Day I got blamed for Snow White’s bicycle tumble

THE Recorder and me are fortunate to have in Mark a born cartoonist. I use that phrase advisedly, because it s my firm belief that while many can draw, cartoons require rather more than simply that talent. I ve no idea how long it takes him to do his car

THE Recorder and me are fortunate to have in Mark a born cartoonist.

I use that phrase advisedly, because it's my firm belief that while many can draw, cartoons require rather more than simply that talent.

I've no idea how long it takes him to do his cartoons for this page, but the finished article never fails to impress. I confess though, I sometimes feel slightly uneasy at how well he gets inside my head!

"If I could draw that's just how I'd have done it," is a not infrequent reaction.


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An insight into the value of such work was given to me in my earliest Recorder days.

Sat as the gopher in a corner of editor Basil Amps's office, I'd see him chuckle appreciatively on opening the envelope holding the cartoon that was to go with his satirical column, Dear Stinker, a letter to a bloke I know. Both column and cartoon were classics of their genre. The cartoons, signed Dick Gee, were done by Dick German.

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He could not have had much time to ponder them. The paper's illustrations had to go early on Mondays to the Holborn blockmakers so as to be back for Wednesday press day.

Basil's up-to-date columns wouldn't have dropped through Dick's letterbox more than a week before publication. Fortunately, the overnight post was a dependable service.

Dick's cartoon always arrived first thing Monday. I don't recall ever seeing the man in person but, as with Mark and these scribblings today, he had the gift of putting an acute finger on the cartoon spot after scanning Basil's words.

I learned more about the cartoonist's art from a fellow National Service erk at my permanent station.

In Civvy Street he was employed as one at the Liverpool Echo.

Once, he made an evening in the Naafi for a whole group of us. After explaining how a cartoon subject was "caught" by emphasising their outstanding physical features, he showed what he meant with a rapid sketch of each of us.

My hooter made his one of me a doddle (as it does for Mark), though it was then yet a few months from getting busted for a second, painful time.

That convivial Naafi gathering roared at each other's portrayals - Eric's big lugs, Parky's Joe E. Brown beam, Moze's moustache, Taff's foxy face and Georgie's pug-dog one. Ten minutes of swift, spare lines, and we were all down to a tee.

It created such a rumpus Naafi tea lady Lil came out to have a look.

Before she got back behind the counter there was a cartoon on it of Big Ginge, as Lil was known among us.

"Saucy young sod," said Big Ginge. But you could see she liked it, even allowing for the emphasis of her splendidly outstanding physical attributes.

I can see the talented lad now, smiling modestly as he did at those sketches on a table littered with char and wads, yet I'm blowed if I can think of his name. Definitely not Scouse.

Should remember well enough. He once had a little joke with my small-holder pal Harold and me by doing a cartoon of us as egg-heads, after our egg sideline there mushroomed to near full-blown business level. Old Harold loved it.

Our section's Pilot Officer Date got a cartoon of her own once after an unfortunate mishap. Well-bred, feminine, the sort of appealing girl men instinctively wanted to put a protective arm around, she was known as Snow White.

One day, she asked to borrow the section bike to go to Air Traffic. After making sure she was trousered not skirted, it never occurred I also needed to say: "Don't go past the hangars, Ma'm."

Snow White, alas, did, was duly blown over by a revving Lincoln, and ended up in the medical section, shaken, but with only pride hurt.

The camp sneered and the section blamed me.

But the subsequent cartoon was a corker.

Our Pilot Officer, as Snow White, sat demurely on the tarmac by fallen bike, with seven eager groundcrew "dwarfs" all striving to be first to help her.

It was alleged they'd almost come to blows for the privilege.

Soon after the camp had laughed at that, Pilot Officer Date, finding me alone in the section office, asked with astonished brown eyes wide, "Do they really call me Snow White, Smith?"

Luckily, someone came in before I had to flannel my way out of that one.

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