A Song of Ice and Disappointment

Game of Thrones bannerHow one of modern fiction’s most ambitious, brilliant failures gave rise to Game of Thrones, television’s most ambitious, brilliant failure

So that’s it, then.

After a twenty-three-year wait, the world finally knows what happens at the end of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R R Martin’s world-famous fantasy series which spawned the HBO television epic Game of Thrones. On 19th May, the very last episode of Game of Thrones aired, and the story came to an end.

Except it’s not as neat as that. Continue reading →

Max and Alysha

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In my role as a wedding cartoonist, I was commissioned to draw a series of cartoons for the wedding of two people called Max and Alysha. I don’t know them, but two of their friends sent me all the information I needed. I was given descriptions of eight defining moments in their relationship, and a list of in-jokes to include.

Max and Alysha met at Manchester University in 2008. Owens Park was their accommodation block. Continue reading →

The Sydney Misadventure

I’ve found myself in a few sticky situations over the years. (See, for example, my ridiculous Tinder date or The Russian Penthouse…) But the Sydney Hilton incident comes near the top of the list. Some people have found this story uncomfortable. I choose to treat it as a funny story, and I promise it’s not because I’m traumatised.

A New Friend

I was nineteen, naïve and spending some time in Sydney on my gap year. A family friend called Tess was hosting me in a studio apartment in Potts Point. This little flat was so well-located that the most convenient free Wi-Fi spot was the waterfront bar beneath the Sydney Opera House.

One Tuesday evening in July, I strolled to the Opera Bar, where I was due to have a Skype call with my girlfriend at 7pm. She was in Italy, so I had to wait for her to wake up before I could call her. I sat on one of the concrete seats overlooking the harbour, catching up on my travel journal. When this was done I still had an hour to kill, so I sat there skimming the internet and waiting for the time to pass.

So I was pleased when a man sitting near me struck up a conversation. “Tell me,” he said in a thick Scottish accent, “what is there for a visitor to do on a Tuesday evening in Sydney?” Continue reading →

Dante’s Paradiso: A Summary

Dante Summary Part 3: Paradiso

The Divine Comedy is much more than just an interesting medieval text about Christianity. It’s really, really well-written. Dante’s poetry still feels intense and immediate, even after seven hundred years, even when it’s talking about the planets in a way that seems strange to modern readers. In Paradiso, for example, Dante and Beatrice ascend through the nine spheres of the Universe and then pass into the Empyrean beyond the boundary of time and space – and Dante makes every sphere feel more joyful and radiant than the previous one. Every time Dante seems to have reached his limit, he finds a way to make his next description even more extraordinary. Dante’s joy is his reward for the hardships of his journey up to this point. And at the same time, Beatrice explains more and more about the workings of God and the Universe, so everything that Dante has seen makes more and more sense, and the reader is gripped by the idea that they are receiving the same revelation as Dante. After the horrors of Hell and the hardships of Purgatory, we finally understand the secrets of the Christian Universe.

Back to Dante Summary Part 1: Inferno

Back to Dante Summary Part 2: Purgatorio

In Dante’s theology,  the Earth is at the centre of the Universe, surrounded by a series of heavenly spheres like the layers of an onion. Dante, with Beatrice, must visit each of the ten Heavens in turn, from lowest to highest, as his comprehension expands and he passes through each stage of revelation. This is continuously symbolised by Dante’s increasing ability, in each sphere, to see yet more of Beatrice’s beauty and the ever-more-pervading light of the Lord, as he is successively prepared for higher visions. As Dante is still mortal, he has limitations: he perceives the souls in Paradise to be on different spheres according to their rank, only at the end seeing them united in fellowship with God in the Empyrean; he lacks the omniscience and the ability to read minds of the other souls; and his memory cannot cope and struggles to recall reflections of divine splendour that surpass earthly understanding.

Paradiso Summary 1
Dante and Beatrice (Ary Scheffer, 1851)

Continue reading →