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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WordCamp talk: The WordPress Cartoonist

I’m very pleased to announce that I’m speaking at WordCamp London in March. WordCamp, for those not in the know, is a conference for people with an interest in WordPress, the software that runs this website.

My talk is entitled ‘The WordPress Cartoonist – a User’s Perspective’. Here is the official description:

WordPress has been an invaluable tool as I’ve made my living as a cartoonist for the last 12 years. In this talk I’ll share some handy hints for running a creative business using WordPress, including some of the themes and plugins I’ve found most useful, lessons learned, and mistakes made (and there have been a few of those). All illustrated with some cartoons, including one or two brand new ones created specially. Drawing experience not required.

I’d thoroughly recommend WordCamp if WordPress is something that interests you. Take a look at the schedule and see whether it appeals. I’ve been the last two years and thoroughly enjoyed it. Quite a few of the talks are rather technical and go right over my head, or are aimed at people who develop WordPress websites for a living, but I’ve always found plenty to keep me interested as a WordPress user and someone using WordPress to run a business. WordCamp tickets are incredibly good value, and include food during the day and a t-shirt. Details here.

My talk is on the Sunday, 19 March. For those who can’t make it, or for whom a whole weekend about websites would be too much excitement in one go: I’ll post a transcript / slides after the event.

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A photo a day in 2017

Needing a distraction from the things I should be getting on with and current world events I attempted to post a photo a day during 2017. You can find my daily photos in the following places:

The bar for photograph quality was set low. The pictures were taken on my phone, which means that those in low light aren’t always brilliant. And I realised that for every day I manage an attractive shot of Southend seafront (above) there are several that consist of me not really leaving the house and mostly sitting at the computer or drawing tablet.

I allowed occasional use of a photo taken on a previous day, but most of the time they are a photo taken that day.

Benefits of this scheme: I can now tell you something I did on most of the days in January and February. My findings: very little.

Anyone else doing something similar? Let me know.

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