Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire Nature Diary, Monday, 1st March 2010
THERE'S A BIT of a creative buzz amongst the family and friends at the gathering after my brother-in-law Carl Aspinall's funeral this afternoon. This front elevation (right) that he sketched in 1983/84 of our semi-detached sums up his career:
it's on a recycled letterhead; he always had a practical approach to saving the environment and he was an enthusiastic supporter of our local 'sink-the-link' campaign about twenty years ago, when there was a proposal to replace our railway with a six-lane motorway
his background was in drawing, technical drawing, but he gradually went into building, after enjoying constructing an extension for his uncle. He worked for twinkly-eyed local character Bill Hemmingway to gain experience and eventually bought the business when Bill retired, hence the spare letterheads.
it's a job he did for family; he did a lot for family and friends. Even in his final illness, about 4 or 5 weeks ago he was still working on revamping the kitchen for Susan
he did a lot of lateral thinking, for instance in the method he devised in the extension sketch to fit a standard lift-up garage door into an opening that apparently wasn't wide enough for it.
I wouldn't have my comfortable, efficient studio above the garage if it hadn't been for Carl's ingenious plan for fitting the extension into the limited space at the side of the house. I'm making him sound like a paragon but of course there was the downside; his terrible puns! He was joking even when we saw him the day before he died and he was still enthusiastic about a new software project that his son Arden was developing and promoting in Barcelona at the time. That was a real bright spot in his day, chatting on the phone to Arden about the enthusiastic reception the project was receiving there.
The drawing above is of Carl and Susan playing Cleudo at Barbara's mum and dad's on New Year's Eve 31st December 1990.
At the gathering I was comparing sketchbooks with Carl's grand-daughter Emily, who is as enthusiastic about art as she is about writing. I sketched cousin David and 360° photographer Mark (left), currently working with Arden on a project.
I'd drawn David back in the 1980s as one of the characters in Hattie in a Hurry by Kay McManus, that's David's daughter Rachel, who was also here today, on the cover (right) in the title role. David played the part of the bus driver and oddly, about ten years later, he became a bus driver. He drove a bus in Sydney at the time of the Olympics but he's back on local routes in West Yorkshire now.
In the story the bus driver stands by the bus eating a pork pie when Hattie arrives in the sleepy Dales village but David remembers that for the Polaroid photograph I took of him he held a soft-toy hedgehog.
'You've made me look as if I'm holding a pint pot!' he says of today's drawing
(it was a mug of tea!).