THE DAY I LOST MY WALLET

And it was all going so well…

AaaaaghI am proud to be a member of the Cartoonists Club of Great Britain, and even more proud to be best mates with the chairman Ian Ellery. With great energy, and putting all his paying work aside, he not only chairs the meetings, but also arranges get-togethers in such diverse places as Margate, Belgium and Malta. He designs and edits our monthly magazine Jester – a fine organ indeed (and I’ve cut the next line). We all search through our archives, or just put pen to paper, to grab space in Jester, and try to stick to the topic of the month. Ian is a committed follower of cartoonery – worldwide.

So as I got on the train to London to meet him, with promises of lunch, gossip, chat, cartoon stuff and many drinks, I felt strangely happy that I had skipped a day of drawing and actually left my studio. Gin and tonics were ordered almost before we’d said hello, and lunch was arranged. A change from our usual scheme of cheap and cheerful (and wonderful) Chinese nosh – we went for pub grub on the grounds it didn’t involve moving.

After taking rather a long time over this we headed for an exhibition of the work of a friend of ours, Rosy Brooks, in a seedy nightclub in Soho. Her work was lovely, and I was waxing quite lyrical until I discovered I had been separated from my wallet.

It’s the most depressing feeling, mixed with some of the following thoughts: How dare someone reach their foul hand into my pocket? Sod them for using my money to fuel their useless drug habit? Why was I such a twat that I didn’t notice? Have I lost my lovely picture of my family in Turkey? Aaaaaagh – which credit cards did I have? How do I cancel them? Will I make sense on the phone after several drinks? Etc…

Ian suddenly became the most sensible person I’d ever met. ‘Sit down. Think it through. Where were we last? Try looking in your shoulder bag. We’ll retrace our steps. Ring Cathy – she’ll cancel the cards. Have another drink. I’ll pay…’

We were back at the pub which so recently had been a haven of happiness, and host to our jolly lunch. And now here was I, sitting on a cold seat outside, telling my gorgeous wife all my woes. Ian asked the barman, the waitress and anyone else he could find if they had seen a wallet, and they all said no – but if it turns up we’ll ring. One of the most depressing reactions you can imagine.

I carried on giving Cathy more woes when Ian, who had disappeared again, came back and put my wallet on the table. We had left the pub an hour before, walked the streets of London, seen Rosy’s exhibition, and all the time the wallet had been on the floor in the Gents. And nobody had noticed it, walked round it, or pinched it.

Ian got a pat on the knee and a pint of lager for that.

The rest of the day was truly back on the fun mode track, but we didn’t get to the second exhibition that we had planned, Simon’s London Experience, because he finished at five. If he ever reads this I’m sure he will understand that lost wallets surpass almost everything, and drinks afterwards to celebrate finding of same, is highly important. Simon should be comforted by the fact that we were in London to see his work in the first place. So don’t hold it against us.

Star of the day? Ian Ellery, chairman of the Cartoonists Club of Great Britain. What a man…