So, what’s a photo these days? At what point did the above, which definitely started out as a photo, cease to be a photo and become something else? Whatever that point is, I’m sure the above is more definitely on the photo side of that point than many other graphic constructions pedaled as photographs. I’m thinking catalogue model shots, but newspaper photos can be just as much a ‘construction’ as anything else.

Instagram. What’s that all about?

Pictures. That’s what we get.


The House in my Head

Pencil drawing of the house in my headI started building this house in my head a few months ago with just what is now the top floor (or ‘eyrie’, as I like to think of it) of what you see here. I planned a room with a desk in the middle of it, a full height window directly ahead with bookshelves on either side and further windows to either side of the bookcases, entered by a door behind the desk. It seemed natural that this would sit on top of something. The roof of the floor below provides a viewing balcony for the eyrie. I wanted it to be independent of the rest of the building, hence the external staircase providing the only access to it.

The floor below houses three bedrooms and a bathroom and is accessed via a spiral staircase that leads up from the centre of the ground floor. The roof of the ground floor provides a sub-balcony for outdoor living.

The ground floor is open plan and contains the kitchen and generous living areas.

The spiral staircase is a key structural element of the construction as it incorporates fixings for the beams that provide the roof of the ground floor/base of the first floor and is topped with a broad, circular metal plate the provide the floor of the Eyrie.

Originally this was conceived as being an hexagonal, or maybe even octagonal building but is drawn here as circular.

Underfloor heating powered by temperature inversion technology combines with wood burning stove, solar panels on the roof and output from the windmill to provide power to the building.

This house is to be built on an elevated piece of land offering fine views of surrounding countryside, preferably including a view of the sea.


Me and the boys watched Jaws; they for the first time, me for the first time in years. Unanimously agreed it is brilliant. We had recently heard Daniel Johnston’s tribute to King Kong and thought we might make a similar tribute to Jaws: a bass, bongo and vocal freeform.

Movie poster for JawsJaws

It came to Amity

and ate the naked lady.

They found her arm

on the beach.

Crawling with crabs.


Sheriff Brody.

Wanted to close the beach.

It was the 4th of July.

Mayor Vaughn didn’t want to.

The shark ate Charlie.

His Mum slapped Brody.

Quint said he would catch it.

Along comes Hooper.

From the Oceanographic Institute.


Brody and Hooper

Find a boat drifting

A hole in the bottom.

A big tooth.

A head rolled out.

Hooper had an accident

Dropped his flashlight.


They set to sea.

In Quint’s Orca.

Brody saw the shark.

Going to need a bigger boat.

They got drunk.

Sung some songs.

The shark it attacked them.

It bashed the boat.

They chased it.

Shot it with harpoons.

Attached to barrels.

But it kept coming.


Hooper in a cage.

The shark destroyed it.

Then it ate Quint.

It bit him in half.

Brody got a gas tank

in the shark’s mouth.

He shot the gas tank.

and it exploded.

The shark it blew up.

It’s blood splattered everywhere.

Brody and Hooper

swam back to shore.

Taking Stock

There really is a whole lot of junk I’ve been dripping here and there across the internet for some time now. I’ve just imported all the junk from my Posterous to my attic here. I may dump some more stuff here as I close down other things. Who knows? I might not. The internet is one big attic.

My only worry is that content here is totally unfiltered (by me). How’s anyone supposed to distinguish between something that I’m passionately and proudly committed to and something that’s little more than a by-product that I couldn’t care less about?

That’s the thing about attics I guess. You’re not supposed to take stock: just keep ramming  it full of undifferentiated, uncategorised junk.

Why men should never say they have ‘man-flu’.

The term ‘man-flu’ was first used by some women to poke fun at the snivelling, self-pitying and weak response some of their male counterparts display to having a cold. It suggests that women catch cold and deal with it, whereas men catch cold and are reduced to pathetic wretches; unable to function; greetin’ for their ma.

Picture of a man sneezingI phoned a friend a while ago who had pulled out of an arrangement. “Yeah. I’ve got a touch of man-flu” he told me. At that point I saw him as some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy of the snivelling, self-pitying weakling the term ‘man-flu’ implies. He might as well have said “I can’t come along tonight because I’m a pathetic, snivelling wretch who is slightly off-par and just wants to be comforted by mummy.” I lost a huge amount of respect for him in a microsecond.

The thing that stuck in my head was that he used the term freely to describe himself. Either the term had become normalised or he perceived himself in terms of what the phrase implies. He displayed the same level of respect for himself that those founding women displayed towards the weak, pathetic, snivelling creatures for whom they coined the phrase.

I can never respect any man who says he has man flu.

So, come on guys. Stop it. Let’s kill this phrase.

I’m tempted to say ‘man up’, but that’ll probably be the subject for another article.

Sketches by Zobz

Frustrated by my inability to draw, yet pestered by a desire to convey stories pictorially, I developed a technique that would enable me to sequence actions and dialogue in pictures that did not depend on me having to draw.

I’d write and very roughly storyboard the thing into six frames; then I’d take photos of my location; then I’d take photos of myself or my children dressed up as one or more of the characters in the sketch; then I’d use photoshop to cut the characters from one photo, render them into black and white and drop them into the location photo; then I’d lay them out and add the speech bubbles and dialogue in InDesign.

Hold on. Back up there. I took “photos of myself or my children dressed up as one or more of the characters in the sketch“? Yes it was mainly my daughter and older son who took the photos of me and I of them in the sitting room of our house. There’s one where I play three different characters. It was all very strange and required a degree of… earnest selflessness. My wife point blank refused to have anything to do with these.

My name’s Richard. This can be shortened to Ritchie. At school some genius came up with the idea of calling me Mabozzer (Mabozzer Ritchie). This morphed into several versions: Bozzer, Zobber, Zobs, Zobberino, Zobriety and so forth. Fortunately none of them stuck. When I left school and got back into reading, one of the first books I picked up in one of Edinburgh’s second hand bookshops was ‘Sketches by Boz’ by Charles Dickens. So it was undoubtedly the hand of fate that led me to call this collection ‘Sketches by Zobz’.

My idea was that they could serve as a feature in some periodical or other and I duly sent a few off to magazines and papers. One magazine wanted to publish them on their soon-to-be-updated-and-relaunched website. However, I’d moved on to my next project before any of these sketches saw the light of day and I believe the magazine is still waiting to have its website updated.

I do aim to make Sketches by Zobz available again in some form in the future.

My Attics

I have a physical attic in my house. It’s got a drumkit, sofa, kids toys, about a zillion books, old clothes, boxes of photos, a telescope, camping gear, golf clubs, dead computers and boxes and bags whose contents I’ve forgotten but no doubt contain stuff that once had some relevance or purpose for me. It’s a great place and with a bit of attention, there’s always space for more junk.
I now also have this digital attic where I can dump the junk and clutter that spills out of my head from time to time.
Since school I’ve always been a doodler and a scribbler. I begin projects with big ambitions which inevitably peter out and I move on to the next one. I’ve accumulated lots of such junk and continue to produce more. It’s probably best that the majority of it stays in a closed box, but some of it might be worth pinning on the walls or putting on the shelves of this attic.
Stuff like this picture I did for my daughter and put on Tumblr and got over 6,000 reblogs before ditching my account.
My project for 2012 is now well underway and promises a whole new slew of junk. Some of it will no doubt go straight into a closed box. Some of it may be worth pinning up here. The difference is very slight.