Friday, 3 February 2017

Hourly comics day 2017!

HOURLY COMIC DAY! Every year it totally sneaks up on me, and this year was no exception. Last year I thought about things a bit before I started and tried to keep some kind of consistent style throughout, but this one is not particularly well drawn. Although I did make an effort to try and vary panel sizes and layouts a bit throughout. Kind of a nice/interesting time to do it really, while life is still a bit weird and upside down.

I woke up earlier than I would have liked. As mentioned in my previous blog, we've just moved house, and I'm off work for a couple of weeks. I'm making the most of that time to catch up on missed sleep, and organise the house. Unfortunately those two were at odds on Wednesday morning, with an early washing machine delivery.

Basically if I'm waiting for someone to knock on the door with a delivery, I will need to poop. It's a biological certainty. The washing machine didn't arrive between 8 and 9.

The washing machine didn't arrive between 9 and 10 either. Alex came to join me. Took a tedious phonecall with our new gas/leccie supplier while looking at my lovely new view.

The washing machine delivery guys missed their timeslot by like 3 minutes, but made up for it by installing the machine distressingly efficiently.

My main plan for the day was to find the nearest big supermarket, walk to it, and buy some bits. But leaving the house proved harder than expected.

Got drawn into a repeated argument about whether it's okay to stack a microwave on top of a fridge. NOPE, right guys?

One of the only bad things about this house is the bathroom. The toilet flush is rubbish and takes forever to refill, and the sealant around the bath is all cracked. There's no shower, but even just having a bath or using the shower attachment sitting down means water gets on it, and it's leaking. The landlord has refused to fix it on the basis that he never had a problem when he lived here. This is stressful. I hate stressful letting agent phonecalls. He has, however, said that we can fix it ourselves, which is all fine and dandy apart from the fact that doing bath sealant is one of my most stressful household DIY jobs there is IMO, and I am dreading it.

Turns out, the walk to Todmorden is LONG. Well, long enough that I'm unlikely to just pop over there for groceries. Still, we got there eventually and had a look at some furniture and the market.

Alex's feet were hurting too much, so they got the bus home. I headed on to Morrisons. Not being paid by Morrisons to say this but EVERYTHING IS SO CHEAP (maybe it's because we're up North). I bought way too much to carry because I got over excited. Fairly disappointing vegan options but that's hardly surprising. Huge section devoted to Yorkshire puddings.
Got the train home because it's actually cheaper than the bus, but has the disadvantage of dropping you at the bottom of the valley when our house is quite a long way towards the top.

There are 95 incredibly steep steps from Hebden's high street to our house, interspersed with hills and then another nice long hill at the top just to round things out. I'm either going to get very fit or have a heart attack.

I bought a TV aerial at the market. We've never really had a TV for the whole house, as we don't tend to watch stuff communally... But I like to watch nonsense like Location Location Location, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (it's so bad, why do I keep watching?) and 24 hours in A&E while I draw, so I've always had a small TV in my room. This house doesn't have a cable running in, so I bought this cheap aerial, super dubious that it would even work, I mean it's just some flimsy wires on a plastic frame...

But MAGIC (or science), it does, am delighted. And new local news! We're in 'Look North' now! No more racist BBC South East!

Made some noodly dinner and it was pretty good, but I had a bit of a tummy ache that wasn't really going away. Spent loads of money on new Ikea furniture...

Not sure what the tummy ache is all about. Eaten something bad? Anxiety knotting? Could different tap water be making me feel all weird?

Stayed up fairly late hoping my tummy ache would go away, but it really didn't. I started feeling super ill and miserable and felt like the only thing that would make me feel better would be a nice hot shower BUT WE DON'T HAVE A FUNCTIONING SHOWER and the alternative is a miserable sitting down bath thing and I hate it. I was so sad and so crampy and ill feeling that I had to get Alex to come and give me moral support while I shivered and moaned, and then I went to bed sad, THE END

(Don't worry everyone. We're doing okay up here. Apart from those minor house teething issues, having spent ALL OUR MONEY on furniture and a fair bit of rain, we're having a nice time and slowly getting settled.)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January 2017

Hi, hello, 2017, what is even going on

January has been ridiculous. The whole world feels like it's on the brink of something horrible, meanwhile, I've been orchestrating a cross-country move (remember Emma 'Logistics' Charleston? She's been out in full force this month). I think the only thing that has stopped me descending into full grim-news-despair has been a constant cycle of packing boxes, freaking out, paying bills, talking to two different letting agents, disposing responsibly of endless detritus, general move admin, and packing more boxes. Nothing like keeping busy to keep the fear out, eh?

Shout out to everyone who is fighting what's going on in the world right now, be it through protest, action, donation, or any other means — and also shout out to those who, like me, desperately want to figure out what we can best do to help and start doing it. Between Donald Trump and Theresa May we've got plenty to keep us busy...


Some (increasingly poor as the month goes on and I get more stressed) drawings about what I've been up to, accompanied by increasingly caps laden descriptions.

New year, new start! Or something.
Have been succeeding fairly well in my goal to eat a piece of fruit a day (I know it's ridiculous but I'm really not into fruit. Probably ate it once a month, max presiously. Loads of veg every day, but fruit, blegh. A month in and my opinion on that has not changed.)
Have utterly failed at my (second year running) goal of reading more, but that's basically because I've not had a moment of free time, so maybe I'll pick up on that one soon.
Making life up north a success remains to be seen...

An abstract representation of me, hiding underneath 100 blankets.

Freecycle is (mostly) great. It never ceases to amaze me what people will come round to your house and collect. Mostly entirely normal people too.

In a brief distraction from everything else, got to head over to the big litho printing press and get over enthusiastic about big printers for a morning. Woop!

I am so over getting pieces of furniture up/down stairs/round awkward corners.

Don't go under there. (This won't be the last time you see Henry this month)

I went to a small child's birthday party, and wanted to try and capture some of the intensity of that experience in a drawing. Imagine this but x10 and vibrating and flashing and 'cotton-eye Joe' is playing.

Aaaaaaaauuuuuuughhhhhhhhhh where did all these objects come from who do they even belong to

On the 3rd's drawing, it says 'Alex is stressed'. Alex was stressed because we had no boxes, so that evening we went on the internet and ordered a load of boxes. I was pretty grumpy about spending money about things which you sometimes get for free with deliveries, but so be it. Then I saw someone getting rid of a load of boxes on Freecycle, so I figured sure, why not, a few more won't hurt. And then suddenly the house was FULL OF BOXES. Given that the house is pretty full of stuff at the best of times, this was kind of distressing. (Spoiler alert: it was not in fact too many boxes. It was actually too few. What even)

Also we emptied the huge attic, which was full of other people who used to live in the house's stuff, in a way that meant all my previous de-cluttering work suddenly felt worthless because there was about 10x more STUFF AND BOXES EVERYWHERE.

PLEASE JUST TAKE AWAY THIS DETRITUS (I've been saying the word 'detritus' a lot this month)

Just gross. Why was all the stuff in the attic so sticky. AUGH

And yet, bothered I must be.

In my new home up north I'm going to be freelancing and working part time in my current job remotely. For this, a new computer was definitely required, as my old imac was not nearly up to the task. After much umming and ahhing and bitterness at Apple for stupidly overpricing their new laptops, and Windows for being so terrible, I bit the bullet and bought a secondhand macbook pro on eBay. Which feels incredibly risky but I had the help of a trusted friend who said it would be FINE, and indeed, it has been. I sit here typing to you on it now, and aside from the fact that there was some gross gunk around the keyboard and it insisted on calling me Clive for a while, it's been pretty good.

Took a morning off work to run some errands and DID I RUN ERRANDS OR WHAT

Jonny came round and drove me and Henry to the hoover repair shop where I dropped Henry off, then on to the tip to dump an old TV we found in the attic. Then I put some laundry on, and did three walks up and down the hill with books to sell at Wax Factor and others to drop at the Amnesty charity shop. Then I walked a load of stuff over to the Martletts hospice, and en route found a guy from the council doing free/materials only bike repairs, so I dashed home, heaved my bike out from among the many boxes, smashing a bottle of balsamic vinegar over the hallway in the process. I rushed the bike down to him, grabbed some lunch, came home and tried to clear up the balsamic chaos in the hallway, unloaded and hung the laundry, collected my bike from the guy, and headed to work. I'm not sure I've ever squeezed more tasks into a morning in my life.

Signed the contracts for our new house on the day of the inauguration.

We had a leaving party, which I was weirdly reluctant about, because saying bye is hard/upsetting. But we did it and it was wonderful and so many people came and I had such a lovely time. (There were lots of people there who were friends of Alex and Justin that I didn't even know, so I didn't draw them — apologies if you came and I know you and I didn't draw you here!)

On the bright side, I guess this is good exposure therapy for my emetophobia...

After having Jonny's help driving me and Henry to the hoover repair shop, another kind friend gave me a lift on my lunchbreak to fetch Henry. Got him home, he was still broken, absolutely raging, I LITERALLY DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS (or, crucially, an easy way of transporting him back to the hoover shop again)

Rachel, who used to live in our house, came over to stop in and grab some stuff. She left half a loaf of rye bread which ended up being crucial lunch sustenance the next day, and gave me a hug that nearly made me cry but actually just gave me enough strength to keep going.

Got up early. Heaved Henry down the hill onto the bus. Heaved him off the bus to the hoover repair shop. Left him there, went to work, at lunchtime went back, heaved him back onto the bus and home again. Nearly broke myself and him, but we made it. Never buy a hoover with a face you guys. Way too much emotional attachment.

My last day at work passed by weirdly in a blur. I'd been so busy sorting out house move logistics for the last month that I'd barely taken in the fact that this was the end. I've been coming to that office every weekday for pretty much 6 years to the day. As my boss put it, in some rather touching leaving speeches, 'You came to us a barely formed adult, and are leaving us as a bona-fide creative professional' (I should put that last bit in some kind of testimonials section on my website). He described the time as arguably some of the most formative years of my life, and I dare say he's right. I love the people I work with and the job has been (and hopefully will continue to be) great. It hasn't quite hit home that I'm not going back into that office again any time soon. I still just feel a bit like I'm on some kind of holiday.

For some irrational reason we decided that it would be okay to finish work on Friday, and do the actual move on Sunday. Would not recommend. A suitably intense Saturday of packing that nearly gave me a full nervous breakdown, only staved off by some well timed chips and a visit from a friend I don't even know that well when I was at my lowest ebb. Friends are great. Cling onto them.

On Sunday the vans got loaded early in the morning. Lots of friends came over to help which was wonderful. Alex and Justin travelled up in one of the vans, while I stayed behind with my Mum and Hannah to clean the house. It was a weird process. I wrote a thing on my instagram about how much that house means to me. I've never seen it empty. It was far from empty when I moved in, so seeing it with all the life stripped out was strange. Focussing on all the little details like the unexpectedly fancy door handles. The grime that's built up over years around the light switches. The mould. The crumbling ceilings. The light and the dark and the way the rain sounds against the windows. We cleaned a good clean, I said goodbye to Hannah (one of my oldest Brighton friends), and then I said goodbye to the house. I had a little cry on the train. I put on an album that I listened to every single day during the brief period when I was commuting from Brighton to London. I'd always hit play at the moment the train pulled out from the station, and because of that intense period of listening to it repeatedly, it's synonymous for me with riding out of Brighton on the train in the height of summer. Listening to it riding out of Brighton for the last time as home, with the rain pouring down... I did a really brief intense cry but then I was done.

I'm sad I didn't take more pictures of the empty rooms. It scares me how fast the memory of a place can start drifting out of your mind. Sometimes I think I get as much/more of an attachment to places as I do to people. I loved that house so much.

I stayed in London with George overnight on the Sunday night, before getting the train up to Hebden Bridge on Monday. I felt excited for most of the journey, but as I walked through Hebden Bridge to get to our new house where Alex and Justin were waiting for me, I was mostly just hoping and praying that we have made the right choice. Because there is no going back now.

And here we are. I've been here a day now. It's been raining a lot (I know you all warned me about this), and our house is up 95 of the steepest steps you've ever encountered in your life, plus a bonus hill at each end. Everything is still weird. Like I said, this still feels a bit like a strange holiday of some kind, but I think I'm okay. Packing is miserable, but unpacking fills me with a particular kind of joy. The kitchen has basically been entirely unpacked, and is BRILLIANT. The living room is still chaos. The rest of the house is in various states of packed and unpacked. The bathroom is pretty terrible. Toilet flush as weak as an old man spitting in a bucket and NO SHOWER. We're getting there. The house already feels like home despite its flaws. Hopefully my brain will soon shed any residual sense that Brighton is still home and start to believe that Hebden Bridge holds that title instead.

Oh and I bloody hope we can get the toilet fixed and get a shower installed soon because baths are NOT THE ONE.

HI FEBRUARY I AM READY (I just need a bit of a nap first please)

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

One last visual ode to Brighton

Actually that's probably not true. I'm blatantly going to write and think and draw and create about Brighton lots more over the course of my life.

But still, leaving in under a month felt like a particularly fitting time to create these Brighton themed materials in my day job.

I work for Kings Education, a group of international colleges, and in May we're opening our newest location — in Brighton! (Which is fairly ridiculous given that our HQ has been based here all along, but ho hum, we're only just getting round to it!)

It's probably our biggest, most exciting college to date, in that it's an entirely new building built from scratch for the purpose (on the old Buxtons site near London Road/The Level, for Brighton locals with an interest in what's going on there).

We're recruiting both local and international students to study GCSEs, A-levels and other specialist vocational courses (as well as English language courses for the international students), but because we currently have no building with which to woo potential students, one of the meeting rooms in our office is being converted into 'the marketing suite', where international and local students alike can come and learn more about the new college before its launch.

We didn't want it to just be another drab office room, so we've snazzed it up with a few things, including some bespoke 'Kings Brighton' rock, some big prints of CGI views of the college on the wall, a soon-to-come custom made model of the building, and, most pertinently to this blog post, I've had a fun chance to create some large format graphics — a map for the wall, and a fun design for the surface of the meeting room table, centred around facts about Brighton. (And they're quite weird/obscure/interesting facts, so as to hopefully be interesting to local students who know the area well, as well as international students)

Here I am looking smug with my map and my table.

And here are some more shots to show them off.

Hard to capture the colours of the map wall with my iPhone and no daylight, but it’s a lovely lilac colour. It was produced as two layers of vinyl, the light purple of the streets, and then the white/colour of the annotations as a separate layer.

The table design has been applied as a vinyl, heat sealed to wrap around the edges. It looks even better than I had hoped, and has a lovely shiny finish. The table looks about 100x better than it did before! My print heroes Perfect Print did the install. Gonna miss them when I'm gone for sure, they've been so helpful and generous to me over the years.

The colours are drawn from a selection of colours that will be used to decorate the new college, so any students will hopefully see a correlation between this room and the building they eventually end up in.

It's been lovely to do a hand-drawn typographic project on such a big scale. I had a lot of fun with it.

Hopefully I can ask our photographer to take some better pictures of it all than these, to go on my website, but I figured I'd share these here while I'm still all excited about it!