I’ll have a celery and mustard on wholemeal please.’

‘I’m now closing up.’

‘Oh. That’s a pity.’

‘Not from here it isn’t.’ Luntell turned to leave but then paused, Columbo style, as he reached for the door handle.

‘She doesn’t have any cats I suppose?’

‘Look, if you don’t leave now I’m calling the police.’

‘Cats don’t agree with me,’ he said as the door closed behind him.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The perils of singledom #1

Following my previous post, I'd like to say that this engaging action shot is me preparing the foundation for an elaborate mural. That, however, would be untrue. In fact this is me doing some groundwork to complement my latest unnecessary purchase - an HD projector! (Note: you need to be careful when decorating. See how I've carelessly dropped some flesh coloured paint on top of my head. Goodness knows where that came from.)

Here's the beast, next to my measly 46 inch TV. Pah! The projected image size is 129 inches! That's just shy of 11 feet!

Here's a completely random screenshot as an example. (A lot of football fans subscribe to the absurd theory that league tables are meaningless until about a dozen games into the season. Sometimes you just have to chuckle at these fools.)

So yes, out of nowhere I felt compelled to create a cinema in my lounge and this post clearly has no purpose beyond showing off about it. I'm basically a total tosspot. I think it's just what happens to mid-thirties bachelors - resisting it could lead to all sorts of problems so you have to accede. Shortly after purchasing the projector I found out that the Star Wars saga is coming out on Blu-ray next month. See what I mean? It's like nature's delicate, unimpeachable plan.

At some point I will get around to creating some of that artwork I promised. Just one more DVD, then I'll get right on it.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Without further undo...

Given my track record it's probably unwise to do this, but I hereby announce my intention to create and post some 'proper' artwork, which is likely to include another blog revamp. For the past few years just about everything I've done in a creative sense has been digital and I'd like to move away from that and back to my Luddite roots. I don't think I've painted with real paint since primary school so I'm interested to see whether I can do anything useful with it. If the answer is no, this post will be deleted and you'll be expected to forget it ever appeared.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Medium priority

In my opinion, I lack assertiveness. I'm always reminded of this when I log into my LoveFilm account. The basic idea is that you create a list of films that you'd like to rent and from that list they select titles to send you. You can control the order of dispatch to an extent by selecting whether the titles on your list are low, medium or high priority with medium being the default.

I first joined when they were called ScreenSelect and have been a member, on and off, for several years. Through all that time I never used the prioritising system. Every time I'd log on there would be a message reminding me that all my titles are medium priority but I never did anything about it. The reason? I felt guilty about doing so. My logic was this: when a new title is released, a lot of people want to see it at once. LoveFilm only have a certain amount of copies. So, if I mark it as high priority, and they actually take notice of my request and send it to me, that means someone else in the country is missing out. And it's all my fault. Unable to live with this, I just decide that I'll wait my turn and when they send it to me as a medium priority title that obviously means that all the people who wanted to see it in a hurry have done so. It's nuts, especially since in most other areas of life I'm extremely selfish, but I can't shake it.

But last week I did something reckless. I was looking at my list, which included Black Swan because I never got round to seeing it at the cinema, and I thought to myself I'd really like to see that. So can you guess what I did? That's right: I looked over both shoulders and clicked on the little radio button marked 'High Priority'. It's no guarantee of course; there would surely still be many people in front of me in the virtual queue. People who'd camped out for days, weeing in bottles and eating Ryvita from sandwich bags.

I logged into my account half an hour ago. In the top right hand corner they list the titles they have sent out. My subscription permits two discs at a time. The first disc they have posted me today is Fever Pitch, starring Colin Firth, released in 1997. That's fine; the rush for that one has probably died down. The second disc they've posted me is Black Swan. Shit! I feel like a kid who was just lobbing stones at the seagulls for a laugh and didn't really mean to hit one. Now there's blood and feathers everywhere. I'm grateful, don't get me wrong, and looking forward to watching it but I feel bad for the couple in Doncaster, or wherever, who have missed out because of my bloody-minded insistence that I must see it before the other titles on my list. Sandra and Paul - for those are probably their names - I'm very, very sorry.

If anyone works for LoveFilm and can reassure me that they have more than half a dozen copies of each disc, I'd be grateful. Otherwise I'll just end up renting Short Circuit and The Goonies to assuage my guilt.

Graham Nunn is 34 and single.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Breaking technology news: The Amazon Kindle 3

On Saturday I made one of my frequent impulse buys in the shape of an Amazon Kindle. They sell them in Tesco now, you know, and for £111 I thought it was worth a punt. My sister showed me her e-reader a few months ago and while I was amenable to its flirting, I couldn't see myself using one enough to justify the cost - forgetting, temporarily, that justifying the cost plays no part whatsoever in 99 per cent of my purchasing decisions. I'm the guy who, almost a year ago, spent £1,700 on filmmaking software that has yet to process a meaningful frame of footage. So, at the weekend, I became a non-reading Kindle owner - safe in the knowledge that if it became the latest in my circus of white elephants, at least I'd given my Clubcard points a boost.

But this time there is no elephant in the room. As soon as I slid the power switch I fell in love with it. Despite its fairly undemanding brief of displaying text, I honestly think it's the most impressive application of technology I've used in years. To obtain reading material, you simply pair the Kindle with your Amazon account (which is a simple as logging in to it), and from then on any book you download is sent wirelessly to the device within seconds. Even if, like me, you are blighted with slow broadband, an average book is only 500 kilobytes in size. There is also an option to transfer books via USB if you want to avail yourself of titles from sources other than Amazon's Kindle Store, and it can also display other file types including Word documents, jpegs and PDFs (albeit in monochrome). That said, you probably won't feel the need to stray beyond said Kindle Store which offers over 700,000 books, newspapers and periodicals with many classic titles available free of charge. Also free are the generous samples - at least the first two chapters - that you can download if you're unsure about committing to a purchase. Full book prices vary depending on content, but many new fiction titles will only set you back £5.00.

The e-ink display only consumes battery life when it is refreshed (ie, when you move to the next page), which means that single hour long charge will apparently provide you with a month's worth of reading assuming an hour's use per day - handy if you want to go on holiday without leads and adaptors. The powerless display is such an unusual concept in this backlit world of ours that it's a little disconcerting at first - the device shows an image even when it's turned off and you keep thinking to yourself, 'Is that really not draining the battery?' The display itself is very high contrast and exceptionally detailed, comfortably resolving fine images without pixellation. Everything text based is adjustable, from font size to line spacing and even margins. You can also rotate the screen to a landscape orientation if that's your 'bag'.

For those who enjoy their prose without any emotion or cadence there is a text-to-speech feature which is optional on most e-books and is easily employed via the built-in speakers or headphone socket. It does a fairly impressive job despite sounding like John Major doing an impression of Stephen Hawking, though I can't think of a useful application for it among sighted owners unless you want to swot up on something while you're driving. It's certainly no replacement for an audiobook, but you wouldn't expect it to be.

The best thing about the Kindle though, from my point of view, is that it makes reading a pleasure. You'd think it would remove all the magic from a book - the smell of the paper, the dog eared corners, the almost inevitable spot varnished cover - but I find that it breathes new life into it. Whether that's just its novelty value remains to be seen but with fewer words on its screen compared with the average printed page, progress feels rapid and encourages engagement. E-books don't seem to be subject to piracy in the same way as music so everyone is getting a fair deal and their convenience is undeniable - it's like having a branch of Waterstone's in your sitting room.

So is this the end of the printed word? Amazon claims to have sold more e-books than printed books last year, which surprised me, but pushing nostalgia aside it's easy to see the environmental benefits of this. I still think there will be a place for the printed word but given the option to charitably donate all my books in exchange for electronic versions I can't see any reason why I wouldn't do it. Books take up so much space and there aren't many that you read twice. This is one seismic cultural shift that I'm happy to go along with. What book loving knowledge seeker wouldn't endorse such a simple means of sharing ideas? I honestly think the Kindle will encourage me to read a lot more than I used to, and that's the biggest endorsement of all.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Owls are fun

On Mother's Day* I boldly eschewed the 'out for a meal' tradition by taking my mum to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary. Ask me how it was. How was it? It was a real hoot.** It's actually a bit of a misnomer; they certainly have plenty of owls but there are also many other birds and even some mammals. You'd think, living in a fairly rural area, that I'd see owls all the time but that just isn't the case. I'd certainly never seen one up close, so it was fun. This fellow was my favourite:

You just can't get cooler than that. He's evolved his own crash helmet.

They also had some red squirrels. I'd never seen one before.

An entirely uninteresting fact that has just popped into my head is that my sister used to work for the Guardian insurance group, whose logo was an owl. The telephone number of the Ipswich branch was 282820. Geddit? Genius.

There are more photographs on my Flickr page.

* I'm going with what seems to be the accepted punctuation, but why isn't it Mothers' Day?
** This footnote is purely to give you time to enjoy that joke before moving on. That's assuming that you, like me, read footnotes straight away rather than going back to them.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Hey man, slow down

I'm back, and having cleared from my throat the debris of another failed project I'm feeling strangely optimistic and ready to do something new.

I have learned, from a second attempt at daily visual blogging, that nothing of any real worth can be done in a hurry. As much as I'd like to believe that it's possible to create meaningful pieces of art in a conveyor belt fashion every evening, it's not. They might look okay, but you're basically peddling a succession of half-formed ideas that could almost always be improved upon. When I came up with the story project I imagined that the posts would be very simple - mostly photographic - and nowhere near as time consuming as Creative Year had been. It seemed very manageable and I felt confident that I could see it through to completion. The early posts reflect this simplicity. Inevitably though, I then felt an obligation to improve and offer something of greater substance and found myself in that middle ground again. The format was restrictive and I felt that it wasn't going anywhere or saying anything.

I realise that I'm getting a reputation for being a quitter, but really I just care about my output. There is something appealing about daily posts because you very quickly amass a large archive and give the impression of being hugely productive, but less frequent and more considered work is definitely a better option. How many of your favourite pieces of art, and I'm including music and film in that bracket, have been thrown together without much care? None, I would imagine. We all appreciate things that take true effort and we always acknowledge it, subconsciously or otherwise.

So, whatever I end up doing, I want it to have more value. My creative output isn't a hobby that I fit in around my life because I don't have one; my artwork is the only thing that I'm likely to leave behind.

I'm going to keep posting stuff as and when I do it, and I'll start with this portrait I've just finished of Emma Stone. In a radical departure from my usual subject matter, she is an attractive young actress. I don't think portraits are my calling but they're quite fun to do when I'm between other things.

If it interests you, there is an accompanying time lapse video here.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Days 89 - 365

Well I did acknowledge from the start that it was a bad idea. I panicked, mid-December, into starting an ill-judged and ill-conceived project that lost its legs a few weeks back. I'm on a seemingly unending search for the right vehicle to showcase my tal***s, ever mindful that my inability to find it could merely indicate something I'd rather not acknowledge.

So thank you, the merry few who remain - I'm off to come up with a more productive use for my time.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day 88

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day 87

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Day 86

A couple of weeks ago a strange thing happened and I still haven't come up with a satisfying explanation for it. I was having my usual Saturday lie-in when I was awoken by a huge thud on my doormat followed by the rattle of my letter plate and the postman's steps down the metal staircase outside. Now, I'm a very sound sleeper who can normally snooze through thunderstorms, car alarms, air raids, you name it. So whatever had just dropped through my letterbox must have been pretty substantial. I was still sleepy but since I wasn't expecting any packages I was very intrigued as to what it might be, so I got out of bed immediately to see what it was. When I got to the doormat there was an A4 flyer for a local double glazing firm. Nothing else. I thought perhaps I'd dreamt it; the leaftlet had probably been there from earlier. But on looking out of the window, the postman was walking across the road to the other houses. Please readers, help me understand.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Day 85

Adobe Illustrator comes with several templates, including the above box. After a lengthy period of bafflement I have concluded that the extra flaps are for sticking together and display hanging.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Day 84

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Day 83

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Day 82

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Day 81

Monday, 21 March 2011

Day 80

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Day 79

Crap post? Check.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Day 78

I seem to be of a certain constitution that completely precludes me from using Twitter or any other social networking site. I don't know why I feel disappointed about this.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Day 77

I'm rather fond of this one - all five kilobytes of it.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Day 76

If you wanted to live on the edge a bit, you could always swap Tuesday's apple for Thursday's.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Day 75

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Day 74

Monday, 14 March 2011

Day 73

I did about six versions of this. I'm not happy with it, I just gave up.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Day 72

Look what I found in an old, dusty drawer! For a mad moment last week I was thinking about getting one of those iPad things but now I don't have to.

And yes, that really is a full stop. This sentence of tedium is finally over.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Day 71

I don't know if this is my neighbour's cat or if it was just taking refuge on their bench, but we stared each other down as I took this photo from my bedroom window. The cat won, then went back to sleep.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Day 70

Don't sit too close to the screen.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Day 69

The iPad generation would never understand.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Day 68

From here on in I will be relaxing* my intention to rigidly observe sentence case because it's too restrictive. In typographical terms, avoiding capital letters severely limits your options and since I'm struggling a bit already I could do without such constraints. There's no emphasis in the story anyway so it doesn't really matter.

* That is, totally abandoning

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Day 67

Monday, 7 March 2011

Day 66

This could be my new favourite, though I might have overdone the compression.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Day 65

This looked more symmetrical when I mistakenly did it as 'punctuated' first time round. I've done that on several posts, costing me lots of time - misremember the word, plough ahead, realise you have to do it again, swear loudly.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Day 64

I've just got wind of a peculiar campaign that The British Humanist Association are running regarding the forthcoming census. They have called it The Census Campaign. Its sole aim is to get people who are not religious to declare that they are not religious. Yep, that's it. They are trying to raise £15,000 to promote the importance of telling the truth. It's just as well that I discovered this campaign when I did, or I might have accidentally declared myself a Hindu. Good work, BHA! Remarkably though, as I write this in late February, they have almost reached their fundraising target.

The BHA's claim is that people who are not religious still tend to classify themselves as having faith, when asked pick from a list, due to some kind of familial loyalty or because they've been baptised. This gives a religion a greater share of the spoils than it deserves, encouraging those who govern us to believe that we're all good churchgoers whose views should be strongly represented in all areas of society. Damn, where's AV when you need it?

Personally I'm not bothered. The census is hardly the front line of battle and besides, if people feel the need to declare themselves Christian despite only setting foot in church for weddings and funerals, let them. If they were truly non-religious, they wouldn't need a crappy poster to tell them so.

And it really is a crappy poster. The Census Campaign artwork is abysmal. They're still clinging to the corpse of the Atheist Bus Campaign like a child in denial dragging around a dead puppy. I hope no one thinks I had anything to do with it. I'm sure the BHA do some good things from time to time but this isn't one of them. It's a scary recruitment drive worthy of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Day 63

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Day 62

I think I often use certain ideas on the wrong word.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Day 61

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Day 60

Taking a photo of your own eye is harder that it looks.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Day 59

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Day 58

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Day 57

This could be a Pet Shop Boys album sleeve.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Day 56

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Day 55

I realise that this doesn't really make any sense with reference to the word in question but as long as I acknowledge that it's okay, right?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Day 54

It is mandatory to sing The Proclaimers' Letter from America while viewing this image. "Take a looooooooooook down the rail track..."