Monday, 30 September 2013


Of my many books,  The Book of Guinness Advertising, written in 1985 – despite being long out of print and later pillaged (without acknowledgement) for another volume of the same name – remains one of those of which I am proudest.

It was inspired by an early love of the witty, stylish and decorative ads created for Guinness stout: an appreciation instilled in me by my father who had worked in commercial art (as it was then called) before WWII and who later became an architectural draughtsman for a rival brewery.

Dad would comment on Guinness posters and press ads and it was the artists, cartoonists and illustrators who made them that became my first heroes in the sphere of graphic art: Bateman, Fraser, Eckersley, Games, Searle, Hoffnung, Emett, Ardizzone and others.

When I got to write my book (the first to explore the Guinness advertising legacy) I met many of the artists and copywriters who had been responsible for the work I had long admired and collected, among them John Gilroy who, more than anyone was responsible for establishing the quirky way in which the brewers promoted their celebrated beverage.

Playing on the words associated with Guinness – for example 'strength' and 'goodness' – Gilroy's iconic ads featured, among much else, stolid British workmen displaying acts of titanic endurance and a mischievous menagerie of birds and beasts that consistently conspired to steal the long-suffering Zoo-keeper's bottle of sustenance...

Now comes a grand new book by David Hughes, entitled Gilroy was Good for Guinness which focuses entirely on John Gilroy's prolific output for Guinness campaigns.

Accompanying a first-ever biography of Gilroy, is a veritable one-man art exhibition crammed full of much-loved favourites (the ostriches, toucans and sea lions being as playful as ever, great sporting jokes and the surprising adventures of Alice in a Guinness Wonderland) along with highly energetic preliminary sketches for some of the artist's classic poster designs and intriguing ideas that never got beyond the stage of 'roughs'...

There is also an amazing cache of 'lost' art created not for selling Guinness in the UK, but also around the world...

The 260-page book, which has an introduction by the artist's grandson, Jim Gilroy, and a foreword by Rory Guinness, is published in hardback by Liberties Press at £29.99. As a special offer, copies can be purchased for £20.00 directly from the author, signed by him and the other contributors along with Edward Guinness, 4th Earl of Iveagh. Contact David Hughes to order.

As well as passing complimentary comments about my own volume, Gilroy was Good for Guinness includes several examples of Guinness art from my own collection including this preliminary pastel drawing of the Bear from the zoo series that was given to me by the artist...


Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Until I had to let them go as part of our Great Upheaval last year  (*sigh*),  I had a shelf of National Geographic Magazines: each and every yellow spine a beguiling invitation to pull out a copy, flick through the glossy pages and, from the comfort of your armchair, travel the world in search of the exotic and astonishing wonders of nature and humankind...

Now an amazing collection of the photographic images that helped establish the magazine's reputation across the years since its inaugural issue in 1888 are on show at an exhibition, National Geographic: Then and Now at the London gallery, Beetles+Huxley...

One of the marble scenes at Humayn's Tomb, near Delhi, India
by Maynard Owen Williams, c 1921

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA
by B Anthony Stewart, c 1938

Stingray with sailboat, North Sound, Grand Cayman
by David Doublet, 2001

Bamboo path, Kodai-ji Temple, Japan
by Diane Cook, 2012

The exhibition, featuring over 130 stunning images – all of which are offered for sale - are on show at...

Beetles+Huxley, 3-5 Swallow Street, London, W1B 4DE

Gallery Opening Times;
Monday-Saturday, 10:00-17:30

National Geographic: Then and Now remains on show until 19 October 3013 and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, which can also be viewed online

Sunday, 22 September 2013


You've all been wanting for it but were afraid to ask...

It's been a long while, but it's back at last! And just as potentially terrible as it ever it was!

All you have to do is provide a caption for the following curious photograph or decide Who's saying What to Whom about Whatever...

To join in  the fun, simple submit your captions via the Comments facility below!

This Caption Competition closes midnight, GMT, Sunday 29 September.    

Sunday, 15 September 2013


A curious memory from our recent holiday...

Yes, Greece was the cradle of modern mathematics, but just why were there two stones on the beach at Emporios marked with the Greek letter Pi...?

Saturday, 14 September 2013


Here I am with Lindsay Fulcher of the Lewis Carroll Society and Dr Jonathan Miller following last night's Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial lecture, 'Somewhere in Wonderland', at the Art Worker's Guild, after which I was in conversation with the good doctor about his 1966 TV film of Alice in Wonderland...

My somewhat  inane grin is probably relief at having got through an hour of chat in which the names of Michael Redgrave, John Gielgud, Malcolm Muggeridge, Leo McKern, Peters Cook and Sellers and other players in the star-studded cast were jostling for attention with the likes of Descartes, Freud, Wittgenstein, Huxley, Searle and Chomsky...

But it was a fascinating (if slightly exhausting) encounter and, I honestly believe Dr M enjoyed it more than it looks as if he did!

By the way, that's John Searle (author of Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language), not Ronald! So glad I didn't make a joke about St Trinian's... 

Thursday, 12 September 2013


A quick reminder of tomorrow night's illustrated talk by Dr Jonathan Miller, Somewhere in Wonderland devoted to his provocative 1966 TV film version of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

First broadcast on BBC television on 28 December 1966, the film went out at 9:05 in the evening because Huw Weldon, then Head of TV Programmes deemed it 'unsuitable for children'! 'Unsuitable' because being an 'adult' treatment of the children's classic, it was thought likely to bore youngsters.

This decision provoked the following cartoon by Giles in the Sunday Express...

"The old folks are at home watching Alice in Wonderland."

Among the starry cast was writer, broadcaster and TV pundit, Malcolm Muggeridge, playing the Gryphon and, writing at the time in the New Statesman, he expressed the following prophetic view:

"Alice might conceivably bore juvenile viewers of all ages, it could not possibly shock them... Alice has long been part of contemporary folklore, and Miller's version, giving it a new, significant twist, necessarily becomes a piece of social history."

And so it did and so it has remained...

The talk, after which Dr Miller will be in conversation with me about the production, has been arranged by The Lewis Carroll Society as the 10th Roger Lancelyn Green Memorial Lecture but is also open to non-members of the Society.

Dr Miller's talk will take place at 6:30 for 7:00 pm at The Art Workers' Guild, 6 Queen Square, London, WC1N 3AT.

Tickets are £10 (£7.50 for Society members) and late bookers should telephone: 020 7286 0776. UPDATE: The event is now fully booked with a waiting list for cancellations.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


"...and departing leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time."

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Moonrise over Emporios, as seen a year or two ago...

...tonight, a slender crescent moon will hang in the sky for our last night in this little corner of paradise.

Monday, 9 September 2013


On an off, over the past three weeks, I have been sharing some of my favourite photos from past holidays on Kalymnos..

Today, as the time for our departure looms, I am posting a few of the photographs David has taken this year (and a final one by myself) that capture something of this small but proud Greek island: misty vistas of rock, sea and sky, gnarled and wizened olive trees, the unchanging tranquility of church domes, vibrant splashes of bougainvillea and the glint of sun on sea as a boat slips its mooring and sails on towards a new adventure...


Sunday, 8 September 2013


Christ in glory on the dome of the Monastery of Saint Sava, Pothia, Kalymnos...

Saturday, 7 September 2013


As a kid I was notoriously picky about breakfast cereals (an odd hang-up I admit) and my Mum despaired of finding one that I liked. Then, on a holiday trip to an aunt and uncle in Somerset, I fell in love with Weetabix (a previously rejected brand) and not only ate what I was given but, Oliver Twist-like, asked for more!

Back home, my delighted mother immediately invested in a bargain-bumper-mega-giant-economy-size box of Weetablix and, as might have been predicted, never touched them again –– at least, not for many years!

I have a theory that there's a whole category of food and drink that we enjoy – indeed, relish – while being on holiday but which has little or no appeal if once transported to, or encountered in, the normal mundane surroundings of our home environment: hence the number of unopened bottles of Ouzo currently stashed under our stairs!

Among such exclusive vacation treats I'd list waffles with maple syrup and crispy bacon in an American diner, soft ice cream with a Cadbury's flake on a British seaside pier –– and a ice-cool, foamy freddo cappuccino in a shady Greek taverna...

Still, like all the very best treats, it was fun while it lasted!

Friday, 6 September 2013


A wistful waif in Vathi, Kalymnos...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Adding insult to injury...

Monday, 2 September 2013


Early morning, tranquility and diamond-clear water...

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Look who just dropped anchor...

Can I never escape those blasted residents of Middle-earth...?