2020: A Review

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that 2020 has been the weirdest, craziest, scariest, most existentially-challenging, emotionally-draining year of my life.

A lot of bad things have happened and, at times, whilst caught in a Matrix-style existential mindset, I’ve become convinced that I’ve probably been living in an unpublished Lemony Snicket novel without being aware of it.

I mean, at least the Baudelaire kids were allowed to move between households…

The whole year has felt like an extension of that strange period between Christmas and New Year when you lose all track of time and end up eating an excessive amount of chocolate whilst engaging in a nostalgic Julie Andrews movie marathon because you’ve forgotten your purpose in life, there’s nothing else to do and at least Julie seems happy about things.

It takes one crazy year to mess with both the foundations of society and the concept time itself and it’s a bit weird to think that it’s coming to an end, almost like stepping out of some surreal alternate reality.

Months, weeks and days have melded into one another and become one long unstructured mass of time and, looking back, it’s hard to believe that I’ve achieved anything or done anything significant.

As a result, I thought it would be useful to write a post to remind myself that I have done some things this year, aside from of sitting on a sofa in my oldest tattiest hoody, staring into the existential abyss whilst stoically making my way through a family size bag of Doritos.


  1. Survived 365 surreal, weird, stressful 2020 days.

2. Watched several of Boris Johnson’s ‘addressing the nation’ speeches and only considered punching the TV once or twice (exhibiting considerable emotional control).

3. Recovered from a spiraling Amazon addiction after realising that buying loads of things to help with stress (candles, incense sticks, meditation journals etc.) was only making me more stressed about the state of the high street and also the state of my bank account.

4. Managed to keep in touch with most of my friends, despite being confronted with my own face on Zoom more than I would have liked.

5. Didn’t shave my legs for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

6. Didn’t wear a bra for the entirety of Lockdown 1.0.

7. Briefly considered wearing a bra when going to the supermarket…

8. … and then didn’t (I’m sure that’s feminism or something… and by ‘something’ I mean extreme laziness).

9. Became closer to nature by taking lots of relaxing walks in the park.

10. Became closer to my dogs by taking several distinctly less relaxing walks in the park.

Swan was angered when Jessie made a unconsidered attempt chase it in what was potentially the most terrifying moment of my life to date.

11. Ran out of perfume and avoided buying more from Amazon by discovering a cheaper alternative.

12. Learnt to juggle (3 balls, not general life responsibilities)

13. Shaved my brother’s head and briefly considered becoming a barber. #RethinkReskillReboot

14. Resisted a sudden impulsive urge to shave my own head whilst bored and looking for something to do.

15. Briefly tried to eat more healthily to counter an increased amount of sedentary sofa time but then decided that it was a difficult time and I deserved to treat myself.

16. Did yoga like 10 times and only broke one item of furniture in the process.

17. Discovered a brand new way of burning calories.

18. Discovered a new comeback that has proved useful for whenever I get yelled at by groups of youths in the street.

19. Got bored and built a really tall tower out of used toilet rolls.

I mean, it looked a little bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa before it fell on top of me so it was basically like being on holiday.

20. Took up mindfulness and meditation and stuck with it even though my body seemed intent on conspiring against me.

21. Survived several mental breakdowns.

23. Had more time to write and draw (it may have been an awful year but at least I’ve got a few decent cartoons out of it!)

All in all, I may have entered 2020 with a fresh rush of energy and a resolve to strive to become the best version of myself that I possibly could be. And I may now be ending it by dragging a significantly less impressive version of myself towards the finish line.

But, all things considered, I reckon that is the biggest achievement I could have hoped for.

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My Neighbour’s Chihuahua Thinks He’s a Wolf…

Dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years and, as time has gone on, our four-legged companions have had many roles in human society.


Recently, a lot of dogs have become smaller to adapt to urban living conditions.

One of these small dogs lives down the road from me.

He is called Harold.

Visually, Harold is nothing short of angelic – he a sentient ball of fur, suspended a few inches above the ground by four stubby and extremely fluffy legs.

However, Harold cannot fathom the fact that he is a small dog.

His mind is completely out of sync with his body.

Although he is physically small in stature, I think that on some level, Harold whole-heartedly believes that he is a wolf.


As a result, he cannot comprehend why he is not treated with the same sense of reverence and awe as his fearsome and majestic ancestor.


Being called ‘cute’ and ‘adorable’ does not sit well with Harold.

In fact, it makes him very angry.

He therefore feels a constant and unstoppable urge to establish himself and remind anyone or anything that strays into his immediate vicinity that he is a force to be reckoned with.

img_0420.pngHarold’s has a severe case of  ‘small dog syndrome’.

He is under the impression that, if he yaps with enough frequency and intensity, he will eventually be able to transform his deluded perception of himself into reality and convince everyone that he is, in fact, a big dog.

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I Wish That Anything In Life Could Excite Me As Much As Squirrels Excite My Dogs.

Autumn is an exciting time of year for my dogs, mostly because there is a significant increase in the number of squirrels running around in the park.

When my dogs encounter a squirrel, they experience a level of excitement beyond that which humans can cognitively process.

I could win the lottery, be offered a free luxury round-the-world cruise and discover the secret to eternal youth, all within the space of a single hour, and still not come close to scraping the surface of the excitement that my dogs experience when they see a squirrel.

Upon seeing a squirrel, my dogs become so excited that they are no longer completely in control of their bodies.

All they can do is run around, barking manically, their movements and actions controlled by the all-consuming power of their base instincts.

At this time of year, the squirrels are collecting food in preparation for winter which means that they spend a lot of time running around on the ground.

This puts them in direct visual range of my dogs.

Normally, my dogs can barely cope with the presence of one squirrel.

Seeing multiple squirrels sends their brains into overdrive and their squirrel radars switch to high alert.

This means that pretty much everything in the park has the potential to be a squirrel.

squirrel _LI

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The Dog – A Loyal, Faithful, Devoted Companion That Will Almost Definitely Ditch You To Chase a Squirrel or Dive Head First Into a Bog.

Just over a year ago, I wrote a post about my dog, Jessie.

Since then my parents have decided to acquire another dog.

When I say ‘decided to acquire’, I mean that I pressured them until their willpower broke.



My family’s second dog is called Bailey.

Like Jessie, Bailey is a Labradoodle which means that, genetically, he is a mix of Labrador  and a Poodle but, physically, he looks like he is the descendant of a large teddy bear and Rowlf from The Muppets.

Bailey is 18 months old which means that he is now the size of an adult dog but still has all the raw enthusiasm of a puppy.

As a result, he carries himself with the grace and sophistication of a bulldozer being operated by a person who is not very graceful and sophisticated.



Bailey’s main ambition in life is to catch a squirrel.

Unfortunately, his current technique of barking loudly and running directly at the squirrel in the hope that it will not see him coming has produced a success rate of 0%.


In addition, his chances of catching a squirrel are not improved by the fact that sometimes the ‘squirrels’ he chases are not actually squirrels and are instead just generic small moving objects that happen to have strayed into his visual range.


In fact, Bailey’s general lack of bodily coordination means that he often finds it difficult to catch anything at all, including inanimate objects, as his absurd levels of enthusiasm often significantly impair the accuracy of his attempts.


Aside from squirrel chasing, Bailey’s other hobbies include pulling on the lead and howling.

When out on a walk, Bailey operates under the delusion that he is a member of a professional dog sled team but, since he is the only one on the team, he has to pull extra hard to compensate.

When inside the house, Bailey enjoys testing both the dexterity of his vocal chords and limits of my sanity by engaging in regular bouts of howling.

The howl is a noise that was designed to allow wolves to communicate over long distances.


However, unlike wolves, most dogs no longer inhabit vast expanses of wilderness.

When this powerful form of communication is released within the confines of an enclosed residential space, it becomes amplified by the walls, creating what can only be described as a greenhouse effect of concentrated, ear-splitting sound.


Dogs are well-known for their loyalty, a trait that has been documented in many films and books.

However, I think that there is a difference between the loyalty displayed by iconic dogs such as Lassie and Bailey’s tendency to cling to you with the adhesive qualities of a solid PVA glue.

Bailey tries his upmost to ensure that he is included in the majority of my daily activities.







Because of their loyalty, dogs are commonly referred to as man’s best friend, a title which they have held for hundreds of years.

You would presume that such a long-lasting relationship would be founded on a strong connection, a cross-species link, operating outside of verbal communication, that enables us to understand each other.

However, since we have had Bailey, I have begun to doubt the dog’s ability to understand humans at all.

This is because Bailey has an ongoing tendency to misinterpret the pretty much all of things that I say to him.




Raising a Dog is a Walk in the Park – Only Thing is the Walk Involves You Picking Up Poos Whilst Your Dog Manically Chases Various Other Dogs, Ducks, Squirrels, the Occasional Vole, Unsuspecting Runners, its Own Shadow and Any Other Moving Entity in the Immediate Vicinity…

Just under two years ago, I fulfilled one of my foremost life ambitions.

I finally managed to convince my parents to get a dog.

My lifelong quest to obtain a dog has taught me more about perseverance than any other challenge I have endured, including my search for graduate employment, all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the time that I attempted to place a plastic screen protector on an ipad without capturing any air bubbles.


My dog is called Jessie.

Jessie is quite a pretty dog.

She has a curly coat and looks a bit like a teddy bear, except she is slightly larger than the average teddy bear and slightly smaller those humungous stuffed bears that you can win at fairgrounds.


She’s also good at nuzzling and wags her tail a lot.

In fact, upon meeting a new person, she often wags her tail so effusively that she momentarily loses control of her rear end.

Occasionally, this loss of control is so severe that her back legs give way under the force of her reverberating arse and she rolls over on her back, helplessly twitching, momentarily disabled by her own immense excitement.

Jessie is also quite a naughty dog.

I don’t know why she is so naughty.

I have no idea.

No idea whatsoever…






My parents often tell me that I need to be more consistent in the way that I discipline the dog.

However, I think that I am incredibly consistent because this happens every single time that I try and discipline the dog.

In the past, I have always respected my parents’ advice but recently I have found it increasingly difficult to do so.

I think this is mostly due to the fact that I have noticed a considerable shift in what they consider to be legitimately interesting conversation since we have had the dog living with us.


I thought that I would entitle the next segment of this post –


– but then thought of approximately 24 other incidents that could also be classified under the same title, so decided to call it –


– but then thought that this title was slightly too dramatic so have settled on –


Picture this.

I am standing in the middle of a field in the middle of a park in the middle of February.

Jessie is off-lead, running around me, having the time of her life.

She is bounding across the field with the grass beneath her paws and the wind in her fur.

In her mouth is a dead squirrel, in a relatively advanced stage of decomposition.

Minutes beforehand, she had located the squirrel’s body amidst the roots of a tree.

At first, she had started to scratch at the ground around the lifeless squirrel, as if she was considering digging a hole in order to provide it with a dignified burial.

However, she soon decided that rolling in its fetid remains was a much more appropriate way in which to honour its passage into the afterlife.

Each motion of her body released more of the squirrel’s smell into the air.

In case you are unfamiliar with the aroma of dead squirrel, I can tell you that it smells a lot like bad.

Pure, concentrated bad.

Bad smell does not bother Jessie.

On the contrary, the fact that she has something disgusting in her mouth means that she is completely and utterly content.

She is completely infatuated with the squirrel.

It is practically the new love of her life.

If left to her own devices, she would happily take the squirrel home and engage in an intimate spooning session with it.

I try anything to entice her to drop the squirrel.

By anything, I mean that I offer her various treats, including the ones shaped like bones, the ones shaped like paw prints and the ones shaped like generic oblongs.

When this fails to capture her attention, I resort to my secret weapon.

I reach into my pocket and take out Squeaky Ball.

Under most circumstances, Squeaky Ball is to Jessie as the One Ring is to Gollum.

The noise that it emits has the ability to exert a hypnotic, totally immersive effect upon her.

I hold Squeaky Ball in front of Jessie.

I squeeze Squeaky Ball.

Jessie ignores Squeaky Ball.

It is at this point that I realise that the situation is dire.

After a few minutes, I am approached by a passing woman.

The woman is wearing a coat.

The coat is white.

Freakishly white.

It is as if she has taken a teeny tiny brush, dipped it in Daz and painstakingly scrubbed any semblance of stains away.

The woman looks at Jessie and then diverts her gaze to me.


– she says, frowning contemplatively as if on the verge of making a profoundly useful comment.16
17It is only by summoning significant levels of self-control that I manage to keep the above response inside my head.

I smile at the woman and thank her for her insight, before reverting my attention back to Jessie.

I am aghast to see that she is making her way rapidly towards us.

This is because Jessie is under the impression that jumping up and placing her paws on a person’s stomach is an appropriate way to greet them.

I am highly aware of the fact that the woman’s stomach is encased in the white coat whilst Jessie’s paws are caked in mud.

I am relieved, therefore, when she stops about three feet away from the woman.

However, within seconds, my relief disintegrates like toilet paper when it is flushed down the toilet.

Jessie begins to shake her head from side to side.

It is too much for the squirrel.

The force of the violent motion means that it is no longer able to retain its already dubious structural integrity.

Portions of its carcass begin flying off sporadically, momentarily suspended in the atmosphere, before being drawn inexorably to the cleanest object in the immediate vicinity.

It is possible to draw comparisons between what consequentially occurred and that technique that artists use when they chuck paint at a blank canvas.

Except it wasn’t a canvas.

It was a coat.

And it wasn’t paint.

It was dead squirrel viscera.13