“ARE YOU going chubbing?” was a question you’d be asked as it got to the middle of the autumn term in my schooldays. It’s a seasonal activity that I need to illustrate for my latest book and one that brings back memories.

My school-friend John insisted that we went chubbing (collecting wood) for our November 5th bonfire down to the wood at Addingford, which was nearly half a mile’s dragging distance from where we were setting up the bonfire. As we dragged our chubbings across Westfield Road, like Burnham Wood advancing on Dunsinane, the man at the chip shop offered us a load of discarded fish and chip wrappings to light our fire with.

There was of course an easier way to collect chubbings for your bonfire, as John and I discovered; the local lads simply helped themselves to the enormous pile we’d made on his dad’s allotment!

Never mind, John had a reserve supply, a very superior reserve supply, of chubbings in his outhouse; the dismantled remains of a neighbour’s upright piano. Paino-smashing was considered an entertainment at fêtes in the 1960s.

You can imagine how the bonfire burst into a conflagration with all those greasy chip papers! Well, I had to imagine it too. John lit the fire before I arrived.

“What, you lit it before Richard came!” exclaimed his mum.

“Yes, I wanted to make sure it got going.”

That’s what he said, but I’m still convinced that he just wanted to have the fun of seeing all that work go up in flames all to himself! I never joined in John’s chubbing expeditions after that!


I’m going to keep churning out these little illustrations. This one of a verger guarding the church door lost some of it’s animation as I firmed up the lines. Much as I want a bold graphic effect, I think a lively line will help build up the sense of bustling street life that I need.


Now this is where you can’t help thinking, hmm, perhaps we should be going for colour. Hopefully the black spots will be enough to make this ladybird instantly recognisable but I must admit that scarlet red on the wing-cases would make the image more punchy.

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