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Tuesday, 22 August 2017 09:42

Ian's Art Attack

Starting on February 25th, the beginning of Ian's Art Attack! a weekly art course exploring a different theme each week - The Importance of Drawing, An Introduction To Abstraction, Life Drawing, and An Introduction To Pop Art. This promises to be not only fun, fast and furious,  but enlightening for both student and teacher no doubt! The classes take place on Monday afternoons from 1pm - 3pm and there is space for up to ten students. For further information please contact me via the contact form on the website. Hope to see you there!


Sunday, 20 August 2017 14:18

Copy of Latest Paintings in Acrylics

 Hot off the easel. Some  new pop art takes on some great stars of stage, screen and music, all of which are currently hanging at The Old Bank Gallery in Bromley.

 'Gonna Change The World' shows Matt in the recording studio, as debonair as his wonderful singing.

Why not pop in and see Matt along with some of my other pieces.

Sunday, 20 August 2017 12:47

VP Studios

VP Studios is my space to work in peace and tranquillity on art and design projects. Although it's a working space, visitors are welcome to drop by and see me if I'm working away, but best to call me first.

Currently I'm working on some new pieces for an exhibition that will take place in January at The Old Bank Gallery in Hayes, Bromley, Kent. This new and funky gallery has kindly allowed me wall space to display my art works and I am indebted to Claire the proprietoress for allowing me free reign! For more information

The address for VP Studios is Longfield Farm, Nash Lane, Keston, Kent, BR2 6AP.  Watch this space for further details

Sunday, 20 August 2017 12:04

Born To Sing - The Songs Of Eurovision

I'm very pleased to announce that all vocal work as been completed on my new cd, that being my lead and all backing vocals. All that is need to complete the project is some instrumental work and then mixing and mastering can take place, so to say I'm excited would be an understatement! Due to a heavy work schedule, this has taken longer than anticipated, but I always say, "If a jobs worth doing, it's worth taking ages!"

I thought you might be interested to learn about the forthcoming track list and how we came to choose them - there are so many to choose from!

One Step Out Of Time - Michael Ball 1992
What's Another Year- Johnny Logan 1980
I Belong- Kathy Kirby 1965
Un Jour, Un Enfant- Frida Boccarra 1969
I Love The Little Things- Matt Monro 1964
Unchained Light - Tommy Körberg 1988
Puppet On A String - Sandie Shaw 1967
Go- Scott Fitzgerald 1988
Vicky Leandros - L'Amour Est Bleu 1967
Another Time, Another Place - Clodagh Rodgers 1971


Bonus Tracks: 
Come Back & Shake Me (Single)
Shake Me - Daniel's Jolly Woodman Pub Crawl Mix

So as you can see, it's a Eurotastic dazzler! Bonuses include, the single release Come Back & Shake Me, doing quite nicely on its way up the charts, which is included, as well as my producer Daniel Beach's funky mix on the song, which should be fun! We are indebted to the fabulous musicians who are playing on the album, who have really lifted the songs with Daniel's arrangements to a new level, and given a powerhouse treatment to some of the more familiar tunes! I was anxious not to just include winners as that's been done before, and although the Euro has it's detractors and there is an goodly element of kitsch about the whole event, many songs written for the contest over the last sixty years have entered into musical life and are now considered classics. The obvious example is Abba with their smash hit 'Waterloo', but many countries have provided some very good pop songs indeed, and it is a small selection of these we have made our own particular interest, and think will make a very enjoyable disc.

Release of the album will be sometime in Autumn ready for the Christmas market for with some promo gigs happening at a venue near you, so watch his space, and don't forget my lovelies, I can't be number one if you don't buy the single, so get those digits on your keyboards!


Work is progressing well on my forthcoming new CD. What started out as a project to record the first song I ever sang professionally way back in 1970, which was Clodagh Rodgers' big hit 'Come Back & Shake Me' has now turned into a full blown disc containing songs from the Eurovision Song Contest!

Release date on CD Baby & iTunes will be in the autumn so watch this space!

Friday, 23 May 2014 17:43

A Life Spent in Hotels and Pensions...

Sitting rather mournfully and gazing out of a window in an hotel on the borders of Eccles and Salford, it dawns on me even more mournfully, that the British really don’t ‘do’ hotels very well. Of course, we have some magnificent ones; The Savoy, Dorchester and Ritz all spring to mind, but sadly, these are in the minority and are usually prohibitive of price. Can it really be so difficult to muster up a good establishment to stay in? What does a good hotel or boarding house need? Ideally, it should be friendly; that is, the host should be welcoming. The room should naturally be clean and tidy, not too much furniture, but what is there should be good quality and well thought out. Certainly no chintzy, suburban-ness, every space adorned with some knick knack or other, all harbingers for dust and dirt. Repulsive! I wouldn’t say my hotel, which shall remain nameless is the worst I’ve ever been in, but I can’t help thinking that it’s recently been taken over. For instance, in the bar area (not open so far which is irksome) there are any number of photographs or the great and the good of Manchester United football club, from slightly misty late Victorian prints, to the celebrated heyday of the fifties and sixties, when Busby’s Babes were the toast of the game. Familiar faces such as Bobby Charlton, George (ie) Best and Nobby Stiles look down implacably from their privileged positions as part of that stock as I munch on my toast, which is not as described as being as much as you can eat, but rather disappointingly rationed to two cold pieces (I hate cold toast!) 

Surely, having the bar open in the evenings must be a good thing? Especially if one, being the hotelier, provides some light bites, such as good old Manchester fare, maybe meat and potato pies, but done as delicate finger food, or some retro cheese straws – anything that might encourage the patrons to relax, and when you have relaxed patrons, they’re much more likely to spend more money which is beneficial all round I’d say!?

I have been indeed fortunate to have stayed in some marvellous premises around the world on my work and pleasure trips. Particularly wonderful was the arrival in Hong Kong about to board The Seaborne Sun for a work cruise and staying the night in a magnificent hotel, the name of which escapes me for the time being. 

Complete in its elegance, spick and span and glamorous, the tired souls who arrived in a jumble from a packed flight from Heathrow airport were delighted to be treated, for once, like stars! This was a memorable trip in every way and we set sail from Hong Kong harbour at night, which I might suggest is even more impressive than Sydney by day, for a three week cruise taking in Pattaya , Cochin, Bangkok, Singapore, and Rangoon,  before arriving at Mumbai, and there were many delights along the way. Of course, The Seaborne Sun and any other large cruise ship is in reality a luxury hotel, and certainly being onboard this fine vessel and then transferring onto QE2 in Mumbai was extremely exciting, not to say glamorous! On arrival in Mumbai we had a night in the Oberoi Towers Hotel, magnificent in furnishing and cuisine and sadly set on fire by extremists some years ago. One of the highlights was the enormous swimming pool in the shape of a rather flat kidney on the roof of the lower part of the hotel. Mumbai was extremely warm and the pool ice cold. Fantastic and invigorating. Mumbai was, like many of these Asian cities, a place of enormous diversity and culture. Three streets away from the stunning Oberoi and its inclusive/exclusive clothing shops, one found the most appalling poverty; fascinating and terrible all at once to behold (I will certainly never complain about my homeland again!) and somehow inexplicably cheerful. A rather sage taxi driver took us on a tour in a rather derelict cab, and the enormous railway station built by British architect Claude Batley was an incredible place – people even live on the concourse! I can’t see that ever happening at London’s Victoria Station!

An old-fashioned weighing machine had to be investigated and caused great consternation and amusement to the general populace. I was on this expedition with two colleagues, Joe Shovelton and Stephen McGlynn, and we were encouraged to try our weight. Stephen on first, and the machine calculated your weight and then gave you a ticker tape of the result, but not before pronouncing in trumpet tones what you were. Stephen was “Middle Fat” (he isn’t fat at all!) Joe was “Little Fat” (a lathe is Joe) and I was “Big Fat”. I shall say nothing. . .  After that. . . well, embarrassment, we boarded the taxi again to be shown the railway lines in action. I was astonished to see not a door on the carriages and passengers hanging on for grim death as the trains hurtled along tracks that had clearly never seen a track gauge corrector. It was a mystery how the carriage bogeys stayed on the tracks at all. Some trains slowed down to negotiate points and then swarms of people would launch themselves onto the track like some misguided fledgling birds, as I suppose the trains had no intention of stopping at all? Forwards then to the outdoor laundry, where men and women sat diligently pounding their poor cloth with rocks and clubs in water that was rat infested and filthy; the single-mindedness of the work to be done seemed to have a trance-like state on the people, who were for the most part oblivious of the rats running over their feet, indeed, some of the cheekier vermin pausing to sniff about to see if any of the rags were worth chewing! Our last port of call was, for want of a better description, the red light district, which was unbelievably squalid, and the poor women who perused the shabby, dusty pavements hoping to make enough money for their numerous mal-nourished children were not only a sorry sight, but a thoroughly unpleasant and degrading one too. I suppose prostitution at any stretch is any of the above descriptions, but it somehow seemed even worse here in this city where one hundred yards away, elegant courtesans were being treated to dine by their many suitors at elegant establishments such as the one in which we were staying.

After our stay in Mumbai, we were flown to Singapore to join QE2 who was awaiting our arrival in the docks, and my goodness, what a wonderful sight was she! Everything an ocean liner should be, and full luxury and cuisine that was simply out of this world! We embarked on the next leg and our last three weeks across the Indian Ocean stopping at The Seychelles and Mauritius, before arriving in Durban and finally Cape Town. A great deal of personal excitement ensued on this leg of the cruise as it was discovered that the headliner star entertainer who would be giving two concerts was Petula Clark, and as a lifelong fan of Pet, I couldn’t have been more delighted. Miss Clark proved to be a most attractive lady in all respects and not only did she tear the place to pieces with her two excellent sets, she was a congenial and entertaining lady to talk to. She had just arrived from Liza Minelli’s wedding to David Guest, where she was, inexplicably, as she put it, one of the flower maidens, all dressed in black. “It was highly Wagnerian”, she quipped with a twinkle!

There is not much more one can add to that!'

Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:24

The Vagaries of Musical Horror

It’s been one of those weeks which seems to whoosh by and I don’t get nearly all the things done I wanted. Finishing off a run of The Gondoliers in Ipswich, and then hot footing it back to Beckenham after the Saturday evening performance to go to a Eurovision Party, may not have been eminently sensible, but I thought might be a bit of a lark. Of course, going to a party late, when everybody has been there for a few hours, bonded and maybe imbibed in a few light refreshments, one is always reminded that a late party arrival is a bit like a dog in a manger – out of place. However, duty done and somewhat tired from the journey and four shows back to back, I was able to get away and into the wonder that is my own bed. You only realise how grateful you are to have spent too much money on a bed, when you’re a touring turn staying in boarding houses and hotels around the country. After a shorter sleep than entirely necessary (I often find that being away for a while, the first sleep isn’t entirely successful as I have on my brain buzzing around all the things I must do the next day) I decided to watch the recording of The Eurovision Song Contest from the previous evening which had not been able to see owing to being on stage at the time. 

What struck me was how dumb we’ve all become, even with this sort of broadcast. I will never say Eurovision was anything more than a bit of fluff, but even fluff must have some sort of integrity to make it work.  The production of the show was very slick and very impressive. Lots of lighting effects and dancers in hamster wheels (why?) and all the mad paraphernalia that this contest is famous for, but I neither enjoyed the spectacle, nor the fayre in it. I am always rather irked when people tell me that the Eurovision Song Contest is rubbish, and nothing very good ever came out of it. I always challenge them with the fact it was originally intended as a bonding process for Europe after the Second World War, which, on paper was a good idea. Of course, all it’s done is prove how obdurately alien the UK is to the rest of Europe – indeed is criticised for not taking the contest seriously enough, but cut off as we are, even with the Channel Tunnel in situ, we’re still a bit out on a limb.

Volare, the big Italian song of 1958 which, having won the San Remo Song Festival was aired in the Eurovision coming third, although everybody thinks it won, has become one of the best-selling songs from the contest at over 22 million and given artists such as Dean Martin big chart hits from it. L’amour Est Bleu from 1967 is perhaps so familiar that it may not even be recognised as a Euro hit, and of course Abba, so famously sweeping the board in 1974 and have gone onto become something of an institution. I am not going to pretend that any of the examples are life changing moments in music like a Beethoven or a Mozart, but they are well crafted and catchy songs, and as an addendum to that statement, perhaps in their way they are life changing?

It used to be an honour for an artist to be asked to represent the UK in the contest, and routinely, the biggest stars of the day were routinely wheeled out to compete against our ‘friendly’ European rivals. Matt Monro and Kathy Kirby, if not exactly the latest beat trend of the times were big star names which would draw a large audience, and both were high flying acts which could command large fees; Kathy Kirby was the highest paid singer in the country but unfortunately managed to blow the lot on alcohol and unsuitable marriage, ending up in the bankruptcy court and fading badly into drink related problems. 

Sandie Shaw, Cliff Richard (twice!), Lulu, Mary Hopkin and Clodagh Rodgers were all well-known chart acts selling millions of records and obvious choices for the contest, and indeed this practise continued until the mid-seventies when the format was changed and many unknown acts came into the fray to compete for a chance to go to Euro Heaven. Throughout the late seventies and eighties, any number of faceless wannabes appeared and disappeared, and I rather lost my, well, if not interest exactly, my reason for watching. I liked the fact that a young Olivia Newton-John was doing her very best and to see how it all panned out and progressed – I wasn’t so interested in the ‘made for Eurovision’ pop group. Things improved in the nineties with the BBC returning to the big star outine and Michael Ball and Sonia both holding their own and flying the flag to a respectable second position – Sonia missing the winning spot by only one point. Thank you Greece for that! After this, the contest really became what is today, a massive and glorified Karaoke competition. Gone were the orchestra after 1999, and artists could you use backing tracks completely; the whole thing became a somewhat shambolic and irritatingly long broadcast of something like X Factor, or Britain’s Got (No) Talent. Whatever possessed the BBC to put ageing acts such as Bonnie Tyler and Englebert Humperdinck into the melting pot of the arena is a complete mystery, but I suppose they were paid handsomely for their endeavours so why should they care? This was my Sunday morning entertainment – the Euro from the previous evening. As I mentioned earlier, a marvellous spectacle, but somehow without any soul, and I thought as I watched in a state of disappointment, rather like a roman arena where the crowd come to cheer and jeer the hapless gladiator or enjoying the lions chomping their way through a chunk of prize chuck slave! I may not bother again!

The other musical divertissement for the week was to support the local operatic society for their presentation of The Pirates of Penzance, which at once filled me with dread and horror as much as anything else. I am not fond of going to the theatre. As somebody who works in the 'business', I''m afraid it has put me off going to anything if I can possibly avoid it – the busman’s holiday of abject Hell, but I manned up and trotted off to see it. It proved a more enjoyable spectacle than I had hoped for, which was a relief, and the choral moments were very well displayed and accompanied by an excellent orchestra. A piece that was written in 1880 for a Victorian society - indeed, to poke fun at that very society and the absurdity of the social boundaries that were in place, is remarkable that much of the comment is completely apposite today for a modern audience to enjoy. WS Gilbert was, as we know, a skilful and brilliant writer, erudite and biting at once, and Sullivan ably foisting his shards of metal with music which is as witty and sometimes genuinely beautiful with moments of real pathos that fit the drama perfectly. As I reflected on what I had seen, I decided that I really have a wonderful life, enriched by experience, but more importantly that I have not yet become some old blunder bore that is not open to conviction and can still have my feelings stirred by a piece of fluff, be it the Eurovision Song Contest or The Pirates of Penzance.

Thursday, 15 May 2014 09:04

More ''Artistic'' Thoughts...

It occurs to me, as I sit in the industrious hub-bub that is the Dance Attic rehearsal studios in Fulham, how very like rehearsing a show is to painting. The show, which is in this case, The Gondoliers for Opera della Luna under the redoubtable Jeff Clarke is now into its second week of rehearsals as I write and, as we know, it is not a particularly easy piece to mount. Now, if you’re thinking this is going to be an article on my life in the operatic world and of course that of Gilbert & Sullivan, you will, dear reader, be quite wrong!

I suppose it is well known that I am a singer and performer, but many people have expressed surprise to learn that I also am a painter; this shouldn’t be so mysterious and unexpected, as many creative people have this particular gift – certainly it is well known that Kenneth Sandford was a member of the Royal Academy and a wonderful portrait artist, and John Reed was a painter of some brilliance. Jeff Clarke also takes out his brush on occasion! Some of us use it for relaxation, others as a side line, and in my case, a parallel career.

When I first started singing lessons at the age of seventeen whilst at school and having trouble with the high tessitura of Capt. Corcoran, my head of music and conductor John Howells, having lost his temper in a rehearsal and suggested, née, demanded I should get some lessons to try and temper  my unwieldy tones! 

Whilst at my first lesson, Madame Laura Harding, a small, steely martinet of a woman; of whom I was at once terrified and instantly adored, enquired what I was going to do after my ‘A’ Levels. I told her that I had secured scholarships to two art colleges and would be pursuing a career as a stage designer. Her retort was short and concise. “Nonsense! You will be going to the Guildhall School of Music.” I was somewhat surprised, but found that she was entirely right – that is what I did!

All of my life I have been a performer. Desperate to be a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral, I had an audition for the director of music at Rochester Cathedral, but failed, being told that although I could sing, I didn’t have the requisite tone for a boy soprano. That is, indeed, was an understatement! My tones at the time were more akin to Shirley Bassey, so it was no surprise to find me on a variety bill starring Harry Corbett and Sooty sometime later! I said at the top of this paragraph, that all my life I have been a performer which is true as far as it goes, but I had also developed a fast and lasting talent for drawing – I always say I could draw before I could tap dance, and apart from honing my singing skills, I would always be found beavering away with a sketch pad, drawing, drawing all the while. At my young age, I didn’t yet know that drawing is the basis of all good art, and painting at any cost, and although I seldom do say, a charcoal or graphite drawing as a finished piece. I am much more interested in the development of paint and the textures one can experiment within this medium. So I was doing myself a favour that would in the end pay dividends! In the meantime, singing would occupy the next thirty three years...

I don’t think I ever thought about painting throughout the first years of my singing career. Occasionally, if I was free, I would go back to my old school and paint a backcloth for Pirates, or some angels and swags and flowers for Christmas, but that was about all there was to my artistic endeavours. In 1998, during my time at Her Majesty’s Theatre in The Phantom of the Opera, I befriended a tenor whom I had known in passing for some years through a mutual friend, but now had the chance to make his acquaintance properly. Brendan MacBride was possessed of a very beautiful lyric tenor voice, and he really was a philanthropic creature in every way. It seemed there was nothing Brendan didn’t know or have some sort of interest in. He was also a geographer, a teacher of philosophy, and in every way he had perhaps one of the most profound effects on me of anybody I had known.

One evening, sitting in the local hostelry, we were expounding the virtues of the Renaissance, which is one of my favourite periods in art and like a bolt out of the blue, he said, “That’s it Nell! (Nellie is my nickname for many of my theatrical cohorts – after the great diva Dame Nellie Melba!) that’s what you must do! Get back to painting.” I demurred, suggesting it was far too long since I’d attempted anything, but he was having none of it and very quickly decided he needed a large portrait for the drop of his stairwell. After pulling myself back off the floor I protested. A portrait is arguably the most difficult thing to pull off with any success, and it is a daunting task to say the least. However, I like a challenge and so accepted with some trepidation, and arranged an evening where Brendan would sit for me where I could get some sketches done and take some photographs. The digital age is very useful for artists as the results are of course instantaneous and a handy tool for checking colour and form. It occurs to me that if they came back to life, Leonardo and Michelangelo may well have been as much photographers as artists!

Then the process starts. The process of staring at a blank canvas and wondering what to make of it all. As I said at the top of this article, how like a rehearsal is the task of creating any sort of art. You have ideas, you have some sort of talent, some sort of memory for detail and then you try and get the melting pot to produce something that is palatable, attractive  and at the very least,  interesting. A blank white canvas is, as far as I am concerned, one of the scariest things to deal with – much worse than opening night, but tackled it has to be if you’re to produce a painting. The first thing I do is to get rid of the white with a wash of paint thinly applied, usually as a base colour for whatever goes on top. For instance, Brendan is Scottish Irish, so autumnal browns and oranges were in my mindset. I am a painter who paints an impression. I am not a realist at any stretch. I find these portraits that could be a photograph depressing things to look at. They are wonderfully painted of course, but somehow soulless, turgid affairs, and if you’re painting a portrait, you’ve got to have soul. There must be something that makes the observer become engaged with the experience of looking through the paint and into the psyche of the sitter.  There we find another parallel with any kind of performing. The best singer or actor may not move the audience as much as an artist who might be described as scratchy perhaps, but does something in the performance that is ephemeral and other worldly. That may well be what a ‘star’ possesses above all other?

Anyway, I digress! I found the painting of Brendan took shape very easily and I was pleased with the results. Then there comes the most nerve wracking moment of all – the unveiling. I am not a nervous performer at all, I seldom suffer from nerves; adrenalin yes, but I could not function if I was nervous before a show. I agree wholeheartedly with Ethel Merman who said, “Why should I be nervous? I know all the notes and my lines. The costumes fit. What have I got to worry about?” Fortunately, the unveiling was a great success, and with that accomplished, I started to paint in earnest. The question often is in mind, what should I paint? I am interested in the human form beyond all other and am attracted to buildings, especially those of a theatrical nature. Frank Matcham, the famous theatre architect who produced more buildings of entertainment than any other is represented up and down the country by still a goodly amount, and one of my tasks will be to paint all of his auditoria – this, I have no doubt will take the rest of my life! I am a fast painter. I don’t like to hang about as I have a very low boredom threshold and invariably, once the painting is commenced, I cannot let it rest until it is complete. There are exceptions, but generally the way I work is to draw it up first, then almost before I’m satisfied that the drawing is up to scratch, I have to put some colour on the canvas to give me some sort of idea where we will go with it. I am a firm believer that the painting paints itself in any case. You apply the paint under some sort of illusionistic haze – well, in my case anyway!

As to subject matter, I am most interested in portraiture, and I especially enjoy painting buildings, but I do practically everything from landscapes, to perhaps my own favourite genre, abstract impressionism. I certainly am not interested in painting what is ‘there’, but rather, what I think there is to see. 

It also depends if you are working to commission when you will have a discussion with the person commissioning the work, which will obviously influence the end result. I like to work in oil or acrylic as I feel they give the most interesting textures and colour definition. I am mildly attracted to water colour and is something to be investigated in the future. I am not particularly good at it, but I will persevere! If one is commissioned to paint something, this is indeed a great honour, but can sometimes be difficult; you are somewhat at the mercy of your commissioner. You have to paint something perhaps you may not care for – someone’s dog perhaps, but that is the nature of the game. Some of the most successful paintings I have produced are ‘pop art’ representations of famous professional singers and actors. These sell well, and I have also had one stolen! This is perhaps an even higher honour than a commission, as the person who stole it wanted it so badly, they simply had to take it! Thankfully, the piece was recovered and now resides in its correct home!

Recently I have been painting a number of D’Oyly Carte artists in this style and they have been a great success. It isn’t a style I find particularly interesting to do, but if they are thought to be likeable, then who am I to disagree?

As I look back on a very enjoyable forty three years in show business, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had such a diverse singing career, appearing in major theatres and concert halls in the UK and around the world, I am now at a definite fork in the road. I could never give up singing, and now I have been painting in earnest for the last seven or eight years, I could never give that up either. It interests and puzzles me that I neither find singing easy, nor do I much like the process of singing. It’s something that is deep in my soul and must come out, and it is  the same with the painting. We do not choose these professions or pursuits; we are merely the tools for music and art to be brought to life. Not a day goes by when I am not doing some sort of research into a new work or a style of art – again, not a very pleasant experience but something that must be done, as important to me as breathing. A lot of people comment that it must be very relaxing to paint? Far from it. I find it intensely difficult, demanding, frustrating, but in the end immensely satisfying. 

There are times when either rehearsing music or painting away, the whole lot has gone lock, stock and barrel out of the window, only to be recovered when this particular bête-noir is exorcised! The two now run in parallel with equal importance, and will likely to so until the day comes when I hang up the vocal folds for ever.

Then, the art will come into its own once more -  triumphant!'


Thursday, 24 April 2014 09:18

An Artistic Thought...

'......It has been suggested to me that I write a blog – “What for?” I hear you cry, and I cannot say that I am entirely sure, but anyway, here goes...

It occurs to me, as I sit here diligently tapping at lightning speed on my laptop’s long-suffering keyboard, that the effects of the local hostelry; delightful though it may be, is probably not the best preparation for writing something lucid or indeed, interesting. It is something I have never fully understood or managed to work out in my head. That being, the feeling that catches you unaware from too much embication. Sometimes I can sit in the pub from the middle of the afternoon until closing time and have no ill or lasting effects. On other occasions, a couple of pints is enough to send me to bed in a state of rabid torpor and practically comatose! Not only do I consider this to be completely unfair, but it also means that, rather than avoid the inevitable consequences, I go back time and time again, with the excuse ringing in my ears that I know completely what I am doing, and it will all be ok. I speak as a complete buffoon!

This sudden bit of writing is also an excuse. As I have remarked, I was feeling less than brilliant on waking, and have a large and complicated canvas to finish which has only six days before it is unveiled. I peered at said canvas and was at once fascinated and repulsed by the whole thing. Painting is not something I find particularly easy or enjoyable. It is something that is inside me and must be done – it’s comparable to singing. I don’t much care for the process, but I do like the end result. I suppose this is the outcome of yesterday's drink-fest? That was an excuse to escape from the canvas that wasn''t behaving as I wanted it to, and with a muzzy brain this morning, applying paint to canvas just isn''t going to cut it. Thankfully, there are always other chores I can do to put off painting, but will in due course realise that I must give myself a jolly good talking to and a ticking off, and get back to the job in hand. If I am honest with myself, I can see the painting is going well, and I think will be a success. There is, of course, the lurking doubt at the back of any creative person’s brain that one is a failure, and the piece of work, be it painting, sculpture, composition; whatever it may be, will not be worthy or worthwhile.

That is the dichotomy of such tasks I suppose.