My Bestest Job Ever

Credit CardAt the end of the 90’s I was made redundant and decided I wasn’t going to get another job I was going to be a cartoonist. I had no skill in drawing but I could write a gag so as the wife was suitably employed we decided I could give it a go.

It took awhile to develop a style but I got published fairly quickly and fairly regularly so I was at least paying some of the bills. The majority of my work was published in The Sun which needs no explaining to a British audience but to the rest of the world is the UK’s worst tabloid newspaper. But hey they bought cartoons and they paid for them, but it also explains the type and level of humour of the time. The Sun hasn’t moved on much but I hope I have.

dadhOvertime I got published in more upmarket publications like The Spectator, Punch, Private Eye and The Oldie. I also had a regular column in a couple of magazines and the Harlequins rugby club matchday programme.

dadgI used to draw and write at least ten gags a day and would spend the rest of my time mailing them out to all and sundry and then waiting for the postman to arrive each morning to see what if any had sold. I had great days where I would sell 5 or 6 and then others without a sniff but boy what a way to spend your working day. I even became a member of a club, The Cartoonist Club of Great Britain, and attended meetings in London in a pub off Fleet Street.

dadbThis happily continued for about three years and for the last year I was a stay at home Dad looking after my son and writing gags about nappies and food splattered walls. It was an even easier job when the punchlines actually developed around you.

But like all good things it came to an end and it was time to re-enter the normal world of work. That though is a whole different story.

So I know its not high art and its not going to hang in any gallery but it was great to know it might have made someone smile on their way to work. It’s also a buzz when your niece tells you that someone was laughing at one of my jokes and she proudly told them “He’s my Uncle”.

And it also gave me a chance to draw a pirate joke!

I apologies for the quality of the images as they are scanned straight from the original newspapers they were published in. Even I have got time to look through a few thousand cartoons to find the originals.

It just goes to show you never know what’s round the corner.

Most days at lunchtime I go out of the office for a walk in the local area. We’re quite rural in this part of West Yorkshire so there are a few places to walk, to stretch your legs and blow away the cobwebs. I usually have my camera and I usually end up with a few snaps.

Last week I went out as usual, found a new path I hadn’t been down and set off for a nosey. Down at the end of the road were a couple of houses and what looked at first glance to be some dog kennels. Having two dogs we need to put in kennels when we go away, I thought these would be handy, much nearer to home than our usual ones so time to investigate.

Imagine my surprise when I peered into the first one only to have an American Bald Eagle staring back at me! The second one had a large owl, the third and fourth had Harris Hawks and the final one a vulture and guess where my camera was……certainly not around my neck and my phone was back in the office.

Returning to work you can imagine the replies I got when trying to tell people what I’d seen and some of the looks I got!

So at the weekend I grabbed my camera and returned determined to show the doubters and to restore my credibility which had somewhat diminished. When I got back to the aviaries I was disappointed to find the eagle wasn’t to be seen and I was beginning to doubt myself when I glanced up behind the sheds to see her sat in the field on a large perch. Camera grabbed I went back round, into the field and as near as I dare, i.e not very near at all, and here she is.

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So now with my sanity checked and on hearing voices by the sheds I returned to see if someone would let me know what was going on. I met Keith who is the birds owner and spent the next hour being thoroughly educated about his birds of prey and he took me to meet the eagle Demona and what a beautiful bird she is. I’m hoping next time I wander that way Ruby the vulture will be out and she can show me her eight foot wingspan!

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So next time you’re out and about venture down that road less travelled and you never know what you might find.

Oh I nearly forgot

What’s a Pirates favourite animal?

An aaarrrrdvarrrk.