The initial plan for my wife’s significant birthday (significant being a euphemisim for one where the cake can no longer take the strain of the number of candles) was for a trip abroad to a country with a warm climate and many opportunities for cultural visits. Circumstances reduced that ambition to a trip within the UK. Then it was a trip within England. Then it was a trip to the back garden. Now there will be no trip.
We will have to settle for a take-out.
We are back in lockdown in England. Wales has just come out of a two week long firebreak. Scotland has a five tier system and I am not certain what Northern Ireland is up to. The UK is engaged in a form of hokey-cokey, the nations taking turns to jump in or out of some form of restriction. This will continue until we feel collectively bilious enough to sit on the floor and groan. At some point we may all synchronise our efforts and be miserable together, possibly at Christmas. For now we will be sulky and resentful in our seperate nations.
It’s frustrating because we live not too far from the Welsh border. Over yonder hills there be dragons, restaurant meals and book shops in Hay-on-Wye. We could sidle right up to the border at (checks map) Nantyglasdwr Lane and pop into the Pet and Garden centre perfectly legally. We could saunter out again to take the air, look both ways up the road, whistle innocently and when the coast is clear leg it over the border blaming an innocent map reading error or an opportunity to test our eyes. It would be entirely our own fault if we were gunned down by over zealous border guards like some re-enactment of a tragic incident at Checkpoint Charlie.
‘They were lured by the smell of fresh Welsh Cakes, the reasonably priced accommodation and the delightful bookshops,’ a spokesperson for the Welsh Tourist Board would say, sadly shaking their head. So many desperate English had met an identical fate tempted by the promise of flummery and a wide selection of Penguin Trollopes.
Of course this is fantasy. We will abide by the rules. We will behave like responsible citizens. We will do what most of us do: tut and make sarcastic comments about being ‘freedom loving’ and ‘world beating.’ We might even go so far as to roll our eyes. It’s that sort of attitude that has got our country where it is today.
The back garden offers fewer opportunities for cultural visits than a trip abroad. The prospect of mild sun burn is replaced by the threat of a dose of the ol’ corona or your basic sniffles from sitting out in the drizzle in November. To stave off the cold Phil has ordered an Indian fire pit although it is taking its time in arriving. Research reveals it is made by a company in Wales.
It makes sense there would be a delay, they are only just coming out of a two week firebreak.
The Book Tour is out on the 17th of November. Have I mentioned I have a book out called The Book Tour? I think I might have. Anyway, it is finally out. In English. After all this time. Here’s a picture I posted on my Twitter some years ago with the words: “This is what my 2017 looks like.” Those are the pages from the book.
It was published first in French by visionary Serge Ewenczyk and then in Polish by the equally visionary publisher Marginesy and now finally in my native tongue. Insert standard joke about Jerry Lewis or the Polish equivalent.
Anyway please buy it from the place you buy your books so I can continue to make more books for you to buy. It’s the best thing I’ve done. I also have a A3 giclee poster for sale at my store and it looks amazing.
A page-turning, Kafkaesque dark comedy in brilliant retro style, this graphic novel watches one man try to keep it together while everything falls apart.
★ ★ ★ Official Selection of the Angoulême International Comics Festival ★ ★ ★
"Watson’s adeptness at capturing body language and facial expressions combines with nuanced dialog and a keen sense of irony to create a hugely entertaining page-turner."— Library Journal (starred review)
"A darkly humorous read." — Booklist
"Watson neatly balances moody atmosphere and light comedy... [a] deadpan funny riff on artistic insecurities." — Publishers Weekly
"Andi Watson's retro line and daring dialogue make this graphic novel a British delight." — Le Monde
Happy Birthday, Phil!