News and Views from Oliver Preston

Chewing the Chaff

Mar 12 2014

I was talking to a good friend from Switzerland the other day and we got talking about giving things up. Drinking, smoking, rich food, you know the form. He is super fit, ski tours most days, but really enjoys the finer things in life – those little shouldn’t haves that niggle away at our consciences. He shrugged his shoulders at me, and said, “I’ve tried on so many occasions, but have finally decided that the only course of action is to actually GIVE UP giving things up.” He smiled a self satisfied smile. He is content in himself and a happier man for it.

I wrote down his comment in my sketch book which I revisit when sitting at my drawing desk, later to discover wonderful seedlings of inspiration for cartoons. All too often other people’s throw away lines are my bread and butter (see above). The downside is that I keep the sketchbook by my bedside, and often in the middle of the night I get hit by a sudden inspiration. There follows a mad scramble in the dark for a pencil and sketchbook, which has to be executed with aplomb without turning on the light, or waking up my wife (most unpopular). I usually spend most of the next morning trying to decipher the incomprehensible scribble, trying to make some sort of sense of what had seemed a brilliant joke only hours before.


A few years ago a cousin of mine was in a very smart box at the Grand National.  “What do you do?” , he asked one of the guests during the pre race drinks. “Oh, I manage a football team”, came the reply, before asking my cousin what was his line of business. “I’m an estate agent in London”,  my cousin replied, before banging on for half an hour about property in Kensington & Chelsea, where to buy, what was shifting, and the mood of the market. Finally, when my young cousin’s words of wisdom had run their course,  he asked the guest, “So which club do you manage? ”.  “Manchester United”,  replied Sir Alex Ferguson. The end of an era at Man U, and what a great bloke he is.



We have just returned from a frenetic Badminton Horse Trials – our first time exhibiting at the largest outdoor event in Europe.  Badminton was cancelled last year, rained off, and there was a frission of excitement as the 230,000 plus visitors enjoyed the bank holiday sunshine, the competitiveness of the riding and a great day out with family and friends. Many dropped in to our stand, to see my cartoons, books and prints.  We have been trialling lots of new greetings cards, many of which received a good reception, and it was great to hear the giggles around the card stands.  

In the passing throngs of people, everywhere you looked there were dogs.  Big dogs, small dogs, hairy dogs, puppies – it was a cartoonist’s heaven.  I will never forget the sight of a massive – black and white – Great Dane passing the stand, held on a leash by a small lady.  Jill and Catherine from Beverston Press were helping on the stand. Jill said, “That’s not a dog, it’s a horse”, Catherine said, “That’s not a dog, it’s a cow”.  

Our other overriding memory of Badminton, though, was the dust.  After an extended period of no rain the ground was baked earth and as the swathes of people on Cross Country Sunday shuffled up and down outside it became a dust bowl, and there was a millimetre of dust on all the books, cards and prints. It was just so incongruous that after rain cancelled play last year, we longed for a shower or two to dampen the ground, and how stupid we looked with a watering can sprinkling the dusty ground in front of the stand.


Speaking of dogs, we have a new puppy – Baloo. Despite a thoroughbred black labrador pedigree, he has a touch of white on his chin, and white splashes under his paws. When he walks (lollops) they look like white socks on his front feet (I was tempted to call him ‘Kevin’, but his well bred breeder was not overly impressed).

When he received his jabs at the surgery, the vet quipped, “….looks like he’s got a touch of the spaniel in ‘im.” Anyway, he’s a character with wonderful confirmation (a fine head). So far I have lost an apple laptop charger, a back up hard drive lead, and the straw seats of several chairs in the kitchen.  Otto, my faithful yellow labrador, died two years ago, aged 15, and it is wonderful to hear the padding of rather large feet, and the thumping of a tail again.

Moreover, I have forgotten the tribulations of having a puppy in my studio – the constant desire for attention, and the nudge of the wet nose just as I am executing a delicate line drawing with my gillotte nib – leaving a black indian ink spillage across a nearly finished cartoon. Expect to see the colour of the labradors in my drawings to change from yellow to black, as the source of my inspiration is updated by Baloo.

...and thank you, lord, that I'm not a cat




This is the time of year we spend booking into fairs throughout the summer and the autumn.  I love meeting people, showing them our new products and getting out and about.  We are trekking up to Scotland to Scone Palace in Perth for the Scottish Game Fair in early July – our first visit; we are revisiting Harrogate Home & Gift Fair in the middle of July, where we hope to meet a lot of our customers from the Midlands, Wales and the North of England: and at the end of the month we are doing our annual trek to the Game Fair which this year is being held at Ragley Hall near Stratford on Avon. 

In partnership with Susan Rose China we have produced a range of half pint tankard mugs. These are proper coffee cups, fine bone English china, great to hold and the right size for a generous cup of coffee. (Considered very important in the Preston household). They come in a smart box, are priced at £19.50 and are now available from our website. We’ve also extended our range of Wentworth puzzles –  ’Eton dogs’, ‘Giving up giving things up’, and ‘Stuff the Garden’.  Every house should have a puzzle on the go, and these 250 piece wooden jigsaws, with whimsies are available from the website at £29. There are a lot of new prints as well which made us laugh – I hope they make you laugh too.


We are attending a number of fairs in the summer and autumn. Come and see us and some of the new cartoons.

This is about much fun as watching you play cricket

2 – 6 May Badminton Horse Trials, Gloucestershire. 
5 – 7 July Scottish Game Fair, Perthshire, Scotland.
14 – 17 July Harrogate Home & Gift Fair (Trade only), Yorkshire
19 – 21 July CLA Game Fair, Ragley Hall, Warwickshire
30 Aug – 1 Sept Chatsworth Country Fair, Derbyshire
5 – 8 Sept Burghley – awaiting confirmation – Lincolnshire
15 – 17 Sept Top Drawer , (Trade only), Olympia, London
25 – 26 Sept Whittlebury Park, Northamptonshire
9 – 10 Oct Hurlingham, Fulham, London
5 – 10 Nov Spirit of Christmas, Olympia, London
12 – 15 Nov Mary Howard – Castle Combe, Wiltshire
20 – 23 Nov Grand Christmas Halls, Royal Horticultural Halls, London
26 – 27 Nov Mary Howard – Sandown Park Racecourse, surrey
30 Nov – 1 Dec Chelsea Physic Gardens, London


Baloo -chewing machine extraordinaireBaloo -chewing machine extraordinaire

About the Blog

Oliver Preston is a Cartoonist and Illustrator whose draws regularly for The Field Magazine, The Racing Magazine, Polo Magazine and Cotswold Life. His work has also been published in Punch Magazine, The Spectator, The Times, Independent, Guardian and The Beano and The Dandy. Exhibited at The Fine Art Society in 1999, Preston is published in over ten books, and Beverston Press publishes greeting cards and limited edition prints of his cartoons. Preston, 48, is chairman of The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury in London, and set up the Cartoon Art Trust Awards in 1995. He lives with his wife and family in the Cotswolds, England.

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