Recent Cartoons

Boris Johnson outdoes Mr Bumble with his refusal to extend Free School Meals to children on universal Credit in the government’s “Food Strategy” announced on Monday. At least Oliver Twist had a first round…

With thanks and apologies to Sir John Tenniel.

The decision to deport refugees to Rwanda – which the government disingenuously portrays as simultaneously quite ok, hinting that anyone who opposes it is being racist towards Rwandans, AND a deterrent to the people who arrive by boat and not through any of the official and legal channels that don’t actually exist – contrasts with the rather mawkish Jubilee film with the Queen sharing marmalade sandwich habits with Paddington Bear. Paddington being a refugee from Peru, who arrived at Paddington station with the label “Please take care of this Bear”. So, people did. Priti Patel would “take care” of him in a different way altogether. Maybe someone should write a spoof book, Paddington gets deported.

“Nothing and No One can stop me now…!” What every villain says just before someone stops them. With 75% of his backbenchers voting no confidence in him last week Johnson reminded me of the last scene in Kurosawa’s transposition of Macbeth to Japan, in which the King dies bristling with arrows like a porcupine.

The DFE Net Zero launch at the Natural History Museum in April combined the usual vainglorious boosterism from the government – Nadhim Zahawi explaining that Britain would “lead the world in the Green Industrial Revolution” because of the “entrepreneurial spirit” (that leads us to have the lowest private sector research and development investment in the G7) and “tech entrepreneurs” – completely at odds with what they are actually doing. Building 4 new net zero schools by 2024 (out of more than 24,000 in the country) was described by the Minister as “upping our ambition”. The student protest movement has been telling the Emperors that they have no clothes since 2018. They are beginning to put on some token garments, but have a long way to go.

Paddington and bigotry by rail

At Paddington Station I take my hat off to Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s statue in a show of respect to a man that could design a palace to steam like that without recourse to hallucinogenic drugs. He has taken off his own, far more impressive, hat too; and sits smiling amidst the wonders he has made.

“01042010 – 250 Paddington Station – Isambard Kingdom Brunel statue” by failing_angel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The statue of Paddington Bear on the opposite side is light and shiny on the nose, crown and brim of his hat where the kids have touched him.

Reading town centre has a noisy, slightly manic quality, generally quite smartly turned out people making a sharp contrast with some striking looking serious drunks. One stares out blearily from under a hoody, with a red and weather beaten face that makes him look like Aragorn grown old as Strider. Another tall, stringy looking man walks along with an ID tag around his neck showing he is functional at least some of the time, while talking to himself and taking rather wide steps that waver tentatively before making a commitment to coming down. Every pace an adventure.

The train to Reading is named after a community activist who fixed things for his neighbours and played music in the streets, which may be the future. The train back is named after a GWR employee who won the VC in the First World War. Three other employees who died in it are commemorated along the body of the locomotive with brief biographical notes and photos of lugubrious looking men with walrus mustaches; who are definitely the past.

As was the frustrated football fan on the Euston to Watford line who looked like a bitter and twisted version of Andy Parsons and decided that the carriage would benefit from his slightly inebriated rant against woke this and anti- British that; partly directed at his mates; but using them as a backdrop and back up to talk to everyone who couldn’t avoid hearing. At one point, he looked directly at me, perhaps because I was wearing a pink shirt and was therefore a living rebuke to all things masculine. His most ironic line was that if Britain hadn’t defeated Hitler, no one would have the nerve to pull down statues. Which I guess means that Hitler was on his side in that. No one rose to his bait. He was, of course, not wearing a mask.