Saturday, 6 May 2017

Stately homes, Liverpool, Triceratops - travels with my art

It's been a while since I updated the travel diary, so where have I been since last we spoke? Well, somewhere with a concrete Triceratops, obviously. That would be Milton Keynes, where I did two days in schools for the MK50 project, of which more soon (if I manage to get up to date with my diary ever).

So, did I mention filming How To Draw Sessions for The Beano at their offices on Fleet Street? That was back in April, as were the Socks gigs in Swindon, Stroud, Frome and Perth, all 90 minute shows with good sized audiences and a lovely reception all round. Why some of them even Tweet sock-selfies afterwards (I've taken to giving them time to do this after the show if I can). These three are courtesy of Chris Moos, Fiona Reay, and ivegotamuon, all on Twitter.

And then we stayed in a stately home. No biggie. I was invited to the Chiddingstone Literary Festival where, rubbing shoulders with the like of the Reverend Richard Coles & Decca Aitkenhead from the Guardian, I did a Comic Art Masterclass in the castle, then a family-friendly Socks Do Shakespeare show (a first) in a marquee in the grounds. Both went swimmingly. But before that, the night before, we were put up in Stonewall Park. was it a guest house? A private house? We had no idea before we arrived. Turns out it's a massive stately home, and our hosts Rupert & Catherine are only the blooming executors of the Ian Fleming Estate and are in control of who gets to write James Bond books and make the movies. They were lovely and we had a smashing time chatting over supper & breakfast.

In contrast to which, 2 nights later, we found ourselves staying in a converted warehouse in Liverpool's Stanley Dock (the rather swish & stylish Titanic Hotel, don't cha know) and taking a lovely stroll along Liverpool's waterfront, prior to me doing a day in school in Wallasey on the Wirral.

Then came a little bit of panic when my phone (iPhone 5S which I've had for 3 years) went totally dead. Slabbed. Working fine one second, then just before morning break in school, I have no phone. And it won't turn back on no matter what I do with button-pressing and charging. So how am I to contact Heather, who is out and about in the galleries of Liverpool, and agree where and when to meet? Do I know her phone number? Of course I don't, it's in my phone. Have I written it down anywhere? Of course I haven't, I've never needed to, it's always been in my phone! Luckily, with my laptop and the school wifi, I'm able to find her number and, thanks to a helpful teacher, text her and agree our rendezvous.

Our rendezvous is only made slightly harder by the vagiaries of satnav. Hev gives me the postcode of the CostCo car park where we'll meet. I drive through the Mersey Tunnel to get to her. Then Sat Nav directs me round one one-way system, round another. And suddenly, to my horror, I'm going back through the Mersey Tunnel I just came down! I do a U turn at the end and come back through the Mersey Tunnel again! At £2 a pop (if you don't have exact change) I've spent £8 on the bloody Mersey tunnel in one day - 6 quid of it in the last 10 minutes!

 The problem, you see, is that the Cost Co car park is directly beside the big air vent building that is directly on top of the Mersey Tunnel, and Sat Nav can't tell one level from the other. So it took me to the right location, just 20 feet too far below ground. The idiot. We got home eventually, but suffice to say it was one of the most shouty times my new car has experienced.

The next day I got a new phone. The good news is that it's a free upgrade, so it's cost me nothing and I carry on paying the same every month to use it (it's an iPhone 6S). The less good news is the fun with passwords and signing-in which (thanks largely to my old email having gone defunct last year, but being my default email when I bought the phone 3 years ago) I had to spend most of Thursday getting everything to work. The terrifying experience of seeing all of your Notes suddenly vanish - from your laptop - and not be returned until you could get the right password to be recognised, is not fun. Future Shock they used to call it, and I very much don't like it.

The other thing I don't like is that all my music has vanished from my phone, and I can't get it back on there. iTunes needs a new version, which my laptop doesn't have. So I need to update my laptop at some expense to get my phone to do what it used to do two days ago. Worse, you can't upload music to "iCloud", because almost all of my music is classed as "ineligible". I'm still finding out more of this horror story. But it would seem that Apple are not allowing you to use music from your CDs or, more significantly in my case, music you've made yourself, on your iPhone. How does that help anyone?

Anyhoo, lots of fun with travels, coupled with horror with technology. And in the midst of that there were local elections (not in our area) which suggest my General Election predictions of last month couldn't be wider of the mark if I'd tried. Onwards and upwards.

2017 TOUR
May 5 - Artrix Bromsgrove
May 6 - Stafford Gatehouse

May 12 - Croydon Spread Eagle
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
May 26 - Aberdeen May Fest
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 20 - Grassington Festival, Yorks
June 23 - Hertford Comedy Festival
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe
August 15 - 17 Camden Fringe

Comic Art Masterclasses coming up in 2017:

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.

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