Life drawing


By Neil Smith

Life drawing is great – you go to your local church hall and look at a naked lady for 2 hours – no guilt, and no quid in the beer glass. However, if you’re thinking of taking up life drawing, it’s worth noting that a strict, but unspoken, code of conduct is observed: It’s ok to talk to your model once she’s naked, but only to ask her to move an arm, or if she’d like the fan heater turned up. It’s not ok to compliment her breasts or comment on how short her legs are. Any kind of laughing is also a no no. Whilst a naked life model is surprisingly un-sexy, once they put their robe back on you may find yourself inadvertently peeking at a partially exposed knee. This is bad etiquette, and should be done discreetly. With my dodgy eyes it’s often tempting to move in for a closer look at the posing model. This will see you labelled as a ‘perv’ and thrown off the course. And finally, at the end of each session it’s is also important to compliment other students’ drawings with positive comments like: ‘er, the left knee is really nice’, or ‘ that looks like a Picasso’.



Hot men

By Sharon Clampin

What is it with men and temperature?

You’re sitting in a room perfectly comfortable when a man crashes in huffing and puffing like a middle aged menopausal woman mid-flush, complaining about the unbearable heat in here. Failing to take into consideration the fact that he has raced some individual, or more likely vehicle, on his cycle ride in – the obvious cause of his beaded forehead – he immediately starts throwing open windows and turning on air conditioners and fans. This is done in the most dramatic fashion possible and culminates with him standing star shaped in front of an air conditioner positioned to blast up his shorts (never trousers!) and shirt. In case you’d not noticed, he’s HOT! If you dare to suggest that it’s not actually that hot, a look of total disbelief crosses his face. He walks up to the thermometer and announces the temperature – you must be confused and not know your own mind if you’re not HOT!

In the same situation, a woman will typically ask if anyone else thinks it’s hot in here and accepts the consensus, quietly turning things on or off as necessary.

Why the drama boys – or am I just being terribly naive about why you like us girls to sit in an icy cold room?



The French have rules for kissing. I wish we did. They give two to their family, three to their friends and a french one to somebody they’d like to sleep with: or something like that, I think. The English don’t have kissing rules, apart from not kissing your dad if you’re male and over five year’s old. I’ve recently started kissing my mum again after a 35 year gap – but only ‘goodbye’ – never ‘hello’. I have good friends who expect to be kissed and good friends who would lamp me if I tried. I also have occasional acquaintances who expect at least two and, most worryingly, clients who move in for a quick ‘mwah’ in meetings. This never used to be a problem: after the age of five or six I never expected another kiss, unless it involved tongues and a bicycle shed, but since we’ve gone European I walk a daily minefield: one kiss or two? Start on the left or right? Physical contact or ‘air’ kiss? Moist kissy-noise or silent? Somebody send me the rules please.

Lots of love,
Neil xxx

Alpha male

By Neil Smith

When I was a boy my Dad said to me ‘Son, a firm handshake is a sign of strong character’. I don’t really do the big powerful handshake thing – I just kind of adjust the pressure ’til it more or less matches that of the ‘shakee’. I think it’s only polite. These days when I shake my Dad’s hand (at funerals or New Year’s Day) I do tend to turn up the pressure to ‘strong character’ to keep the old man happy. I find the big handshake moment in business meetings a bit tiresome (it’s always the little fellas that are the worse) with the eye contact thing and the palm-down death grip. They think they’re letting me know who’s boss – but I think it’s probably just a trick they learned in the ‘assertiveness’ module of their ‘marketing for short people’ course. They don’t scare me – unlike the Dutch graphic design student whose vice-like grip brought tears to my eyes and resulted in an operation to pin my 5th metacarpal. It turned out that I’d broken my hand a few weeks earlier in an inter design group football match brawl, but hadn’t noticed. Brawling in a friendly football match – now that’s the sign of a strong character.