Saturday, 31 December 2011

24 Things I drew this month - Thing Twenty Four. Plus...Cabin Pressure news.

Click for paramount version

Happy New Year! From me, and from all the crew at MJN Air. Which, I am happy to be able to tell you, WILL be returning for a fourth series. We don't know when yet, but my best guess is sometime in the second half of this year. 

Thank you for reading, and for all your nice comments about my drawings this month. Normal service will now be resumed. 

Friday, 30 December 2011

Oh yes it is.

Hello, hope you had the merriest of Christmasses. If you are wondering where the twenty-forth thing I drew this month is, it will be here tomorrow. In the meantime, you might enjoy listening to the Radio Four Panto I wrote with my friend and ex double act partner Kevin Baker. It's on at 6.15 tonight, stars Sandi Toksvig and Andy Hamilton, and features loads and loads of other Radio Four names, from Kirsty Young to Nicholas Parsons. If you like Radio Four, I think you'll enjoy it. If you don't listen to Radio Four much, it will be largely incomprehensible.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Twenty Three

Something a little jollier today...

Friday, 23 December 2011

24 Things I drew this month - Thing Twenty Two

Bah, Humbug.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Twenty One

Also woof. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

24 Things I drew this month - Thing Twenty


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

24 Things I drew this month - Thing Nineteen

Here, have a scribbly opera house.

Buildings are really dull to draw, it turns out. Glad I'm not an architect.

Monday, 19 December 2011

24 Things I drew this month - Thing Eighteen

Whoops, late again. So, first today, here's something to make you glad it's not summer.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Seventeen

There is actually a perfectly good explanation for why I have spent some of this evening making a paper model of a tube train driven by Queen Victoria, and carrying, among others, Isaac Newton, Morecambe and Wise, Henry VIII and Winnie the Pooh.

Hard though I accept that may be to believe.

Friday, 16 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Sixteen

Thursday, 15 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Fifteen

I've only drawn one line today; but in fairness it is quite a complicated line.

Click for bigger (actually, that goes for any of these drawings) 

Team A

Team B

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Fourteen

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Thirteen

Another scribbly one, but I thought it was time I tried drawing something that wasn't a face or an animal. Or the face of an animal. So, here's this. 

Monday, 12 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Things Twelve a, Twelve b, Twelve c and Twelve d.

I was away at the weekend, so I took a sketchbook, and tried doing some quick, rough sketches of people unlucky enough to sit near me, before they either moved or noticed. Also, to encourage me to be fast and loose, I tried not rubbing anything out; with mixed results, as you'll see.

On the train up:

In a cafe: (That's a tumbler of orange juice in front of him; he's not a giant with a pint.)

At the barber's:

In the pub:

Sunday, 11 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Eleven

Yes, that last one was meant to be Stephen Fry, but it didn't quite come off. The mouth is all wrong. Similarly, this one is meant to be William Hague, and has also not quite come off. Caricature is hard. You see, this is why I normally make faces up - then you can't get them wrong.

24 things I drew this month - Thing Ten

Oh dear - missed a day again. I'll put two up today to compensate. Here's the first. 

Friday, 9 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Nine

Funny how one thing leads to another. The monsters came from the buffalo, but then I had such fun drawing the big guy at the back that I spent an hour today doodling thugs and villains. This one's my favourite. 

...but he's ever so good to his dear old Mum.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Eight

Monsters! (Part 2)

My scanner's not quite big enough for it, but you get the gist. Monsters. That's the gist.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Seven

Monsters!  (Part One)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Six

Work in progress.

Monday, 5 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Five

...and, hopefully just sneaking in under the wire of midnight, please accept this complimentary dodo.

24 things I drew this month - Thing Four

Hello, sorry, I was at the Winter Festival in Hay on Wye yesterday; without my scanner or indeed my computer. So, here's yesterday's Thing, a quick caricature of someone I saw at the festival:

...And I'll put today's up later tonight, and we'll be on track again.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Three

Given that the word 'buffalo' is the name of an animal, a city in America where that animal could theoretically be found and a verb meaning to bully; the following sentence, invented by linguist William J. Rapaport,  is grammatically correct: 'Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.' The meaning is that buffalo from Buffalo who are buffaloed by other buffalo from Buffalo, themselves go on to buffalo a third group of buffalo from Buffalo. A tragic glimpse there into the vicious cycle of abuse rife in the bison community of upstate New York. William J. Rapaport, by the way, is an associate professor at the University of Buffalo. So, presumably, this is all based on an eye-witness account. Anyway, the point is... here is a drawing of a buffalo. 

Friday, 2 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing Two

Pip pip.

By the way, if you happen to be going to the Hay on Wye Winter Festival this weekend, I will be there, doing this. Do come along.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

24 things I drew this month - Thing One

Ok, this blog needs a bit of a kick to get it moving again, so just for a month I'm going to turn it into a sketchbook-blog. Every day from today until Christmas Eve, I'm going to post something I've drawn that day. Like a sort of horrible advent calendar, only instead of charming pictures of robins and snowmen; dodgily shaded pictures of grumpy old men. Speaking of which...

It's of a man I sat opposite on the tube. I call it 'Man I Sat Opposite On The Tube'.

Monday, 21 November 2011


Sometimes in life, I feel it's important, as we are borne along by a constant tide of events; as we are bombarded with information and opinion on all sides, and try hopelessly to synthesise from it some sort of reasonably coherent personal philosophy; as we wrestle with our worries, our hopes and our fears for ourselves, our families, for mankind itself... that we find a moment to pause amidst the hurley-burley, and say, simply:

'Wow. That's a really big leaf.'

I mean, just look at it. It's huge!

Friday, 18 November 2011

And what's more, I got to meet Bernard Cribbins.

Sorry for the pause - I will be back doing this more regularly soon. In the meantime, some quick Cabin Pressure / Own Trumpet Blowing news: I'm delighted to say that last night Cabin Pressure won the Writers' Guild award for Best Radio Comedy. Hooray!

Hooray also for the terrific Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong and Simon Blackwell, who won the TV comedy award for Peep Show; and Howard Read, who won Best Children's Programme with this piece of brilliance.

I celebrated by eating far too many tiny spicy fishcakes, and taking home ten of the golden envelopes the nominations came in, for reasons that are now obscure to me. Good times.

I've told Douglas. He's over the moon.

Friday, 4 November 2011

I had a coffee in the end. 100% coffee.

This was at the top of a dessert menu the other day:

I did, just about, manage to resist the temptation to ask the waiter if they had anything chocolatey.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Yet when I said the exact same thing in Tottenham three months ago, apparently THAT'S a criminal offence...

Today, I heard a mother say this to her son:

'Look, a policeman! Go on, run up to him and give him a scare!'

Now, there's an example of a sentence which is only good parenting under certain very specific circumstances. About seven pm on Halloween; in a leafy middle-class bit of London, and when the son is four years old, and dressed as an adorable lion - OK. Pretty much any other time or place... not so great.

The other memorable sentence I overheard on my walk was: 'Ethan! Never mind about your sweets - just put your willy away!' 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Conversations with robots.

I have only just discovered that Blogger has a Spam folder, in which it filters out, but stores, the more obvious spam that is posted in the comments of these posts. However, reading through it, some of the comments there are so personal and human that they can't possibly be spam, and so I can only apologise for the error, and make amends by answering them here now.

Your site is great, and your story gives many other people strength. I marched on up to Post 1 just expecting the usual, but this hit the nail on the head 
You're too kind! I hope you have now been given the strength to march right on up to post 2.
Drop in on us at times to grasp more information and facts in the matter.
I certainly will. Interestingly, this was very nearly the official slogan of the BBC News website.
We Really Should Get In Toch. Have you been an energetic person on leading social networking sites like Digg, Facebook, or Stumble Upon?
No, I haven't. You may be thinking of someone else. But I hope this doesn't make you reconsider Getting In Toch. (Also noteworthy: this person was selling ‘New Era Hats’ and ‘Canada Goose Coats’)
I definitely like the road you are posting! You receive an engaging sharp end of estimate!
I do, yes. Thank you for noticing. And you have a very nice road, too.

Do you think anyone will be champion of Euro 2012?

Yes, I think someone will. 

Collection of some of your personal information is essential for completion of some of the functions and activities of this Website.
Oh, really? I mean... you do realise this is my website? You’re the one visiting me? But still, I expect you know best. Will my bank details, PIN, and mother’s maiden name be enough?
Someone told me to go onto the website www.dodgywebsite.con  What exactly is this website and will it give me viruses?
Well, you certainly did the right thing by coming here to ask me. Safety first. Tell you what, I’ll just go to that website myself, and then let you know if I get any viruses. How does that sound?
You pretty much said what i could not effectively communicate.
Thank you, I’m touched. Though given what I said in this case was to announce the date and venue of a show I was doing, I’m not surprised you had trouble communicating it. 
You most definitely have made this blog into something thats eye opening and important. You clearly know so much about the subject, you’ve covered so many bases. Great stuff from this part of the internet.
Aw, I'm blushing. Thank you very much, from this part of the internet. 
Great article, but it would be better if in future you can share more about this subject. Keep rocking.
Excellent - good to get some constructive advice. Both about how to make my article better - share more about the subject! Of course! It seems so obvious now you say it! - and of course about whether or not I should continue to rock. 
This is my first message. Please don't delete it.
Do not throw stones at this notice. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Others say it was laid out by the dinosaurs.

This is from a leaflet about the small Portugese town I am in today:

'The year in which Loule was founded is unsure. There are historians who attribute its foundation to the Carthaginians (404 BC), while others defend a more contemporary origin, accrediting responsibility to the Romans.'

Wow. Like most unbearably smug Englishmen, I have in my time scoffed at American or Australian 'historic buildings' from the 1920s. But the boot's on the other foot now. Round here, if your town only dates back to Roman times, it is disappointingly contemporary...

(The leaflet also tells me, to my inexpressible disappointment, that the town's Museum of Dried Fruit is not open on Sundays.)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

How to tell Scouts apart

Before I go any further, I think the Scouts are basically a good thing. But I'm not so sure about this recruitment poster for them:

Is that actually a thing people say about the Scouts? That they all look the same? 'Oh, I was thinking of joining the Scouts, but I don't like the way they all look the same. Because if I don't look the way they all look, I might not fit in; but on the other hand if the way it works is that as soon as you're invested your face morphs to take on the standard Scout look, my parents might get confused, and pick up the wrong Scout from the milling hordes of identical Scouts outside the Scout hut.' No, I don't think it is, and I don't think the Scout Association should just make up things they pretend people think to debunk: 'Brownies are all allergic to feathers? Think again!' 'Cubs are all two foot tall with square heads and feet made of glass? Think again!'

Except, obviously, I know what this poster is really getting at. And to be honest, I think they should have the courage to come out and say it explicitly:

'All Scouts look the same? Think again! This one's black!'

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Who would have thought a biscuit could be punchable?

Hello, sorry it's been so long.

Now, I am a staunch biscuit supporter. Biscuits and me go way back. Biscuits can rely upon me as one of their staunchest supporters / devourers. Which makes it all the more painful when a biscuit betrays this trust by having something this nauseating written on it: 

Oh, god. That's so hateful I very nearly didn't eat the biscuit.

Very nearly.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

I somehow don't think there'd be many giant pink sea-snails

I am planning a trip away at the moment, but haven't decided where yet. On a whim, and with memories of Rex Harrison sticking a pin in a globe in 'Dr Doolittle', I thought I'd try a modern version: put my birth date and today's date into Google Earth as global co-ordinates, and go wherever in the world the virtual pin popped up:

Yeah. Or, I might not do that.

Monday, 19 September 2011

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - Episode One

Right. This is it, then. The one thing I have always most wanted to do in comedy is write and perform my own radio sketch show, and… now I have. I really hope I haven’t messed it up. (To find out if I have, and if so how much, listen to Radio 4 at 7.15 on Sunday nights, or go here.) It was always specifically a radio sketch show I wanted to do - much as I loved TV comedy growing up, it was listening to things like On The Hour, People Like Us and Harry Hill’s Fruit Corner on the radio; and cassettes of things like I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again, Hitchhiker’s Guide, and Pete and Dud, that really made me wish I could find a way to be allowed to do that when I grew up, as opposed to, say, a proper job. There’s something about the idea of a gang of people clustered round a microphone trying to make the audience and each other laugh that I particularly loved - in fact, we recorded this show round one central mike, rather than the usual method these days of having one each, more or less entirely (whatever I might have said to the cast at the time) so that I could pretend I was in The Goon Show. 
There’s no theme to the show - I felt that if I was going to write every sketch myself, which I was egomaniacally keen to do, I couldn’t really afford to restrict myself to one subject area or even style. So, there are sketches, like Before You're Thirty, which, if not exactly satirical, at least have a point to make; there are sketches like To Rerecord Your Message which come entirely from character, and there are sketches like Three Guards, which are just silly and fun. I hope. Also, there are no returning characters. The rule is that one sketch can return up to three times in an episode, but nothing appears in more than one episode… with the exception of the stories at the end. 
The stories at the end are something I’ve been doing on the live sketch circuit in London for a while, and started as a parody of the great ghost story writer M.R. James, and in particular an audiobook of his stories read by Derek Jacobi, which I urge you to download if you like that sort of thing. Jacobi reads it perfectly, and part of reading it perfectly is that he - I’m sure deliberately - invests the narrator with an incredibly pompous cosiness which I find very funny. As I’ve written more of them, the style has widened out to be a bit John Buchan, a bit H.G.Wells, and a bit R.L.Stevenson - in fact any of those writers between about 1885 and 1939 who wrote stories in which chaps who only ever refer to one another by their surnames are reluctantly persuaded by other chaps at the club to tell tall stories in which, despite their apparent modesty, they feel able to say things like this (from a Buchan short story):
‘I learnt to walk in the Himalayas, and the little Saxon hills seemed to me inconsiderable, but they were too much for most of the men.’
Mainly though, let’s be honest, these sketches are a homage (rip-off) of the Round the Horne or ISIRTA tradition of ending with a daft gang-show ‘play’: an opportunity for the cast to do even more than usually stupid voices, and me to do even more than usually stupid jokes and puns - and let me straight away acknowledge the glaringly obvious influences of Police Squad, Mark Evans’ Bleak Expectations, and Stephen Fry’s famous ‘Letter’ sketch: ‘Of all the hideous disfigured spectacles I have ever beheld, those perched on the end of this man’s nose remain forever pasted into the album of my memory.’  
What else? Well, since people seemed to like the notebook photos when I blogged Cabin Pressure episodes, here is the page of my notebook in which I came up with the ‘Tardis Noise’ sketch - which I did, as I often do, by writing something that annoys me in the middle of the page, and seeing what happened next. Two things I find interesting about what happened in this case - firstly, the false start with the princess who wants to be a police dog handler, which is a perfectly decent starting point, but didn’t seem to go anywhere. Had I written it, that one would have been a more straight-forward attack on the Follow Your Dream thing that annoyed me in the first place, whereas the Tardis one isn’t really about that at all, it’s a character-driven story. Secondly, how late in the construction of the sketch the Tardis noise itself entered the picture - for most of its development, it seems to have been a sketch about dodgem cars. 
That’s it. I can’t quite believe my luck in having got the chance to do this show; I’m really proud of it; and I very much hope you enjoy it. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

Stuff I'm doing, have done, will do, or have seen.

So, I haven't posted here for ages, and now I'm here it's just to plug things and show off. This is not, I realise, the way to win friends and influence people. Sorry. Still, here goes.

Firstly. The reason I haven't been here this week is that I have been filming a pilot for a TV sitcom, which, if it gets made, will be incredibly exciting, at least for me. But what a big if that 'if' is.  Also, I have fallen in love with two of the cast. This is pretty awkward, as you can imagine,  but what can I say - the heart wants what it wants.

Secondly. My sketch show is about to start on Radio Four! It's called John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, it begins on Sunday at 19.15, and I really hope you like it. I will try to do a blog for each episode, the way I did for Cabin Pressure.

Speaking of which... thirdly, Cabin Pressure has been nominated for a Writer's Guild Award. Hooray.

And now, as a small reward for making it through all the self-promotion, here is a sign from the pub we filmed in on day two.

The five kisses / censorship of the five letter place you're not allowed to put a pet in is pretty good, but the exclamation mark before 'pet' is twisted genius. And don't tell me the author is a native Spanish speaker. It's not upside down, it's in the middle of the sentence, and there's none at the end.
Can you ?explain that XXXXX

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mwarrhahahahaharrr Inc.

Look, I'm not saying that the organisation within the imposing central London building which has these lamps flanking its entranceway is definitely evil. All I'm saying is, they're clearly very relaxed indeed about giving that impression.

In case it's not clear from that picture, this is what's going on at the bottom:

Nice touch with the cloven hooves there, guys. And this is what's going on at the top:

Mm. Welcoming. 

Monday, 29 August 2011

Everything in the garden is rosy.

You might imagine that being the spring on a garden gate would be a rather boring, cheerless existence, which over the years would crush the spirit of even the most joyful soul. 

But apparently not.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Extra Souvenir Programme try-out this Saturday!

Hooray, the venue have confirmed - there WILL be an extra try-out date for my sketch show: 5pm this Saturday (the 27th) at the Albany, Great Portland Street, W1W 5QU. (I know, matinee! Classy, huh?) Better still, I'm trying out a new way of taking bookings that doesn't involve massive booking fees: go here to book.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

And even then, only if things get more delicious if there's more of them. Which they don't.

Sorry for the silence - it's still unusually busy around here. For instance, this Saturday, there will be another informal try-out of new material for my sketch show. It will be earlier than usual, starting at 5pm, and it will almost certainly be at the Albany, unless I find out tomorrow (Thursday) that it will have to be somewhere else. Watch this space for confirmation, and instructions how to get tickets - the good news is it won't be through that place with the exorbitant booking charges.

In the meantime, here's something spotted by my friend Karl:

...As opposed, presumably, to their previous policy of putting two thirds of a bar in each pack.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

By the way...

My Radio 4 sketch show, John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, is being recorded on the 16th August and the 6th September at Broadcasting House. The tickets for the first recording have gone now; the tickets for the second haven't been released yet, BUT free tickets for the try-out show this Saturday, 13th August, at the Albany are available here. Come along!


Ooh. Those went quickly. If I know you, and you would like to come to either of the recordings, please email me on my personal email. If I don't know you, but you came to two or more of the Albany try-outs, applied for tickets to the recordings, and didn't get them; email me on cabin pressure (all one word) at john finnemore (all one word) dot com, and I'll see what can be done. No promises...

Friday, 5 August 2011

Goose smoothies all round.

St Petersburg, the final episode of the third series of Cabin Pressure, is now available here. Spoilers for it follow.

Well, I thought it was about time I did an exciting final episode. Both the final episodes of the first two series were 'shut-in' ones; the main characters alone, passing the time, annoying each other, playing games, and with a bit of character revelation. I really like episodes like that, but this time I fancied doing a proper finale, with actual peril, both with the emergency at the beginning, and with the threat to the company. One thing I like about it is that when Douglas says he hasn't got any ideas, and can't save them, he's telling the truth. It's only when he realises Gordon's plan that he sees how to turn it to his advantage. I also like that in an actual bona fide emergency, Martin is capable of coping with it, and Douglas is capable of letting him.

God, wasn't Timothy West good? I wanted someone who could equally well do genial and disarming at first, to make the guys (and us) wonder what Carolyn and Arthur are making such a fuss about - and then suddenly drop into sheer bastardry for his big speech. Trying to describe the character to David the producer before he'd seen the script, I believe I said: 'Well, if it was a film, you'd get Timothy West'. Still can't believe we actually did! And Paul Shearer! Only about six words to say as Tommo, but got a laugh on every single one! I felt at the time it was a terrible waste of such a funny actor (though he was also St. Pete ATC), but you can't argue with a laugh-per-utterance average like that. 

Not much in the way of deleted scenes this time - or rather, there was one massive one: a four page  long conversation between Martin and Douglas in the canteen about their fathers, but losing that meant we were able to keep everything else more or less intact. I won't post that, because I might use it in the future. The only other thing I slightly regret losing is the bit where Gordon, when he still seemed nice and reasonable, conned Carolyn not only into letting him book the office where they meet in MJN's name, but into thinking he was making a concession to her in so doing. I won't put that up either, though- instead I'll put up this very small cut from Gordon's first scene.

GORDON: Just got in. Bloody hell, the crosswind, eh? Hairiest landing I’ve had for years!
MARTIN: Yeah! You should try doing it on one engine!
GORDON: Jeez, I wouldn’t want to! Did you?
MARTIN: No, I didn’t!
GORDON: Oh. Right, I was gonna say!
MARTIN:  No, I mean, I didn’t want to either. 
DOUGLAS: ...However, he absolutely did. Rather well, actually.