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Deborah Caulfield's blog - disability arts online
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Lost and found: An old school doodle. / 29 April 2012

Doodle from my school days.

School doodle. Circa 1962. 14.3 x 10 cms

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I’ve lived in so many places; I’m amazed anything important has survived. Drawings, oil paintings, sketch books - lost, stolen, destroyed (by me) or just gone…

A few oil paintings were recently discovered in the form of two and a quarter inch square negatives. I hope to have these digitally rescued soon.

The earliest surviving example of my artistic output is this scribble, from my skooldaze. I was about 12 years old.

The picture (scanned and edited in Photoshop) shows the back and front of the wrapping band of a packet of envelopes, which I expect was bought from the school tuck-shop (because the local shops were out of bounds.)

Fellow post-war baby-boomers may recognise the MainLine branding. Look at the price: 3d three old pence. Today’s 5p is the equivalent of twelve pre-decimalisation pence.

The doodle was done in red, black and green biro, probably one of those fat things that had three or four colours in one. Great, but why did they always break before the ink ran out?

Despite its lack of monetary value, the object sheds light on a number of factors that resonate and still have meaning.

For example, I was unsure about the spelling of ‘boring’. It still doesn’t look right to me. If not for my word processor’s spell checker, I would still be doubtful.

To whom was the message shown? A friend, of course, but who?

The bearded chap was my class and art teacher, Mr Pinner. He looks a lot like Jesus.

The drawing on the right shows his talent for raising one eyebrow. The upwards turn of one side of his mouth suggests he’s annoyed. He used to call out: ‘Gas bags - deflate!’

Apparently I was always talking and giggling in class. My school reports testify to my annoying (for adults) habit of being more interested in having fun than knuckling down to hard work. My parents were furious; double trouble.

Mr Pinner often referred to me as ‘Cackling Witch’ because of my laugh. Was this funny or cruel?

Drawing caricatures was possibly a way of coping with feelings of powerlessness. Mostly it was an escape from soul destroying tedium and a relief from the mind numbing boredom.

Keywords: art,autobiography,caricature,chailey heritage,decimalisation,doodle,drawing,memories,special school,spelling,words