Stop messin’ about…

Since my childhood I can remember the saucy humour of the ‘Carry On’ movies being shown on the television. Of course the risqué humour of the script was completely lost on me (I am only understanding it now, to be honest), but the slapstick fun appealed to me. Through time the films and the actors and actresses that played in them became more and more well known to me. I always had a soft spot for the matronly Hattie Jacques and the shiny-faced Joan Sims. Peter Butterworth has to be a favourite too, along with the nostril-flaring Kenneth Williams and the bespectacled Charles Hawtrey.

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On Bonfire/Guy Fawkes’ Night I saw that ‘Carry on Screaming’ was being shown on the television, so I decided to sit down and watch it, as it had been one of my favourites from childhood. It features a ghoulish brother and sister who, acquiring young females by force (with the aid of two hirsute, flat-headed monsters), turned them into shop mannequins which they sold. The dastardly deeds of the siblings, played by Kenneth Williams and Fenella Fielding, are eventually thwarted by the sleuthing ‘skills’ of Detective Sergeant Sidney Bung, who was played by Harry H. Corbett (looking rather like the character Sherlock Holmes).

I enjoyed the film as much as ever and surprised myself by getting some of the saucy jokes, which I had never noticed before. Whilst watching I remembered that I had drawn a quick pen and ink sketch of Kenneth Williams many years ago, so I dug it out of an old and battered file. Not really sure why I drew this quick portrait, but it could have been done during a doodling lunch hour when I worked in the newspaper industry in Carlisle.

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The movie also reminded me of meeting the panther-voiced Fenella Fielding at a party at Pinewood Studios on a gloriously sunny April day (not so many years ago). As a big fan of this actress, I was lucky enough to meet her and sit beside her for a chat. I spoke to her about the deep-red, velvet dress she wore in the film, which she seemingly had to be sewn into. She also had to wear it for the whole 6-weeks of filming as they only made one! Limited budgets on those Carry On films, it would seem. But alas, the rest of that story will have to wait for another blog post…

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Thoughts On – Sherlock & Baskerville

I have been a fan of Sherlock Holmes since my early teenage years. I remember having studied a small piece of his writing for a mock-examination at school. The only thing I can recall about it was that it was an excerpt from Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes book ‘A Study in Scarlet’ (first published in book form in 1888). The small section contained a detailed description of the exterior of a house, and something to do with sickly-looking laurels… The evocative title alone caught my attention, as I am also a big fan of Cluedo (a Miss Scarlett connection) and being an artist, colour names rather get my attention at first glance. Baskerville(michaelquinlynnixon)forblog2Years later, a ‘Study in Scarlet’ (stored away in my memory banks), I saw a small piece of the movie ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ starring the renowned Basil Rathbone, as Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth… The story grasped me with its twist on a typical Gothic horror mystery, with a large and glowing hound striking fear and causing death to the noble Baskerville family, living in Dartmoor.

Later still, when I was studying, what was to be 5-years of graphic design qualifications, I became more familiar with the name of Baskerville, as it is a traditional serif typeface, which is popular to this day. I liked the font because of the Sherlock Holmes connection and it has become one of my all-time-favourite fonts. With or without its connection to one of my sleuthing heroes, it is a fine font and one that I use fairly frequently in my work… Having started my career exactly one-hundred-years after the publication of ‘A Study in Scarlet’, it is rather appropriate that my fondness for this font remains strong.

The font, which is easily recognised for its distinctive swash tail on the uppercase Q, was designed by a writing master, John Baskerville (1706 – 1775). His evergreen typeface also shows some beautiful cursive serifs in its italic form. The capital letter Q is unique among typefaces, as it is longer than its body width and cups the following letter.

So, after finishing the novel ‘The Baskerville Legacy – A Confession’ by John O’Connell today, all of these Baskerville memories bubbled to the surface… It’s funny how the name ‘Baskerville’ can conjure up so many emotions from both my social and professional life…

Q as an appleI also like the fact that the Baskerville Q looks rather like an apple with leaf when viewed upside down…