The anonymity of the crowd

I’ve been thinking this morning about the effect of city living on our collective psyche. I’m sat on a crowded train with two bags and a lap top on my lap. Although the train is always half empty when I get on, it never fails to get crowded two stops down the line and 20 mins in to my journey there’s standing-room only.

A man sat next to me about 20 minutes ago. There’s not quite enough room in the double seat for both of us. Our arms are touching. I’m squashed. He read his magazine for a while and then dozed off. He’s now snoring. In a few minutes his head may drop on my shoulder. This is pretty intimate. Yet he hasn’t looked at me at all, or wished me good morning or done anything at all to acknowledge that I even exist. This is of course, completely normal. But it’s also – well – rude!

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Finished twins

Finished twins

Finished twins

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Self portrait with cold

self portrait with cold Apr 13 300dpi 1

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Drawing baby Harrison

Been getting quite a few requests from baby friends to do portraits of their little ones. Here’s Harrison, completed today. Got a few more in the pipeline. Harrison Apr 13 300dpi

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Mar ’13 no 2

Mar '13 no 2

Since getting my evenings back, I’ve got my sketchpad out.

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Percy, Feb ’12

Percy, Feb '12

Drew this about two months before our beloved Percy met his maker.

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Mar ’13 No 1

Mar '13 No 1

Since getting my evenings back, I’ve got my sketch pad out.

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Is it churlish to criticise Santa’s elves for lack of professionalism?

And I’m not referring to elfin safety – just to get that out the way immediately.

When we arrived at Father Christmas’ grotto at 10am on Saturday, it had already been a bit of a morning. Leaving the house before midday with a baby and a four year old nearly always involves some degree of stress. On this occasion, we made it out the door at about 9.35, giving us 25 minutes to do a 35 minute drive. Plus we’d been told to arrive five minutes early.

Inevitably, the sat nav sent us to the wrong place. (It wasn’t until we got there of course that I read the bit in the ticket info that told you which post code to use.) We were nearly there when we witnessed a non-serious car crash. Someone made the grievous mistake of dithering too long while turning right. So the guy behind him, in a jeep pulling a trailer, decided it would be a good idea to overtake him while he was turning. The jeep made it round the car just in time but the trailer didn’t.

20121208_094615As it was clearly the jeep’s fault, I wound down my window and called out to the car driver that we’d seen what had happened. “We’re in a real hurry though. We’ve got to go.” I hastily scrawled our number on an old cassette card (I know, I know) lying in the door pocket, thrust it through the window at him and off we sped.

We needn’t have rushed – we were the first to arrive at Santa’s place. There was a female elf hanging about outside. She looked the part – pixie boots, stripey tights, red and green pom pom hat etc – but she seemed rather nervous. She ushered us into the visitors’ centre, aka the grotto, where tables covered in craft materials for making Christmas cards were packed into a fairly small space. On each was a plate with a “selection” of biscuits (five rich teas, one bourbon – sign of the economic times I suppose).

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Did Christmas cause the riots?

I spotted these Christmas crackers on sale in our local town centre yesterday.

Christmas starts in August

It was horrible weather and the combination of torrential rain and Yuletide money-spinning gave me the feeling that the rest of summer was cancelled. (I usually try to pretend it’s still summer until the end of September, so this was a depressing development.)

I posted the pic on Facebook yesterday and one friend commented that Selfridges has had Christmas decorations on sale for weeks already. There were other comments expressing dismay and outrage.

I find this unseasonal selling particularly ironic and cynical when so much Xmas imagery focuses on the fact that it happens in winter – even in parts of the world where it doesn’t. Snow, robins, holly berries, mistletoe…they all seem to be at least as prominent as Jesus.

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