guest art 2

Its Mothers; Day.  Here are the drawings from my son (the hound) and daughter (herself as a toddler with her mum).

The kids are home now for months.  We have been able to set aside part of a room as a classroom for them.  They like that.  But we both must go into work daily.  They resist the school places put aside for them.  Will they work?  Will they eat proper lunch?  There is discussion about eating up meals rather than raiding the fridge and cupboards.  Although we know there is genuinely no shortage of food, actually obtaining it may become less sure on a day to day basis.  Nationally, uncertainty itself creates the circumstance.

I have memories of my childhood in London without a fridge, or actually cupboards I think, when we shopped daily for what we could afford.  Later, in Swansea, the teachers went on strike for months and we stayed and learned at home.  In Poland, where my father worked for a time, power was so scarce that I saw the Milky Way for the first time and watched the perseid meteorite shower in awe.  A year or so later, back in London, the lights would flicker to warn us to get out the candles before electricity failed.  Life is always uncertain: perhaps, though, that is the true definition of being middle class, that sometimes we go for a long while with the illusion otherwise.

Stay safe everyone.  If you can stay at home, please do so.  All our lives now depend on our maintaining distance between us and washing our hands.

There is hope amidst all this.

guest art

These drawings appeared taped to my computer screen at the start of my working day, starting from 3 weeks ago.  They are done by Kathy and Karen, who take blood from my patients.

We are now gearing up, ringing all our patients to keep on with their treatments if possible, and preparing ourselves and our families for personal redeployment.


I have done my consultations this week by phone.  But you learn so much from seeing someone’s demeanour, how they rise from a chair and walk across the waiting room.  I have become blind, and must rely on listening more to detect those subtle clues.

The main benefit is people not travelling long distances by public transport or sitting waiting in a crowded room.  Still, someone has to get close to take the blood sample and to give the treatment.

My greatest social distancing pleasure comes from walking the dog across fields, through woods, and along the stream.  He imagines himself the lead explorer, running back now and again to check on me.

He has taught himself that when I stop to draw, he will sit and wait by me.

Knight’s move behind

First, I saw you, your smart face impassive, eyes taking in the gallery, your form  slender in your camel colored coat, forced ringlets dropping past your shoulders. Then you, her mister, five feet away, your right shoulder to her back, your indoor broad-brimmed hat darkening your pallid face, long hair tucked in your collar, intent on your scrolling text. When she turned and walked, a tiny pause, then you swung round to follow.

“I will not look, not chance a glance at these narcissistic outpourings.  A century gone, what is this revolting old man to me?  This is for you: I am here for you, it is you I am tied to, I am your dark  shadow, my movements tracking yours, we are linked, us, by photon marionette  strings.”

A flicker of memory.  In the closing hours of the Millennium Dome, I came across two Ladies. Their collared slaves feigned disobedience, not walking to heel but tugging at the end of their leashes, their faces masks of chosen silliness.

“I learned that you drew before walking, were an Old Master by five. A child, your skill shamed your father into abandoning his profession. Here is but the barest cameo, a small snapshot of your intense love affair with paper, and still it exhausts me. To be the greatest, ever, must you have been a man? Did your vast ability need still the certainties of patriarchy, to possess so utterly objects, lovers, daughters as blank slates for your self image, or to reach in and pull out their souls as blocky excrescence?”

At rest, your missus is always perpendicular to  your line of sight.   She moves off, giving no summons.  You return no acknowledgement, do not look up or right, remain intent on your phone.  You stand for the briefest moment, before the invisible coupling engages. Trailer-hitched, you set off after, a constant neat knight’s move behind your queen.


Picasso and paper” exhibition at the Royal Academy.




Adult themed, with snacks

Waiting for a train at Moor Street Station, I peer through the fencing across an partly-lit yard.  The building on the right hosts the Taboo theatre, “an independent cinema with two screens showing adult themed movies, with a secure car park and snack bar”.  Behind is the elevated level with railway tracks that run away under us to flashy new New Street Station.  Behind and above that is the freeway and the line of buildings, college, hotels and flats.