Recently, I’ve taken to sketching monochrome semblances of culturally important figures, accompanied with one of their quotes taken from The Times Great Quotations book. This informational, motivational and inspirational tome a festive gift from my son.

My process for creating these grey/black pencil and charcoal drawings/words is firstly selecting a quote within the chronicles 300+ pages, followed by etching a similitude of the wisdoms bearer. The charcoal, a further yuletide trinket from a good friend, is an interesting material to utilise for shaping the quoter’s visage. Particularly when smudging the coal to produce broad areas of shadowing.

There’s, of course, an obvious downside to the use of charcoal in sketching, which are grubby smudges left on anything I touch before being afforded an opportunity to wash my hands upon etch completion. For instance, the aforementioned quotation book now looks as though it was last read by a coal miner immediately after returning from a shift 100 feet below ground.

At this rate, the ever blackening book may get into such an unreadable state I’ll be no longer able to view Mae West’s assurance that “When I’m caught between two evils, I take the one I’ve never tried.” or Leonard Cohen’s observation “There’s a crack in everything. That’s what lets the light in.

People love an inspirational quote. Be that as a motivational post aside their work desk, a picture/stencil on the kitchen wall or a laptop wallpaper. A thought provoking sentence, or two, from erudite individuals with the intellect and/or experience at overcoming adversity inspires many to fulfil aspirations.

That being said, if the year 2020 and fledging hours of 2021 have taught us anything, though, it’s we need to choose very carefully whose advisory door we nail our colours. Misinformation, half-truths and non-existent/incompetent leadership is the last, but sadly most evident, experience in many countries confronted by the pandemic.

Give me wise advocacies of the likes of Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry and other people who speak from informed, intelligent positions, over the rantings of the uninformed, ignorant and blindly loyal. Of which, sadly, there are many.

I spend many an hour online absorbing the words of those with great insight, humour, humanity and wonderful vocabularies. Individuals whose use of the English language within their thought-provoking vignettes, are an absolute joy to behold. There’s a poetry to the way these people’s advocacies and debating style play out; a welcome respite from exposure to the text speak English now embraced by the masses.

As an aside, in search of earning an honest bob, I’m going to update my Curriculum Vitae (CV) later today. Something which, as I’ve no intention of touching the employment field in which I’ve previously received a salary, will necessitate skilful manipulation on my part.

After all, I’d venture highlighting on my resume my future employment desires include not touching a job in IT again with the very longest of bargepoles would paint me in a negative light. I’m open to any part-time, stress free role, but one that plays to my strengths.

During COVID lockdown, updating my current hobbies might also be fun. Would you say updating my current favourite pastimes to eating a lot of marmite on toast, sporadically adjusting the central heating thermostat and scratching my posterior are suitably impressive entries for a CV?…… Additionally, would entering my religion as Netflix be classed as blasphemous?