Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Santa's little helper

Christmas is upon us and in news rooms up and down the country, the search is on for stories with festive cheer.
This week, The Westmorland Gazette presented me with the tale of a reindeer. One which had escaped from a local garden centre, where it was giving rides to gnomes (or something).
My first sketch (see below) caused consternation in the news room. The last time the Gazette hinted that Santa MIGHT NOT EXIST, it unleashed a flood of letters from angry readers, e.g.: “How dare you upset my little Timmy, who I had vowed to keep in ignorance of the truth until he was 37.” 
Now, I'm all in favour of telling the nation’s young that their parents are peddling a big fat lie. It’s good preparation for when they find out there’s an even bigger whopper being put about. 
However, I was overruled. * In any case, of course he exists - the U.S. Military tracks him every year via radar.
Elsewhere in the news, protestors are getting their veins in a knot about Cumbria being used as a dump for nuclear waste. Campaigners lit a candle on the stump of Brockhole’s ex-monkey puzzle tree for unspecified, possibly magical, reasons. (They don't seem to have noticed that we've been dumping nuclear waste in the area since the 1950s.)
And finally, someone put a cat in a wheelie bin. Possibly a copy-cat incident.
Here are my cartoon sketches. Which would you choose to grace the front page? Let me know in the comments box below. You can find out if you were right on Thursday by visiting my website.

* Wait till they see next week’s Gazette investigation: WHAT REALLY LURKS AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR GARDEN: THE GREAT FAIRY MYTH!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Making Plans for Brockhole

Brockhole is the Lake District National Park Authority visitor centre and is justly famous. It's a Victorian mansion which stands in Thomas Mawson-designed grounds on the shore of England's largest lake.

It's a lovely old building in a superb setting. I'm quite fond of it.

But over the years it has suffered at the hands of consultants, planners and a number of folk who wanted to improve it, maximise it's visitor potential or chop bits down. As the Park has gradually withdrawn from servicing visitors - closing down many of its tourist information centres, for example - Brockhole is looking increasingly out on a limb, exposed to the cruel ravages of the UK recession and political whim.

Now we have yet another Masterplan. Yes, they've been making plans for Brockhole so that it can boldly go into the 21st century. This was reported yesterday in the Cumbria media, including my own Westmorland Gazette. Not unnaturally, I wanted to tackle it in my front page cartoon.

You can see the results below. My first batch was rejected as a little too aggressive. I submitted a second selection and … we went for a cartoon about Crooklands village constantly losing its electricity supply, whilst the rest of Cumbria gets superfast broadband.

What do you think? Was the right choice? Comments welcome below.

(The musical links in this week's blog are entirely gratuitous. I needed cheering up.)

Thursday, 6 December 2012


At this special time of year, what could be better than rushing into the countryside and throwing your clothes off for charity?
Well, any number of things. I can think of about a million. However, five female members of Cartmel Young Farmers Club decided to shed their kit for a charity calendar in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance, and St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston. 
The Westmorland Gazette describes this “X-Tractor” event as involving “five farming lovelies”, which made me think that somewhere out there might be “five farming horribles”. But that was a distraction from this week’s cartoon.
Here are the four ideas I submitted to my steamed editor for the front page cartoon. “But which,” I hear you ejaculate, “did he choose? And was it the one I would have chosen?”
Calm down, dear reader. Make your choice in the comments box below and then throw caution to the winds and head to my website to see if you were correct.

If you want to contribute to the charity, you can buy a calendar by calling 07791413163.