Humour Miscellaneous writing

Strange encounter on London Bridge

I met Connie in London on a cold, bright November afternoon. I was there on business, or, more precisely, on commission, my job to sell and service photocopiers. He was there grieving. Only the day before his sister, he told me the details later, had been crushed beneath a bus, dying of horrendous injuries and in great pain, probably, both legs amputated above the knee in a hopeless effort by surgeons to save her.

I can still, after all these years, recollect the moment we met. It was on London Bridge. I was looking down at the river boats when I realised this striking figure by my side. Though short he expressed a dignified strength sourced of suffering. I was attracted at once.

– Are you staring at me? he asked.

– At the view, I replied.

– I thought you were staring at me. I’ve just lost my sister.  She fell under a bus.

– My deepest condolences. Was it an accident?

– Are you a detective?

– No. But it might help with the insurance.

– How thoughtful mate. I’ll bear that in mind.

– My pleasure. May I be of any further assistance?

– Are you an undertaker? he asked.

– Do I look like one? I replied, somewhat insulted by the suggestion.

– No, your hands are far too dirty. What’s that on them?’

– Ink.

– Are you a writer? he speculated and I saw no reason to challenge this, though the truth was it was grime from an old machine I’d been trying to fix earlier at an office in Tottenham Court Road. I felt I could tell him anything and he’d go along for the ride.

– Yes, I ventured, Crime novels.

(Though I had never read one in my life. I hoped he was not a fan.)

– Trash! He looked disappointed. I prefer history or the old classics. There’s grist in them. Something to chew on.

– I quite agree. I write only for the money.

– Does it pay well?

– Enough so I can travel.

– Where are you from mate?

– Australia.

            He beamed.

– A great country. Wonderful people.

            He came forward, embraced me. We exchanged names. He hugged me again tightly.

– I love Australia. Kangaroos. Koalas. The Melbourne Cup.

– Have you been?

– I’ve friends there, he answered. Many friends. One in particular. She’s famous.

            He looked worried.

– What is it?

– My sister.

– The one who just died?

– We weren’t close to be honest.

– I’m sorry.

– No worries mate. It’s a blessing she’s gone to tell the truth, and I know that’s blasphemy, save me God.

At this he crossed himself extravagantly. Too extravagantly I thought, like someone who mimics in order to make clear their contempt.

– I was hoping to leave this awful country tomorrow, he continued.  But I suppose there will have to be an inquest?

– I’m sure you can slip away, leave a note behind, I suggested. The police will be in touch if they need to.

– Are you sure? You sound like you have experience?

– I lost a sister too.

– Beneath a bus?

– That would have been quicker I fancy. No. She slipped in the kitchen, impaling herself on a carving knife left point up in the dishwasher. I happened to be out at the time buying a joint of meat.

– How bizarre.

– Yes. And the joint was quite rotten by the time I was ready to eat again. Stunk the fridge out for months.

Connie started to laugh. A rolling laugh that made passers-by stare, resume their walk eyes cast back revealing either amusement or disdain.

I joined in with his laughter, sealing our friendship, equalled by my joy in what, then, I innocently took to be his delight in buffoonery. It took longer before I understood his urgent need for comfort and recognition. In that he was no different from any of us. Except he bore no hypocrisy. He came at you full chat and needed certainty as he chased death.

Unrecognised he may be. But in my estimation Connie [C.H.] Constantine can hold his head high. How often does a person come along so unreformed?

These stories are his memoir.

[To be continued.]

Brand design Humour lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework stone Thoughts on lettering

Corsets and Mourning

What’s the link? Well, on the side of this magnificent building in central Sydney, Australia [built 1908] are adverts for both items: corsets and mourning [costume I presume]. A wonderful incidence of unintended humour. Or was it intended? We may never know. I invite comment on the lettering style, as well as matching stories.

Corsets and Mourning
On the side of the former Mark Foy’s Emporium, Sydney, Australia.

Humour Typographic ephemera

Just for fun – Luna Park, Sydney

Some fun typography from a recent visit to Luna Park in Sydney, Australia. The parks, by the way, were created by the American Frederick Ingersoll, and are a forerunner of today’s amusement parks and Disney.

Luna park sydney


Comedy Humour Typographic ephemera

Digression on concrete poetry (reference A Hum[an Doc]ument)

With thanks to a recent commentator on this blog who refreshed my memory on the Sackner’s.

With reference to Tom Phillips and gratitude to Thames and Hudson, 1987: A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel.  First Revised Edition, p.14.

STOP PRESS: 5th edition just published. This is a totally new treatment.



Humour lettering Typographic ephemera

Something chalky for the weekend

Continuing a tradition that began way back and has been discontinued a while…this seen locally (by which I mean the east coast of Australia) and entirely hand-drawn. Not much else to add, except, enjoy your weekend wherever you may be, and remember that the Olympics in London begin this time next week. I shall have something to write about that soon. (But do I write that so I may got more viewers? Not a chance. I will only be writing about the 1948 games and showing [shewing] some advertising from that period.) This blog, as I hope you now appreciate, is anything but predictable.

Brand design Humour

Somethings inconsequential in graphic design

After Spanish typography these, as a weekend diversion:

Comedy Humour lettering

Eating the letter R or Eric Gill for lunch

I recently posted on VS Naipaul and typography here. Still reading Mr Biswas I came on this sentence: ‘ “I could eat the Gill Sans R,” the editor said.’ [Everyman Edition, 1995, p.310).  I could eat the Gill Sans R! What a wonderful expression. Made me think what other letters I would choose to eat at a dinner party; indeed who I would invite to that dinner party to eat those letters. More to follow….your comments/guest list welcome.

Humour lettering

Snail mail

Produced by unknown when the Internet was becoming popular in early 1990s in the UK. Idea was to stick to envelopes – there was an art form called Mail Art in which artists would embellish envelopes with all sorts of stickers, designs, drawings. Anyone have any? Is it still being done? (See also posts on typography and the postage stamp here, and here and also here.)


alphabet Humour lettering typography

Who loves Helvetica?

I was doing some freelance work at a publishing company the other week and in the office I was sharing was this piece of art on the wall. See here for another Helvy post.

Love the cat.

Humour lettering Thoughts on lettering Typographic ephemera

Signage – Gold Coast, Australia

I’m still not working at 100% (new MacBook still awaiting delivery) – but in the meantime please enjoy these pics from my iPhone taken at the weekend. The first is a lovely example of graffiti at play to add humour to a sign warning of danger: resembles Spiderman; the second a sign above an apartment block in a way that perfectly captures the mood.