Easter 2022

I haven’t painted or written anything in a long time now because at the end of February our youngest daughter got very ill with some horrendous gastro bug and had to spend 3 nights in hospital on a drip, and then ten days after getting out of hospital for that she slipped in the playground and did something to her foot. According to the x-ray it wasn’t broken but it was bad enough that she refused to walk on it and so the emergency doctors decided to put her in a cast for a week to let it heal. All this meant she was off creche for weeks, and we didn’t know if we were going to have to cancel our first family trip back to the UK in nearly 2 years to wait for her foot to heal and/or because the P&O ferry we were booked on from Zeebrugge to Hull was probably not going to be running… In the end we did decide to go, with a toddler who even with the cast off still refused to walk and on a DFDS ferry from Amsterdam to Newcastle instead.

I’m glad we did, it was really nice to catch up with family and some old friends, and about five days into the holiday Isabel decided she could walk again which was such a relief. Also, thankfully, we managed to get away without catching or having to make any changes to our plans because of Covid. However, cousin James having chickenpox did thwart our original itinerary of staying with my brother and his family (one can never escape all plagues when children are involved).

Holiday cartoon Easter 2022

We’ve now been back home for a few weeks and I don’t know what’s wrong with me (long covid without knowing I’ve had covid in the first place?), but I’ve been really struggling to find inspiration and motivation to draw anything else beyond this holiday cartoon. Instead I’ve been maniacally reorganizing the house after binge watching ‘The Home Edit’ on Netflix. Now our house is organized to within an inch of it’s life I really have no excuses not to get back to cartooning, so fingers crossed next week this fug of brain fatigue will lift and some flash of creativity will hit me!

Learning French

The subjunctive tense

I have started and stopped learning French so many times in my life now. I never seem to progress beyond a certain point and then have to relearn all the grammar all over again and it’s very frustrating. My French is probably the best it’s ever been at the moment (which is not saying a huge amount), but now I am stalling at the subjunctive tense which feels like a grammatical step too far!

Imagine Brussels

I was going to enter this picture in Imagine Brussels’s art competition , but the competition only accepts entries that have an opensea.io nft certification link, and the prize money is in cryptocurrency, and after looking at the process of creating NFTs in a little more detail and hating the idea of having to get involved in cryptocurrency even for what I think is a really interesting project to imagine the future of Brussels, I decided not to. Here it is anyway, in all its freely downloadable glory!

Montgomery Roundabout

Doomerism

I don’t know if maybe my more recent cartoons have been a bit doomerist (a term thrown around on twitter to people who say it’s too late to do anything about climate change).

I’m not without hope when it comes to the future, and I certainly don’t want to hinder action on climate in any way- I obviously want the opposite! I think about the future quite a bit and try to picture what will happen, and I think the scenarios pictured in my cartoons are not unlikely even if we do get more serious about taking climate action, and are very likely on our current trajectory:

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Likely scenario with current climate action
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Likely scenario even with massive climate action
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Likely scenario even with massive climate action

Even if we do take massive action-shut down fossil fuels plants, close airports, ban all petrol and diesel cars and replace them with electric cargo bikes and shared electric cars, electrify everything, switch to renewable energy, ration meat, retrofit all existing buildings to use less energy etc etc, hopefully I’m not going to have rummage through my electronics graveyard to exchange for food, and I will have managed to recycle/reuse all the items in there properly, but coffee prices are already going up and in 15 years time real coffee will probably be incredibly difficult to grow and will become an expensive item only available to the richest. It’s also highly unlikely that in 15 years time we will be able to support the same energy intensive internet of things and streaming of entertainment services, so who knows maybe CDs and DVDs will make a comeback. I don’t think ending the constant surveillance of our lives by our household devices and entertainment systems would be the worst thing, but I am worried about what I will do without coffee given it is often the high point of my day, so maybe that is doomerist for me!

Ultimately I think the default vision of the future needs to be less sleek, shiny, consumerist, high tech inequality (driverless cars/drones/robots/google glasses/internet of things):

and more overgrown, worn, re-used, recycled, technology deployed only where it is most necessary (renewable energy that will require a reduction in total energy use and matching demand to supply rather than supply to demand, e-bikes not e-cars, no internet surveillance from household goods):

We need to change our idea of the ‘good life’ from one in which we aspire to have multiple large homes with walk in wardrobes and dream kitchens (maybe with a solar panel or two on the roof), and multiple cars (sure one can be electric), and multiple international holidays, plus the annual ski trip a year*, zero inconvenience to our lives- same day delivery, cleaners, gardeners, take-aways etc:

to one in which we live in small energy efficient houses, buy less, travel slower, have cleaner air, cleaner water, quieter streets, can sleep at night because there are no flights rumbling above us, our children are more independent because we don’t have to worry about them being hit by a car, we are healthier due to active travel, better food, less pollution, more connected to nature, but yes have to be more involved in local democracy and the day to day business of caring for each other and maintaining goods and infrastructure which could be considered ‘inconvenient’.

It’s only if we can change this idea of the good life that we are going to get anywhere. Our planet cannot support high carbon lifestyles even for a few people (we need to get to ZERO carbon emissions and have no scalable negative carbon technologies available) and so everyone who has that lifestyle and wants to protect it (essentially everyone in power), is not going to support the necessary climate action unless that desired lifestyle is challenged.

*This CREDS report on ‘Curbing excess: high energy consumption and the energy transition’ makes interesting if depressing reading on what people with high incomes think of as the good life.

Doom scrolling

Doom scrolling

There is a lot of weird downtime with parenting a two and a half year old when you don’t know when you are next going to be needed but it is probably going to be in the next five to ten minutes and so actually scrolling through Twitter is just about the only thing you can do (or at least this is what I tell myself- maybe I should be practising being ‘fully present’ but ha who can do that anymore?).

De-growth and job interviews..

Back in April 2021 I had my first job interview in 7 years for a Sustainability Consultant role in a new Sustainability division that the company was setting up.

I was not the successful candidate, and I know I still wouldn’t have been had I said what I wish I’d said in my cartoon, but given the number of advertisements for similar roles on LinkedIn that I see at the moment it’s something that companies need to wake up to!