Tuesday, February 09, 2016


The serial coincidences that are currently haunting me continue to appear.
Yesterday afternoon, Mel Calman's name came up in a conversation (the friend I was talking with used to know him). He happens to be one of my all-time favourite cartoonists. Tonight, eyes tight shut as per the rules, what book do you think my un-directed hand pulled out? I have crowded bookshelves in three different rooms and do not know what book is on each shelf.

The Big Novel by Mel Calman. On p.21 part of the text with the cartoon was: "...you tell me to observe the stars"

Okay but what can they show,
apart from Star Wars,
that I don't already know?

My horoscope?
That's just a soap
opera with predictable plot.
If I'm a Lion, as the star signs say,
why do I look like a dot
on the milkyway?

Is it stars of showbiz I should observe
or the other big biznesses with so much nerve?
I'm afraid I lack the concentration
to follow their myriad machinations.

If I had a telescope I might have been an astronomista
but right now I'm only an artista.


Catalyst said...

Love it!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Thanks Bruce, my loyal reader!

Roderick Robinson said...

Mel Calman drew characters whose shape resembled that of severed thumbs. With cartoonists it's almost as important to remember their field of operation as their draftsmanship: for me Illingworth (long before your time I suspect) drew for The Daily Mail when it was less shrill, Giles for The Daily Express in the days of its pomp as - I seem to recall - did Osbert Lancaster. Now Steve Bell (the Guardian, natch) is seeking single-handledly to dismantle the Cameron - Osborne nexus. To my shame I've forgotten who Calman drew for; it's only by looking at my umbilicus I am able to remind myself I am a member of the human race; a peripheral member at that with legions to bid me Nay.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

I recognise and appreciate the talent of Illingworth, Giles and Lancaster, but they're not "my type". In political satire, Steve Bell, yes, and also Ralph Steadman for irrepressible vitriol. But my allegiance in the over-all humanity cartoon Olympics goes to Saul Steinberg, Thurber, Calman and a couple of others.

It was the Times that Calman drew for (and much else). By the way, his "severed thumbs" could express human foibles more accurately than many highly detailed visual and verbal observations. I wish I had his pared-down skill and the courage to ditch all extraneous embellishment.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Not that it matters but I should have added to my list of favourite cartoonists: Gerald Scarfe, Gary Larsen, Bretecher, Steven Appleby, Art Spiegelman and the one whose name (one word) escapes me for the moment - he drew brilliant, spare caricature/portraits of people in the arts, theatre etc.

Hattie said...

Calman is new to me. I like his wry and self deprecating sense of humor. That is an excellent poem and explains how I feel a lot of the time, too.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hattie/Marianne, get any of Calman's books if you can. He really gets to the heart of a lot of psychological issues with just a few lines and few words.

Unknown said...

I love reading your Psyche-Psychic reconnaissance poems. Not haunting at all...rather fun and awesome.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Leah, many thanks and welcome to this spot.
That Psyche seems to have left me for the moment but I'm going to illustrate the poems. See you later!