april 2005 - april 2008

600 posts, three years, two countries, and a baby; and now to start a new weblog in another universe. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to browse through the past three years of entries and enlightenment; for all pete's new blog entries, please go to, or step through the magic portal above...


9.4.08 22:55

auf wiedersehen, pete

Today is my third bloggiversary. And on this day, at 600 posts, it is time to continue elsewhere. I’m due a change, and a change may do me good. My blogging will now be done at

No one particular reason. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, I actually set up the other blog more than two years ago, but decided to stay at 20six when so many others left it. I like 20six’s blogs (I found it much better than, say, blogger), but the blog-outs have been worrying me a bit though. I just want to stop here and continue elsewhere, leaving this as three years of webloggery. In fact, I won’t be leaving the 20six blogs completely, as I will be using my secondary blog (
pietscully) as a kind of experimental area for various side-projects. It may be the pete fringe-blog. (It isn't actually the only one.) But this one will stay as it is, frozen in time. A book doesn’t die because the author stops writing it, and nor does this blog.
I'll think of the new blog as ‘Volume 2’.
Story: I started this blog three years ago today (April 9) when I was overwhelmed with coursework and medieval research during my MA. I got a creative burst and found new ways to vent it. I found 20six because
The Vessel started a blog there taking photos of the shadows on the dining room wall; I started one too, because in those days you had to have one in order to comment on one. I wrote the odd thought and thought odd, and every now and then posted the odd drawing, from my damp flat in hornsey lane. It became my ‘Preparing to Move to America’ blog; and when I flew out to California in September 05 it became my “Living in America” blog and a way for my family and friends back home to catch up on how I saw this slightly mental land (see “From the US of Eh" ) And I would read other blogs from back in the UK to remind me of the slightly mental country I left behind (blogs such as Scotland-based Red Queen, now vanished, and the Switzerland-based Brit of Don’t Mention the Skiing, now in Germany ). 

Then in the summer of 2006 I discovered sketchblogs, where people would post what was in their sketchbook from that particular day. The first I found was Jana Bouc’s blog, and it inspired me to start using watercolours in my sketches. Since then I’ve painted and sketched more and more, drawing inspiration from some of the prolific and incredible sketchbloggers out there. I was astonished that people could go out and draw something new every day (such as in one mile from home), until I found that I was doing that too. So this went from being a blog where I wrote about what was all around me, to one where I drew everything that was around me, like illustrations to my life (of which you would only really get small glimpses). And I can see that through sketchblogging, I’ve improved enormously.

And now in 2008 I have become a parent! Life has changed a lot. All the while, I mostly didn’t want to leave this blog because it would mean losing the “” bit at the end…it would mean I really have left Britain behind. Well that’s just silly. Perhaps, if I get really homesick, I’ll just go ahead and start or something, or if I miss France, or whatever.

So... thank you to all who have been reading this blog, and to those who have been so kind as to link to me in your own blogs. I’ll be over at, doing the same sketches of the same trees and the same streets and saying the same puns and complaining about the same presidents (until january, of course) and everything.
And if I get bored, well I might just come right back here.

9.4.08 22:55

don't mention the torch

Let's make it clear : the Olympic Torch is not actually important. It doesn't matter if it goes out; mankind is sufficiently advanced to find a way to light it again. You don't need heavy-handed sky-blue thugs (Seb Coe's own words) to protect it from people venting their anger at the one-party-dictatorship in China and their brutal crackdown on Tibetan 'separatists'. If you have to put it out and jump on a bus, it's okay, you can admit it. The whole torch relay was started by the Nazis anyway. You can't pretend that it was never political.

I'll tell you what I think of when I see the Olympic torch (apart from the Aryan-supremacist iconography and the former symbol of the Tories) (and yes, apart from a Mr.Whippy). That bloody Chariots of Fire theme by Vangelis. And I'll tell you what I think of when I think of that. An exchange trip to France I took at college, when I shared a room with a guy who listened to it on his headphones, after dark, when he thought I was asleep (I so wish I had been), and I could hear him busy doing the 15-centimetre sprint, tossing the caber, giving the bronze medal a good polish, slapping duncan goodhew on the head. And yelping, "putain! putain!", as if I couldn't hear him or something. I don't know what he was thinking of, but I bet it wasn't Nigel Havers.


8.4.08 22:30

from the pencil of young pete

mccartney (1989)

I drew this 19 years ago, when I was just thirteen. 19 years ago!! The Berlin Wall was still up! Nelson Mandela was still in prison! George Bush was the new President of the USA!

I was digging through my old drawings from when I was a kid recently and thought I should share them with you. I remember drawing this (I still use the 'mechanical' eraser I used in this very drawing, there's continuity for you!); I was a huge Beatles fan, and trawled the record stores and junk shops of London for old original LPs (plus a load of old albums my uncle gave me). Note how I've given Macca his real first name too.

I did another version of it at 16 (below left), in 1992, with stronger values and less chin, but I prefer the first one for its innocence. I was doing my GCSE art in '92 and several of the other pictures below are from that time; below right is a watercolour copy of Cezanne that I did at 15 or 16, from a postcard picked up at the National Gallery - I used to go down to London most weekends to go to the galleries (and the record stores).

mccartney (1992)  cezanne (1992)

Ten years later I ended up living in Cezanne's town of Aix-en-Provence, which is where I met my wife (and therefore how I ended up living in the US). Funny old world.

Below is another from 16-year old Pete in 1992, an unfinished one of Jesus from some other painting I can't remember. An interesting choice for such an atheistic lad as I, but even though I'm A NonBeliever I know aestheticism sometimes trumps atheisim; years later I did a one-person art performance piece at university about being drunk on the underground, which ended up with me on a crucifix (supposed to be King's Cross).

jesus (1992)

The pencil one below left is a pastorly Peter Cushing (looking more like the Crow Man), also from 1992. I seemed to have an easier time with light and dark values back then than I do now. It's from one of my horror-movie books; I was really into old Hammer Horror films (I have another sketch of Christopher Lee too), and in 1992 I wrote and performed an eight-song musical called "Dracula AD 1992" (an homage to the 1972 Hammer movie), which included such classic songs as "This Motel's Giving Me The Willies" and "Freshly Impaled Village Maidens". Below right: a later picture, 1995, 19 years old and obsessed with oil pastels. Doesn't look massively like me, but you get the idea. I didn't wear glasses very often back then.

cushing (1992) pete (1995)

A little trip into young pete's world.

8.4.08 06:41

still seeing davis

i'm not sorry

I bet you thought this series was over...well I said I'd make it to 24 and I will. This is number 21 of 24. I apologise for the hiatus; it was due to the recent writer's strike.

8.4.08 08:42

E - A - D - G - B - E

before he went electronic

My guitar, the hohner acoustic i've had for eleven years now, bought at macari's on charing crosss road in january 1997 when i worked at a chocolate shop on oxford street, been with me to several countries, now here in california. That orange plectrum attached to the strings there is the same one they gave me when i bought it, it's still the only one i'll use. The wood is matt, and browner than it looks here. I do have another fancier electric, but this is the one i grab the most. I played some soothing songs to my baby son today, he seems to like the sound and the shape of the guitar; one day, in the future, I will buy him his first guitar. He may even get this one. This wasn't my first guitar, however; my first proper one that worked (not including the bad car-boot acoustics i had) was a westone electric that my brother gace me, I loved that guitar, though it's clapped out now. I passed it on to my nephew just before moving to america. Boys and guitars, important allies.

(purple micron .01, w&n cotman watercolour, moleskine watercolour paper)

7.4.08 04:37

illustration friday: 'save' (or 'i've got a pocket full of pretty green')

illustration friday: SAVE

I am so glad i scanned this before adding the wash. Yes, i added a bad greeny-blue wash to it, and it looks bad bad baby, bad as in not good mate. So while you might think that the theme for illustration friday 'SAVE' refers to the money supposedly saved here, it actually refers to the fact i saved this before going on to deface the original with sea-green. So there.

Don't go giving me evils!

illustration friday

5.4.08 06:41

april is the cruellest month

april is the cruellest month

Sketched today at lunchtime, while on my lunchbreak, after eating lunch. Orange flowers by the arboretum, uc davis; that i believe is the law school there, that building type thing like. They love lawyers in america. If you're not a lawyer or a doctor, or maybe a cop, then you cant get into a tv show.

5.4.08 02:19

got more bottle than united dairies

 ian rush said that if you don't drink your milk, you won't even be good enough to play for accrington stanley. message in a bottle

accrington stanley? who are they?

pump up the volume


4.4.08 00:59

Union Hacks

Oh i do like to be a Brit in America. Since moving out here I have discovered that the natives will deem even the most Burnt Oak of accents the mark of intellect and compliment us by imitating it. Things we take for granted, such as newsagents on every corner, unfriendly bus drivers, and cheap bread are notably absent; even electric kettles are like fresh milk in France. To make us feel at home, however, we have a newspaper, one that I only really discovered this past weekend. It's one of those free ones you find in pubs, a bit like the ones Aussies and Kiwis get outside tube stations on west London, and it's patriotically called "Union Jack". Here (and not on that BBC website or anything) is where Brits get their news, and what news.

"Public Loo Closures Causing Protests Nationwide", runs one headline. "Monk Killed in Lawnmower Accident" should be the title of a movie. "HRH Prince Andrew visits Orange County" was another; "HRH Prince Andrew"?? I've never heard him called that in a tabloid headline before. The paper seems to have a bit of a something for Andy, as he crops up several more times in other articles. But I can't really poke fun at headlines, you'd get these in any British local paper ("rising bollards claim another victim" was my favourite one from the Ely Standard, or was it the Cambridge Evening News). I will poke fun at the adverts though, each and every one of them promoting some crappy little tea shoppe or something where you can spend your funny-looking dollars buying Kippers, Steak and Kidney Pies, or Mr. Kipling cakes. Except one: the word "Bollocks" leaps out in large letters, above a picture of a dog, with the caption "Real Bollocks to Hang Anywhere in your Home". I don't know what it's actually selling, but who cares?! (It's one of the things Brits really love, that even the most curse-sensitive of Americans will not understand one of our most beloved swearwords).

Other sections include some badly written columns by some old English expat wallies turning out any old shit that relates to British American relations (hold on a minute, isn't that what I do..? ), and a load of other useless bits of month-old non-news from various bog-standard towns around the UK, dog loses pen in port vale, that sort of thing. The saving graces of this paper - let's face it, this ridiculous rag with too many British flags on it not to be slightly suspicious - are a couple of detailed columns letting us know what i currently going on in Eastenders and Coronation Street. Now that's the sort of thing Brits really want, updates on the soaps; expats who've lived abroad so long all the characters have changed and they can't follow any of it anyway. It was however the appalled-in-woking reaction of the columnist herself that made me guffaw the most: "It was hard to describe how violent and disturbing those Vic smashing scenes were. I personally hope they don't do anything like that again." They have a real cutting edge TV critic there in the Union Jack. Victor Lewis-Smith, you'd better keep an eye on your job. The rest of us had better keep an eye on our bollocks.  

3.4.08 06:12

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