Design, music

Sleevage Sunday #14

cassetteSleevage Sunday is where I once shared selections from my old but rediscovered vinyl collection. Music has always been an important part of my life, but so was the packaging. In my formative years I would carefully study every inch of the cover, read every sleevenote, credit and publishing blurb so that the visual qualities of these records became intrinsically linked with the music, so that even now when I hear an old song I also get the imagery too! Alas, much of this will fall upon younger heads whose only visual link with their music is the tiny thumbnail on their iPod…

However, I am now going to feature some older stuff from my father’s collection. Some of these will raise a smile or an eyebrow, considering that many were the biggest music stars of the 1950’s and 60’s. We’ll begin with another casualty of 2016, Bobby Vee:

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How times change…

For those of you who are not familiar with this scale of 7″ singles I have put it into a scale most people will understand!


Design, ephemera

Beermattery #6


Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, this time focussing on a drop of the harder stuff…

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Darts Legend Jocky Wilson
Darts Legend Jocky Wilson

Pony was a brand of British Cream Sherry that was strangely popular during the 1970’s but like many things from 1970’s Britain, it didn’t survive. It did manage a surreal darts sponsorship though – and this was back in the day when even championship darts was played in working mens clubs by usually non-working men who spent an extraordinary amount of time training their darts/drinking arm and smoking a lot to the traditional cry of “Gud Arrers!’ Those were the days…

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Unlike many of the  brewers that have featured on these beermats, all of these (except for the sherry of course) are still going strong. Cheers.

More beermattery next time…


New Products in Stock!


I’ve got some new stuff for sale over in my shop at Society6 that are all inspired by the classic VW Beetle! I love the old iconic bug and know that there are plenty of you out there who do too!

As usual, there are t-shirts, vests and hoodies (male and female versions too!) in a wide range of colours, as well as bags, cushions, clocks, mugs, iPhone cases, laptop skins etc., as well as framed prints and canvases.

Although it is a US store, they ship worldwide and if you use this link before 8th May 2016 you’ll get FREE SHIPPING! That’s FREE SHIPPING, folks! Anywhere! 

Only via this link though, and before 8th May, OK? (Promotion expires May 8, 2016 at Midnight Pacific Time)

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #5


Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, this time focussing not on drinks, but the places that they’re from (with one exception!)  We’ll start with a single colour one sided mat from the Sheaf View, a place where I’ve spent many lost evenings, long before it became the splendid real ale pub which it is now!  I’m also pleased to say is still going strong!

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The next one is the real odd one out, because it’s not from a pub (unless I have been mislead!) Its nice to think that one had a coaster to place one’s brown ale during the service!


This one’s my favourite, not least because I remember when it was still called the Fiesta, but because of its many alter egos over the years! But also for the two Sheffield acts on the cabaret – Marti Cain (who won the talent show New Faeces* in 1975, beating Lenny henry and Victoria Wood) along with local funnyman Bobby Knutt (catchphrase “Eyup Knutty!) who is now probably more well known for his acting roles in Emmerdale and Coronation Street. By ‘eck, thi don’t meckum like that numoor!


And I’ll leave you with something a little more exotic than a 1970’s northern nite club…

More beermattery next time…

*New Faces was the forerunner to all this x-factor nonsense, and just like the modern shows, a few winners became famous and the rest didn’t, although I do have a vague recollection of seeing an advertisement at Butlins in Skegness during the summer season in 1982 for someone called Dougie ‘He’s Funny’ Fanshawe (2nd runner-up, New Faces 1977)
Show business; its a funny old game…

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #4

Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, or rather, a collection of a collection! This time it’s Inde Coope’s Burton Ale in the spotlight. They appeared to have produced a number of different collectors series of beermats over the years, and this is an incomplete set celebrating Traditional Crafts…


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My Dad liked collecting different sets of mats and was particularly pleased when he completed them – unfortunately, this one is not quite there,  but there are other sets in his collection and I will definitely be featuring them all at some point!

More beermattery next time…




At the end of last year I had the pleasure of doing some work for my long time friend Jon Lawrence. I have quite done a bit of stuff for Jon over the years, some of which can be seen here, but this was a little different.

As you may have guessed by now, I designed the cover for his new novella ‘Bisha’ and produced a number of incidental illustrations that are spread throughout the text – here are just a couple:
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I’ve included the whole back/front cover so you can read the ‘blurb’ about the story.


Bisha by Jon Lawrence is available at Amazon, along with some of his other books…


Designers in Britain (1949)

LESTARET-DJ-1Every so often libraries will ‘retire’ a number of books from their stacks, often because they are too worn to repair, or have not been borrowed for many years. Sometimes, the subject matter becomes irrelevant or superseded, authors and their viewpoints change, evolve or become obsolete. These days, many books only exist as digital files also. Alas.

If you are lucky and you like old books, some of them can be snapped up for a few quid before they are finally discarded to whatever sorry fate awaits them. This is one such book.

Originally issued in 1951 to the Royal College of Art central library, the book is a showcase of the best of British Design published in 1949, this was last signed out in 1999 and procured for the princely sum of three whole English pounds.

I present the following images without comment for your viewing pleasure…


Ok, so the images were presented without comment, but here’s one anyway.

This book is an accurate snapshot of a section of our culture in the years following WWII and shows how a country still in the grip of wartime deprivations (remember that rationing did not end until 1954 in the UK) was recovering and forging a new identity.

That no-one has signed out this book for almost 16 years doesn’t really surprise me, but does seem to reflect the current attitudes towards our design history.

Many thanks to Nick for the loan of this gem.

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #3

Further foraging in my fathers beermat collection has produced another collection, this time focussing on just one drink – Babycham, which is remarkably still in business!

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There are also a couple of enormous barmats too, like this one that is four times the size of a regular one:


and this one, which is the other side of the one that started off this post, with a regular mat for scale!lestaret-beermats-large-2

More beermattery next time…

Design, ephemera

Beermattery #2

I have been foraging in my fathers beermat collection in what appears to be an unending process of categorising and sub-categorising (I should really get out more!) and thought I would share a few ‘golden oldies’ with you all. These are the old breweries, many of which are no longer with us, or exist only as brands in a multinational corporate portfolio. Alas.


Whitbread’s are still a major business though, but brewers no more. Wilsons, though, originally a Manchester brewery, has gone the way of many others and disappeared after a series of mergers and acquisitions…


Wards, an old Sheffield stalwart finally closed at the end of the twentieth century, but the brand has been relaunched, and whilst it is no longer made in Sheffield by Wards, its branding still retains the legend “Sheaf Brewery Sheffield” which is a bit naughty…


Stones is still available though, but has not retained any of the visual qualities of this single sided beermat from the late 1970’s/early 80’s! Cameron’s is also still brewing, but appears to have slightly higher aspirations than suggested here.


Wm. Younger’s still exists as a brand, but is now part of the Heineken\Carlsberg empire…

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Design, ephemera

Beermattery #1


I have spent a little time going through my fathers beermat collection and managed to sort them in to basic categories – beers, lagers, cider, spirits, tobacco etc and thought I would share a few of the drink driving campaigns that are amongst them.


Some of these will be familiar as they featured on national campaigns, but others are regional. These are the ones that are just safety messages – there are lots of other beermats promoting a brewery or drink on one side with a drink driving message on the other.

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This next one is is on a similar theme…


This next one is a favourite of mine. It’s funny, but it gets to the point…


This one celebrates 150 years of the South Yorkshire Police, and gives us a snapshot of how our WPC’s were kitted out in the 1970’s – thoughtful to let them have a shiny police handbag!


This last one is a bit weird – I see what they are trying to do here, but I’m unsure whether it was effective or not. Anyway, I’m glad someone is trying!


On a different note, I was surprised to see so many newer mats in the collection – I had no idea that he was still adding them! I am guessing that the earliest mats are from the early 1970’s (possibly earlier – its difficult to put a date on them) and stop about a year or so ago.

There is still much sorting to do. There are lots and lots in the beer and lager categories, both of which can be subdivided in different ways but I haven’t yet decided how best to sort them yet!