New Year cartoon giveaway

Thanks for all the brilliant ideas

Update: Giveaway now closed. A huge thank you for all contributions. The winners are posted below – if you are one you should have received an email.

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

The Prizes:

10 (ten) prizes of a cartoon book, or a no-longer-available-to-buy cycling cartoon tea towel (slight second). Winners will have the choice of prizes from a list that I will send them. I’d be very happy to sign or dedicate the books. I’ll send the prizes 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.


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 to print tweets 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 19 January 2017. 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 keep this cartooning thing going.

Update: Giveaway now closed. The winners, chosen at random*:

Anne, Richard, Andrew Steer, Andrew Dunlop, Peter Henry, Anne Dowdeswell, Helen, Dave, Wendy, Amy

A huge thank you for all contributions. I will do another giveaway before too long. Subscribe to the blog, or follow on Twitter to be sure to hear about it.

*In-depth technical note about my methodology. I use an online random number generator to choose the comment numbers, being sure to discard any results that are repeat posts so that each person has an equal chance.


  1. Animals found in churches. Recent examples eg. Cat in a manger, pigeons in Tower, woodworm in the hobby horse…

  2. Explanation of liturgical hand gestures,
    Things the congregation do during a boring sermon.

  3. A heath robinson view of what really goes on inside HM Revenue and customs when you send it your tax return or call up ( sorry a bit seasonal there – rather occupying my mind!)

  4. Acquiring cats with their own twitter feed seems all the rage in government – see @No10cat @diplomog @treasurymog
    what if the ABC followed their example….

  5. The places flower arrangers put their masterpieces which vex the priest, ie font, altar, covering door of aumbry, attacking you in sanctuary…

    1. I once created a fantastic harvest arrangement on the ornamental gates in our main entrance. It was *so* fantastic people could only go in or out in single file – and one bride was almost afraid to go past it… I’ve not been given the gates to do since!

  6. What organists get up to when out of sight (up in a gallery, behind a curtain etc)

    The Incensatron (TM) – The thurifer stokes the organ blower with incense, which then blows smoke out of the pipes

    Things discovered at the Architect’s Quinquennial Inspection (qv) or the Archdeacon’s Visitation.

    The Sweeney Todd trapdoor in the pulpit

  7. Different ways people meet (or not) the deadlines for the church magazine

    The vicar’s props stored in the vestry for future use

    1. The things you need to put away before the vicar arrives for a visit ( was having a conversation with someone who puts away a set of slightly risque cups and takes a picture off the wall) needless to say someone else thought they might purchase set of cups ready for the vicar…

  8. 1) What everyone is *really* thinking during an All-Age Service

    2) Is the Communion Cup half-full or half-empty?

    3) Christian Aid Week

    4) Graffiti from previous church members on the pews

    5) The Vicar visiting the local comprehensive

    6) If the English Reformation had been handled like Brexit

  9. 1 What really happens before a bishop visits
    2 Really bad outreach ideas
    3 Ways to get out of being on a rota
    4 Six things it’s best not to do if you’re a Welcomer
    5 Sermon illustrations that time forgot
    6 When children’s talks go wrong
    7 Key strategies for getting volunteers (eg man with large butterfly net, sign on door saying ‘Free burgers’, person at front waving wad of tenners)
    8 How to survive a church away day

  10. Tools needed by a rural Vicar (I need spade, boots, crowbar, torches and other things!)
    Gifts given to clergy by appreciative parishioners (just received a Christmas Musical Box with soaps – to be seen to be believed!)
    Skills needed by rural Vicars (heating engineer, mountaineer – to climb towers, butcher – for fish and pheasants, cook – to turn pheasants into stews for parishioners, digging – to prepare graves) which could be compared with Skills needed by urban Vicars
    Protective gear needed when visiting pre-school groups

  11. The boxes at the back of church:
    Foodbank collection (no more baked beans)
    Night shelter collection (only baked beans, preferably with sausages)
    Church fundraising Coffee morning raffle prizes collection (many items previously opened or out of date)
    Mothers’ Union raffle prizes collection (items MUST be new and from Marks and Spencer, biscuits MUST be chocolate coated)
    Funeral directors box – donations In memory of [insert name here] for chosen charity* [insert name here] *Church is a charity, but not usually chosen
    Sponsor forms for teenagers doing a sponsored lie-in for the next 10 Sundays
    Sponsor money for the ladies doing the fun run (actually a 1/2 mile walk)
    Collection for the trip to build a house in Mexico/Malawi/Milton Keynes* (*is this right?)
    Box to put completed Healthy Churches Survey forms in
    Box for nominations for volunteers to be next Churchwarden or Treasurer (last used voluntarily in 1997)
    Box of emptied Children’s Society collection boxes, all named, to be collected (Has anyone taken the wrong collection box home, as Mrs X has had the same box for 20 years and is very upset that it’s gone)
    Box of lost property – umbrellas will end up being used by the Vicar at funerals, regardless of colour/advert/size
    Box of assorted reading glasses (available for congregational use)
    Box of prayer requests (contains 3 requests to include Mrs X in the intercession, but as Mrs X doesn’t want to be named, also contains 3 complaints that Mrs X was forgotten. Also contains requests to pray for “Mum” and “Tiddles”)
    Boxes of homemade cards/jam/chutney for sale (please put money in the box at the back of church)
    Box of gift aid envelopes (printed with details of church at some cost with space to write in name and postcode, but used mainly for stopping small change rattling)
    Box for donations to church (contains empty gift-aid envelope, a button and a note complaining that a grave has/hasn’t been mown)

  12. 1. Unwanted gifts passed on to vicar “for someone who might need them”. My favourite was a glass vase which was the donor said reminded her of a urinal bottle like this. It reminded me of one too. It is still sitting in a cupboard in the Vicarage.
    2. Raffle prizes endlessly recycled because no one wants to win them.

  13. Visiting your Vicar when they are ill…bring milk for cos they haven’t shopped, tell them something very worrying they can’t do anything about, drop by casually when they haven’t hoovered, offer to go into their study to find something…..

  14. Rules after refurbishment – can’t eat biscuits in the coffee lounge in case we drop crumbs on the carpet; don’t let children near the cream curtains in case they put sticky fingers on them; don’t put hands on glass doors in case we leave fingermarks. The refurbishment was intended to make the building more friendly and welcoming.

  15. Someone above mentioned really bad outreach ideas. I have several. Planting congregation members in the various groups which use the building, and trying to get them to come to services. Groups include Zumba, Pilates, Art class, Music Appreciation group, baby yoga etc.

    Make modern church look more like a church so people will choose to come in and start coming to services.

    Add lots of glass doors so people will realise it is a church and will come in to services.

    Rent half the car park to local business so that when people come to various groups unconnected to church but held there (Zumba, Pilates etc) they can’t park their cars and the local neighbours shout at them.

    Doors with buttons for scooter and wheelchair users, which aren’t accessible from a scooter.

    Churches who allow outside groups to help themselves to milk in the fridge but it is always sour.

    I am sure you will notice that these suggestions aren’t really outreach as such. No ideas about going out into the local community and talking to people or helping people etc. For various reasons I go into lots of church halls each week. Hence i come across all
    kinds of weird things.

  16. What about some thing about ordination training – – play on the idea of the Vicar factory.

  17. The strange things you comment on when visiting a cathedral or church E.g. The ceiling. I’ve never commented on the ceiling of a normal room.

  18. Something on a tandem …
    Two people with different perspectives trying to get to the same or maybe different places where thier appraoch to beign on a tandem reflects thier perspectives … but also funny 🙂

  19. A “typical day” of a Chaplain with deaf people? (From a deaf priest view!)
    Ps: am married to a deaf deacon (soon to be priested this year)

  20. A clergy colleague in an email yesterday said she couldn’t remember the second of two questions she wanted to ask me, so I replied “the answer to your second question is: it’s the big blue one behind the third pillar on the right as you look from the west end”. I don’t know why, but I imagined that as one of your cartoons. Then this morning I saw this competition was running. Weird.

  21. Risk Assessment / the Risk Assessor. I’m imagining a person with a clipboard, carefully measuring the swing of the thurible, or checking the wobbliness of a ladder (when there’s someone at the top), etc.

  22. Trying to use technology / software to track children entering and leaving Sunday school (aka herding cats!!)

  23. The ins and outs of an induction service – Bishop, local invited guests, presentation of a tea pot etc etc

  24. A guide for when to genuflect (cross one’s self) and bow in different types of churches. (Or maybe you’ve already done this in which case please send me a link if it is online!) The church I grew up in, about half of the people would genuflect just before receiving communion but that was about it, and there were very occasional bows during the liturgy. I then went to a more evangelical church for a few years and there was zero genuflecting or bowing. I’m now in a church where there are 3 points in the service where the more-devout 20% or so will all genuflect and about 5 points where there is bowing mainly by the ministers and members of the procession (candle holders etc) but which some congregation members also do. I’ve been a visitor at churches where there is loads of genuflection – I think perhaps every time anyone says “the Lord” or “Jesus Christ” which is a lot. A full guide would be handy.

  25. What to do when the Bishop visits

    Rules for new PCC members and the annual parish meeting

    What to do during the interregnum

    Updating the inventory

  26. Something about Generous Orthodoxy – or loving everyone’s traditions whilst remaining in love with your own!

  27. The oecumenical service, (as f.e. in the week for unity of Christians) Preparation of the service by different priests and ministers (and lay people), the service itself when to sit, stand, kneel, clap or wave, and when and how NOT, singing and how to, incense and thuribles in the hands of those who never use it…..

  28. The treasurer after a big funeral where there are multiple charities and gift aid encouraged.

  29. Standing and sitting during a service – when to do it and who decides?
    Pros and cons for the vicar of living next door to the Church.
    Things to sign at the back of church – Lent group list, parish lunch list, card for Sylvia, readers rota, welcomers rota, list of dates when I’m on holiday so I can’t go on a rota…
    When the Silver Threads Club couldn’t take it any more…
    Bad times to realise that the vicar’s lapel mike is still switched on…
    What people really mean when they say “nice sermon, vicar.”

  30. Explain Pioneer Ministry and Fresh Expressions to members of church in a traditional rural community where no-one in the congregation is under 65.

  31. Little girls and glitter. Sunday school decided to use glitter. Cue glitter on the table, on the chair on their arms in their hair on their clothes, all over the babies etc…

  32. Keys- who gets which key. Why do we even have a key to that?What happens if you lose them!

    Messy Church

    Taking songs too literally or misunderstanding old words in hymns.My children got deeply concerned about the worship song by Rend Collective with the line “set the church on fire” as that’s arson (!)

    Items with a “donated in memory of” sign (and where they end up stored!!)

  33. 1. Recumbant: Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love A Third Wheel
    2. Dusting Off Your Bike (You Did Promise, and It’s Already Nearly February)
    3. How to look middle-aged on two wheels
    4. Family Bikes And Other Perversions/Heresies
    5. Updated version of the foodbank cartoon (last time was 2013 when Apr-Sep 350,000, in 2016 Apr-Sep 520,000
    6. Brexit causing Cycling price rises (
    7. (Grey) Christians voted Brexit (if you dare)
    8. LGBTQ chart (I think this could be a must-have tea-towel)
    9. Global Brexit – all the countries we’re going to do trade with; commonwealth, China, Africa?
    10. Essex On Two Wheels – the hand-drawn guide
    11. London On Two Wheels – the megalopolis under human power
    12. Centerparcs series – a cartoon (laminated?) for each site with suggested cycle rides. This may permit tax-deductable holidays, or even a discount, I don’t know. May be a spousal win.
    13. Karma Saga – illustrated guide to positions for the older participants (with comedically staid pictures). Back and joint-friendly, etc. Come on, they must be googling it.
    14. Death By Pothole – a guide to surviving winter-damaged roads, i.e. a thinly veiled attempt to raise awareness of the impact of potholes on cyclists (or the impact of cyclists on roads after being launched by a pothole).
    15. Council org chart for pothole complaints (a practical guide to getting potholes fixed). Bonus points for including reference to Wanksy.
    16. How To Feel Old – What to expect at a Hillsong concert service
    17. The Burger Cycle – Cycle routes illustrated with equivalent calorie food, e.g. 3 hour cycle -> gourmet burger.
    18. Tour De New Zealand – per the Centerparcs item; a cartoon illustrating cycle routes in New Zealand, as an excuse to go there for holiday/do an artist tour of cycle and church locations. Make a tour of it. I know a guy, get in touch.
    19. Hand-drawn maps for cycling centres in places like Lake District, etc, particularly as cloth maps which can be washed.
    20. A series of car window stickers (like the ones showing family members) illustrating the owner’s different cycles. Racing, fixie, whatever.

    Looking forward to it.

  34. The evolution of a preacher. (From college to retirement or vice versa)
    Written out in full (standing in the pulpit no eye contact – possible to sleep through)
    Notes (tendency to go on long rambling excursions from the text)
    Bullet points (forgetting what they were meant to remind you of)
    Off the cuff (picking on the congregation due to lack of preparation)

  35. Planning for Messy Church.
    Choose a theme e.g. Ash Wednesday – activities could include…
    1) Fabric painting on some sack cloth
    2) Setting fire to all sorts of things to create ash
    3) Timed Resisting chocolate – the winner gets to take it home – and not eat it
    4) Making bread out of stones
    5) Anything purple themed…
    6) Jumping off the church roof?

    When we are planning our Messy Church we do sometimes go off on a flight of fancy!

  36. What Anglican sub-groups think other Anglican sub-groups feel about Renewal & Reform programme.

  37. Tactful reasons why your article wasn’t included in the parish magazine.

    Things people refuse to change because “it’s always been like that” (postcards of our church are displayed in seed trays …!)

    The hasty Signals given within the choir when a priest goes off piste musically (e.g. Sings something you were expecting to be spoken, thus Requiring a sung Amen – up or down at the end? )

    I also second a lot of the ideas already suggested like
    – what to hide before a bishop visits (and what comes out, such as better biscuits)
    – Things that immediately change when in an interregnum.

  38. – When the token young person at church is 41 years old.
    – When the youth group of 1989 is back for Christmas and Old Hilda is still giving you dirty looks for laughing in the back pew.

  39. The antics of a youth worker who is stuck in the hall with nothing to do when locked out of the clergy office

    The arcane mysteries of the (un/partially/badly marked) light switches

    What happens when the vicar is in charge of the sound and AV

  40. The trials and tribulations of ecumenism. Specifically in LEP (local ecumenical partnership) shared churches…. (Not saying we don’t get on swimmingly, of course!!!)

  41. 1) Preacher SOS guide on how to begin and/or end a sermon,
    2) Chancel arrangement : right or wrong (like funky flower arrangements, the liturgical outfits, how to put the musical instruments etc…)
    3) Church billboards : right or wrong
    4) The church antique bookshelf (in the back of the meeting room or pastor’s office)

  42. Reserved spaces in the Church car park (Wardens, clergy, disabled, Parent & Toddler, Tricycle space)

    If the entire congregation were cats

    Maypole patterns with the bell ropes

    Monsters that hide in the different parts of the church (Minotaur in the vestry; Tiger in the organ chapel)

    Geological strata of the debris in the children’s cupboard – going back to Mission England flyers, Mercuricus Rusticus

    The dart board with the vicar’s face on it hidden in the choir vestry

  43. “Have YOU been washed in the blood of the Lamb?” And other awkward things things that over keen welcomers say to new visitors.

  44. 1) Easter egg hunts in church grounds
    2) types of wedding & the people that go with them from ultra religious to it’s a nice venue to inclusion?!

  45. 1. What clergy do on “Low Sunday” (with possibilities for play on words)
    2. Behind the scenes at the vicar’s preaching group (always seems to be accompanied by much guffawing in our house)
    3. How clergy behave at a football match and/or things they worry about eg to wear or not to wear a dog collar

  46. Cycling with massively oversized shopping that doesn’t fit on a bike.
    The inherent humour of a newly fully kitted out cyclist being overtaken by a pensioner with their bags on a hill.
    Something amusing about a bike becoming a tram after getting stuck in tram tracks…

    (Sorry, they’re all rubbish suggestions!)

  47. How churches can get more involved in the community:
    – Lead school assemblies (paper aeroplanes, bored children, etc)
    – Doorknocking (residents peaking out of drawn curtains as someone knocks)
    – Hold communion at old peoples’ homes (resident clearly unable to hear what is being said)
    – run holiday clubs for kids (chaotic scene of kids out of control)

  48. The vicar in January/February running off the excesses of Christmas. Something along the lines of meeting parishioners dressed in Lycra running tights and trying to hold ‘normal’ pastoral conversations whilst desperately trying to hide the flab that no one normally sees if you run fast enough! Room to develop this thought along the lines of normal everyday things that need doing alongside some people’s expectations of the vicar being above needing to shop for food, do the washing, collect the children from school etc.

  49. The verger and his/her duties:
    1. to be grumpy at all times
    2. attend all services
    3. carry his staff (known as wand) in procession to protect the clergy from outraged flowerladies/choir members etc This is a duty he may share with churchwardens.
    4. hoover the church
    5. clean the loos
    6. count the wafers.
    7. Change the lightbulbs
    8. Take charge of the Keys to the Kingdom (aka the Parish Church)

  50. So, there we go. I pronounce this giveaway closed. A huge thank you for all contributions – they will really help me in the coming weeks / months.

    I will draw the winners and send email to you if you’ve won tomorrow (Friday).

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