Sunday, 18 February 2018


Those of you who had the good fortune to receive one of my 2018 calendars (and, be warned, my agents are at large checking whether or not these are on display and in use) will know that one of my innumerable-and-ongoing "projects" is loosely named Sketchbooks. That is, scribbles from my multiple-and-ongoing sketchbooks, digitized on the flatbed scanner and turned into something rich and strange (strange, anyway) on my computer.

Both the original scribbling and the subsequent alchemization process are activities that reliably induce an intensely pleasurable state of concentration. It's a form of that solitary disengagement-by-engagement that is wisely regarded as essential to mental well-being. Some like the challenge of a crossword or sudoku puzzle, or to read in bed, or to slump for an hour or two in front of the TV, or even – unfathomably – to go for a run, but at the end of a long day, I like to cover some good-quality paper with pencil marks. The nice thing is that this is one no-mind activity that leaves a useful legacy, one that can be worked on further or transformed multiple times into something that might even end up enlivening a space in someone else's house.

Incidentally, why do Americans use the word "sketchy" to denote an unsafe, run-down part of town, or the kind of people who might inhabit it? Is this a long-established usage, or a recent coinage? I was completely baffled when the son of some visiting American friends referred to Brixton in London as having been pretty sketchy the last time they had visited. Huh? It had always seemed pretty convincingly real to me.

No comments: