Thursday, 28 July 2011

Sky High

In the 1980s, low flying jets were a popular topic for the Westmorland Gazette cartoon. The letters pages were full of complaints from unpatriotic locals, complaining bitterly at the noise as a brave airmen refined their hair-trigger skills to defend the realm against the incursion of Johnny Foreigner and his alien hordes.
One result of this was the Windermere Air Show, which the RAF supported as a thank you for putting up with their training exercises over the Lakes.
Wind forward and this year, people are complaining because they can’t see the jets flying over the Lakes. Or, more precisely, they’re complaining about being made to do so.
Windermere’s 11th Air Show last weekend was run by an event management company. So not only did they charge for parking and programmes, but access to The Glebe (a public park) was by entrance fee only. As it provided the most obvious vantage point for most people (the unimaginative ones), there has been An Outcry and, inevitably, Letters To The Press.
Meanwhile, in other news, research has shown that over the last 20,000 years, people in the north have developed bigger brains than those in the south. Northern newspapers have been very keen to report this research. I can’t think why - but then I am an unrepentant Southerner.
Here are this week’s choices which I presented ot the editor. Only one received the Seal of Approval and appears on the front page of this week’s Gazette …

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Thin Blue Line

This week’s major UK news story has heaped revelation upon resignation. Corruption extends to the highest echelons of the media, police and politics. What can be done? Who can replace the people at the top? Who do we trust now that even the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and his Deputy have resigned over the scandal?
Well, Cumbria Police have an idea or two. They’ve been recruiting local school children to illustrate crime. The results ranged from bank robberies, drug dealing, incidents of violent crime … and you thought the Lakes was a rural idyll. Ha.
Clearly this was ideal territory for this week’s Westmorland Gazette cartoon.
Below, you can see the sketches I pitched to our esteemed editor. And if you tootle over to my website, you can see the one he chose. It was a damned difficult drawing this week.

"If the police are using kids as photofit artists, you and me are in deep trouble."

"Great. So the suspect is a dead ringer for Spongebob Squarepants."

"According to our child artist, this is the drug dealer we're looking for."

"I need trauma counselling. I've just seen the kids' pictures of violent crime."

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Leaving an Impression

Phone hacking, newspaper closures, police corruption, dodgy journalists, supine politicians … it’s been an exciting week for news. One story has dominated the headlines on the back of underhand journalistic practices.
Over on my own newspaper, things are a little less exciting. Not only can I confirm that no one in the newsroom has ever hacked someone else’s phone, many of them have trouble logging into the editorial computer. If someone has lost the post-it note with the password, we’re all doomed.
So no phone hackery for this week’s front page. But lurking within the the pages of The Westmorland Gazette, were a couple of stories which caught the cartoon eye.
The first is a new initiative to rent electric bikes in the Lake district. There are charge points being established throughout South Lakes and the bikes are already for hire.
In other news, a family came home from holiday to discover the shape of an owl on their French windows. Most of us just find Jesus in our toast but this was an astonishingly clear image, caused by the dust on the tawny owl’s feather imprinting on the glass. No sign of the owl, so they assumed it recovered and flew off (I suspect a well-fed fox).
So these are the ideas I pitched. And in answer to Martin Lewes, ace reporter for BBC Radio Cumbria, the decision about which cartoon to use is not made by either white or black smoke from the editor’s office. Instead, a bar of Kendal Mint Cake is thrown from an upstairs window. White and it gets in, chocolate covered and it’s rejected.
You can see which got the white mint cake by visiting my website on Thursday morning.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Invasion of the Hordes

A bit of a mixed bag rich variety of stories lined up in the cartoonist’s sights this week.
The silliest is to do with Ulverston carnival. Wet sponges have been banned for health and safety reasons. Apparently they are used for throwing at people who volunteer to go in the stocks. (Why would anyone volunteer to go in the stocks? Is not the sad, mental decline of such folk a bigger story?) Anyway, sponges can pick up grit so they’re tooooo dangerous to throw.
Another sort of danger also reared its head. Tesco is threatening local Ambleside shops by opening a Tesco Express. In Bristol, earlier this year, such a move provoked riot. I suspect in South Lakes there may be Severe Tutting and a couple of letters to The Westmorland Gazette.
And finally, a horde of Viking treasure worth millions has been found in Furness. I'm off to dig up the garden. Meanwhile, you can see which cartoon graces the front page by visiting my website at