The 12 days of Christmas 1: Mystery Meat

Merry Christmas! I’d like to clarify right from the beginning that I am not, I repeat not, promising to do twelve of these posts. I’ve learnt from previous years not to hang that kind of millstone around my own neck again – I have sleep to catch up on, thank you very much, and I don’t fancy being lambasted by Archers fans again. But in the spirit of Christmas, I’ve decided to generously gift my hordes of fans just one cartoon. Or maybe two or three, if you ask really nicely… Merry Christmas. 

This year, I’ve been trying to eat less meat. I’m some way off going full veggie – I just don’t have the willpower – but I’ve been leaning more towards pulses than poultry. The main motivation for this is environmental; like many, I’ve been experiencing a growing sense of guilt and existential dread, thanks to all those videos of starving polar bears, forest fires, dwindling wildlife populations and, most crushingly of all, David Attenborough’s deep disappointment in humanity as a species.

Despite all this, I’m letting my half-hearted ethics fall by the wayside for a couple of weeks, Pam-from-Gavin-and-Stacey style. After all, Christmas is not a time for thinking about your fellow creatures. In fact, in the Lyster household, Christmas is mainly a time for eating your fellow creatures in copious quantities. Our house is full of meat. It’s a carnivore’s paradise. There’s no room for beer in the fridge because it’s full of bacon and sausages. I’m reliably informed that the freezer contains ‘the best part of a deer’. And then there’s the centrepiece of our Christmas dinner.

I’m a fan of turkey. I don’t understand the complaint that it’s a dry, flavourless version of chicken – I think it’s succulent and delicious. Nothing makes me happier than living exclusively off turkey sandwiches in the week between Christmas and New Year. My parents, on the other hand, are somewhat indifferent to this fine fowl, so our Christmas dinners are often a touch unconventional. In the past there’s been goose, venison, beef wellington, and on one memorable occasion, a raised game pie.

Nearly all of these meaty masterpieces are the doing of my father, who likes to channel the banqueting spirit of Henry VIII. And this year, Dad has surpassed himself. Right now, filling the entire oven, mid-way through its six-hour roasting time, is a terrifying creation that has become known as The Beast. It’s a multi-bird monstrosity: a turkey, stuffed with a duck, a chicken, several pheasants and a pigeon. It’s the size of a house. It weighs as much as a toddler. Those are going to be some sandwiches…

Scan 31 (2)


True(ish) Facts About London

In case you weren’t already aware, in January I became an inhabitant of That London. This is a very different living situation from the wilds of Herefordshire, but it’s generally proving pleasanter than I had expected. Cheap art and easily available friends are a good consolation for the constant lack of time and money, even if they don’t help much with the oversupply of diesel fumes.

Continue reading

Rowan Recommends: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead

Thanks to Kate, who follows some excellent mailing lists, I managed to get a cheap ticket to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Old Vic theatre on Thursday night, the same day it was broadcast as a National Theatre Live showing. The play is basically an Absurd take on Hamlet, and it’s very entertaining. You can still catch a repeat of the NT screening, so read on for why you should see it (or, if you’re so inclined, why you shouldn’t). 

Continue reading

Fainter alert: My day as a side-effect statistic

Well hello there. It’s been a while since the Archers debacle, so I thought I’d risk peeping my head over the parapet of the internet. For now it’s just a quick cartoon-post, but if I’m not pounced upon by hordes of trolls this time, I might just attempt to get back to some kind of regular posting schedule. Stay tuned. 

Today, I spontaneously decided to give blood for only the second time in my life. I know, I’m a hero, but let’s not go on about that – no, really, there’s no need to applaud. Honestly, it was nothing! All I did was donate a whole pint of my life’s blood for the good of my fellow human… Oh very well, you’re right, I am basically an incredible person.

Continue reading

The 12 days of Christmas 12: Can of worms

By the time I reach the end of my Christmas cartooning marathon, Christmas itself usually seems quite a long time ago. And this year, what with starting a new life in the big smoke and a certain amount of internet-based drama, the novelty has worn off earlier than usual; I’ve begun to regret making such an extensive promise, although I’m pleased I’ve managed to fulfil it.

I have a feeling I might do my Christmas series differently next year. I’d like to spread my cartoons more evenly throughout the months, and doing 12 in a fortnight eats up an awful lot of time. I’ll have a think about how to cut the format down or space it out – if you have any thoughts about what you’d like to see (and aren’t an enraged Archers fans) then give me a shout.

On the subject of things that get out of hand, I thought it would be fitting to make the last cartoon of this festive season a tribute to the internet. Hopefully it speaks for itself…

Scan 20.jpg

The 12 days of Christmas 11: Dangerous habits

Here’s the post you should have had yesterday, when I started my new job. In preparation for such an important Proper-Grownup milestone, I felt the need to spruce up the smart end of my wardrobe a bit, and so (as I mentioned on Day 5) I went clothes shopping, an activity I rarely enjoy.

The only thing I actually enjoy shopping for is coats – to a dangerous extent. I love coats. I could spend thousands of pounds on coats in mere hours if I had the money. It’s perhaps no coincidence that the coat section of my wardrobe is the only one to be amply stocked, and so I’ve had to confine myself to a look-but-don’t-buy strategy.