SPEECHES

an article in two halves…

Dress-down Friday

my part of the Battle of the Cartoonists mural a couple of years ago

Part one. If you were to go on my wonderful website www.duncancartoons.com you could find a little film of me and celebrity chef Lotte Duncan drawing in Trafalgar Square. This was the first of a few gigs for the international Campaign for Drawing, which has spent the last few years encouraging millions of kids (and adults) to draw for the total pleasure of it. Since its early days, before it spread across dozens of scribbling countries, the campaign has been masterminded and run by the true superstar Sue Grayson Ford – a lady who shows the sort of commitment that made Britain great.

Several times after my debut in Trafalgar Square I have appeared in public to show off my dubious cartooning skills in front of hundreds of people. A cartoon workshop at Paddington Station. A Battle of the Cartoonists at some cool place in the city, where we pitted our Pentel wits against the Guardian, the Independent and Private Eye – a bunch of cartoonists producing an 8ft cartoon banner in about three hours. Something I can’t quite remember at Somerset House. And a really good cartoon workshop at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where several of my long suffering friends turned up to cheer me on…

All great fun, but on one occasion I made the mistake of showing the lovely Sue that I was quite adept at (and enjoyed) doing microphone commentaries.

She phoned me last Saturday and, complimenting my deep, confident deep brown voice, said someone else had dropped out and would I like to present and do a running commentary on this year’s Battle of the Cartoonists. It was to be the following day, Sunday, and after obtaining permission from head office I was on my way in the rain to a far flung venue in Docklands.

What a place! Originally obviously a seedy nineteenth century warehouse, the space boasted old brick walls, creaky steps, a welcoming glass of wine, the ever effervescent Sue, and a microphone.

Plenty of punters had braved the rain to watch our jolly band of cartoonists in action, and the time flew by. I amused myself by occasionally grabbing the roving microphone and saying things like, “Don’t worry. I’ll stop talking before you get fed up with me… So goodbye.” Wit and wisdom like that. After promising an in-depth interview with a famous cartoonist I asked him how he was. He said “Fine,” and I thanked him for putting his life and career on line like that.

I also did that old one when I asked a member of the public where he came from. He said “Clapham.” I said “Sorry?” And he said Clapham again. I said “I said I was sorry.” Classic stuff I think you’ll agree…

I told an Andy Capp joke wrong and threatened to tell it again until I got it right. Too many mumbles of disagreement from my fellow cartoonists eventually made me give up the idea..

After a lovely interview with a little girl, and a few more incredibly witty and inciteful comments I counted down to the end and called “Stop cooking.”

The Independent won, with a marvellous interpretation of ‘what Britain is like now’ by five of that country’s best, and we all had a glass of wine, loads of cartoony chat, and left in the pouring rain for our dismal garrets, where artwork is the thing, and we carry on being creative until we bleed. Or something like that…

Part two is after this Friday, when I am telling the Printers Federation lunch my life story. I’ve got five minutes. Sounds rather a lot for my life…