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W


e didn‘t have a TV at home when I was a child. My parents thought it would


interfere with our school work. Needless to say, we children thought we were grievously deprived and used to lurk around outside in the road trying to get our friends to invite us in at the appropriate time. At home, if we complained of being bored, or


having nothing to do, my mother used to set us to drawing and painting, especially each other and people we knew. No use complaining that it was too difficult, the response was ‗If you look at something carefully enough you will be able to draw it.‘ The only prize I ever won at school was the Art


Prize. I painted a picture of Oliver Twist, Fagan and co, reproducing the features of various teachers as the baddies. My friends recognised the likeness and


thought it highly amusing. The staff either failed to recognise themselves or decided not to mention it. My attitude to authority has never been


―sound‖. My school reports repeatedly said ―Ann must do what she is told without questioning it‖. But my Father wrote alongside these reproving remarks, ―Well done girl, keep it up‖. So it is hardly surprising that I remained ―unsound‖ in this respect, to this day. At university I was, for a while, cartoonist for


the undergraduate magazine. But we got closed down for indecency (though,


by today‘s standards, our out-put was mild in the extreme.). I was never sure why. However, recently, looking for something in


the attic, I found a whole pile of our student magazines and all became clear — the cartoons made fun of the dons and they responded by shutting us down. An ability to draw has always been


appreciated by small children, my own children, grandchildren, my nursery school children, children waiting in reception at Three Rivers House while their parents sort out a problem. They are always interested, willing to guess


what the drawing is, make an appropriate noise and have a go themselves. One of my sons, Stephen, an actor and teacher,


is also a part-time cartoonist. It must be in the genes. He does regular cartoons for goldfish fanciers, lorry companies and a motorboat magazine. He has even illustrated articles on breast feeding. There are also private commissions. People


bring him photos of friends, colleagues and relatives and ask for a cartoon depicting them, often in a suitably embarrassing position. These works are framed and presented as


presents/ prizes and handed over often at social events. They are welcomed as an unusual, unexpected and personal gift. So do encourage young people to draw, paint


and doodle – it may help pay their mortgage one day.


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