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Jones Wood Foundry NYC…blog 2

real ale, London Pride, PEARLY KINGS AND QUEENS …blog 2

My second strip cartoon for Jones Wood Foundry 401 E 76th Street, New York City features a London phenomenon, Pearly Kings and Queens.

For a few minutes let’s see if we can turn you New Yorkers into Cockneys (and let’s hope you make a better fist of it than Dick van Dyke did in Mary Poppins). To be a proper Cockney you have to be born within the sound of Bow bells, the church in the borough of Bow (… but to honest, to us Brummies anyone born south of Watford is a Cockney!)

Every London borough has its own ‘Pearlies’, as they are affectionately known. The City of London, City of Westminster, Shoreditch, Bow, Hammersmith, Islington, Streatham…and so it goes on …and includes St Pancras where it all began. These colourful characters dressed from head to toe in pearly buttons are now registered charity organisations doing what they’ve always done, raising money to help the working classes. They have their own songs, their own dances and their own language. Cockney rhyming slang such as ‘apples and pears’…stairs, ‘plates of meat’ …feet, ‘trouble and strife’ …wife and ‘dog and bone’… phone.

In the late 19th century London costermongers (apple sellers) wore pearly buttons sewn down the outside seam of their trousers, on their waistcoat pocket flaps and the front of their caps. With their flash outfits and their Cockney rhyming slang they certainly stood out and they caught the attention of a young Henry Croft. Henry had grown up in a Victorian orphanage, but had begun to make his own way as a street sweeper and rat catcher. On his rounds he started to pick up pearly buttons that had dropped off the Coster’s garb. Eventually his collection of buttons had grown so big that he was able to sew the buttons on his own suit. Not just his outside leg, waistcoat and cap, but all over his trousers, his waistcoat, the front, back and sleeves of his jacket and the entirety of his top hat. He became the talk of St Pancras and beyond. He started to collect farthings, ha’pennies (half pennies) and pennies which he donated to charities like the orphanage he grew up in and the local hospitals and workhouses. And so it grew.

He persuaded others to dress the same way and collect money for charities and soon every London borough had its own Pearlies. When Henry Croft died in 1930 it is estimated he has personally raised £5000 (in today’s money £200,000…$256,000). Remember this was collected in the poorest working class areas of London. He has a life size statue standing in St Martins-in-the-Fields.

It is said you have to be pretty strong to be a pearly King or Queen because by the time all the buttons are sewn on an outfit can weigh as much as 30 kg. (phew!). Each king or queen has their own design, hearts, doves, diamonds, stars and wheels etc. These clothes are handed down to the next generation of pearly princes and princesses.
I can vouch for the time it must have taken them to sew these buttons on by the time it took me to draw them…no doubt Adeline will say the same when she’s painted them.

I started this cartoon with a line of Pearlies doin’ the Lambeth Walk (more of that later) and singing ‘Roll out the Barrel’ whilst the music was being ‘bashed out on the old Joanna’. (There’s another bit of Cockney rhyming slang …Joanna/piano, or to be Cockney correct, pianna)

The focal point of this cartoon had to be our Queen and Duke having a bit of a ‘knees up’ as a couple of Pearlies. She’s an amazing lady is Queen Elizabeth II, still fulfilling her royal duties at 91 and Britain’s longest serving monarch. The Duke of Edinburgh has now retired from public life, at the age of 95 he deserves a bit of rest. We shall miss his gaffes; quite outspoken is the Duke.

When English sparkling wine producers were granted regional status for their product last year they started to search for a name that would be as recognisable as champagne, cava or prosecco. And where do you think the UK Vineyard Association found the answer?
Right here at Jones Wood Foundry that’s where! Yes, Jason Hicks and Yves Jadot coined the name ‘British Fizz’ for their JWF and Shakespeare menus and the UK Vineyard Association have now applied to use it, so that only grapes grown in England, Wales or Scotland can use British Fizz on the labels.
So raise a glass, right here, right now!

Fuller’s London Pride beer has a rich malt and hops flavour, its full bodied and leaves a fruity taste. As the name implies it’s probably the cask ale mostly associated with the capital. It’s been brewed on the Griffin brewery site in Chiswick since the 1950s. It will be closely associated with all things London, particularly the flower than colonised World War II bomb sites after the German air raids on the city had finished, grabbing back ‘London Pride’ and so poignantly put into song by Noel Coward. In the cartoon I’ve used the flower around the feet of the Pearly King pouring the beer out.

The Scotch Egg is a real UK favourite for parties, picnics or a light meal with salad. The first printed recipe goes to Mrs Rendell in her 1809 book ‘The New System of Domestic Cookery’ although London departmental store, Fortnum and Mason, claim to have invented it nearly a century before. It consists of a boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried or baked. There are many regional variations using pickled eggs, eggs marinated in Worcester sauce or mustard; there are those using quail’s eggs and a number of northern recipes substituting black pudding or white pudding for the sausage meat.

Well that’s you…fully fledged cockneys!
Let’s try you out. I’ll add a YouTube clip from the musical Me And My Gal starring Robert Lindsay, one of the UK’s top character actors. The song is a real cockney classic ‘The Lambeth Walk’…you’ll love this!
‘You’ll find us all, doin’ the Lambeth Walk…oi!

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BRUMMIE CARTOONIST HITS BROADWAY (well a few blocks away!)

Jones Wood Foundry, 401 East 76th Street, New York City.
I was recently commissioned to design some cartoons depicting traditional British food being served at Jones Wood Foundry, a British pub-like restaurant in the heart of New York City. What was unusual about this undertaking was that the finished artwork would then be reproduced by a local artist, Adeline Jadot, onto five mirrors, (each 53 inches x 10 inches that’s 135cm x 25.5cm) which stand above the bar. This meant the size of the work would be much longer and yet narrower than anything I’d ever attempted before. As a cartoonist I live in a world of A4…sometimes venturing into A3!

Jason Hicks and Yves Jadot owners of Jones Wood Foundry have invited me to write a blog about the work because they were keen that each of the five cartoon strips not only showed their British culinary delights, but also told a British story to New Yorkers … and visitors from many other parts of the world, of course.

So, on went the thinking cap and after a few emails with an exchange of ideas had zapped their way back and forth over the Atlantic, these were the five themes I would cartoon.
1)Londoners and London landmarks (Beefeaters, London Bridge, Tower of London etc)
2)Pearly Kings & Queens (what on earth…? Aaah, all will be revealed as this blog progresses!)
3)Indian curries (British? Oh yes, very British. It’s an strange week in the U.K. without a curry).
4)The Rolling Stones (50 years on and still rocking…also customers at Jones Wood Foundry!)
5)Shakespeare (The Bard indeed …and the name of Jason & Yves’ other restaurant 24E 39th Street)

So here’s the first. INDIAN CURRIES.
Britain is a multi-cultural country with a large section of the population originating from the Indian subcontinent. Third and fourth generation families whose forebears came from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are now proud to call themselves British. It goes back to the old colonial days of the British Raj, or British Crown when it was said the sun never set on the British Empire and Queen Victoria was dubbed The Empress of India. I can remember as a post war baby boomer using words like brahma (good), loot (money) and khakis (my Boy Scout uniform) without a clue that they were Indian words. We played with Bengal matches on Bonfire night, ate Tiffin chocolate bars between meals and played in the verandah…all thanks to the Indian language.
There isn’t a town, or village for that matter, in the U.K. that hasn’t got an Indian restaurant …and Britain’s cities are full with them.
“We’re going for an Indian” isn’t a threat, it means us Brits are going to an Indian restaurant for a curry (…curry, another Indian word now an integral part of our language).

My city, Birmingham, the UK’s second city is renowned for its Balti belt, a suburb of Birmingham where ordinary Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, then newly arrived immigrants, opened their front rooms to serve their traditional food. Gradually these front rooms became restaurants and soon the whole area was full of ‘us lot’ enjoying their cooking. This was vastly different to the situation in the mid 1950s when the only Indian restaurant in Birmingham that I recall was The Star of India in Hurst Street. How things have changed; us Brummies, (that’s what we folk of Birmingham are known as) can “go for Indian” in any of our city suburbs.

My cartoon idea was to have Hindu goddesses, often portrayed with numerous arms, busily serving different types of curry; balti, vindaloo, korma, tikka, Madras etc. The Hindu religion is so rich and colourful it was an interesting challenge trying to decide on which deity to choose. Very often the same god or goddess can change form, but in the end I decided upon Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesh.

Vishnu is the centre piece of my cartoon. It is said she has blue skin to depict the blue sky and the blue sea. Her name means ‘all persuasive’; can she persuade you to have a balti … or maybe you’ll be a bit more adventurous and try a vindaloo?
To her right is Ganesh, The Lord of Success and the god of education and wisdom. Are you going to tarry a while and watch the NFL or the English Premier League football on one of Jones Wood’s giant screens?Ask Ganesh for some guidance.

To her left is Shiva the auspicious one, both destroyer and reformer and the symbol of sensuality. Call in at the bar of Jones Wood Foundry for a curry, Shiva may say an auspicious start would be a pint of Old Speckled Hen.

Drinking habits in Great Britain have changed a lot in the last couple of decades with a move away from the lagers that flooded the market in the 1970s & 80s and back to the traditional beers that our fathers and grandfathers enjoyed. All the major brewers from the southernmost English counties of Devon & Cornwall to the northern counties of Lancashire & Yorkshire now produce real ales; they have been joined by micro-breweries that have sprung up all over the UK.

Old Speckled Hen is one of the most popular real ales in the UK. Originally brewed in Abingdon, Oxfordshire by Morlands to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nearby MG motor car factory. The beer was named after the old MG run-about which, parked outside the factory paint shop, became flecked with paint and was nicknamed “Owld Speckl’d Un” (try saying that in an Oxfordshire accent!). The company has since been bought by the Greene-King Brewery in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
Old Speckled Hen is a dark brown beer with a rich, malty taste and a fruity aroma served slightly warmer than the filtered lagers you drink in the States. This allows you to enjoy the unique flavours only real ales offer. It also packs a punch, but don’t take my word for it, give it a try.
Jason and Yves are very proud that Jones Wood Foundry and Shakespeare are the only bars who serve draught ales…real cask ales… all year round in NYC.

Jones Wood Foundry has a curry club serving poppadoms, home made chutney, curries and deserts on Monday nights throughout the fall and winter. Check out the Jones Wood Foundry and Facebook page