From the Abandoned Accordion Folders

I have these brown accordion folders labeled SHEARSON LEHMAN HUTTON, which was somehow a predecessor firm to Salomon Smith Barney, before Lehman Brothers spun itself off again and went bankrupt. I can’t tell you what happened to the E. F. Hutton portion, but I’m pretty sure Shearson stayed with SSB/Citigroup because that was Sandy Weill.

Anyway, odds and ends and scraps of drawings and writings and correspondence fill these folders, some going back further than 1996 (which is where my life virtually begins, since my memorabilia prior to that has mostly vanished). There are letters from H. K. Thompson and Nancy Hunt Bowman and Ted O’Keefe. And from North Sydney, J. Michael Buckley. A letter from the Bournemouth bailiffs to Robert Baird from back in the 1980s when his nightclub went under. I was being mischievous when I squirreled that away.And then a sheaf of cartoons from the summer of 1996, when I was unemployed and had the notion of perfecting the “pocket cartoon” style you saw in Private Eye and elsewhere. I haven’t looked at them since then because they were embarrassing in memory. I’d already had a piece in The Spectator, so I was pitching the drawings to the Eye and to The New Statesman. I note the date of drop-off or fax on the back of the copies; that’s how I know.

I really like some of the various styles I’m mashing up together here. I note a bit of Pilbrow in the pension thing, which is very silly and very Brit. The best idea of the four here is the least successful in execution. You can’t tell who’s speaking “You look sick.” The fact that it appears here 90º counterclockwise doesn’t help it either. I’ll probably run some of the cartoons in GN, without comment. Just put them in the right rail as though an unknown cartoonist is supplying pocket cartoons.


I had forgotten that I had a number of letters from H. K. Thompson. One without an envelope kept turning up, evidently from about 1993, but then there were three or four from when we were in London and then Seattle. In an October 1996 letter he says he’ll write down my address (in his address book) in pencil from now on. I still can’t locate an envelope for the first one, but it was probably an odd-sized one since he says he’s enclosing information about Spiro. (Probably news stories from local papers.)

And then, finally, the Michael Bywater piece written just after Jeff Bernard died. Independent on Sunday, 14 Sept 1996, a few days after we landed in Seattle. I have the whole thing, but have scanned in only the title-page art. I exchanged notes with Bywater some years later, either because I’d written about this on a blog, or maybe—could it be that late in the game?—social media.