back from christmas land

Here’s the card I designed this year for Write Away, a literary consultancy I’ve been working with fairly closely this year. The woman who runs it, Nikki Gamble, and I met up for coffee near Spitalfields market just before Christmas and hashed through what has been a very eventful year, full of exciting forays into both the worlds of children’s books and comics. Both of us were very tired but happy with all that’s happened. Then my internet router crashed, which gave me a few good internet-free days over the holidays.

Christmas was very relaxing this year. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t have any family obligations, and Christmas Day weather was fine, so Stuart and I filled our rucksacks with champagne and rode around on our bicycles visiting different friends in the area. Then the downstairs neighbour discovered we were going to be cooking Christmas dinner just two floors up from him, and proposed we combine the cooking, so we only had to cook half a roast dinner and had a very merry evening with them.

Here’s a picture of the candlelight choral service we went to on Christmas Eve at Southwark Cathedral, with fab music, that didn’t get out til one in the morning! Everyone got to hold one of these super-long lit candles through the whole service and mine went very soft and bendy and I made some fantastic shapes out of it while it was still lit. My dad has a terrible habit of not being able to leave lit candles alone, I think it’s genetic.

And this is my power work station on the train back from visiting Stuart’s dad on the south coast during the weekend. I penciled almost a whole Vern & Lettuce episode, not bad. (The hat was knitted specially by Knitfish in Vancouver.)

The low point of the holidays was one freezing cold night, cycling back from a party through a long, rather dark railway tunnel. Two guys were walking along the sidewalk and just as I cycled by them, one of the guys, who was talking on his mobile, suddenly leapt into the road. I ploughed straight into him and did a spectacular flip off my bike. Apparently the guy was unhurt, because he continued his phone conversation, while his friend apologised profusely. I was lying on the road with my skirt in disarray, stunned, with an aching leg and right arm, but no idea if I was very badly hurt and totally confused by the guy still talking on his phone. Then Stuart rode up behind me in a total panic, having seen me hurtle through the air and thinking I’d killed myself.

I’ve very seldom in my life been at such a loss as to what I was supposed to do next. Get angry? See if I was hurt? Apologise to the guy for hitting him? Get his contact details in case my drawing hand was mained for life? Yell at him? Pick up my bike? I couldn’t think. So, mostly just to give myself a bit of time, I burst out crying like a five-year-old, which was very embarrassing. After Stuart and the guy’s friend had faffed for about thirty seconds, with the guy I’d hit still talking on his phone and totally ignoring me, I stood up, picked up my bike and tried to muster enough dignity to cycle home, with my gears rattling like the ghost of Jacob Marley. Then I sat on the sofa and had a cup of tea and felt very weirded out by the whole thing. I wonder what they guy on the phone was talking about that made him not switch off even when he’d sent some chick flying through the air. So bizarre.

I see The Economist Christmas issue has devoted three full pages to Tintin and the upcoming film directed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson in its article, Tintin: A very European hero. The article says that most Americans are clueless about Tintin, which surprised me, since the library in the suburb where I grew up had a good stock of Tintin and I thought a lot of Americans would at least know vaguely about the books. Maybe my library was a bit special.

And another plug for Vern & Lettuce on the Forbidden Planet blog – thanks, Molly!

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