Poppies- the Turkish charity: “Red is the colour of life”

Here is the finished version of the title sequence:

early poppy sequences:

music by David Watson, used with kind permission

©David Watson, Kanon editions 2015

©Tim Wilson, Zontul Films 2015


Boris and the taxi-sting

Last week, I took a black cab from Baker street to Cornwall Terrace. We went round Regents park, wasting time and money while the actual place I needed was barely 3 minutes walk away. I did not know. I had left my A-Z at home and I had been hoodwinked.


So I have some sympathy for Boris Johnson’s outburst yesterday.

Boris claims that his irritation with a London cabbie was “a gentle attempt at a return service” or rather ”getting the ball back over the net.” Wimbledon metaphors at the start of the season.

If you check the footage that has leaked on to the internet, it is clear that the Mayor of London was having the last word as the cabbie drove away and quite frankly, was unlikely to have been heard. We also do not have the beginning of the exchange. The cabbie himself, so far unnamed, had leant out of the window to castigate Johnson for not standing up to the competing taxi firm UBER – He was making a hand-gesture, but it is too dark to be sure exactly what that gesture was. “You’re one of them, mate,” says the cabbie and then drives off as Johnson vents, “why don’t you fuck off and die (twice) and not in that order”. Johnson then appears to chuckle.

It is the final moments that are both disquieting and disarming in equal measure.

Quite apart from anything else, I wonder why someone was able to film the incident in the first place- or was this a set -up?


While a Boris rant is not an edifying spectacle, it is of a very different order to the angry exchange outside the gates of Number 10 by chief whip Andrew Mitchell, and far, far different to the David Mellor thing a year ago, which was just rank pomposity from a man well-past his prime! However, the inference of “Go and die” remains distasteful, whether meant as a humorous rebuke or not. The final words, “and in that order” make absolutely no sense and suggest that the mayor was fumbling to seize some superior wit, which, for once, escaped. It was after midnight and he was probably tired. This is not Oscar Wilde and not one of Johnson’s better days.

UBER taxi app, a car service accessible to the smart-phone generation, is criticized for not being properly regulated, whose drivers are often uninsured while it is competing directly with both the minicab and black cabbie trade. Boris is, therefore, coming under attack for his perceived support of UBER. Steve MacNamara of the Licenced Taxi Rankers Association said, “TfL recommended last week that UBER’s licence be revoked and it wasn’t and people are starting to ask questions why.”

UBER began 3 years ago, and according to the company, now runs 15000 cars with over 1000 new drivers starting in London every month. At the same time, there has been a 20% drop in applications for the black cabbie licence. That means that less taxis in London are today equipped with or tested in “the knowledge”, the city-wide recognition of streets and sites (which should ensure any cabbie would have known immediately where Cornwall Terrace was). At the same time, the dramatic increase in taxis threatens to add to London’s congestion problems.

The cabbies have mounted a legal challenge to UBER, claiming the use of smartphones to log journeys was dodgy, but they are more concerned, I think, that Boris has not followed the example of Madrid and Paris and banned the company from operating in London altogether. Maybe what is needed now, though, is a challenge to UBER on its own terms- maybe the London cabbie service needs to set up its own smart app, and while it’s at it, maybe it needs to lower its prices and become more competitive.

And as for the swearing? Well, not really the stuff of a Prime Minister in waiting, is it? But Nixon did it (and regularly on tape) and made it to President- But Boris will bounce back. I know him from of old and have every confidence in him.

Update on The Mikado project

Cartoon opera


Gilbert and Sullivan is about as cartoony you can get- though Offenbach comes very close. I think animation probably lends itself to music that has distinctive rhythms and an interesting orchestration. The words seem to me to be less important than what is happening musically. Though of course the words tell the story. When the Disney people were animating “Fantasia”, the better animators trawled the score to identify the incidental tunes that lay under the main melody. There is a sequence in the Chinese dance in the Nutcracker where Art Babbitt has talked about “those nasty little notes underneath”. But Babbitt uses those “nasty little notes”! It is precisely this fact that makes the sequence stick out as something remarkable. Culhane references this in his book on Fantasia. It is worth looking at the dance in detail because the perspective goes all over the place and it still seems logical. In the same way, the instruments used to orchestrate a particular sequence will dictate a particular image.

Eric Goldberg animates on the beat and repeats a rhythm with the Carnival of the animals in FANTASIA 200o and Andreas Deja does it too in the same film with the barrel organ in Rhapsody in Blue. But I think Babbitt’s mushrooms still have the edge precisely because they take note of the intricacies of the orchestration and the repeated visuals (a visual ostinato) are not necessarily based on something obvious…

Here is a scene from Topsy Turvy which probably reproduces the original rehearsal process. certainly the story of miss sixpence is well-documented. It shows a nice instance of the move from caricature and implicit racism to something that draws its humour from observation of real life.

Here is the final product as done in australia:

I was playing around with the Three Little Maids from School piece at the beginning of the MIKADO.

This is the text: “Three little maids from school are we,Pert as a schoolgirl well can be,Filled to the brim with girlish glee–Three little maids from school.” David Watson has done a very clever arrangement.

I will post more on this shortly because it is an excellent example of a tune that does a great deal. The three voices (Yum yum, Pitti Sing and Peep Bo) are quite distinctive and the whole thing gallops along at quite a pace. Here are some sketches mostly of Japanese hair-styles…

3 little maids
Below is a page from the notebook on Trial by Jury the storyboards for which move slowly forwards…

trial by jury

Here are some backgrounds for the film. some of them are not yet coloured. All are based on prints of the period, though at the moment they lack appropriate kanji and I may change some of the details.



Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 21.28.42Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 23.08.21Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 23.11.20Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 23.11.38Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 23.11.50Screen shot 2015-07-05 at 23.15.29

Atena Farghadini

monkeys colour

Here are the earlier versions of the cartoon

This is in response to news that Atena Farghadini faces 12 years in prison for drawing a cartoon that depicts members of the Iranian parliament as various animals- birds, goats, cows, monkeys- it is fairly mild and goes against the spirit of moderation put out by the new Iranian President.

Rumour has it that he is unable to control his own judiciary.


Update: 14 06

atenas lawyer


restoration for david restoration

Mrs Malaprop

I am much given to malapropisms so it was a pleasure to see a recent production of “The rivals” and once again witness the source of this bizarre linguistic illness. Shakespeare had already played this joke, by the way, with both Mrs Quickly and Dogberry in Much Ado, but Sheridan’s 1775 version sparkles especially with lines like “as headstrong as an Allegory on the banks of the Nile”. I had forgotten that one.

Here is a quick illustration of the characters:

rivals page1

Now an interesting fact: Tolkien played Mrs Malaprop for his old school in Birmingham just after he had gone up to Oxford in Autumn 2011. This is what the St Edward’s school chronicle wrote:

“the performance was a thorough success both artistically and financially (ed note – in my line of work both items very welcome!) J R R Tolkien’s Mrs Malaprop was a real creation, excellent in every way and not least so in make-up….”


While Mrs Malaprop lends her name to the problem, the first use of the word “Malapropism” is Lord Byron’s in 1814 though the OED cites something back in 1630 as well.