Becoming a Methodist

In September 2013 I asked my Twitter followers whether anyone knew of any space for a cartoonist to work. I had this reply, among others:

A few days later I met Juliet and went to see a room at New Road Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, conveniently located fifteen minutes (plus a bit of walking) down the railway line from where I live. A bit of church vestry conversion was undertaken, and I started working in a studio at what was to become known as The Fishermen’s Chapel.

I became more involved, becoming part of a steering group whose role was to see the building develop as an arts venue at the same time as being an active church. We now have all manner of events taking place: concerts, a monthly gospel service, choir rehearsals, art displays, yarnbombing, craft fairs, and family lantern-making events, to name a few. I’ve really enjoyed working with this small team of really very gifted people. When there’s not many of you it feels as if your contribution can make a definite difference. (If you’re local and reading this: do join us!)

Being small in number makes it easier to get to know everyone, and I’ve felt incredibly welcomed. I like the model of church: rather than running huge numbers of activities ourselves and trying to persuade people to come along, we’ve invited the community into the building to do whatever it is they’d like to do. It seems to work.

In all these goings-on I’ve never actually quite got around to joining what is now my church. So I’m becoming a member on Sunday morning. I hadn’t really foreseen myself becoming a part of the Methodist Church it must be said, but this is the place that I’ve felt at home, so here I am.

Do come along if you’re within reach and don’t have to be somewhere else. The service is at 11. It will be a fairly standard Methodist service, with no bells, smells or whistles. The membership bit is a few lines of liturgy and (apparently) some shaking of hands. I’ll say a few words at some point and there will be coffee and quite possibly cake afterwards. You’d be most welcome.

A note about accessibility: the Chapel is upstairs, built into the cliff. If you’d like to come along but this is a problem for you (the stairs bit) please contact me.

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Cartoon book giveaway

Prizes for cartoon giveaway

It is January, which is when I traditionally post a small cartoon merchandise giveaway, heavily disguised as a desperate plea for cartoon ideas .

The Prizes:

There are six, ranging from very good to a bit mediocre.

1. The Cycling Cartoonist book. Still available from all good retailers.
2. My 2018 calendar. Still 11 months to go.
3. Book of church cartoons: ‘The Exciting World of Churchgoing’. Still a good one.
4. A set of 12 watercolour paints. ‘Winsor and Newton Cotman Pocket Plus’. Still unused.
5. The 2017 Church Times Guide to Greenbelt. Still contains my site map.
6. All our leftover Bounty bars from Christmas (Celebrations tub not included). Still in date.

I’d be very happy to sign or dedicate the books, or indeed any of these prizes. I’ll send them anywhere in the world.

Plus… I may add a mystery prize or two, depending on how the mood takes me.

How to enter:

Post one or more cartoon ideas in the comments below. (The comment must be on this site, not on social media). Ideas can be a topic you’d like me to cover, or something more finished with descriptions of pictures, etc. It can be a church-themed cartoon idea, or something else entirely. Ideas don’t have to be any good.

Write the numbers of prizes you’d like in the order you’d like them. Example: ‘1, 4, 6’ if you’d like the cycling book most of all, but failing that then the paints or the Bounty bars. Leave out the numbers of any prizes you wouldn’t like.


1. I can change the rules
2. Entires must be made here and not on Facebook/Twitter. Reason: I use a random number generator to choose the winners, and that really only works if all answers are in the same place and not scattered here/there/everywhere. It is also difficult for me to to print tweeted replies out for reference.
3. One entry per person will count towards the prize. But you’re welcome to send as many ideas as you’d like.
4. Prize-winners will be chosen at random from all entries given. I will contact you to ask for a postal address, so make sure the email address you use (kept hidden on this site, of course) is current.
5. I reserve the right to use any of the ideas given. When people send me an idea that I use I try to send them an image file of the cartoon, but I sometimes forget.

Closing date: 10pm UK time, Thursday 1 February 2017. That gives you 3 days. I’ll post a list of winners the following day.

If entries don’t appear straight away it is because comments by new commenters are moderated.

Thanks in advance for all ideas given. Ideas sent to me via competitions like this or just via email at other times are always hugely appreciated and make it possible for me to just about keep this cartooning thing going.

Another picture of prizes but this time all piled up.

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Tax return resolutions

It is tax return time for self employed people, freelancers, and others. It is my least favourite part of what I do, and I manage to get myself into an unnecessary state of anxiety about it every single year.

As usual resolutions have been made about how I will be more organised about everything from now on (see cartoon), so that tax return time isn’t January, but [name of month that is a good amount of time before January].

The good news: I have now managed to send my figures to my accountants, who actually do much of the hard work of knowing what to put in which box, knowing what I can put in which category, etc. I’d recommend Morgan Cameron, by the way, if you’re looking for someone to do your tax return or indeed anything else that accountants do.

To everyone still working on their tax return: I wish you well.

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How to apologise

Yesterday a cycling shop posted one of my cartoons with the credit removed. I try to be generous with the use of my work online, but it is frustrating when a cartoon that will earn me very little money anyway is posted with no way for a reader to find me. It turned out that they hadn’t removed the credit themselves, but still, I wasn’t very happy.

Today emails were exchanged, they apologised, a link was added to the original post, and the situation was resolved. This was their apology on Facebook (image also posted above). I liked it – a creative response. Thank you Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative. A conversation is ongoing, and hopefully good things will come of it.

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Church halls and celebrity speakers

I’ve been adding some cartoons from ‘How to Avoid the Peace’ to Here are the latest two, in larger-then-usual no-sidebar-on-the-page form. First of all ‘The church hall’…

And ‘The celebrity speaker’…

There are more to come. I’ve got two of my favourites from the book that I’ll be posting this week, and you can see these, and the 8 I’ve posted so far, here: How to Avoid the Peace cartoons. As always licence-holders can use these cartoons in their church magazines, newsletters, in talks, and elsewhere – details here.

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Officially opening a bike rack

Today I got to officially open some new bike racks at Kings Road URC church in Southend. It was a lovely thing to be asked to do. I’ve been to the church before to do a cartoon talk, so I know that they are a lovely bunch of people, and a congregation who take environmental issues seriously.

Melanie Smith, the minister, said some appropriate words from the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland (apparently the URC equivalent didn’t contain a blessing of the bicycle stands). Then I cut the green ribbon with the green scissors (photos below – some will be sent to the local paper to spread the word) before we retired to the church for coffee and mince pies.

Installing cycle parking is a brilliant thing for a church to do. Cycling is fun, healthy and sustainable, and bike racks like these make it easier for people to use a bicycle to travel to church activities.

These lovely heart-shaped bike racks (other shapes available) were supplied free by Park That Bike, an organisation funded by local councils to do this and other cycling-related activities. Currently you can benefit from this scheme if you live in County Durham, Dunstable, Gateshead, Houghton Regis, Lincoln, Luton, Newcastle, Oxford, South Essex (Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford), Southend, Thurrock or York. Your employer / organisation / church can apply here, and I’m told it is very straightforward.

If you don’t live in one of these places other schemes may be available – do let me know if you are aware of any. If not, why not lobby for something similar where you are?

[Update: Free cycle parking also available in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, Bournemouth, Derby, Herefordshire, South Gloucestershire and Swindon, all via Lifecycle UK. Thanks Ross.]

As an aside – I do enjoy these kinds of events. I’m available to open cycling cafes, church extensions, and small supermarkets. All openings considered – no job too small.

Some more pictures…

Read moreOfficially opening a bike rack

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Blogging again in 2018

I always like to come up with a grandiose New Year’s plan that I can spectacularly fail to achieve. This year’s, I have decided, is: blogging.

OK, so in actual fact I’m going to be keeping my sights set low so as to put no pressure on myself at all, but hopefully you’ll be reading rather more from me here on the Cartoon Blog.

Planned topics: My latest cartoon work, cycling exploits, the current state of the tide, and other sundry subjects, yet to become apparent, which merit investigation.

Any other suggestions as to interesting topics welcomed.

So why blogging, in 2018?

  1. I love a visual medium. This rules out podcasting, for instance.
  2. I like to have my own ‘home’ online. One that isn’t Facebook or Twitter, where I can do what I want and gather my best (and worst) work.
  3. I started blogging in 2002 (approx), and I really enjoyed the years when I was blogging the most.
  4. Cartooning is a solitary business, and I’m hoping writing a blog might give me more interaction.
  5. I hope that I can produce content that people might quite enjoy.

That’ll do for now. If you’d like to follow, there’s an RSS feed for people who know what one of those is, or you can get the posts delivered by email. Alternatively I’ll be posting new posts on my Twitter feed.

Thank you, and Happy New (blogging) Year!

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How to Avoid the Peace

Exciting book news! My next cartoon book, published by Canterbury Press, is now available. ‘How to avoid the Peace – Tips for advanced churchgoing’ is the sixth collection of my ‘Guide to the Church’ series of cartoons, originally published in the Church Times newspaper.

Along with the title cartoon, ‘The Peace* – How to avoid it if it isn’t really your sort of thing’, this volume includes…

  • A sacred office: The changing of the OHP bulb
  • Worship: How to spot when jollity is being enforced
  • Clearing out the church: Deciding what can go in the skip
  • Less demanding options for observing Lent
  • How to reorder your church without anyone noticing
  • Ways to misbehave when visiting clergy are taking the service
  • An A to Z of pastoral visiting
  • Bishops – promotion and relegation
  • What is really going on in the pews during a service?
  • A guide to the places you may or may not sit
  • Instructions for wedding guests
  • How to stop new people joining your home group
  • Church noticeboards: The seven deadly sins
  • The nativity play: Pedantic / scholarly version

…and many more.

One new development: there’s a new format for my books! For the first time in this series this book is in a horizontal landscape format. This will make for easier browsing, and since ‘The Cycling Cartoonist’ my books aren’t going to line up neatly on a shelf anyway.

Some cartoons from ‘How to avoid the Peace’ will appear on my site very soon, but the book will be the only place to find them all. And in any case, cartoons are, I think, best in print.

You can buy in the following places…

*Explanation: ‘The Peace’ takes place during Anglican and other church services. We shake hands and say ‘Peace be with you’, echoing the words of Christ. Other people have written about sharing the Peace more eloquently than I could do: See Scott Gunn: ‘The Peace and how we fail to pass it’; Kester Brewin ‘Sharing the Peace (Then Being Right Haddocks)’

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Making Tax Digital

Making Tax Digital

This is a cartoon drawn for my accountants, Morgan Cameron, about the Government’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ scheme. In summary: from 2019 businesses and people like me will have to submit our tax information four times a year, instead of once, as we do now. You can read more about Making Tax Digital here.

The plan, as I understand it, is for the whole process to be ‘digital’, whatever that means. A lot more time will need to be spent on record keeping, rather than doing it all in one go for an annual tax return. HMRC will get some of the information ‘directly from from employers, banks, building societies and other government departments’.

If you need an accountant to help make sense of it I can recommend Morgan Cameron, who have been helping me with my tax return for a number of years now.

Warning: never take financial or other advice from a cartoonist.

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My WordCamp talk – slides and links

Today I’ve been giving a talk at WordCamp London about WordPress, the software that runs this website. The video of the talk should be online at some stage, but in the meantime here are the slides I used.

Links to websites I mentioned will follow here – sorry that, owing to mild incompetence, they aren’t in the slides.

Here is my ’20 Reasons to Love WordPress’ cartoon, first seen during my talk.


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