Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Eve 2007, new camcorder, and apples

Trying out my new mini DV camcorder on Christmas eve, looking around the living room and focusing on my apple painting when suddenly the real apples start moving. The soundtrack is from a choir on TV and part of a telephone conversation.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I know that everybody is elsewhere at this time of year but in case you're passing by, please click right now on qarrtsiluni where you can read and/or listen to Strangers in Paradise (my actual voice reading my actual words!) which I'm proud to say is my tenth contribution to this outstanding online literary magazine. If you want to see, in one go, all my pieces published by qarrtsiluni, this link will do it. Make sure you browse the entire site, it is overflowing with excellence from a great variety of writers, poets, photographers and artists, interpreting the themes set by a new pair of editors each month.

Here's that tree again, this time in its whole environment. See how the cars beneath it match the colours of Christmas decorations? Pure serendipity. Have a happy time, wherever you are.


Thursday, December 20, 2007


Caught this moment of tree-caressing sunlight from my window. I think it is a perfect Christmas tree, more beautiful than any of those laden with man-made baubles. I'm submitting it to the festival of the trees.


Monday, December 17, 2007


Whatever your angels look like, may they bring you joy at the end of this year and all through 2008.


Friday, December 14, 2007


Assuming you follow the seasonal gift-giving tradition, maybe you are still wondering what to offer your loved ones? If so, wonder no more because I have the perfect solution.

Everybody on your gift list will be grateful to you forever for giving them something which will make them laugh and think at the same time. How many gifts can do that, I ask you? Laugh heartily and think profoundly, simultaneously? Well, this one can do it.

God Interviews cover, small Even if you already own a copy, you must have friends and relatives who have not yet experienced the special thought-provoking joy contained in this book's brilliantly coloured pages. Therefore I am making this astonishing, unrepeatable offer.

From today until February 1st, I will personally sign and send The God Interviews anywhere in the world for an absurd £7.00 per copy, including postage (airmail only if one copy. For multiple copies outside the UK, I'll send by surface mail). Payment should be made to me via PayPal, specifying sterling (otherwise the bank charges me £7 per transaction for conversion!)

Email me: endapress AT blueyonder DOT co DOT uk with the address where to send the book/s. Yes, I know it's late for holiday posting to foreign parts but at least I can guarantee that I'll rush to the post office the minute I get your order.

You can, if you prefer, still order this book from or from Amazon UK but that would be at the usual price plus shipping costs, and not signed by yours truly.

Wait, I'm not finished!

Brilliant Coroners coverAnother ideal gift for yourself and those you love just as much, if not more, is Brilliant Coroners, a Laupe House Press publication, sixty-eight poems by seventeen poets, edited by Rachel Barenblat (Velveteen Rabbi) and Rachel Rawlins (Frizzy Logic). Available to order from in USA or Europe, here.

I must confess that one of the poems, Canary Yellow Scarf, is mine and I'm truly honoured that it was included in this collection by real poets, ones who know how to carve words out of silence and polish them with a flair and artistry that I can only stand back from and admire. All of us met in cyberspace, via our blogs, and most of us subsequently met in the real world. Beth Adams (Cassandra) describes it best on Phoenicia Publishing , which produced this book:

Writers and artists have always formed groups for mutual support, commentary, and encouragement, sometimes collaborating on public projects from group shows to hand-printed literary magazines. But while one tends to think of local writers hanging out in Paris cafés in the 1930s, or on the lower East side of New York in the 1950s, how does that desire for communication and creative inspiration translate into today’s online world? The poets and visual artists of this anthology met online through their blogs, and have corresponded for a number of years, across continents and oceans. All are serious writers and artists, many with published poems or books. Brilliant Coroners arose from their desire to create a collective work and share it with a wider public, and also their wish to draw attention to the high quality of literary writing on the web, and to the exciting possibilities for creative collaboration it affords. The title of this collection refers not to the poets, but to the poems themselves, which sharply dissect meaning from a post-modern world.

Go on, order both books now and make my humble heart beat a happy tune.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sonata for Apples and Chairs

Stages of an oil painting by Natalie d'Arbeloff which began as an ordinary still life of two apples and ended up multi-dimensional. The music is also by NdA, assembling loops selected in Garage Band.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007



Last Thursday and Friday I was back again at the school where I've taught printmaking workshops for the past couple of Novembers and once again I marvelled at the boys' inventiveness and responsiveness. This time I took photos of some of their work which you can see here . Printmaking is always exciting and absorbing and there are invariably some amazing surprises, no matter how long you've been doing it. Another surprise was seeing in the reception hall a poster reproducing one of my self-portraits and advertising my presence at the school - cor blimey, am I famous? Are we there yet? I've asked for a copy of the poster, needless to say. 


I've been thinking for a while about setting up an online studio/workshop to teach collagraph printmaking and other processes (such as making an artist's book) where the use of a press is not essential. This seems a good time to start planning it. People would need to sign up for a course and I'd have to charge a (reasonable) fee. I'd describe and illustrate procedures step by step, give assignments, suggest projects and materials and for those who are on this continent, we might organise occasional meetings.
What do y'all think - would anyone be interested? If so, raise your hand and I'll go on from there.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Apart from some tweaking of colour here and there, that's it. The apples were multiplying like rabbits and I had to put a stop to it. As in life, making a choice among many equally interesting possibilities has always been a problem for me and trying to include them all is just smorgasbord - nice, but not as satisfying as a real meal.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Here it is in today's Guardian, nestled among the, er, Sidelines.

Well, what did I expect? Fireworks? The reasons they chose our entries? Quotes from the entries themselves? Goodness gracious me, give her an inch and she wants a mile, put her on the shortlist and she wants to be the winner, make her a winner and she wants a full page puff. Never satisfied.

Heh heh. Not true. I'm chuffed.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Went to see Louise Bourgeois at the Tate Modern on Saturday. If you expect an objective review of the exhibition, look away now. Privately (unless I have to be teacherly or technical) I look at art in a strictly biased, blinkered, subjective, egocentric way. It either speaks to me personally or it doesn't. If it doesn't, I might pass by silently or I might express a judgement that completely misses the point or is at odds with the most esteemed critical opinions. But I don't mind.

So: Louise. If I had met her, I'm pretty sure we would have become friends. I love her face, her brusque speech, her disdain of niceties, her fragility, her toughness. But I don't love her art. Like Frida Kahlo (whom she obliquely reminds me of) she is a wounded soul and those wounds dominate her landscape, obliging you to share her prison. Entering her cells feels like stepping into the house of a terminally ill, neglected, abandoned person. You feel compassion for the patient and admire the sinister beauty of their claustrophobic ambiance (smelling of camphor, lavender, dust and rage) but you can't wait to get out of there.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES, la lutte continue, la lutta continua

It is a struggle: this cannot be denied. Struggling is not enjoyable.You can't call enjoyable an activity during which you're in a state of terror and tension, eyes, ears and nose pricked up like a deer being hunted, knowing that at any moment it could be curtains. Maybe that's why I've been so unfaithful to this calling, this joy that is so painful. Because I'm pleasure-loving and I give up on things that require sustained effort and attention. Allright that's not true. I did and I do undertake a lot of work in my life which demands long hard slog and I manage to complete it. But reluctantly, teeth gritted. My teeth are full of grit from all the gritting I've subjected them to. In my heart of hearts, I want everything to be easy. Wonderful art to flow non-stop from my fingers like honey from a spoon; life, love, liberty, relationships and happiness and knowledge and wisdom - all of it to be simple, straightforward, quickly achieved, effortless, with clear instructions in large type on a single sheet of paper: if you do A it gives you B which leads to C and that's it. All done and all perfect.


Thursday, November 08, 2007


Well, it doesn't seem to be in today's online Guardian yet but I know I didn't dream it because the flowers are still here and I know I was on the shortlist because my name was mentioned here and that's why I was invited to the party last night.
Thrilled to bits in a nonchalant way to be one of six chosen out of 700 entries to the Guardian Mary Stott Prize Competition (I had sent an entry back in July) booted and beautified I swaggered over to a posh private club in Covent Garden weirdly appropriately called "The Hospital" and within minutes I was swigging champagne out of long tall glasses and being welcomed by Kira Cochrane, women's editor, Katharine Viner, features editor, and other Guardian luminaries who, strangely, seemed to know all about me and as if that wasn't enough soon I was chatting with Joan Bakewell, Katharine Whitehorn, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Posy Simmonds all of whom happen to be among the most brilliantly talented women on the planet.
When the crowd and the sound of talking was at its peak, there was a plea for silence and two enormous bouquets of flowers appeared. By that time the heels of my deceitful bargain boots were giving me serious aggravation but, fortified by several slim flutes of golden liquid, I was in jovial mood as I waited to hear the winner's name, certain that it was not me since the victorious one was supposed to have been contacted six weeks earlier.
Kira Cochrane said: "The winner is...." and read out two names.
One of which was Natalie d'Arbeloff. That's funny, I thought, someone has the same name as me.
But it was me, your actual moi.
As well as another woman (I'm really sorry but at this moment I don't remember her name).
We are joint winners of The Prize.
One of the two bouquets was for me.
An envelope containing a cheque for £500 was handed to me by
Catherine Stott, delightful daughter of Mary Stott, and we talked.
Some time early in the new year I get to be editor of Guardian Women for a week.
My tortured toes sang an operatic aria, hitting notes of pleasure-pain never heard before.
I took a taxi home.

How many exclamation marks do you need?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A RIDDLE (all will be revealed tomorrow)

Q: Who is this?

A: Me, all dressed up to go to a party tonight, wearing my new high-heeled black boots.

Q: What is this?

A: A fabulous bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen table, still in its shiny wrapping paper.

Q: What is this?

A: Me, back home from the party.


Monday, November 05, 2007


while waiting for customers at the Comiket. Sold three books in four hours.


Friday, November 02, 2007


This is my latest version but the photo was taken under electric light so the colours are not true to the painting. In fact the transltion from canvas to camera to computer to website to internet doesn't allow for accurate reproduction. Never mind, at least you can follow the changes. I don't know if any more apples are going to appear. Maybe it's just a foursome. I might call it "Time Travel".


Monday, October 29, 2007


Couldn't stand to look at that miserable excuse for a painting another minute so I changed my position, sat close up to the table, grabbed my palette knife and attacked. Now I'm beginning to feel the excitment again. Everything is going to change and enter another dimension. I'm not interested in representation: re-presenting. Who need to present things again? I want to discover something I don't know, haven't seen before, not keep on RE presenting, re-heating, re-hashing. Why be so scared of challenging a painted surface for goodness sake? It's only paints and canvas! The picture is only an illusion and you can make it do whatever you want.


I am ashamed of this stage. I hate it. I want to slash the canvas. I am posting it only as a lesson to myself, in order to give myself courage to proceed differently.

This is an example of exactly what I was saying not to do: losing the mystery, trying to "get it right", blah blah blah. Timidity, mediocrity, slavishness, fear of losing. I'm just plodding, plod plod. I don't care if you like it, I don't and I'm the one who decides.

This is not about pleasing others or being nice to one's self, non-judgemental. You have to be bloody judgemental if you're a painter and you know what you don't want to do and have at least an inkling of what you're trying to get at. I'm not talking about competence, skill, correctness, proportions, perspective, light & shade, any of those things, although what I'm talking about may or may not include them all.


Friday, October 26, 2007


The days have been so grey that I can barely see my subject so I've been delaying getting the oil colours out. But since there's no avoiding winter and since I don't want to change my set-up, I may have to give in and work by electricity. Here's what the scene looks like some of the time by daylight. As you can see in my painting, I'm taking liberties with sizes and angles of everything - taking liberty and re-defining it is the point, isn't it?


Saturday, October 20, 2007


A much earlier painting of mine, Cosmic Clocks, is featured in qarrtsiluni under this month's theme "Making Sense". Check out the wonderful poetry there too.

Yesterday I had the fourth FNAC (fine needle aspiration cytology) of My Lump. The doc who does the test knows me by now and we had a comforting chat. He is of the opinion, which I share, that the operation may not be necessary and just keeping an eye on the thing every six months would be sufficient. However, when these new results are ready, they will be analysed and discussed by the surgeon and his team (including this doctor) and then a decision will be made. That will be on Oct.30th. The lump is tiny, it's invisible, it doesn't hurt, it doesn't bother me, it's been there at least two years and only a small percentage of parotid gland lumps are ever malignant. Whereas the three hour operation to remove it runs a very high risk of damage to facial nerves. So? So I'm feeling optimistic and am bored with talking about this medical stuff. Let's wait and see.

The painting is slowly taking shape but there are panic moments when I think I'm losing it, the mystery. Then it returns. Then it goes again. One problem is that I can't work both in daylight and electric light because everything changes. Yet I like also working at night. What I want to achieve is a sense that you're looking at things the way they look when nobody sees them. A sharp intake of breath. A kind of clarity that doesn't come from exactitude but from revelation.


Thursday, October 18, 2007


I've started painting again.

This may seem an odd statement from someone who was born and bred a painter but, to me, it's a major event. You see, I am an unfaithful painter, one who is so sure that the daemon is hers forever that she imagines it can safely be kept on a shelf while she gallivants around. Long-term co-habiting with artist's books, printmaking, murals, writing, teaching, illustration, comics, digital art, blogging - not to mention flirtations with anything that moves: animation, juggling, dancing, photography, technology etc. have all managed to separate me from my one true love. While it's quite nice to be a Jackie of all trades, it has to be said that, in art, fidelity is where it's at. You have to turn your back on something in order to face what's directly in front of you. That's what painting is to me: the thrill of re-discovering what's in front of my eyes. The miracle of things seen as if for the first time, simply opening the eyes and letting the mystery flood in. It's love, mindfulness, meditation, satori, entering through the eyes and emerging from the hand holding the brush. The task is to maintain this state of miraculous awareness and that's not easy. You have to choose what to focus on, ignoring the temptation to record everything slavishly. As soon as you start copying all that the eyes perceive, the mystery vanishes and painting becomes a chore, a duty, a bore.

Above is the first state of a large-ish (80 x 81 cm) painting I started yesterday, two apples in conversation. I'm using only grey and white (grisaille) as an underpainting then will move on to oil colours. Will post further stages. I'm so excited.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Why have I put off writing about this trip? During all my previous journeys back to the USA I filled numerous notebooks with my observations but this time I was struck by a kind of psychic paralysis. I saw, I heard, I felt, but couldn't write, couldn't draw, barely managed a few photos.

I'm no stranger to New York. It was home during most of my growing-up years after early days in Paris and Paraguay. I was "Dabby", the little foreign kid amongst the big Irish-American girls at the convent school uptown on 142nd Street. Then I was "Nippy", excited naive new pupil at the Art Students League on West 57th Street, discovering art and artists, much of it at Carney's Bar a few doors away, walking back home through Central Park, hip-to-hip, arm-in-arm with my illicit crush (older married man-about-town presumed art student) the New York skyline always so thrilling behind the trees. A few years later I was Nat, young singleton in her first independent apartment on Seventh Avenue South, the edge of Greenwich Village. I loved New York in those days - how could you not love it? It had everything, it was exhilaration poured into concrete and metal and glass and tar, ceaselessly vibrating in tune with Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. Much later, after marriage and Mexico and Vancouver and Mato Grosso and Paraguay and Rome and Paris and London, I came back to New York quite often but only passing through on my way to California or Colorado or Texas or Chicago or Wisconsin or New England - work-journeys, artist's book shows, lecture-tours, teaching trips. I'd stay with my good friend Pat in mid-town Manhattan, eat cheesecake and hamburgers and catch up on events in our peripatetic lives. New York was still exciting then but it wasn't my excitment anymore though I enjoyed basking in its glitter for a few days.

This time there was a gap of about thirteen years and everything was different ....


Sunday, October 07, 2007


My sister came from Paris to stay for the week which was supposed to be My Operation Week but since the op was postponed we spent the time doing ordinary sisterly things like going to the cinema, shopping, etc. One of our outings was to the National Portrait Gallery and in the basement café, while waiting in line, who should I spot but Ken Dodd.
Now some of you non-Brits (like my sister) may not have heard of our Ken but let me tell you, he is a very big celebrity over here, an institution - like tea or fish and chips or the Queen. I smiled at him and he acknowledged my recognition with a friendly wave of the hand. We went to sit out of sight in the bookshop area of the café but then, on second thought, I decided to go back and ask for Ken's autograph. He and his companion (Gladys) were drinking their tea when I sidled up with my little brown notebook and, having ascertained my name, Doddy graciously gave me the memento you see here on the left.

We chatted for a few minutes and he said he had come to the gallery to look at his portrait. I asked if he liked it and Ken's furrowed brow furrowed a bit more. "It'", he said. I mentioned (I would, wouldn't I?) that I am an artist and he asked: "Do you reveal the inner self?" I said: "Sometimes it works , sometimes it doesn't." (Yes it did cross my mind that I would love to be asked to paint his portrait and that it would be more than "interesting" and I did mention that I have a website). The charming Gladys said that Ken too has a website and I resolved to look it up as soon as I got home. As I left I handed Ken Dodd my card and invited him and Gladys to visit my cyber home. Maybe they already have?

After tea, Annie and I went upstairs and found the portrait of Ken Dodd by David Cobley . I could see why Ken's verdict was hesitant: it is only an "interesting" portrait - one of the better ones in what is, in my opinion, a very poor collection of contemporary portraiture (likenesses: yes. Good paintings: mostly not). It captures the anything-but-funny exhaustion and sadness of the long-running, driven comic but it misses his warmth and humanity - the qualities that have made him so popular for so long. With my French/Russian/South American background I must admit that I didn't really get Ken Dodd's humour in the past: Diddy Men, tickling stick, chuckabutties - what was that all about? But I do recognise that he has something unique - not a satirist, not an innovator, but a hard-working man, a craftsman who has built his comic style like an old-time cobbler fashions a pair of shoes. He concentrates on what he does best, regardless of changing tastes and trends, works overtime, loves his audience and stays approachable. "Innocent surrealism" is how Andrew Martin (in an article I've linked to above) describes what he does and that's exactly right. My chance meeting in the N.P.G café was such a pleasure because Ken Dodd seemed like a loved and eccentric old friend.


Friday, September 28, 2007


I had an appointment with the doc on Tuesday morning but when I got out of bed my left leg was decidely uncooperative, about as supportive as a soggy salami. I limped onto a bus nonetheless and arrived on time at the designated waiting room, bothered and bewildered by this latest contretemps (stop showing off, Natalie: this thing?) Could it be DVT? You do know this stands for deep vein thrombosis? That which sometimes affects limbs which have been cramped/crammed during long flights? So I worried about it while waiting, long past my appointment time. If you want to get in touch with your inner fears and also wake up your compassion for the whole of frail humanity, all you have to do is spend a few hours in a hospital waiting room, especially an oncology unit. The less said the better about some of the faces you see there.

Finally I was called to my esteemed Mr. Surgeon's room and we had a pleasant chat but not really about the scan results because he was going to have a meeting the next day with his colleagues and they would all look at them together. So why did he want to see me today? Because he thought I wanted to see him, to talk about the operation. So he tells me about the risks, mainly age-related (oldishness) and (as we already knew) include emerging with "lopsided face" which would probably straighten out in three or four months but, occasionally, is permanent. What does "lopsided face" look like, I ask reasonably. He pulls his mouth to one side. Oh, I see; what else? Well, it's a three hour operation and anaesthesia for all that time can be hard on, er, oldishness but of course we would do an EEG beforehand etc. So I'm thinking: what if I said let's forget the whole thing? I ask him: what would you do if you were in my place? He says, that's a very personal question - I would bite the bullet because the risk of possible cancer is greater than the surgery risks. Reasonably, I have to agree with this. Gently he shows me the area around my ear where he would cut, going towards the back so as to avoid a scar down the neck. Are you concerned about aesthetics? he says. Of course, I reply, I'm an artist.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007



The results of the latest biopsy, analysed by a pathologist who happens to be, apparently, the best in Europe, are that the lump might be cancerous. But also might not be. The only way they can know for sure which of those two possibilities is correct is to take it out.

Simple, right? Wrong. Not simple. Because taking it out has the risk (as we already knew) of possible damage to facial nerves, a risk increased by the, er, old-ishness of the patient and therefore also slower healing process. But leaving it in carries the risk of the thing being, in fact the Big C. Or if it isn't now, of its becoming so at a later date and then spreading and.....well, you get my drift.

So. I could choose to do nothing. But that would (probably) be daft. So I don't have a choice. The wheels have been set in motion. The week after I get back from New York, I'm booked to have an MRI scan of head and neck and then the operation. Two or three days in hospital, if no complications. I don't even want to say the words: Hospital Superbugs. There, I didn't say it.

Do I want my face cut up? Do I want a scar around my ear and neck? Do I want risks? No no and no. I am not upset. I don't actually believe any of this. I was listening to the calm, rational, considerate explanations of the two tall, handsome, competent, urbane surgeons who are going to be wielding the scalpels on my innocent little face and it was like being in a movie. The chief surgeon called me Natalie and ran his soft hand around my neck and jaw in such a warm caressing way. Quite sexy actually. And his registrar, the other surgeon who will be assisting him, was talking to me in such a frank, conversational, normal manner. I was wondering when the drinks would be passed round and I wanted to ask if they were bloggers in their spare time. But this is not a movie. It's real life and real life is serious. Isn't it?

Sunday, August 12, 2007


No operation, no hospital, no worries. Sort of. Though the lymph node on my cheek is not malignant it usually would be removed but the consultant was categorically against operating because he said that at my, erm, age there is a very high risk of damage to facial nerves and healing doesn't go so well as it would if I were, erm, much younger. Okay, I'm relieved, no operation. But the ultrasound biopsy has to be done again shortly because there was an insufficient sample last time. Why insufficient? Who knows? And I have to see the consultant again in two months.

Now I'll tell you what I've been thinking. For the past four years I've spent a truly ginormous amount of time sitting in front of of a computer screen, sometimes for twelve hours or more, continuously, day after day and many nights after nights, usually quite close to the screen especially when working on images in close-up. You can guess where this is headed, right? Non-ionizing radiation from computer screens, low-level electro-magnetic radiation, etc.There are three schools of thought on the subject:

1) Nothing to worry about.
2) The research is inconclusive.
3) Plenty to worry about.
The information is out there. You just have to sift through it and judge for yourself what, if anything, to do about it.

One thing is for sure: I'm going to drastically reduce the amount of time I spend sitting at my beloved computer. To get away from the dangerous beloved I went to see the Antony Gormley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. The whole-body casts of Gormley standing on rooftops are wonderful, both in concept and execution.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunday, August 05, 2007


By the way, there's a new theme at OUT OF THE BOX to which I hope everyone will contribute. It doesn't have to be taken too seriously - just playing can have surprising results.

Went to the beautiful wedding of my beautiful niece yesterday on the most beautiful day of this temperamental summer. After a moving marriage ceremony in historic Pitzhanger Manor House in Ealing booked for the occasion, everyone adjourned to the park for picnicking and games on the grass.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007


How much information do people who read your blog want to know about you? This question seems odd coming from me since anyone regularly visiting this place already knows more about me than even I do. But there's stuff I don't talk about, of course. My day-to-day life is not eventful enough to provide blogging material and anyway, who really needs to hear daily trivia? Okay, I'll get to the point. I'm about tell you what I did today which was to get a needle stuck into my cheek while a computer screen showed wavy ultrasound pictures of the inside of my face where the needle was being inserted by the X-ray technician....


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Check it out now. It's there and awaiting your OOB thoughts. Subscribe to it, or whatever it is that people do on successful sites. Let's see where this goes, it's an adventure. Please only enter comments over there that are relevant to the month's theme, nothing else. Anything you want to say to me about the project, or whatever, is welcome right here as usual.

Another interesting project that has gone live in the last couple of days is BOOKARAZZI and I'm in it, along with many other much shinier luminaries in the world of published books. It started out as a private email group Bloggers With Book Deals and has now acquired a bright new online presence. It's still in formative stage but there's plenty to browse through so go and see it.


Friday, July 06, 2007

This is where I work

A brief glimpse of my working space with a musical background composed by me with Logic and Garage Band on a Mac.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I've been so busy converting people to bloggery that I haven't had time to blog. So this is going to be a very mixed bag in no chronological order.

I had written a short introductory speech, complete with jokes, to warm up the audience before switching on my PowerPoint show. I rehearsed it in front of the bathroom mirror, in the street, in the bus, in the taxi and I thought I had it down pat. But as soon as I got up on the platform, facing the cinema-style seats filling up with people who had actually come to hear me, I forgot it completely. Apart from one joke which could have done with better timing:

I see there are some...(pause)....mature faces here tonight. Like mine. Well, I want to tell you that anything you've heard about brain cells dying when you get older is a lie. They don't die. They just get bored....(pause) And then they die. (pause). The way to keep them bouncy is to work on something you love.

Okay it's not that funny. But it's true. I got more relaxed when my slide show started and the audience attention was on that. I will find the way to post most of it as a QuickTime or Flash movie. Meanwhile, let me quote from the personal reports of two people who were there. Why blow your trumpet when others can do it so much better for you?

It was a wonderful and inspiring evening. Natalie was superb - power point presentation with embedded links and video! Wired for sound, she strolled up and down the platform as though she's spent all her life doing it. And gave live demonstrations of some of the techniques she uses to transfer pencil drawing to pdf image. Hugely practical advice about which software to use, different printing options, marketing and sales strategies. The audience space was nearly entirely full and the listeners very engaged, and there were a lot of interesting questions. By the end I was utterly convinced that I not only had a book inside me but that it could emerge into the daylight and hob-nob with its destined audience. R.R.

Natalie was ...tremendous. Absolutely charming and involving and a pro, and inspired me too to want to publish a book, and ended with a joyous, completely off-the-wall video tour of her studio, with loud self-electronically-composed music. Wonderful stuff. J.M.

The car-bomb that was defused earlier that day in the Haymarket, only a short distance from the Apple store, understandably deterred some people from coming to my gig but there was still a good audience - friends, strangers and passers-by. I had fun and I'll do it again, anywhere, anytime, if I'm asked.



Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Everybody's talkin' at me 'bout me
I don't hear a I hear EVERY word they're sayin'
NOT only the echoes of my mind
I won't let you leeeeee...eave
My love behind

Apologies to "Everybody's Talkin" by Fred Neil. Sung by Harry Nilsson on sound track of "Midnight Cowboy."

Just when I thought The God Interviews book was going off the radar, suddenly there's a buzz buzz buzzing going round and it's making me extremely delighted.

A delightful review by Jamieson Wolf at the Book Pedler .

Debi Alper delightfully mentions my presentation at Apple Mac (it's this Friday)

Kim of Reading Matters delightfully mentions my presentation at Apple Mac (it's this Friday)

Paul Gravett delightfully mentions my presentation at Apple Mac (it's this Friday)

Mark Vernon has delightfully posted (18 June) my Richard Dawkins & God comic strip on his blog.

Stefan Bucher has delightfully posted my Serendopterus Ironicus monster on his site.

Win Wiacek of Comics Creators Guild is about to post a review of God Interviews any time now.

Delightful is a very good word to repeat when you don't want to pile on the superlative adjectives but still need to express your gratitude for bountiful attention. I am truly grateful, no joking, this is from the heart.

I still haven't had a chance to write about (but I will) a delightful meeting on Saturday with Tamar and Andy and Jean this too (see her report, she's captured it).

And I haven't had time to blog about another amazing event, the first performance of John Tavener's Beautiful Names which I attended last Tuesday at Westminster Cathedral. But I will.

Now back to work on that presentation. It's this Friday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Once you told me that the years
You spent in solitary confinement
When the Russians took your country
And put you in prison for your thoughts
Were the happiest of your life. Do I remember
Your words rightly, Mircea my friend?
I remember your laugh most of all.
Was it in the silent darkness that your laugh
Was born? Nobody laughed like you.
Every conversation got the gift
The punctuation, the conclusion
The grown-up version of child's unbroken joy
Raucous lifeloving spring bubbling
Out of harsh desert
Filtered through burning rocks
The wisdom of your laughter.
Yesterday I heard that you were gone, my friend.

Rest in peace Mircea Marosin, Romanian theatre director, designer, painter, writer, philosopher, linguist. Born in Bucharest 1921, died in Cambridge, UK, June 2007. I met him in the 1980s when he came to the printmaking classes I was teaching at the City Lit in London. He wanted to learn etching in order to produce a limited edition of prints from drawings he had done based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. He was too impatient to become an etcher and didn't like all the cleaning up involved but we became firm friends. I can hear him laughing now

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Chris Ritke of the sparkly 49sparks pointed me to this site where illustrator Stefan Bucher creates a daily monster and urges all his visitors to do likewise, beginning with a spidery ink blot which you download then elaborate in whatever medium you choose. You email the finished thing back to him and he displays it on his site. Best of all are the animated sequences of Stefan drawing his monsters. Of course I couldn't resist yet another distraction so here's the monster I made and posted to him tonight. Can't I do anything that isn't autobiographical?