2018 in Review

This won't be a particularly funny post (if at all), mainly because 2018 has been quite a good year for me. Comedy is just bad stuff that happens to other people after all, so if you've come here hoping to have a chuckle at my shit year, you might as well fuck off now. Also while we're it at, if you don't like reading pedantic lists you should probably save yourself some time and piss off too. As you can probably guess from the photo at the top of this page, I had my hands tattooed in 2018. My thought process in this decision was thus: if I'm going to get my hands indelibly marked with ink for the rest of my life, I might as well go for some bold and brutal imagery. My thought process probably didn't include the phrase "indelibly marked with ink" but I wasn't writing an essay at the time. That was the general gist anyway. This photo originally gained 5000+ likes on Instagram (not that I was counting), before being removed after a few complaints. My favourite comment was this: "Job-stopper right there. Show your boss you're an alcoholic Nazi" Technically, neither of these assumptions would necessarily make me a bad web developer if true, but that is beside the point; I also have a tattoo of Medusa's head because I like dark and striking pictures. That does not mean that I commandeered a small fleet in ancient Greece and sailed to an island named Sarpedon, wrapped in a golden fleece, in order to sever the head of a mythic snake-headed monster known as the gorgon, before taking it home to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In short, a tattoo of people drinking doesn't make me an alcoholic. Nor does a tattoo of a WWII execution make me a Nazi - any more than a tattoo of a flasher means I indecently expose myself in public. The tattoos did successfully annoy people though, so I consider them a job well done. I also do have a tattoo of a flasher and I have been known to indecently expose myself to girls in public, but that's just a coincidence. Following on from this, I started a new job last January, which I have amazingly managed not to get sacked from - despite my dependency on alcoholic beverages and propensity for fanatical right-wing politics being etched upon my hands. I have enjoyed it immensely and learnt a lot this year, and even managed to attend the work Xmas party in good cheer; an event which I would normally place on the severity scale of unpleasant social occasions slightly higher than receiving a buggering off Freddie Starr but somewhat lower than watching X Factor. In addition to this, I have been to Transylvania in Romania, Krakov in Poland and Lake Como, Turin and Milan in Italy. I also went as far as Bow on the London underground. I'll end this blog post now with a list of the books, gigs and cinema outings I consumed within the last 12 months, because making lists keeps me sane. Be grateful I didn't mention Brexit. Books: Watchmen - Alan Moore Classic comic-book tale about nuclear war. Dandy in The Underworld - Sebastian Horsley The autobiography of my hero. Very funny. The Secret Life of A Satanist - Blanche Barton The biography of Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan The Bangkok Asset - John Burdett Silly crime novel set in Bangkok, featuring robots. Bigger Than Hitler, Better Than Christ - Rik Mayall The autobiography of another hero. RIP Rik. The Blade Artist - Irvine Welsh Latest novel from the bloke that wrote Trainspotting. Far-fetched nonsense, but I read it anyway. Essays in Existentialism - Jean-Paul Sartre Philosophical art-wank ramblings by a Frenchie. The Clearing - Tim Gautreax A story about the mafia interfering with a logging community in 1700s deep south America. Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler Big in Germany in the 30s/40s apparently. I read this before going to visit Auschwitz in order to prepare myself for the horrors that lay in wait there. It didn't help. Beggar's Banquet - Ian Rankin Selection of of short crime stories, many of which feature Inspector Rebus from off the telly. Pigs Might Fly - Neil Hanson An account of running a pub up a big hill (the highest situated pub in Britain no less). Beyond Good and Evil - Nietzsche A madman who inspired Hitler by accident and had a better moustache. The Granta Book of The American Short Story - edited by Richard Ford A whopper of a tome, more than 1000 pages long. Includes some gems, such as the story of a confidence trickster who steals a girl's wooden leg and leaves her stranded in the woods. Introducing Marxism: A Graphic Guide - Rupert Woodfin & Oscar Zarate Everyone knows that Marxism is the philosophy of losers, but I still I read this to pass the time (mainly because it had pictures). Junky - William Burroughs Classic book about heroin addiction. Also buggery! The Outsider - Camus Classic story about alienation and the perpetual malady of life. Content Provider - Stewart Lee Collection of the comedian's essays, originally penned for various broadsheet newspapers. Very funny! On Anarchism - Noam Chomsky I'm not a fan of Chomsky's school of thought, but I gave this a go. It was shit. The Boys from Brazil - Ira Levin A fictional classic about Mengele after his escape to Brazil after WWII. The Hidden Life of Trees - Peter Wohlleben Yes, I read a book about trees. And enjoyed it. Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse - David Mitchell Similar to Stewart Lee's book, albeit written by one half of Peep Show instead of one half of Richard Not Judy. Gigs: The Damned My favourite British punk band. Sepultura Heavy show, solid. Cock Sparrer, Cockney Rejects, The Last Resort All at the same show. Good fun! Gaz Coombes Formerly of Supergrass. Always reliable. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Patti Smith, Courtney Barnett, St Vincent, Bo Ningen All at the same event in Victoria Park. Bloody brilliant. Bands I didn't see (but really wanted to): Billy Idol, The The (not a typo), Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Sextos Rodriguez, Beck, Baxter Dury (twice), Saxon, Batushka, Wu Tang Clan. Cinema: The Others 2 Silly horror sequel. A Quiet Place Interesting idea, but ultimately boring horror film about a world where everyone has to be quiet or be eaten my monsters. The Meg Ridiculous and disappointing shark film starring Jason Statham. Halloween40 Great horror sequel! Bohemian Rapsody Decent biopic about Freddie Mercury of Queen. Suspiria Long-winded (and unnecessary) remake of a 70s horror classic by Dario Argento. See you next year, thanks for reading!

Paul Shinn Draws!

I will take a departure from my usual themes in this post; instead of moaning, ranting and generally taking the piss, I will be be focussing on the artist and notorious drug smuggler and foot fetishist, Paul Shinn. I have known Paul since teenagers at secondary school, and amazingly, Paul still tolerates me. He once had a regular 9-5 job as a graphic designer in the publishing trade, but then around 10 years ago decided to eschew this career path, in order to follow his dreams and become a lowly artist. Now it is a well-known fact that true art deals with death, despair and the ongoing frailty and ennui of the human condition. Paul, ever the anarchist, throws this convention against the wall. before stomping it it into tiny, bloody fragments and then pissing on them. His talent is creating cartoon comic strips, mainly aimed at a younger audience; the main purpose of which is to entertain through comedy. Penguins feature regularly. I would not normally approve of 30-something-year old men with beards who take an interest in the pleasure of  other people's children, but Paul is the exception to this rule. His work is innocent but not childish, and will certainly make you smile. Another truthful tenet held within the artistic realm is that decent artists only become popular and earn any money, after they are dead. Unless they cut up sheep or paint floppy clocks, that is. Again, Paul has bucked the trend - by carving out a flourishing, moneymaking career that has kept him in beer for the last decade, without having to pickle any sharks. Tom Fogarty - prison web banner by Paul Shinn Here is a web banner that Paul created for me several years ago, featuring many of my favourite things. On 8th December Paul ran a stall at the annual House of Illustration's Christmas Fair, in King's Cross, so I popped along to show me support i.e. be nosy and and potentially take the opportunity to scoff and mock. And I have to admit that I was very impressed by what I saw. I'm not a bloke that can usually be found wandering around artisanal markets, soaking up the bohemian vibe and appreciating the painterly goods on offer, - but Paul's Stall (decent name, that), was certainly the highlight in a sea of enthusiast and talented throng  young people and beard-scratchy sandal-wearers doing their best. Here is a small selection of Paul's oeuvre - and all available to buy and worth your money - all of which would make ideal Christmas presents if you have a youngsters in the family who are easy to please: You can get a better look at Paul's drawings over at his website (not built me me, so actually works): www.paulshinndraws.com Finally, here is a birthday card that Paul made for me many moons ago - after much cajoling from yours truly - of a portrait of me astride a giant bee. All tattoos were accurate at the time of drawing. Good, isn't it? Tom Fogarty - by Paul Shinn I'd like to add a footnote; I did accidentally end up taking the piss slightly in this post - but Paul Shinn really is a very talented illustrator, and you really should have a look at his work and buy some of his stuff! Also, he's no - that I'm aware of - a drug dealer or foot fetishist.