Happy New Year!

30th December 2019

My students are so full of enthusiasm for sketching in 2020 that it has inspired me in turn, so I am making sure my sketching kit is never far away. Here is my 15-year-old, Liv, playing a game to which she appears to be rather attached. I could have sworn I heard a jingly sound in the game, like jingle bells (o hideous soundtrack to ads in December!), but she says there isn’t one. She tells me that there are squeaks, squelches and groans, however, which are the sounds of zombies dying. I love drawing my kids playing games because they stay still for ages. Up with kids spending all day on games!

31st December 2019

Until my late 20s, I’d always found New Year’s Eve to be awful. Here are things I associate with New Year celebrations of my youth:

  • a long walk home, my feet cut from stupid shoes
  • being the worse for drink – terrible tolerance
  • being on my own once as a visitor in a far-off land
  • being on my own, often, as a local in my own town
  • general boo-hoo and feeling sorry for myself

After I met my husband and started spending every New Year’s Eve with his mother in her lovely comfy house in London, things began to look better:

  • I no longer had a long walk home
  • I was never in silly shoes
  • I could use settling the children as an excuse to fall asleep early
  • I was no longer angsty and I could finally admit that I can’t drink lots
  • English people are into fireworks, which are illegal in Ireland

This year was different, For the first time in 22 years we did not travel to England to be with Marcel’s mum, as she has grown too frail to weather a boisterous contingent from Galway. Our kids spent the evening with their friends, and it is marvellous to see your kids grow up. Marcel and I spent the evening with our close friends, and felt very fortunate to have them. But I wish I could stop the march of time…for some things. Mostly my mother-in-law.

1st January 2020

On New Year’s Day my little family and I travelled to Bray, on Ireland’s East Coast, to spend the evening with my parents. They have just returned from Jamaica, where my mother has spent more than two months looking after my sister, who is recovering from an operation. It was lovely to be reunited. I made this sketch after a gorgeous meal of boeuf bourguignon, a few special cheeses and some amazing wine: dinner was over, and my parents and Marcel were giving advice to our son Paddy, who is 18, as to what direction to take after he finishes school. My mum taught deaf kids before she was married, and my dad has always thought this was very noble. In this sketch, he is discussing the possibility that Paddy might want to teach handicapped people. This has never been mooted by Paddy nor anyone else, as he narrowed down his choice to just two things a long time ago – physics or engineering. But I like the sketch because it’s very Dad: he is on a mission to get his point across and no one is going to put him off. That’s Marcel on the right. I normally include heads and faces in my sketch – that’ll be my low tolerance to wine, I guess…

Wishing you all a great start to the new year. I look forward to meeting many of you this year, some for the first time, many for the second time or more. I have some very nice things planned for this year: two books are well underway and I have at least three workshops planned. Get that sketching kit together and keep it nearby – and it’ll always be easy!


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