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Tuesday, September 16, 2014


from the archives 


John Purcell Paper A5(ish) sketchbook number 3, begun 25th July 2001

Off we go with a new one...



Click for bigger, if, you know, that's what you want.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Thirteen Chairs by The Bookshop Band 

This makes me very happy indeed...



joyous 





So, I ought probably to have mentioned before now that my new book, Thirteen Chairs is out (it was published by David Fickling Books on September 4th - hurrah!) And on Wednesday we (only slightly belatedly) celebrated the fact with a launch party at lovely Heffers bookshop here in Cambridge. Lots of my most favourite people in the world were kind enough to turn out for it and my initial nervousness gradually melted away.



David Fickling said a few quiet words. I mumbled for a bit, mostly thanking people. As you do. And then the very lovely and delightful Bookshop Band played their song inspired by my book. It was spine tinglingly good. I'll prove it to you later, just as soon as I figure out how to embed video in a blog post (might be a while then).



(Apologies to Beth Porter for the obscuring of her head in that photo).

After that, the band played on with a selection of their other amazing and beautiful songs inspired by other people's books, and I cunningly signed some copies of Thirteen Chairs while seated very close to this cake (created at no great notice by the wonderful Esther Cooper-Wood) ...



... thus ensuring that whether or not anyone was buying the book it would always look like people were queuing.



It all went really rather well. At least I had a fabulous time of it. I was especially touched that my excellent ex English teacher from when I was about eleven years old, Gill Ball, had made it along from Leicester. I'd mentioned her on the book jacket of A Boy and a Bear in a Boat and eventually found her address and got a copy to her. After that we'd exchanged a couple of phone calls, but this was the first time we'd seen each other in, I think, 32 years. Gill doesn't really remember me from my schooldays - I was just one pupil among very, very many, and I was a shy, quiet child, I can understand how I might be easily forgotten - but she teached me how to do English goodly, and I'll always be grateful for that.



I was also beyond delighted that my oldest friend in the world, Tim Clarke, got along from Swindon with almost all of his family, despite the best efforts of the M25 to keep them away.



And, at some point, Tim said something funny (the details of which escape me entirely now) resulting in this, perhaps my favourite photograph of me ever...



It was a joyous evening. I hope everyone else who was there enjoyed themselves at least a fraction as much as I did.

Oh, and we sold a few books...




Tuesday, July 29, 2014


from the archives 




John Purcell Paper A5(ish) sketchbook number 2, begun 25th January 2001

Right. Bored of this one now. Sprint finish to the bitter end.






























As ever, click for bigger if size matters.


Monday, July 14, 2014


colour brush doodles 


























Wednesday, July 09, 2014


back of an envelope 






Pentel colour brush on envelope. Nice.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


from the archives 



John Purcell Paper A5(ish) sketchbook number 2, begun 25th January 2001


Quadruple helping this time, mostly in an attempt to compensate for lack of quality.











Click for bigger, if size matters.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Lucinda Williams vs Nike Running 


So, despite the title of this blog, and a career that combines a number of sedentary pursuits, I sometimes go running. And, being a boy, and a bit nerdy, I often use a running app - Nike Running - when I do. It tells me each time I complete a kilometre - whatever I'm listening to on my headphones fades out for a moment and Ms Electronic Games Mistress intones something like '4 kilometres completed. 25 minutes 40 seconds. Average pace 6.25 per kilometre' then the music or podcast fades back in. I like this, because I'm a boy, and a bit nerdy, and it makes me try a bit harder if I know I'm going slower than usual. And it makes me try a bit harder if I'm going faster than usual because I think 'blimey, that's good' and feel spurred on to keep it up.

The problem is ... if, as is quite often the case, the GPS signal is a bit weak then the record of how far I've gone (and thus my speed) becomes distinctly inaccurate, normally in a generous manner. So I think I'm going faster than I actually am, sometimes subtly so, sometimes to a ludicrous degree such that I appear to be close to Usain Bolt's 100m pace over a 10K distance. I was fooled by it a few times early on, but nowadays I'm wise to its faults and I'm happy to plod along knowing that I'm probably going at a pace of between 6 and 6 and a half minutes per Km, because that's what I do, rather than the claimed 4 minutes 20 per Km on my first run back after a month of no exercise, as happened fairly recently. (It was a shame when I realised that one was fake. I'd figured that my subsequent book espousing a rigorous training regime of sitting still and eating too many biscuits to achieve massive improvements in personal best times would have been a surefire bestseller.)

So anyway, this morning I was running with Lucinda Williams's excellent album Little Honey playing in my headphones, and I was running pretty well, I think, but I knew not so well as Ms EGM was telling me. So when Jailhouse Tears faded out at the (supposedly) 6Km mark and the voice told me I was averaging 5 minutes 20ish per km I thought 'well, that hardly seems very likely'. Then the music faded back in. 'You're so full of shit,' sang Ms W, more succinctly.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


from the archives 



John Purcell Paper A5(ish) sketchbook number 2, begun 25th January 2001







Click for bigger, if size matters.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


from the archives 



John Purcell Paper A5(ish) sketchbook number 2, begun 25th January 2001






Sometimes I think, when I get to a couple of spreads like these where I think there's little or nothing of interest, I consider skipping them and pretending they didn't exist, but I've gone for a warts and all, near-facsimile kind of approach from the start so ... let's just hope there's some better ones coming up. And at least, in the meantime, I get to think 'well, at least I'm better than that now'.

Click for bigger, if size matters.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Red Wolf; Emily Lime, Librarian Detective; Sheriff Bunny 









Tuesday, June 03, 2014


from the archives 



John Purcell Paper A5(ish) sketchbook number 2, begun 25th January 2001











The good thing about blogging four successive spreads from an old sketchbook with nothing much in them that I like is that at least it helps me believe that I've got a bit better at this kind of thing in the subsequent dozen or so years.

Click for bigger, if size matters.

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