It could be argued (but not by me) that topical cartoonists on the national papers have it easy. One of the challenges of drawing a front page cartoon for a regional paper is repetition. Not repeating the same joke (although after 25 years that is a danger) but of encountering a story several times over.
This week it happened to me. Back in July 2002 there was a story in The Westmorland Gazette about South Lakeland District Council’s plan to close public toilets and save money. Not a brilliant idea for an area which derives income from tourism. But a good topic for a cartoon. I pitched several ideas and the one that got in struck a chord; numerous people have mentioned it to me since and even one or two councillors have admitting liking it. (The original is still for sale, by the way.) I thought it was my best shot at the story and you can see it at the foot of this blog.
When the story arose again this week, it was still a good cartoon topic but if I’d already done the best joke, what next?
Well, there were a couple of new angles. The planned closures meant it would be very hard to find an open loo. There was talk of it costing up to 30p to spend a penny. And plans for local communities to run the local bogs had interesting echos of David Cameron’s Big Society idea.
In the time available (I have about two hours) I didn’t quite get a handle on the community angle. Maybe I’ll catch that one next time round. Meanwhile, here are the ideas that did occur to me, including number 5 which didn’t even get as far as being presented to the editor. I was quite happy with the one chosen (which you can see on my website) although my favourite was number 1.
When the story returns in eight years, I’ll pitch that one again.