Moreidlethoughts Weblog

humour,art,gardens, books and whatever idle thoughts float through my mind (it's a very draughty mind.)

DRAWING THE LINE ( and some reminiscences)

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Jimmy drove a mini-cab in London. He had a dazzling smile and a “winning way” with the ladies. He could sing, he could dance and he was wicked on the steel drums. He was rumoured to have a wife back in Jamaica.

I met him through another friend and used to see him at the pub from time to time. One year, during Notting Hill Carnival, he turned up at my front door, along with about half of the parade, looking for cool drink, mon. (Our flat was on the parade route and revellers often stopped for cool drink.)

I lost touch with most of those friends when I left London, but I still think about them and wonder where they are…

Chalky White, for one. Ah, Chalky! The sharpest dresser south of the River. He favoured white suits, with dark blue shirts and broad ,white, silk ties (this was the 70s and he followed Chelsea)
topped with a very gangster-ish white fedora and finished with white boots. Coming along the street, he looked like a negative!

Then there was Lucas. Yes, they really did call him Lucozade.* He taught “lickle chil’ren” at one of the toughest schools in the East End. Coached a junior cricket team in his free time on Saturdays and got blind drunk on Sundays.

Francis had come from Nigeria before the Biafra War. He was studying at night school, determined to make something of his life. His wife worked part-time for a nursing agency once the children started school. I never saw Francis without a wide, water melon grin. One Christmas, the kids nailed his boots to the ceiling, “so Daddy will have to stay home and play with us!”

Back then, Jim Davidson still worked the pub-and-club circuit and was much more risque than TV ever allowed. Funnier, too. In fact, I think he did a gag about Chalky White.

But to get back to Jimmy…

I am not one of those gifted artistic types who can knock out a masterpiece-a-day. No, I struggle. Drawing goes not come easily, so loosening-up exercises are a Good Thing. Like drawing a face in only 7 lines. And blind contour, which is closing your eyes and visualising what you want to draw. Then drawing it!

So it was that I was doing this one day, a few weeks ago, and when I opened my eyes,the lines reminded me of Jimmy. I sketched in a few more lines, threw a little water colour on it and there he was, grinning back at me, just like old times.

On cheap paper in my sketchbook, so it didn’t take water colour well, but it’s Jimmy.

* Lucozade is one of those energy drinks, but in Cockney rhyming slang it means a negroid person. Lucozade = spade. As in the black suit in a deck of cards.

And the answer to yesterday’s “mystery” picture: it’s the floor in the laundry doorway, where the kittens skid around the corner and into the laundry for their meals.The surface is scuffed, like an ice rink, which is why I gave you the zambloni clue!

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Author: dinahmow

A New Zealander, currently living in tropical Queensland,Australia (with 2 cats and one Main Man).Old enough to remember George VI, white tennis balls and life-before-television.You want more? Read the blog!

19 thoughts on “DRAWING THE LINE ( and some reminiscences)

  1. You drew some fantastic word portraits of your friends D ! and the portrait of Jimmy is alaaaaave mon!!! There is such a concentration of characters in some areas of London – a buzzing cauldron of life.

    And great advice for drawing from memory – take that line for walk down memory lane!

    Celia

    PS: I didn’t know the Lucozade rhyming slang (innocent little me!) – it’s impossible to explain and still be politically correct! There are some great ones and explaining them is like a social history lecture. Fancy a Ruby? (Ruby Murray = curry) Did rhyming slang get transported to Aus?
    http://www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk

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  2. What a fun cast of characters!

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  3. Thats a great picture of your friend. isn’t that weird when that happens? out of nowhere, a friend you have’nt seen in years appears on the paper in front of you? like ‘automatic writing’. very cool.

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  4. I’ve never heard of close-eyed, imaginary contour drawings. I think I’ll try it, love your results! And great descriptions of those London characters. Regarding Chalky – reminds me that men’s flashy 1970’s fashions is just like pimp-wear ain’t it?

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  5. celia… thank you. Praise, indeed! As for a Ruby…not after a couple of Vera Lynns!Yes, some of those slang terms did come out in the early days;the Seven Dials district (early days in Sydney) was apparently very East End-ish.And no one in the family knows why, but I spoke wiv a right Lon’on accent when I was a nipper.Me mum was a kiwi an’ me dad sarnded like a right toff.Except when ‘ was wiv is Scotch pals, then e went all ‘arry Lauder!

    ryan…yep! I knew some very colourful coves.

    fn… I admit I was a little surprised when I looked at it as I wasn’t consciously thinking about him.Most times, it looks like a Rorschack squiggle!

    studios…oh! you’re so right about the 70s spivs!Please, God, don’t bring back Crimplene safari suits!

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  6. Dinahmow! You know I LOVE your drawing, loosey-goosey and lovely. I want to see more — keep it up.

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  7. the pic of your drawing/watercolour really gives a face to the wonderful reminiscences. I enjoy a trip back home 🙂

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  8. Tres Cool!

    Interesting characters all. Those were the days my friend,
    we thought they’d never end,
    we’d sing and dance…

    The FLOOR?
    You don’t want to know what my first guess was..seriously..

    I love these stories and your portrait. Good Times eh?

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  9. Once again — love this. And London is like a magnet for characters, isn’t it? BTW I lived in Notting Hill for a few months — just off Portobello Road (near the top).

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  10. VH…thankyou. I am much encouraged now!

    jafabrit…since I have few photos from those days maybe I should try to do some sketches…

    HE…the good times make for better memories.

    andrea…Portobello was one of my favourite markets!

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  11. A Notting Hill street party. Lucky you. I envy that.

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  12. ian…the funny thing is that we never had any “trouble” around our section of the parade route, despite Fleet Street hype about drug-crazed thugs. The only time there was any fighting it was started by outsiders, hell-bent on making trouble. It was, as you say, a street party.(with ganja!)

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  13. Sounds like you know/knew some interesting folk. I knew interesting people once, but they failed to grow up at the same rate as myself (or did I fail to stay cool?) so we fell out of contact. I love the portrait of Jimmy, very cool. Painting/drawing is one talent I long for, but I’ve got about the same talent as a half-dead newt. My mother used to paint quite a lot, and my mother-in-law is a painter. But my husband and I both failed to inheret the skill! Oh well, maybe art classes could help??

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  14. Disagree with you about the watercolour – I think it took just fine.

    Never thought I’d see the now-discredited and exiled Jim Davidson and any form of the word funny in the same paragraph again.

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  15. This is a nice story, the characters sound very 60ies, full of live:)
    Your blog is like a tiny cloud of oxygen:)
    Have a wonderful day,
    oh and I admire the pictures of those fruits (pawpaws?) I have no idea what they are or what they taste like but I just love their colour and shape,
    Andrea

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  16. stace…they say talent sometimes skips a generation. And, yes, classes can be fun with a good teacher.

    malc…I’ve been away a long time so don’t know about this.I know he used to “drink a bit” but so did we all!(And he really was very funny.)

    andrea…thank you for stopping y. I looked at your site;really like the peace drawing.

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  17. you are some artist Dinah – and a writer to boot!

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  18. ziggi…lovely to have you back! And thankyou.
    I expect a “very short post ” on the honeymoon cruise!

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  19. This is such a magical and wonderfully warm drawing.

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