Sometimes this blog's full of stuff, the comics I've made in schools, the interesting places we've visited, videos by the Socks, the exciting noteworthy stuff of life. Then you'll get a month like this where I spend most of the time at my desk and I'm either too busy to write, or haven't found anything sufficiently remarkable. Look at me there, colouring comic strip pages on the laptop. The big screen Mac, which dates back to 2005, hasn't been used for a couple of years now and might be too slow for me to ever use again. (Thinks, I wonder if I can get it updated?) Anyhoo, here for posterity is what I've been up to in January.
Got my DBS certificate updated. This, the Disclosure & Barring Service provided by the police, is something everyone needs to work in schools, and I've had one since 2003, when it was called a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) certificate. I'm assuming most people who'd need it would be freelance. Which is why, in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be have decided you can't apply for one as a freelance. You need to go through your employer. Which, if you're self employed, is you. Which you can't do.
Until recently it was a certificate that lasted three years then needed renewing. In the past I've had it sorted by an arts agency who, in the intervening years, lost their arts funding, so they didn't exist when it came time to renew. Then I got it done by a school I worked at regularly. Three years later they'd been knocked down and rebuilt as an academy and I didn't work there any more.
In 2016 a school (who shall remain nameless*) (*it's not Kings, pictured above) was the first to ask me if my DBS had "portability". I had no idea what portability meant. They explained that it's the new way the DBS works. You apply once, then convert it to "portability" on the gov.uk site and, for an annual renewal fee, your DBS will remain updated. No more need to keep finding an employer to re-apply from scratch. Hoorah. Even better this school (who shall remain nameless) offered to process my application for my new DBS, last July when I was doing a series of classes for them. So we arranged day for me to visit and they'd do it. I turned up, they were too busy, they couldn't do it then. Then it was end of term, then I forgot about it for a term. Then my DBS ran out, so I wasn't covered any more, so I asked this school (who shall remain nameless) if they'd follow up their kind offer of last summer and process my application for me. They said they were too busy and couldn't do it until I come and do some more classes for them in the summer, leaving me uncovered by DBS for over six months. They shall remain nameless.
So I had to find an agency that would process my application. And, after phoning up employment agency after employment agency, who offer DBS certficate processing, but only to people who are signed into their books (which, not wanting to work as an office temp or supply teacher, I'm not), I finally found Education People who, for just twice the cost of doing it through the school (who are remaining nameless) did it for me in under ten minutes. I am now covered. That was painless enough.
Also this week I got my car serviced, and sat in the reception area at Robins & Day Peugeot with my laptop & graphics tablet, and got two pages of Book Of Esther coloured while I was waiting.
I've been busy booking school visits for the year - June and July are very full already, and May's getting there. They start in earnest next month, and it looks like being a bumper year since I'm not doing Edinburgh this year. On Sunday afternoon I wrote 10 songs for a Book of Esther musical.
I've had a bit of bill chasing to do. A festival owes me £700 since July, a school in Ireland owes for €475 from October (don't know whether the change in exchange rate will have made me better or worse off in the time I've been waiting). And I thought to chase up a Glasgow school from December this week, noticing that last time I'd worked for them they'd taken 4 months to pay me. So I rang them. Good job too. The woman in accounts claimed not to have even had my invoice yet (I'd sent it before I visited). Given that this was a three-day visit, it's quite a chunk that I'm waiting for. I look forward to getting it in April.
Last night we went to The Colston Hall to see Simon Callow present three Charlie Chaplin shorts, very entertaining, then out to eat with Sarah Menage, whose new novel we now have a first glimpse copy of.
Last weekend we went to Exeter, went round the Museum, shopped and saw nostalgic sights (above, The Royal Clarence Hotel, recently burned down sadly). The weekend before we went to Cardiff. Managed a day trip to Wells in there somewhere, and Bristol a fair few times. Living the life. On Wednesday we had an electrician round who fixed the lights in the kitchen and reconnected the porch light.
And I've made time for reading too, having got through Kliph Nesteroff's The Comedians and Alan Partridge's Nomad, both from my Christmas present pile. I am currently part way through How Musicals Work (started this week), The Infallible History of Christianity (started in November), Trumbo (also started in November) and Robert McKee's Story (started last January). I am a bad reader, only really getting any reading done when I have a long plane or train journey. This whole reading in bed in the morning thing will soon bite the dust when the school visits and Sock gigs resume next month.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.
Feb 15 - Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre Studio
Feb 17 & 18 6.50pm - Kayal, Leicester Comedy Fest
March 9 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
March 15 & 16 - Dram! Glasgow Com Fest
March 23 - The Bill Murray, London
Apr 6 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
Apr 8 - Rondo Bath
Apr 13 - Hexham Queen's Hall
Apr 22 - Swindon Arts
Apr 27 - Stroud Subscription Rooms
Apr 28 - Merlin Theatre Frome
Apr 29 - Perth Concert Hall
May 1 - Chiddingstone Castle Kent
May 5 - Artrix Bromsgrove
May 6 - Stafford Gatehouse
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
May 26 - Aberdeen May Fest
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 17 - Dalkey Festival, Dublin
June 23 - Hertford Comedy Festival
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe