Come & check out my new one man comedy tour starting this month, full details below

14 Feb

Come & check out my new one man comedy tour starting this month, full details below – For further dates/venues

Talking about money and naked women

24 Sep

Talking about money and naked women: ‘At five I sold wooden boxes for firewood’ – Telegraph

I was recently interviewed by Forbes India for their 4th Anniversary special…..

12 Jun

Los Angeles, 1999.

21 May

I got myself together, said goodbye to the model and went to pay the tutor. As I moved up, I put $25 into his hand. And gave a facetious smile.

‘It was so good to be welcomed to your drawing class, sir.’

He pushed me. The force was real.

‘Hang on back there, Buddy.’

He then took the money from others and after a few moments came over to me. He smiled a bad smile, showing teeth that were capped with gold. I disliked him even more.

‘Hey there, Buddy. I looked at your drawings. Somewhere, back in your past you were shown how to draw. It kind of comes through. It makes itself present. But you’re lazy. Your half hearted. You don’t put the sweat in, except occasionally. It’s a pastime for you. Some little bit of fun you can boast about, maybe. But your hand and eye are weak, except for a few moments, a few pieces. You need to work on it. You’re always welcome here. But you better get here early. Otherwise it’s backs and nothing else. Get here early. You can draw, but you’ve gotta frigging work at it.’

I was astonished. He had complimented me and insulted me. If I worked hard I might get someone. But I was lazy. Skilled, maybe even talented, but lazy. I stood looking at him, completely thrown by the experience.

‘So I’m in?’

‘You’re in. But you’ve gotta work. These others are slappers. They slap their pencils about like soft dicks. You can draw. But you’ve got to draw in order to draw. There is no alternative. It can’t be talked about. It has to be drawn. Come up to my place in Topanga on Saturday. That’ll be crowded. Say, d’you wanna have a drink with me and my lady and Celestine?’

‘I’m going to eat at the Broadway Deli in Santa Monica.’

‘We’ll join you there.’


Kensington, London. 1964.

20 May

You went into the big room and you stayed there for perhaps two and a half hours. And you drew. Then you had half an hour break. And then you went back for two hours. By which time your hand was sore from drawing. And your eyes seemed to see double. The concentration was intense.

Then in the afternoon you did more of the same. At five thirty you left. Or most left. I stayed on. I went to more drawing classes or print classes. I drew carefully and continuously. Working more and more at drawing. And out of this I hoped to prove nothing. I was doing what I wanted to do. What I had wanted to do since in the reformatory, having come back from a boys’ prison, having run away, I decided I wanted to draw and paint. And from then on I had not deviated one step. I was going to draw and paint and do that until I died. There was nothing else on earth that could equal my commitment. That was the joy of the work. The total completeness of drawing and painting. And being a serious person who did not just look at girls’ arses. Or if you did it was to paint them or draw them.


London, British Museum, 1964.

17 May

From Chapter Six of Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul:

I was at the British Museum and it was a wet Sunday afternoon. I had my sketchpad and half a dozen pencils rammed into a top pocket. All good and sharp, from HB to B5. My pencil sharpener was in my pocket, along with a gum rubber. I also had water colours and a water bottle and a small palette in another pocket. I was loaded down and happy and sketching stuff in the Japanese rooms of the museum.

I walked to a small gallery and a girl was sitting on the floor. I stepped over her. She had no modesty, showing her stocking tops and the white tops of her legs. She smiled as I walked past with my drawing book. I went a few rooms along but was drawn back to the girl. I returned and stood above her. She looked up.

‘Are you drawing?’

I said yes and squatted down beside her and looked at what she was drawing. She was drawing a mask from Japan and it was well drawn. Better than I could do.

‘You’re good.’

She smiled and asked if she could look at my book. We sat and we looked at each other’s books.

‘I want to be a painter.’

From Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul, by John Bird.

France, 2012.

16 May

From Chapter One of Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul:

I drew. She read. I occasionally praised her concentration. She talked about philosophy and I talked about anything that came into my head. And then I told her the story, over coffee, of the various times that led to my taking up drawing. She listened intently.

‘Drawing was good for your soul.’

‘I am a devote ex catholic. I lost all that soul stuff.’

‘A soul can be as broad as you wish it. Or as narrow as you wish it. It is all the unresolved things about your life that do not fit into your brain or your heart.’

She came back to the mobile home I had rented on the campsite and took a shower. She was tall and good-bodied, with good breasts. And she got me thinking about how I was rescued by drawing. And all the other parts of me were tacked on to that central thing: drawing. And drawing naked women in particular.

‘I could not tell you how many naked women I have drawn. Hundreds. Hundreds.’

‘You must write about it.’

‘I will.’

A few weeks afterward she wrote to me from Paris; now back at the university she wrote: ‘Capture those stories you told me on the beach. I think I will never rise above that short time. When the sand and the wind, and the rain and the sun inspired us to work together.’

I wrote back and said that she was a tonic. That I had gone to France to the campsite to get away from the pressures of life, just to draw. And she had made all of this possible. And that now she was enshrined in many drawings and I would send her some. And she must come to London and be drawn again.

From Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul, by John Bird.

Knightsbridge, London, 1961.

15 May

From Chapter Two of Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul:

One summer’s day a few years before Churchill died, I delivered some wine to a house a few doors from his London house. I rang the bell and from above I heard a man shout: ‘Tradesmen’s entrance.’

He left the window and a few minutes later popped up from the basement.

‘Oi! Down here.’

I followed him down the steps to the area. He held the door open and ushered me in. He had a nasty look on his face. Delivery boys get nasty faces from adults. Adults forgot it was not the 1930s. Adult arseholes talked to you as if they were the master class and you the underclass, because you were 15. They had lived through the war and shot Germans and killed Japanese. And maybe fucked women in potato sheds and threw grenades at the enemy. We had Elvis Presley, and Paul Anka, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly; we had films and records and we could be our own selves. But when you went to work you realised that they thought you were shit.

‘What gives you the effing right to knock on the effing front door? Eh?’

‘Where’s the notice for tradesmen’s?’

‘We don’t have a notice. We are a cut above. Churchill lives a few doors from us.’

I laughed. I could not help it. This small scrawny man who may have been a hangman in the army had the look of a man who felt he was important.

‘You can’t be that ‘cut above’. My guvnor says you haven’t paid for your drinks for almost a year. And if you don’t pay this week it’s the company’s solicitors after yer.’

He kicked the chair. The chair fell over. He snarled.

‘Your boss told you the private matters of my employer? A piece of shit like you?’

I was enjoying this.

‘And lots more. He said your guvnor did have money but he spunked it away on drink and boys’ arses.’

He kicked the chair again, and threw the now empty box on the floor.

‘Your boss said all this? It’s effing libel. Effing libel.’

I shook my head.

‘You don’t understand mister. It’s libel if it’s printed. It’s slander if it’s said.’

He kicked the box and backed me out towards the door.

‘Get out, you piece of rubbish. Get out.’

A door opened and a man with makeup and wild dyed red hair came in. He was wearing a furred dressing gown. His nails had paint on them. He had a cross face.

‘What is this shouting for Haliburton? Oh, I see some drink relief.’

And then looking a me.

‘And a charming Trollope of a boy to deliver it.’

He smiled and came towards me. His man Haliburton looked down in a shamed way.

‘So thank you, you sweet boy, for bringing all of this to me so early in the morning.’

‘It’s my job Mister. Delivery they call it. For the working classes to do.’

He tittered.

‘Oh, not so much of the class stuff here laddie. We don’t recognise the class stuff here. Do we Haliburton?’

‘No sir.’

He said this without looking up. I could not avoid a smirk. The master was a complete cunt.

‘Would you take a little drink with me boy?’

He said this coming up very close. He smelt of drink and lavender oil.

‘No sir. It’s illegal to ply drinks on a minor sir. And as a member of the working class I’ve got to keep working.’

He was put off by this.

‘Truculent as well. Ugh! All this class stuff. I bet you’ve been locked up. You have that kind of bitter face.’

‘Not often Mister. Maybe three times.’

The man turned to Haliburton. To scold him.

‘We are obviously using the wrong wine merchants Haliburton! How did this happen?’

‘We deliver to the Royal family Mister. And you won’t be getting any more of the wine and spirits from us. Unless you pay your bills.’

The servant now pushed me towards the door. Though small he was very strong. His master shouted at me.

‘Go and tell your company that their services will no longer be required.’

‘I’ll tell Mister Lindsay Mister. And I’ll say you are a straight up and down gentleman. Not the kind who’d piss his money up the wall on booze and boys.’

The servant took a swing at me that missed. I punched him hard on the nose and it bled. He pulled back and slammed the door. I knocked on the door.

‘Can I have my cardboard box back mister?’

I cycled off on the bike, passing a house with a policeman standing outside. I stopped and called over to the policeman. ‘Is this Churchill’s house guvnor?’ The policeman shouted back: ‘Sir Winston Churchill to you.’ I scoffed. ‘I bet there ain’t one law in this land that says you’ve got to call Churchill Sir Winston Churchill.’ The policemen walked over and took hold of my jacket. ‘Would you like me to get you done for Sus, son? Eh? You look as if you’ve seen the inside of a cell before. And a Black Maria.’ I looked at him and said, ‘I ain’t got no power guvnor. You can say what you like. The world’s yours.’ He let go of my jacket, pushing me at the same time. I cycled off, but stopped fifty yards away. I looked back at the cunt. I took my fingers and made them shaped like a hand gun. Then I put them to my head and went ‘Bang’. And then I cycled off as fast as I could.




From Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul, by John Bird.

Tomorrow I’ll start to serialise the book

14 May

I enjoyed writing this book. Probably more than any other book I’ve written. I’d like to serialise some of the stories from the book about my childhood over the next few days and weeks, and I hope that you might enjoy them. The book is my version of how I came to be what I am, from what I was, and how it all happened. Art was at the heart of all this, and in particular – for me – the drawing of women. Like this:

Why Drawing Naked Women Is Good For The Soul John Bird

I’ll get going tomorrow. See you then. John.

My new book is now out

14 May

My new book is now out as an ebook, containing 40 of my drawings. I’m going to serialise some of the book on this blog over the next few days. I hope you enjoy it.

I will also be out and about this year at events around the country and signing copies of the physical version of the book.

Here’s a selection of some of the international ebook sites where the book is available:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Amazon Canada

Amazon Japan

Amazon Germany






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