#8 Beastie

JonBeastie sporting a sporty sports shirt

Some time ago, the lovely Snail bought me my own beasties (from the wonderful Crawford Beastie maker Helen – she blogs here). To celebrate Wales winning the 6 Nations rugby, she commissioned the Beastie-maker to create a magnificent number 8 Wales rugby jersey for JonBeastie.

JonBeastie in a #8 Welsh Rugby Shirt
Was it something I eight?

How wonderful is that? Thank you Snail and thank you Crawcraft Beasties!

Day. Brightened. Up.


Categories: Artist, General silliness, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Simply the Beastie




I don’t really do birthdays. I mean, I am happy to celebrate other people’s but when it comes to my own, I do tend to keep quiet about the whole thing, in the hope that if I say nothing then I won’t have actually gotten a year older.*

The Snail is brilliant at presents for me and this year was no exception. She commissioned CrawcraftsBeasties to create two Beasties, one of the Snail and one of me, kitted out with accessories that typify us.


The result was a series of exquisite works of art, that the word “amazing” is really not good enough to describe. To have your novel Beastie-fied is better than any award.


CrawcraftsBeasties has wonderful posts about JonBeastie and JanBeastie, so have a read here and here.

Their first trip was with me to London. They made friends with a traffic cone. I love these Beasties!



* SPOILER ALERT! This method doesn’t actually work.



Categories: Artist, Artwork, General silliness | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

What’s in a… Name?

About to do the deed

Yeah! Go on! Call your first novel a non-existent word!

You look out your window, maybe for the first time since you started your magnus opus, maybe for the millionth (because that’s how it works with you). Your masterpiece is complete. Maybe it is a novel, a short story, a canvas depicting the adoration of the magi using emojis*; perhaps you have successfully created the first jam-filled round cake from spuds**.

Whatever your creative juices have poured over (ew!), one thing is certain: it needs a name.

As a round in one my favourite radio comedy programmes, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, repeatedly demonstrates, a good title is everything. Who would have read, let alone wrote a song about, a book called “Wuthering Hillocks”?

Would “Catch-22” be such a, well, catchy title if it had been called “Catch-18” as originally planned?

And what fool would call their first novel a title that was a made-up word? Well, OK, me, but that isn’t the point.

Certainly, you want to ensure that the name you give your novel/album/painting/sculpture/offspring is memorable, carries the general atmosphere of the thing you have created and will, if a literary or musical offering, at least fit on the cover.

So, spare a thought for fans (and indeed the graphic design artist) of Fiona Apple who decided to entitle her second album thus:

“When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right”

Strangely, fans refer to her second album as “When the Pawn…” or “her second album”.

But that isn’t the longest album title in the world, oh no. That honour (?) is held by Chumbawamba who called one of their outpourings:

“The Boy Bands Have Won, and All the Copyists and the Tribute Bands and the TV Talent Show Producers Have Won, If We Allow Our Culture to Be Shaped by Mimicry, Whether from Lack of Ideas or from Exaggerated Respect. You Should Never Try to Freeze Culture. What You Can Do Is Recycle That Culture. Take Your Older Brother’s Hand-Me-Down Jacket and Re-Style It, Re-Fashion It to the Point Where It Becomes Your Own. But Don’t Just Regurgitate Creative History, or Hold Art and Music and Literature as Fixed, Untouchable and Kept Under Glass. The People Who Try to ‘Guard’ Any Particular Form of Music Are, Like the Copyists and Manufactured Bands, Doing It the Worst Disservice, Because the Only Thing That You Can Do to Music That Will Damage It Is Not Change It, Not Make It Your Own. Because Then It Dies, Then It’s Over, Then It’s Done, and the Boy Bands Have Won”

Frequently referred to as “The Boy Bands Have Won”, the thing about this epic song-lyric-in-its-own-right-title is that it strikes me as being pretty much on the money.

My third novel is entitled “A Xylophone at the Gates of Dawn” which is a pastiche of Pink Floyd’s first album name, itself taken from the title of chapter 7 of “Wind in the Willows”  by Kenneth Grahame.

So, there’ll be no problem fitting on the front cover. I hope.


* The Adoration of the E-Maji, obviously.

** Why would you do that, why, why?

Categories: Artist, BATDIG, General silliness, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Thank You, your NIBness


I may have been to school with some of these people – I went to a badly drawn school. The one on the right is Einstein by Picasso on a very off day. Why he has a spider on his nose, I have no idea.

I have just had the splendid experience of reading a blog post, following a link on it and ending up doing something I thought I couldn’t do at all! So a huge THANK YOU to Nerd in the Brain for her link to a TEDx talk on drawing (and thanks to Graham Shaw for his lecture too)!

Now the cartoons I have drawn are in no way masterpieces except that for me, who once struggled to draw the curtains, the fact that they are recognizable is a minor miracle. Honestly, I do not have an artistic drawing bone in my body and it isn’t for lack of trying. Until now. Now I have an artistic little finger. Well a bit of one, anyway.

Banksy, watch out, here I come! OK, not really.


I have no idea why they look so smug.



Categories: Artist, Artwork, General silliness | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Value of Value 2: Free (Written) Speech?


Writing for Peanuts?

Following on from my last post about value, I stumbled across a news item reporting that Philip Pullman, he of Dark Materials creation, had resigned as patron of the Oxford Literary Festival over the non-payment of authors (on the BBC here). I hadn’t heard anything about this (I assume my invitation had, once again, been lost in the post) so vigorously pursued the story as I am supposed to be finishing my next novel was intrigued.

Simply put, it appears that the festival organisers do not pay authors for giving talks at the event. They say that it would add too great a financial burden on the charitable organisation that runs it. They say that the exposure to potentially new readers should be payment enough, although how one might use potential book sales to pay the train fare to reach Oxford in the first place, I am unclear. Philip Pullman said “Where everyone else is being paid, the cleaners, cooks and the waiters, everyone is being paid except the person at the very centre of this, the author”.

I found an interesting blog on The Spectator website (here). It features an interview with Harlan Ellison, who is probably not a household name in every household but was, in his time, a very influential sci-fi writer. The video clip is that of a grumpy old man (I mean, a really grumpy old man) talking about how writers should be paid for their work, and he makes some very valid points. Plus he is quite amusingly angry.

The point is, of course, what value are writers to any society? If the only fiction writers are essentially amateurs and only do it for the love of the written word, what might happen to that society? Would its TV programmes, films and plays become unwatchable? Has this already happened? Or is it that the cult of celebrity excludes those who are actually any good at anything, largely by exploiting those that are (look at Naomi Campbell’s ghost-written effort, for example. Actually don’t, it wasn’t ghost-written very well, although being non-corporeal probably makes it hard to hit the keys or hold a pen. And you have no head to hold a coherent thought in too.)?

I often ponder whether being a writer is a ‘real’ job, just like I ponder whether being a supermodel is a real job. I joke about it sometimes when asked what it is I do for a living, partly because I don’t currently make the kind of living where I could actually live on the proceeds for more than about a day out of writing or being a supermodel (although I don’t put nearly the effort into the latter as I should).

I am, of course, biased but I think Mr Churchill included books of all descriptions when, on being asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he replied: “Then what are we fighting for?”

So, with the promise of all those potential book sales, would I talk for free to the Oxford Literary Festival if my invitation turned up tomorrow?

I want to say definitely not, but I think I can only truthfully say probably not. Ask me again after I have sold my first 20,000 copies of BATDIG or Kirkenes Blue.



Categories: Artist, Writing | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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