Saturday 18 May 2024


From the covers of the American television-listings magazine, TV GUIDE, across four decades, here are seven portraits of comedy legend, BOB HOPE – as depicted by the pens and paintbrushes of six masters of cartoon and illustration.
Hope's familiar features – the chin, nose, forehead and eyebrows – are brilliantly captured in caricatures by Hirschfeld, Searle. Scarfe and Davis, portraiture by Bernard Fuchs and the photo-realistic artwork by Richard Amsel.

TV GUIDE, January 26, 1957 by Al HIRSCHFELD (1903-2003)


 TV GUIDE, January 16, 1965 by Ronald SEARLE (1920-2011)

TV GUIDE, January 11, 1969 – Gerald SCARFE (b. 1936)
TV GUIDE, January 11, 1969 by Gerald SCARFE (b. 1936)
  TV GUIDE, April 10, 1971by Jack DAVIS (1924-2016)
TV GUIDE, February 28, 1976 by Bernard FUCHS [Again!] (1932-2009)

TV GUIDE, May 21, 1983 by Richard AMSEL (1947-1985)


Saturday 11 May 2024


The Royal Academy of Arts is currently celebrating the work of Angelica Kauffman RA (1741-1807), a Swiss Neoclassical painter who had a highly successful career in London and Rome. Remembered primarily as a history painter, Kauffman was also skilled portraitist, landscape painter. She was, along with Mary Moser, one of only two female painters who were among the 34 founding members of the Royal Academy of Art at its inception in 1768. 


In this 'Self-portrait in al'antica Dress' Angelica Kauffman chooses to show herself not just as an 'artist' (she holds a tablet and stylus and has her painters impedimenta within reach) but also as an idealised image of femininity. The rustic costume and the classical setting – columns, swagged curtaining and an idyllic country vista in the background – complete the romantic mood and, in doing so, effectively, effortlessly – and, perhaps, ironically – conceal the labour of the painter's craft.

There is a major focus Kauffman's portraiture in this exhibition and, in addition to the self-portrait above, I'm sharing just three works which show her very considerable talent.


DAVID GARRICK (1717-1779); English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer who influenced nearly all aspects of European theatrical practice throughout the 18th century. Painted in 1764, Kauffman boldly portrays Garrick with unexpected – indeed, uncommon – informality. Garrick turns on his chair to look back at the observer, eschewing the frequently-adopted 'dramatic' pose used in the depiction of thespians! This air of being 'at ease with life', combined with the intensity of his look and the hint of a wry smile, makes for a compelling portrait.



Sir JOSHUA REYNOLDS, PRA, FRS, FRSA, (1723-1792); English painter who, himself, specialised in portraits. He promoted the 'Grand Style' in painting, which depended on idealisation of the imperfect. He was a founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts and was knighted by George III in 1769. This portrait of a portraitist (dating from 1767) combines the sense of a man of considerable public importance – the associated trappings provided by the studio setting with its easel, books, papers and an antique bust of Michelangelo, whom Reynolds so much admired – with a contemplative pose that reflects, perhaps, his friendship with Kauffman and, even, his acknowledgement of her worth as a fellow artist.


JOHANN JOACHIM WINCKELMANN (1717-1768); German art historian, one of the founders of scientific archaeology and considered by many as the father of the discipline of 'art history'. He was one of the first scholars to arrange Greek Art into specific periods, and time classifications. Kauffman depicts Winckelmann, pen in hand but looking away from what he is writing (and the observer), as if he were caught in a moment of reverie. The simple, uncluttered staging and the sitter's reflective expression suggests a man with an ordered mind who primarily seeks to bring order to the chaos of history.

The exhibition, 'Angelica Kauffman', remains on display at The Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London, until 30 June 2024.

[Photos: David Weeks]

Wednesday 8 May 2024


The newcomer to the bookshelves asserts his position...

['Real-Life Information'. Newcomer: 'Donald Duck 70 Years' figurine by Royal Doulton (1998); Long-time Resident: Jiminy Cricket Disney Christmas Ornament (c. 1983; inspired by JC's performance as The Ghost of Christmas Past in Mickey's Christmas Carol; the original hanging eyelet and ribbon have been surgically removed!]

Saturday 4 May 2024


Today, May 4th, has been intergalactically hijacked by STAR WARS fans with the popular meme 'May the Fourth Be With You', but for fans of Lewis Carroll, the date has an entirely different significance.
Carrollians have long designated today as 'Wonderland Day', marking, as it does, the birthday of Alice Pleasance Liddell, born on May 4, 1852. 

Alice was the fourth of the ten children of Dr Henry Liddell, at the time of her birth, Headmaster of Westminster School and then (from 1855) Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. It was there that Alice, her family (and, in particular, her brother Harry and two of her sisters, Lorina and Edith), met a young mathematics don, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who was an enthusiastic – and pioneering – champion of the new 'art' of photography and who wrote entertaining poems, puzzles and stories under the pseudonym, 'Lewis Carroll'. 

Alice Liddell – "Child of the pure unclouded brow. And dreaming eyes of wonder!" – would become Lewis Carroll's child-muse and provide the inspiration for a curious fantasy originally entitled, in manuscript, Alice's Adventures under Ground and, later and much amplified, published in 1865 as the book we now know as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
'Hidden in plain sight' in the book are two date-specific allusions to Alice Liddell's birthday....
In the book's sixth chapter, 'Pig and Pepper', Alice encounters the Cheshire Cat...
[Alice asked] "What sort of people live about here?"
"In that direction," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter: and in that direction," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad."
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Shortly after, the author tells us...
After a minute or two [Alice] walked on in the direction in which the March Hare was said to live. "I've seen hatters before," she said to herself; "the March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won't be raving mad--at least not so mad as it was in March."
So, the month of the year is now established as being May.
Then, in the following chapter, 'A Mad Tea-Party', we find this exchange...
The Hatter was the first to break the silence. "What day of the month is it?" he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.
Alice considered a little, and then said "The fourth."
"Two days wrong!" sighed the Hatter. "I told you butter wouldn't suit the works!" he added looking angrily at the March Hare.
"It was the best butter," the March Hare meekly replied.
"Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well," the Hatter grumbled: "you shouldn't have put it in with the bread-knife."
Thus it is established (if you put any credence in such nonsense!) that the 'day of the month' of May is, indeed, 'The Fourth'!
Whether it's YOUR birthday (or your UN-Birthday) I hope you have a WONDER-filled Wonderland Day!
[Photographs: Lewis Carroll; Illustration: John Tenniel (enlarged and coloured) from The Nursery "Alice" (1890)]

Thursday 2 May 2024


Ah, time for lunch! 

Beans on toast? 


Heinz Beanz Cheesy on toast...

It looked and sounded interesting – even a little tantalizing – so we gave it a go...


OK... We like both named ingredients, so, yes, OK. But seriously over-priced (£1.50-£1.80, depending on the store) and, yes, you could certainly make it more cheaply yourself.


Be aware there are some extremely negative reviews of this product online. For example, one Tesco customer wrote: "Tastes and smells like burnt cheese on toast mixed in with a teenager's gym sock."


What I didn't know (I lead such a sheltered life) is that 'Beanz Cheesy' (or should that be 'Cheezy'?) is just the tip of the iceberg – sorry, that's a ludicrous simile – the tip of 'a hill of beans', because Heinz have, apparently, been messing about with their legendary product for some while now... 


OH, AND, YES, TALKING OF SOCKS (see above): 

It turns out that Heinz really DO sell socks...  

Sorry, SOCKZ!!



Wednesday 1 May 2024


Hearing a description of someone on the radio the other day as having "A finger in every pie", made me think that this would make an excellent advertising slogan for that legendary pie-maker, Mrs. Nellie Lovett, so I made this little mock-up for her...


 I was thinking of adding:

"Since eating one of Mrs. Lovett's pies, I have eaten no other!" 

– His Hon. Judge Turpin (Decd.)