Category Archives: Life

Irritating Phone Scams

I’m registered with the Telephone Preference Service, but that doesn’t help when the caller is phoning from India.- they aren’t covered by UK law.

There’s always a pause when I pick up the phone to a nuisance call. They have called me randomly. On pick up, software allocates me as to the first free operator, who then starts reading from the script.

They used to engage when you began asking questions, but not any more. If you ask what company is calling…click! You are left holding a dead line. You are not worth wasting time on.

I used to argue and complain and inform them that they are breaking the law, cold-calling someone on the Telephone Preference Service, but they don’t care. Am I really going to follow up and report them and go though some great legal process? Of course not.

So I trained myself to answer civilly and, as soon as I am sure they are a scam or cold-calling about something I have no interest in, I put the phone down and move on.

So why do I still have a knot in my stomach?

Why do I find my muscles tensed?

Because cold-calling is an invasion of my time and privacy and an attack on my intelligence. I’m feeling tense because I’m protecting myself from an invader.

Then follows the lingering doubt – maybe they wanted information for a good cause? Maybe it was just some poor student trying to pay their way through college?




But I truly don’t think so!

Are children’s book authors and illustrators adults too?

I went to London on Thursday and had some time to spend in the mediaeval galleries at the V&A  (Victoria and Albert Museum in London)  I did some sketching and shared the work on YouTube.

This morning I woke to an interesting comment:
I thought about it over breakfast and ended up with a much longer reply than usual, so I thought I’d turn it into a blog post. What do you think? This is what I wrote in reply:

You might think, but a sketchbook is made for only one market and that is the artist themselves. If they choose to share the contents that’s another thing. Children’s books are inspired by everything – adult or children’s. A children’s book author/illustrator is an adult and, as such, interested in adult things. An illustrator in particular needs to be interested and try to understand pretty much everything they ever come across. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a catholic school, but you are often greeted with similar images of Jesus, wounded, dead or dying all over the place, even in classrooms, so young children can absorb the horror all day long.

This is a drawing of a statue that used to be on display in a church, and which is now openly on display in a museum, where children not only go but are welcomed. Such images, and far worse, are on display in churches all over the world and, once you get your eye in, you will find all sorts of horrors casually displayed in all sorts of religious establishments. My sketching is about exploring that idea.

This sketch is particularly about the casual nature of the horror. In the Bible, the scene is about doubt, the disciples having to see the wound to be convinced it was really him. While drawing this and the other things in the exhibition, I was struck by the idea of how each age and culture adapts bible stories, recreating scenes with their own dress codes, ethnicities, hopes, fears and prejudices. This sketch brings that though consciously up to date with the comment, “Hey guys, check this out.” And the Monty Python cherubs in the back reflect music video/Giorgio Armani style.

My job as a children’s writer is to take those ideas and make them accessible to children, gently preparing them for the realities of adult life. My job as a illustrator means I need to understand how the world is put together to show, explain and yes, to entertain too. But that involves going out into the real world, and continually drawing to learn, understand and improve my skills. It is a never ending job.

As Octopusbeak says, This channel has become for an older audience. Have a look at DrawStuffRealEasy for everyday drawing with a target audience of children – which is also watched by a large audience of older beginner drawers who are picking up from where they left off at the age of about 11!

All the best

Day one of the Great Malarkey Festival in Hull

Today I’ve been at the children’s book festival – the great malarkey – in Hull which is on the East Coast of England. I’m the illustrator in Residence all week and will be filling my sketchbook up – have a look to see what I did today.