Ugly Boy – Rest In Peace

uglyboycartoonThis is a very sad blog indeed. Ugly Boy (real name Jeremy Henty), one of the founder members of the Rude Mechanicals, has passed away, I hope to a better world.

Ugly Boy was in the Rude Mechanicals before even I was a member. He bought a drum kit to distract his mind from the state of his Phd. He was an eccentric, a maths genius who got into Cambridge at the tender age of 16.  He perhaps could never quite cope with what had been expected of him. I remember him walking down Mill road in Cambridge, in the chefs trousers covered in pictures of knives and forks that he always used to wear, and a naughty grin on his face. I liked that grin.

I wish we had never lost touch, I wish things had ended on a good note, but you never can predict the future and “I’ll contact him tomorrow” will, in the end, fall short.

Below is a very old picture of the Rude Mechanicals, Ugly Boy is the man in the strange pyjama-like outfit. I’ve included the lyrics of a song he wrote for the band underneath. Rest in peace Jeremy.

foursome_jpg

You’re an ugly little boy
playing in the dirt
your friends are the bugs and the worms
and then there’s me

Oh what fun you have

Foul creatures draw near
and wipe their filthy paws
all vermin is here
because like is attracted to like

Don’t mess up my dress

Earth in my hair
and dew upon my skin
grime beneath my nails
and the ugly little boy
is watching closely

Oh what fun.

by Uglyboy 2001

The Men in the Shadows

The men in the shadows The sketch is one i did a long time ago. It is of the men in the shadows, they were here then and they are here again. How to explain without seeming completely loopy?

There are men, at least they look like men, standing in the corners watching me. Not all the time, just occasionally. They have been here lately. They look like film detectives in long dodgy coats and black hats. They stand in the corners of my flat, by green bushes as I walk along the pavement, only half visible, but very definitely there.

They have taken lots of forms before though, government officials, aliens, the devil. Think I wrote a blog about them once or twice. I know it is them because there is something very sinister about them. They are taking notes on me, monitoring me. I often try to make light of them, call them friendly aliens or perhaps even Derek, and then they go away for a bit. But they always come back.

What do they want?

Where do they come from?

Do they mean me harm?

Why me?!

They don’t talk. Sometimes they open their mouths like they are going to scream, but nothing comes out.

What do they know that I don’t?

What am I supposed to do?

Is it part of a conspiracy?

The other day I was seeing them around lots. Also people’s faces were changing, collapsing. Like mercury their noses and eyes were melting down their faces.

Were they part of the same conspiracy?

yet I must pretend that they are not there, that I can’t see them, and that everyone face is in one piece and not sliding off. I must pretend that everything is ok, and so I do.

A Mess, and a possible ghost

This weekend I’ve been moving out of my art studio and trying to get all my stuff into my flat. This is very much like trying to fit a large elephant in a shoebox, practically it is just not going to happen. I’m giving it a good go though. I’ve decided it needs to be done with finite detail and order. All items must be in their own box and labelled. And the boxes can’t just be any old box, and since I can’t afford to buy storage boxes I’m decorating old shoe boxes of mine. Yes it’s all become very Blue Peter here, and unsurprisingly it is all taking a long time.

” I will get there, I will get order!” I say to myself as my body droops and part of my brain is secretly thinking it could just leave it all piled up throughout the flat and live on top of it. Last time I started doing that the cat got so distressed she poo-ed all over the flat. She likes things clean and tidy and in order. So I continue with this slow process. A couple of people’s offered to come round and help, but I can’t think how that would work, or rather I can understand perfectly how that would work, they would want to throw out 90% of my belongings thinking it’s useless rubbish where as I live in the constant belief that each and every item will be of vital importance one day.

I’m now having a glass of whiskey to celebrate having decorated 3 boxes, cleaned out 6 old boxes, neatly filed away my drawings of monsters, plants and almost human creatures, ordered the scissors, glue, tape and string and labelled them and threw out a whole bunch of old magazines. I was very pleased with throwing out the magazines, I just have to make sure I go ahead with it tomorrow and fully chuck them out, rather than search through the bin for snippets of information that are just so very important…

I think there is a ghost in this flat, but it’s an alright one, not troublesome. It is just always cold here, the doors bang shut or open of there own accord with no wind, and things fall off shelves when nobody is in the room. I’ve seen ghosts here and heard voices but then what I see and hear can not be trusted as I hallucinate so much, but there is something more believable about the banging and crashing and finding things on the floor that shouldn’t be… though I suppose it could just be the cat.

The whiskey is delicious and blurs the hideous mess around me. I start to look at the shapes and colours as abstract, lacking a name or purpose, and in this situation it is very enjoyable, not like coming round from a seizure where the not knowing what anything is, is terrifying.

No right now I am floating,

in my mess,

with the cat looking deeply unimpressed.

Bats

I drew that bat picture ages ago. It was a present for a friend. Wonder if he still has it?Must draw another one someday.

Before anything else I’m going to mention the gig at the Lexington this coming Sunday, 2nd September, where Rude Mechanicals will be performing along with David Cronenberg’s Wife and Venetian Blonde. Should be a good night. The Lexington is just a short walk up the hill from Kings Cross, or a roll down the hill from Angel (London). Starts at 8. I have spent the last week preparing delinquencies for you at this event, monsters of all seven worlds, music for dancing and cavorting, exquisite mysteries and rare spices. Well maybe not the spices, though if you’d like some hair from the legs of a satyr I have some on offer.

If you are reading this from the other side of the world I suppose it is rather unlikely that you’ll make it to the gig. Instead dream of rare, bizarre, and beautiful thing on Sunday night.

So that’s that off my chest. Back to the bats. The Library of Obscure Wonders held its full Moon event last weekend and it was a bat walk. It wasn’t quite on the full moon because on that day it was pouring down, so we went the next day, but the moon was still looking full to me.

Unfortunately I had a bad seizure that day and was feeling really grotty. Had to cancel badge making with Vyyy earlier in the day but was determined to make the bats. One cannot cancel a bat walk in a cemetery at full moon!

I arranged to turn up later than the others. Mat very kindly escorted me there taking care of the bat detectors I’d borrowed from Olly (the bat expert). Cos had told everyone I wasn’t feeling very well. When I got there Vyvy and Nathan seemed to be organising things, which was great. They had a sheet describing the different types of bat we were likely to see there. We were to go to the centre of the cemetery at 8pm, where there is a clear view of the sky. It is then that the bats come out. So we took off into the woods.

I was feeling very fragile and strange. It felt like I was floating through and the wood was very magical. The trees were talking to me and there were lots of elf-like creatures between the trees. This was a very pleasant hallucination that made me happy, I do like the hallucinations I get in woods, they tend to have an intense but homely feeling about them, but also too fragile to maintain, such things often result in a bad headache or further seizures. I thought “I need a drink”.

Alcohol is an interesting thing with my condition, too much of it will bring on a cluster of seizures the following day, but one or two drinks when I’m feeing strange like this will bring me back down to the ground. And so it did.

We set our picnic up in a quiet clear spot between woodstump seats. There was a lot of food and drink. There were eight of us there which I think is a good number for something like this. Mat had brought a flask of Jack Daniels and Lemonade which I sipped from slowly whilst he flirted with Sharen.

The bats came out as predicted. Tiny little things. Our bat detecting machines played beautiful high pitched noises as the winged creatures full above our heads against the night sky, and because my brain wasn’t 100% back to normal yet the bats were talking to me in Cockney rhyming slang. I didn’t mention this to anyone else.

So that was our trip to visit the bats in Tower Hamlets Cemetry. I think if the weather looks like it might be good next full moon we might hold another bat walk, maybe in Hampstead Heath, I’m told they fly over the lakes there catching insects.

In the meantime there is much strutting and cavorting to be done at the gig this Sunday. Come.

All in all it’s a good life really, because dung beetles exist

Some folk thought my last blog was rather miserable – though I thought, the conversation with the stones was very cheering – so am going to attempt something happier, for life is good really.

Having said that I’m about to start with something that will appear damn miserable, but hold on there, it will seem better soon.

My epileptic seizures have got to such a point that it is becoming difficult to do my job as a botanical teacher. The good side of this is that it is forcing me to take my freelance work more seriously. I’ve always really wanted to be an illustrator working from home and now life, probably fed up with my lack self believe, is forcing me into a corner where I have to do it.

I have a couple of commissions to start with, an animation commission about genomes and pea plants, and a t-shirt commission for a trans-sexual mermaid, which I like the idea of.

Just got to finish a mural I started last year of two large trees. David, who asked me to do it, feeds me well, so can’t complain at that. When I was at his earlier this week I kept hallucinating insects. I do this a lot anyway, but this was interesting as it seemed to fit with the tree paintings, all the shadows in his flat kept turning into insects. It was very like a dark fairy tale and at some point I must attempt to sketch it down.

Insects are great. A lot of them bother me, of course, like the fruit flies in my kitchen or the bluebottles hovering round the lounge light. However this doesn’t mean I want them all dead and when I think of the benefits insects have to us. The whole plant pollination thing is amazing, like a beautiful love affair between flower and bugs that is largely ignored in botanical illustration even though it is a symbiotic and essential relationship. A lot of our food just doesn’t happen without it.

Then there is the stag beetle, the cockroach and the dung beetle. These are great at recycling waste, allowing for the cycle of life to continue. The Egyptians saw the scarab beetle as a god rolling the sun round the earth, a symbol of rebirth and regeneration, and I can see their point there. Dung beetles are fascinating. There are many species and the love life of one type of dung beetle is most intriguing for there is a female dung beetle, a male dung beetle and a trans-gender dung beetle.

First of all the female dung beetle picks herself a big strong male with large horns to build her nest with, under a pile of dung. Then, once the nest is built and whilst the male is out defending his territory, battling against other males, the transgender dung beetle pays a visit to the nest. Now this dung beetle looks like a female but it’s sexual organs are male. The female dung beetle takes a shine to this new female looking friend and whilst the male is outside defending the nest with his life, the two female looking dung beetle make beautiful love inside the nest. Turns out that the smaller effeminate males has far bigger testicles than the stronger battling male, so his chance of fathering the offspring of the female are greater.

I told this story to a friend of mine the other day and he posed the question of how the offspring of the female and transexual dung beetle look. Does it become obvious what the female has been up to?

This I don’t know, and the divorce rate in dung beetles has not yet been monitored, but one thing I’m very pleased about is that they exist.

Now must get on with that animation.

Pembrokeshire – the advice of stones

img_0410I’m at my family home in Wales, sitting in bed drinking Whiskey Mac and contemplating the day. I have a strange relationship with this place, it was my dream home as a kid. I was brought up in London and the whole time we were about to move to Wales, it was where we belonged somehow. Every year we would visit and dream of our new home, our new life, walk round houses that were for sale and plan how mum would decorate them. It was all a dream. Then I turned 18 and went to university and finally the family moved here. All of them, my mum, Dad, brother, two sisters and nine nieces and nephews all live here now, I’m the only one that still lives in London.

Every now and then I think of moving here as well, but there is something about this place that makes me depressed and quite ill. Is it Pembrokeshire itself or just the family home? I have no idea what it is, this feeling that I don’t want to exist any more. That is how I was feeling today. Bad chemicals.

It is incredibly beautiful here in Pembrokeshire. We are by the sea, in a small village with a beautiful wood. The wood and the sea make me feel at home, but the house makes me feel alone. Desperately alone no matter who i’m With.

I walked through the woods to the sea today as i do every day when I’m here. i took Max, my mum’s great big soppy retriever dog with me. It was about 4 in the afternoon, it had been raining all day but the rain had now ceased and the sun was out. The woods were a bright almost luminous green. I have had very many seizures in these woods which gives them a strong haunted feeling.

When we get to the beach there are a couple photographing their daughter on the narrow stone bridge that crosses the river. Max is a young dog who tends to get over excited, I’m worried that he will knock the girl in the river as we pass, but he is very good and ignores them. Down on the beach I slide across slimy stones down to the sea. The sea is a grey blue creature slashing at the rocks to the chorus of seagulls. I turn to go back home but the photographer family are still on the bridge. I walk across to the river, crouch down and place my hands in the water. i want to get across the river without having to use the bridge. My fingers twist around the stones at the bottom of the clear water, only a few inches deep.

Take your shoes off, say the stones, roll up your trousers and wade across the river.

So I do. A little reluctant at first, I don’t know how sharpe the stones get, how deep the water becomes, or what malicious beasts might lurk at the bottom. But the water is cool and light on my feet and the stones slippery but smooth. The water doesn’t quite reach my knees and I’m across the river almost too quickly. Max is somewhat confused by my behaviour. I clamber on to a rock, sit and dry my feet. It makes me smile that such a simple thing can be so pleasing . I thank the stones for their good advice before returning back through the woods.

Patterns that talk of gods and then take the piss out of me for believing them

Well the Sinister Paisley theme is continuing in my life and pattern has overtaken somewhat. It is curious. It is related to the epilepsy of course. Today everything left its form and became just pattern, there was nothing but patterns twisting and turning round me, and they laughed at me and said “you think we are pattern don’t you”. I was at work and had just finished a lesson. It was very hot, the room span and I found myself crouching down on the wooden floor trying to grasp it, and the floor got up with all its twists and turns and danced round me. Luckily I was alone clearing up so no one got to see my odd dance moves.

This is a bit like one I had about a week ago where I was in the shower and the water became pattern, and the circular pattern on the shower curtain became mouths and a huge voice from elsewhere said “pattern is everything”.

For a while I was thinking this was a god talking to me, and that maybe everything is pattern, but today it was like the patterns were laughing at me for thinking this. Laughing at my pathetic notion of pattern. Laughing at my need for answers.

Yet I have a new attraction to finding patterns in things. Putting the tables away felt better because I could see the interlocking pattern within them and it felt good. It has also been much easier to keep my flat tidy recently because it feels like fitting patterns together and creating new patterns. A peculiarly satisfying experience.

I am in the process of writing a song about Sinister Paisley for the Rude Mechanicals. It is about a festival I was at once and the person I was with was telling me all about his amazing acid trips and although this interested me a lot because the experience is in some ways similar to mine, it also oddly silences me and makes me very lonely because it is not a choice, I cannot do it for fun. But hey I get to talk to the gods so can’t really complain.

Mm…I’ve got the munchies now, wonder if that’s the cannabis oil I’m experimenting with.

A linocut I’m doing.