A Design for Life 01

"When the going gets dodgy..." I always say.

And thus, in need of some assertive words to slap me on the back the other week, was I drawn to an online video ad in which an affable lady was selling a 'positivity package', and while most of her perma-tanned pre-amble just flossed through my head, she said something that caused my wiggly lugs to hearken.

She remarked that in order to find your true purpose, your path to a life filled with sex and beauty and wonders untold, you should think way back to what was your main childhood obsession (I think she meant hobbies or interests, not girly crushes and stuff), particularly from the ages of 7 to 14, okay, and that this is where you should direct your focus as an adult. Hmm.

I was a boyhood car freak as far back as I recall. I loved attending the national and local Motor Shows, I was one of those annoying kids with carrier bags stuffed with brochures and stickers; I hoarded discarded car parts, hub caps and things, in my shed.

Another side to all this was I always had a 'car project' on the go, meaning I would sit in my bedroom surrounded by brochures and the little Observer's Book of Automobiles (still have it), filling exercise books with car facts and figures, neatly listing and illustrating (with pics cut out from Autocar and Motor magazines), the specifications learnt by heart (I can to this day tell you that Rolls Royces back then were powered by a 6750cc V8 engine, and that the doors of the majestic Panther DeVille were the very same as used on the hideous Austin Maxi). But anyway, it was this meticulous arrangement of info that I loved, the page layout, my neatest writing, and carefully-copied makers' marques and flags of the countries of origin drawn precisely with a ruler and felt pens.

Around about this time, my best friend Paul Irwin and I would collaborate on several editions of a comic (the very humorous Tooth) which we drew up on the desk in his bedroom and then stapled our individual pages together. A very early example of self-publishing, not bad at all for two kids aged 10-11 (the pair of us, 32 years later, would self-publish a bunch of amazing tour guides for the town in which we grew up, but that's another story).

I had always loved Art at school but it wasn't much of a challenge, it wasn't enough, it was easy and kinda loose. Then with High School came an epiphany—Technical Drawing appeared on the schedule! The discipline, the application of orderliness, clean lines and precision, as guided by Mr Anderson and his whistling dentures. (Going back to the early 1970s for a moment, my father would take me to his workplace on a Sunday morning where I would gaze in awe at the rows and rows of industrial-sized drawing boards, parallel rules and Rotring pens; now I could have a go myself.)

This was just what I needed to keep me out of mischief, I dived straight in and did far more homework than was necessary, but to what end? Art + Technical Drawing = I didn't know what at the time.


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