Monday 22 April 2024


Inaugurated on this day 54 years ago, in 1970, Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection, Today it includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by including one billion people in more than 193 countries. The official theme for Earth Day 2024 is "Planet vs. Plastics."
For that first Earth Day, legendary American cartoonist Walt Kelly – creator of the beloved comic-strip about Pogo Possum that resident philosopher of Okefenokee Swamp – produced an Earth Day poster showing Pogo surveying the mess of garbage littering his swamp homeland and carried the slogan "We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us.”

Kelly was re-working a comment made by American Naval Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who – on September 10, 1813 – having trounced the British Navy at the Battle of Lake Erie, reported to Major General William Henry Harrison, “We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.”
Kelly’s variation on this famous battle report, had a different intent: to remind us that humankind has a way of being its own worst enemy – specifically that we have only ourselves to blame for the conditions that are polluting our environment and threatening the future of human life on earth.
A year after Kelly's poster appeared, he created a special comic strip for Earth Day 1971 featuring Pogo and his friend Porky Pine that restated his earlier warning against the self-destructive course which we were (and are still) blindly pursuing...

You can read more about Walt Kelly, Pogo & friends HERE

Friday 5 April 2024


Sometimes this is just how you feel in the morning –––
even on a Friday!

[Illustration: Cover of vintage breakfast menu (c. 1940) from the Walt Disney Studio Restaurant, Burbank, California, USA]

Tuesday 2 April 2024



A splendid piece of cover-art featuring the work of the illustrator and distinguished fine artist Daniel Bennett Schwartz (b. 1929), made for TV Guide, the US television listings-magazine. 


This issue (May 5-11, 1979) features an impressive double-portrait by Schwartz of James Stephens and John Houseman, stars of The Paper Chase, a law-school drama series that was a spin-off from the 1973 movie of the same name and which quickly became one of my favourite American TV shows of the late '70s and early '80s.


Always a fan of 'flamboyant' acting, I adored Houseman's towering reprise of his role in the original film: the domineering, curmudgeonly, sharp-tongued law tutor, Prof. Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.  "You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of MUSH; you leave thinking like a lawyer."


Also, to be perfectly frank, I had more than a bit of crush on Kingsfield's student, James T. Hart, played by the blonde and bespectacled James Stephens––– 


And there, I think, I had better stop lest I get tempted into making inappropriate jokes about legal briefs...

Monday 1 April 2024


Along with one of my Easter Eggs yesterday came this delightful little button badge featuring Moominpappa, ever-reliable paterfamilias of Tove Jansson's Moomins and their extended family. [Many thanks S&R!]. 


This provides me with an opportunity to display a quartet of original Easter illustrations by Tove. Made in 1950, these illustrations were created using a mixed technique of ink, watercolor, and gouache and were later featured on postcards and sold at the department store Stockmann in Helsinki, Finland, during the spring of 1956. 





I ought, perhaps, to offer an explanation for the little witches flying by in the background to Snuffkin's scene of merry music-making. This from the website 'THIS IS FINLAND': 
Finnish Easter traditions mix religious references with customs related to the long-awaited arrival of spring. If you answer the door on the Sunday before Easter, you may be confronted by endearing little witches offering to bless your home in return for treats.
In the most popular family tradition, young children (especially girls) dress up as Easter witches, donning colourful old clothes and painting freckles on their faces. 'The little witches then go from door to door, bringing willow twigs decorated with colourful feathers and crepe paper as blessings to drive away evil spirits, in return for treats,' says children’s culture expert Reeli Karimäki of the Pessi Children’s Art Centre in Vantaa, just north of Helsinki.
Like many Finnish householders, Karimäki keeps a basket of small chocolate Easter eggs ready by the door to pay off the marauding witches. Other families reward them with sweets or small change – or keep their front doors resolutely closed.
The witches recite a traditional rhyme at the door: Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle! (In translation: 'I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!')
'This Finnish children’s custom interestingly mixes two older traditions – a Russian Orthodox ritual where birch twigs originally represented the palms laid down when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; and a Swedish and Western Finnish tradition in which children made fun of earlier fears that evil witches could be about on Easter Saturday,' explains Karimäki.
To this day, the little witches are more likely to roam on Easter Saturday in western Finland, but on Palm Sunday in other regions.
Karimäki adds that, as Easter approaches, Finnish children also plant grass seeds in shallow dishes of soil and place birch twigs in vases of water, and watch eagerly for green shoots and 'mouse-ear' buds to appear symbolising the springtime reawakening of life. Easter eggs and Easter bunnies – both pre-Christian symbols of fertility – also abound in Finland, though these are more recent cultural imports.
To read more about a Finnish Easter – Passion Plays, Church celebrations, bonfires and seasonal cuisine, CLICK HERE

Sunday 31 March 2024


 [Photo: Brian Sibley]

Friday 29 March 2024


“He was the boy I had given birth to and he was more defenceless now than he had been then.”
― Colm Tóibín, The Testament of Mary: A Novel (2012)
[Photo: Brian Sibley]

Saturday 23 March 2024


It's Eastertide and Radio Times magazine has just unveiled the cover-art for its Easter 2024 Issue. The work of Dawn Cooper, it comprises a bunny, a bird (a red-breasted swallow?), spring flowers and, obviously, a few eggs. What could be nicer? They are, of course, all part of the traditional tropes and trappings of the season, but it sent me off in search of how Radio Times marked Easter in days gone by.
For five decades, like a number of other weekly magazines, Radio Times employed artists noted for their skill at working with woodcuts and pen-and-ink illustration and allowed them the time and space to create lavish pieces of decorative art that – for what was nothing more than an ephemeral publication – are astonishing in their unrivaled detail, story-telling and arresting imagery.
Many Easter issues of Radio Times contained interior artwork presenting classic or newly-created depictions of the Passion, but the covers – unsurprisingly, perhaps – mostly comprised intensely rural, village-centric scenes from some of the finest illustrators of the age – in all of which the church was either a central feature or at very least an integral element of the design. It may be hard to believe, my children, but that is how it was in Britain during those early All-Things-Bright-and-Beautiful years of the Twentieth Century.
Easter 1934 - John Austen (1886-1948)

 Easter 1948 - J. S. Goodall (1908-1996)

Easter 1949 - [Unidentified artist] 
Easter 1950 - Robin Jacques (1920-1995)

 Easter 1951 - C. F. Tunnicliffe (1901-1979) 


Easter 1952 - S. R. Badmin (1906-1989)



Easter 1954 - S. R. Badmin (1906-1989)

Wednesday 20 March 2024


Everything MUST be CHANGED!

And NOW ––– or SOONER!

Everyone knows: Dettol is yellowy-brown in colour and smells like a hospital.


It is absolutely
NOT this colour... and it does NOT smell of 'Lavender & Orange Oil'.

As American novelist Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) observed:

"All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward."


Monday 18 March 2024


There are days when I totally despair of the rank bonkerness with which our media is now infested!

A display currently on show at the V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum) 'mentions' (as a historical fact, please note) that the popular seaside entertainment, the Punch & Judy Show, has – over the years – opted to substitute the play's original 'Devil' puppet with one modelled on the features of hated public figures including Adolf Hitler, Margaret Thatcher and Osama bin Laden.


Well, that story has now been re-presented as the V&A promulgating the monstrous proposition that Thatcher was as evil as Hitler and bin Laden and, as a result, that the museum ought to have its funding taken away and that those responsible for exhibition-label-writing should be flogged, naked, through the streets of London!

What utter whiffle and piffle! You can't possibly learn from history if you hide or deny it!

Anyway, here's Mrs Thatcher (or, rather, her 'Spitting Image' alter ego) as I accounted her at the Tate Gallery at their 2010 exhibition, 'Rude Britannia'.


[Photo: Brian Sibley]

Sunday 10 March 2024



Even when they're no longer with us, our Mothers are ever-present in our memories...


[Photo: David Weeks]