Robert Duncan realises it’s not quite what it’s cracked up to be…
You catch me in reflective mood. I am sitting in the bar at the Holiday Inn in Lincoln, on Sunday evening at about 8.30pm. I stress the pm bit in case you think I have developed an unhealthy habit of early morning drinking. I’m here to be ready, refreshed and prepared to start on a seven day conference cartooning gig. The company is taking its roadshow around places like Lincoln, York, Manchester and Worcester, and I am attending and drawing wise and witty gags about the proceedings of the days.
So here I sit, reflecting on the fact that during my first very long marriage I basically wasn’t allowed to go away on such jollies. I would be accused of all sorts of things which wasn’t very fair, because I usually behaved myself blamelessly.
Along with the sadness that inevitably followed her demise was a strange feeling of freedom. I could dash off all over the place, markedly seven years of fine trips for Coutt’s, where I was treated like royalty (without the rude satire) and allowed to stay in fab hotels, chat to some of Britain’s finest, and draw silly cartoons about them.
And then I met and married a girl who thought it was important to carry on this sort of dashing about for the good of my career, giving me the opportunity to spot yet another element of her sheer perfection.
And you know what? I seemed to have lost that desire for freedom. That wonderful feeling that I could get into my car, settle back in air conditioned comfort for a two or three hour ride, and enjoy a night or two away, paid for by a few grateful clients.
I want to be at home. I want to read my little boy a Winnie The Witch book and then come down and watch Mr Selfridge. I want to eat a fruity yogurt and hug Sam goodnight. What’s the matter with me? Where’s the bold adventurer? Light on his feet as he bounces off on another caper? Where’s the guy who hits the bar and chats on in an easy charming way?
I’ll tell you where he is. He’s gone off for an early night, with maybe a quick game of Scrabble and a Lemsip, to be ready for drawing at least 25 witty and relevant cartoons per day, until he can return to his loving family.
Getting older? Or just happy?