Monday 22 February 2021

Dine out before they die out: LITTLE CHEF SPECIAL

When Little Chef finally ceased trading back in 2018 it was the end of an era and a rather anticlimactic ending to these Dine Out Before They Die Out posts, I had set out to visit/ dine at as many Little Chefs as I could before its fateful closure, “At least I was able to document some of them” I thought, then last month a former employee of Little Chef Adrian Atkins very kindly reached out to me. Adrian started working for Little Chef in 1979 at Sinderby as a weekender. When he left school the following year he worked at Weyhill Little Chef as a General Catering Sales Assistant then in 1981 he moved on to Little Bentley as a Supervisor, a Deputy Manager at Hornchurch in 1982 before becoming Deputy Manager and later Regional Staff Trainer at East Horndon in 1983. Having discovered a talent for teaching he decided to train as an infant school teacher and officially left LC in 1988 to train but he returned to LC during the summer vacations of 89, 90 and 91 to assist with new openings or act as a relief manager. He told me that it felt like, “A proper vocational calling and I still love it, but I also still look back on my LC days with fondness and pride” and quite rightly so!  Adrian has very kindly agreed to become my first 'Guest Blogger' and recount his time with Little Chef offering us a fascinating insight of what the chain was like between 1979 to 1991.

When I started with LC it was owned by Trusthouse Forte, one of the biggest hotel and catering companies in the world at that time. There were nearly 200 branches at that time and as part of THF it meant they had access to excellent head office facilities, estates and maintenance teams and THF's own food supply company (Puritan Maid) which manufactured foods specially for LC use only.  The sites at that time were well looked after and attractive. The menu was relatively simple as the only cooking equipment was griddles, fryers and a bain marie. The typical menu of this time consisted of 3 starters, 3 breakfasts, a range of grills and steaks, a range of burgers, the famous LC pancakes and a few other deserts such as cakes and ice creams. 2 of LC's unique selling points at this time were the fact that all food was cooked in full view of the customers and they were the only chain to have a dedicated children's menu. Opening hours were then 8am til 8pm but these were extended in 1981 to 7-9 and then in 1982 to 7-10 with some sites operating 6 - midnight. A typical site would be staffed by a Manager, Deputy Manager, Supervisor and a team of General Catering Sales Assistants. Smaller sites sometimes didn't need a supervisor whereas larger sites often had two supervisors.

TRAINING - Management were trained at regional training centres but GCSA's were trained at their own site. The training was of an extremely high standard and consisted of a six week induction covering health and safety, food hygiene, customer service, kitchen prep, beverage service and griddle cooking. As more new sites opened over the next decade opportunities for career progression were plentiful.

REGIONAL MANAGERS - LC had a deliberate policy of making sure each RM had no more than 10 sites as this allowed them to get into every site on a weekly basis and to build up a really personal relationship with all the staff. The main duties of RM's were to set the sales targets for each site, to set the wage budgets, to carry out monthly housekeeping checks and to undertake yearly appraisals for all members of the management team at each site. They also organised fantastic social events in each region and sometimes ran competitions where it was possible to win great prizes such as a car or a holiday!!! All the benefits of belonging to such a great parent company.

1985 - This was probably the most exciting year to be part of the LC story as so many great things happened. Firstly every single site had a complete makeover and refurbishment with a great new look and really smart new staff uniforms. Part of the refurbishment was the installation of the Merrychef ovens which allowed for a much more varied menu to be offered. Then we launched LC Lodge with the first four lodges opening in this year. Next came the purchase of Happy Eater which THF decided to still continue running under that name but brought in the same sort of standards that LC had and put the HE sites under the command of existing LC regional managers. The purchase of HE also included four motorway service areas known as Welcome Break. As THF already had a chain of service areas and they liked the name Welcome Break, they extended it across their whole estate so that the former name of Motor Chef was dropped. This also saw all of the service areas undergo a complete refurbishment. THF had also just been offered the chance to buy the small chain of Kelly's Kitchen roadside restaurants which had been operated by Petrofina who had built them alongside their petrol stations. These sites all had an identical design of red brick cottage style with a large funnel type chimney. Because this chain was so small and THF was already running two major roadside brands it was decided to convert all of them into LC's.

STAFF TRAINERS - Until 1983 all training was under the supervision of a Regional Training Officer but as the number of sites grew it became unworkable. This was when regional staff trainers were introduced who were responsible for all training in 10 sites close to their own base site. To become a staff trainer I had to undergo an extensive training course which was endorsed by the Hotel and Catering Industry Training Board, produce some new training materials and be observed carrying out training. Only when I had successfully done all this was I awarded my certificate and badge.

1991 - In this year Trusthouse Forte decided to slim down it's business which included a massive 22 companies including sports shops, a cruise line and lots of other diverse stuff. They now slimmed down to just their hotels and restaurants. The name was also simplified to just Forte with a brand new logo. The Forte name preceded other brands in all signage and promotional material so that Travelodge became Forte Travelodge and Posthouse became Forte Posthouse, etc. The effect of this on LC was that the old roadside division consisting of Welcome Break, Happy Eater and Little Chef was now disbanded and these three brands joined Harvester and Wheelers to become Forte Restaurants. All of these restaurants then displayed a large plaque inside the restaurants with this branding and any new sites built after this got the Forte Restaurants branding on external signage too.

- LC regularly conducted nationwide customer surveys to see what modern travellers wanted. Over the years this had led to longer opening hours, many menu changes, complimentary newspapers, bigger retail selection of goods, baby change facilities and the launch of LC Lodge (later renamed Travelodge). It was one of these customer surveys that resulted in the launch of Coffee Stop. These were small counter service units built on to existing LC's to offer an alternative to the table service model. Around this time LC Express was also launched offering a takeaway service.

GRANADA TAKEOVER AND THE SAD END - I have never ceased to be amazed at why Granada wanted to get their hands on Forte and the way in which they launched such an aggressive takeover bid. To my mind the rot set in as soon as they took over. With LC in particular they made several huge mistakes. The first thing they did was to do away with Coffee Stop and replace those units with Burger King. Utterly ridiculous as the coffee market was just starting to really grow then (look at Costa's success) and anyway, LC already offered a good range of burgers. Granada also immediately did away with the Happy Eater Brand and converted all those sites to LC. They also converted their own smaller chain of roadside restaurants (AJ's) to LC and opened up LC's in their motorway services. All Of this was done hastily and in many cases just consisted of a change of external signage, uniforms and menu. This meant that the national look of LC was really watered down and the traveller felt there was no choice anymore on the roadside. Add to this a massive hike in prices and the number of RM's cut so that each one now had 40-50 sites and the whole brand started to fall apart. Five years later Granada offloaded LC to Compass and then in the next 18 years LC went through another six owners, all of whom stripped assets, failed to invest, closed sites, etc. And the rest is history sadly.

A great, big THANK YOU to Adrian for getting in touch and sharing his time with Little Chef with us, not only offering an interesting glimpse into a now sadly defunct and much missed part of British life but for offering a fresh way of allowing us to preserve and share the memories of these welcome breaks on this site. If you worked for Little Chef and would like to share your memories please get in touch.

Previous Little Chef Sites:

©Arfon Jones 2021. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

I'M BACK! Well, sort of...

Hello! Apologies for the lack of content (nothing personal) the new Blogger layout, new home and new studio aside I just haven't had time to write anything! I'm not exaggerating, I haven't stopped! Although the world has faced one of its biggest challenges in years I have kept well out of it, only looking up from my desk from time to time- working on projects and being distracted by my YouTube channel, VID-O-RAMA. 

Last year I uploaded 13 painting videos to the channel totalling to 168 minutes of content and according to YouTube at the beginning of this year these videos earned over 270 'likes' and prompted 200 comments and it seems that the videos were shared 404 times. Of the 9418 new views my videos received I managed to gain 155 new subscribers for the channel in 12 months so when you compare it to Blogger, which informs me that the 400+ posts that I've uploaded over the past 12 years has gained me 19 followers... well anyway... I digress, posts will continue, just perhaps not as frequent (but if you do miss my regular ramblings be sure to check out my Patreon page!) Hope you are all staying well and safe (say hi in the comments) and lets get on with the show... firstly, a fresh take on an old thread...

©Arfon Jones 2021. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Tuesday 27 October 2020

The big giveaway at 9... Don't miss it...

Halloween is almost upon us folks! So why not try your luck and win this very print!

Just simply watch the Halloween III YouTube video and click 'subscribe' and write 'SILVER SHAMROCK' in the comments! A name will be picked at random and announced at 9pm on Halloween! Good luck!

©Arfon Jones 2020. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Friday 2 October 2020

CRIMEWATCH UK: Video Shopped

Over the past few months we have been watching vintage episodes of Crimewatch UK. For those of you not up on such things, Crimewatch (titled Crimewatch UK) was a British television programme produced by the BBC, that worked with the Police and reconstructed unsolved cases in an attempt to gain new information from members of the public and hopefully solve crimes. The show aired from 1984 to 2017 and each month (minus July to August) Nick Ross would make us have nightmares, while telling us not to... at its peak it drew in audiences of 17 million and apparently during its 25 years it helped catch 57 murderers, 53 rapists/ sex offenders and 18 paedophiles. Watching these shows has been interesting, the nostalgic memories of the exciting times I was allowed to sit up later than usual to watch them aside, they really are time capsules, not only in the how police tackled crime and how television was presented but also in regards to what Britain was doing back then. So many shops and retail chains mentioned on the show are now long gone, as are the 24 hour photo processing and of course the video hire shops, so I thought I would compile a list of crimes that featured a video shop. Now, I must stress I am in no way making light of this subject, and urge you, if you can help with any of the unsolved cases then contact your local police. I am just presenting these as a look back on video shops and how much a part of life the were.

The Murder of Lorna Hayles, 1986

13th of November 1986 Crimewatch appealed for information regarding the tragic murder of Lorna Hayles, which sadly remains unsolved to this day. 
During the reconstruction we learn that she visited a Mr Video located at 7 Clapham Common South Side - the hire shop is long gone now, these days its known as the South Side Cafe.

The Video Conmen, 1987

On the 16th of July 1987 as part of Crimewatch's Photocall feature Supt. David Hatcher and W.P.C Helen Phelps requested further information regarding a team dubbed, 'Video Conmen' operating in the North and East of England. Both men reportedly would visit various video hire shops and obtain memberships with either forged or stolen documents and then each man would hire out a number of video tapes, mostly new releases and not return them. It was believed that they had obtained over £25,000 worth of tapes. Ironically, as pointed out by Nick Ross they had been caught on video themselves by a security camera and when the show returned on October 13th viewers were informed that nine viewers had independently rung the show and provided information which had lead to arrest of three men before reporting that the three “Manchester men” had been imprisoned by the time of their January 12th 1988 episode.

Redditch Video Salesman, 1988

The 9th of June, 1988 and Supt. David Hatcher this time alone at the incident desk showed a man caught on the surveillance camera at a Video Shop in Reddich. The man, apparently calling himself “Roy Marsh” offered to sell the proprietor £1300 of discounted video equipment but when they met to close the deal Marsh took the money and ran to a waiting car which sped away. Described as being around 50 and standing at around 5'7 tall he spoke with a Northern accent and apparently was a very convincing con man and likely to have been working as part of a team operating throughout the Midlands. On Crimewatch Update David Hatcher informed us that they had received calls offering possible names along with other victims coming forward alleging that they too had been coned. However, we never found out if they caught him.

Polaroid Man, 1990

On the 6th of December 1990 as part of Photocall Supt. David Hatcher (now accompanied by DS Jacqui Hames) asked the public on behalf of Merseyside police to name a “cheerful amateur film maker” dubbed 'Polaroid Man' who had hired a video camera but failed to return it, but it seemed that this wasn't the first time he had hired expensive video equipment and failed to return it - he was photographed several times wearing the same suit as part of the hire agreement in various video hire shops in North Wales, Merseyside and Cheshire between September and October that year, using stolen cheque books and driving licenses as proof of identity. He was reported to have borrowed and not returned over £10,000 worth of video cameras and accessories. During the Crimewatch Update it seemed that the show had received 40 calls from the public, giving sightings in Twyford and Preston with more victims coming forward believing that they too had been duped by the same man- adding that a former acquaintance had also called in to say that Polaroid Man had moved to the North Midlands area. Presumably this was lead that would result in Nick Ross informing us on the 14th of February that a man had since been arrested and charged with deception and for handling stolen goods after a viewer had recognised him and telephoned in with a name and address.

Video Store Robbery, 1999

12th October 1999 sadly the episodes available online had started to dwindle at around the mid 1990's and so huge gaps can occur, But in October's episode Jacqui Hames asked for information regarding a robbery at a video store in Norwich. Having brandished a knife at the shop assistant he robbed the till. Described as late 20's early 30's of medium height and build with a “thin gaunt face” and dark brown hair brushed forward to cover where he was going bald. The following episode is yet to turn up- and there was no mention of an arrest in December's episode so I have no idea if they caught him. Do you?

Be sure to check out the episodes to be found on YouTube- or better yet, if you have one that hasn't been uploaded yet put that right and transfer it to your computer now! I will keep this thread open and update it accordingly if another episode featuring a video shop related crime should turn up. Until then, please don't have nightmares, do sleep well.

Don't forget to check out my monthly YouTube painting videos devoted to the glory days of Video rentals and the movies we rented from them back in the day at

©Arfon Jones 2020. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

Sunday 26 July 2020

Omnibot’s Robot Root-Out: The Time Professor Heinz Wolff appeared in Loaded Magazine

Back in 2015 I uploaded a post entitled Page 3 Escapes Extermination? in which I speculated if The Sun newspaper had in fact dropped it's page 3 feature after 44 years (it had) and I briefly touched on the subject of "lads' mags" and general 'lad culture' which seemed to be at its height when I was an art student during the mid to late 1990's during this 'movement' there was one magazine that seemed to rule over them all, Loaded a men's lifestyle magazine first launched in 1994. Back in the day the magazine saw monthly sales of 457,318 and won PPA Magazine Of The Year in both 1995 and 1996 and was seen as the leading force of lad culture. Just for the record I've never regarded myself as 'one of the lads', I have no interest in football, I didn't drink lager- preferring cocktails. Never had a hangover but I was partial to an end of the night kebab and my 'clubbing' days were brief, effectively ending when I graduated from college. I rarely visited pubs, and if I did it was either a meeting point or they had a quiz that night and I certainly never used the term, “bird”. Never the less I would (occasionally) read Loaded and it certainly seems to be one of the many (albeit small) fragments that made up a time in my life called 'my art college days' a time made up of student grants, New Labour, Spice Girls, Play Station and Alcopops! Truthfully a lot, if not most of Loaded's content was lost on me, However, in what seemed prominently full page adverts for trainers, watches and aftershave and interviews with sports personalities, I did find amusement in its articles either devoted to amusing place names and signs submitted by its readers (we no longer had BBC's That's Life at this point) and porn lookalikes (photos from pornography that seemingly featured famous people) and not forgetting Now You're Stalking a collection of readers chance taken photographs with random 'celebs' which had me harking back to the days of Look-In magazine. But let's be honest here, as amusing as they were it was the ladies that featured within that was the main appeal here. They weren't naked so it wasn't pornography and so the magazine could be read on the train but the models didn't exactly wear long baggy jumpers either.

Anyway, moving on... as the countdown to the year 2000 drew ever closer the magazine seemed more like an auctioneers catalogue for wife seeking footballers (to me) and so my interest waned somewhat and with me now being a monthly reader of Bizarre magazine my limited student funds could not stretch to both publications.
The magazine's success continued without my casual support, but it would seem that the magazine's circulation had started to decline around the same time as the drop in my clubbing and late night kebab consumption. But it did hang in there, and for some time despite the changes in attitude and continued attacks from various feminist campaigners and groups sparking such moves as the one carried out by the Co-operative chain in 2013 who declared that they would only sell magazines such as Loaded if they were sealed in a plastic "modesty bag" prompting then Loaded editor James Wallis to describe the move by the Co-Op as “A very real threat to the free press and freedom of speech in the UK”, while the campaign group Lose the Lads’ Mags (who also advocated a boycott of Tesco for the same reason) accused the Co-op of not going far enough and called for the banning of the magazines from supermarkets altogether! It certainly seemed as if its' days were slowly coming to an end despite yielding to the modesty bags, dropping its photographs of partially dressed women from its covers and introducing its first female editor in 2014.
In 2015 the magazine reported a steep decline in sales mostly attributed to the decline of a specific form of 'lad culture' and the easy availability of nudity and pornography on the Internet and so (along with fellow lads mags FHM, Maxim, Nuts and Zoo) they announced that they would cease publication (the very same year Page 3 ended ) only to be relaunched as an online publication a few months later dropping the scantily-clad girl image in favour of breaking entertainment news stories and having, “strong, punchy news lines” while seeking to, “update the original edginess of the original 1990s editorial voice offering a sharp wit in amongst the informative tone of stories, whether it be on human interest news stories or entertainment news and reviews” putting itself forward as a “halfway house between the disposable clickbait of some sites and the more pretentious, unrealistically aspirational lifestyle choices of others”, far removed from its days of winning a VIP ticket to Wembley by sending in that photo of yourself with Paul Chuckle in the pub...

Anyway, I went off on somewhat on a tangent there! My loyal robotic assistant Omnibot while digging through my vast collection of items I have accumulated over the years (which he then lists on our eBay shop to raise funds for projects) found this! A single issue of Loaded magazine from May 1997 which not only features former page 3 , FHM, Playboy, Escort, Mayfair, Men Only, Men's World, Razzle and Whitehouse model whom would then go on to feature on Blur's Country House music video and become a television host for the Men and Motors channel- Joanne Guest 'Jo Guest' but also Professor Heinz Siegfried Wolff BSc. FIEE. FIBES FRCP (hon) FRSA!
Many of you will recall that Heinz was the world's first bio-engineer, director of the Division of Biological Engineering at the National Institute for Medical Research and Clinical Research Centre of the Medical Research Council. He founded the Institute of Bio-engineering at Brunel University for over 30 years naming only a few of his accomplishments but perhaps he was better known to us in Britain as the face of The Great Egg Race, but he was also a friend and helped/supported a few of my projects over the years. I would meet Heinz twelve years after reading this article which recounts the time “the scientist met the showgirl” in which they discussed all manner of things from aliens to cave paintings. I thought I would upload it on here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Joanne: Do you just sit at home and invent things or do you ever just have sex and beer?
Heinz: [smiles]: On the whole, I never stop working, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy myself. Drinking beer doesn't happen to be one of my hobbies, watching telly I quite like. Most of the things I do at work I enjoy sufficiently enough to carry them on home. Do you enjoy your work?
Joanne: Well, if it's like this sort of job all I do is get dolled up and drink beer, and I do that in my spare time as well.
Heinz: Yes but is it your ultimate ambition? When I used to be on television for what, about 30 years, I was on most weeks and had a a few series, and so a generation grew up with me and my face. And then it suddenly stopped in 1986 and I wasn't on any more. And I found it very, very hard to suddenly abandoned by the media. I would have thought this would be the same with a model, when people don't want to take your photograph any more.
Joanne: I know that's gonna happen. But with the money I've made I would want to be just as well appropriated but maybe in a business form rather than physical one.
Heinz: So what you are saying is that you want to make your pile and then you can choose? I wonder, what was it like when you were 15? How did your future look then?
Joanne: I wanted to be a hairdresser. I went to college for a year and then didn't want to be one after that. What about you?
Heinz: I don't think I ever had any doubts since I was a conscious human being that I would have to do something with science and engineering. I always had engineering in my blood, I was always making things. I knew it so well that I took a biological degree at university because I felt I knew engineering. Later on I went back to it and invented a new discipline called bio- engineering, when I was 23 or 24.
Joanne: Chemistry was my favourite subject at school.
Heinz: Oh really?
Joanne: Yes. Well not the amount you love it but I did understand it. This was at GCSE level, mind you. I had a chemistry set and messed around with the test tubes. I bet you didn't bother reading from the text books in your chemistry class, you probably did your own thing.
Heinz: Well yes, this is true.

Heinz: If I may ask, and this away from chemistry, when did you realise that you were prettier than most?
Joanne: It wasn't at school, I was really quiet then. I think it was when the boys started fancying me, I thought there must be something right with me. Then I got offered work as a model.
Heinz: I used the word pretty in perhaps a way which is socially incorrect, one is not supposed to distinguish people by their looks. I have never consciously seen you before, but if you are asking me whether I'm interested in good looking girls and fashions then I would have to say yes. I am in fact extremely visual and I have no inhibitions about telling women or girls that I like the look of them. I mean, what is your job Joanne?
Joanne: Well, I would class it more glamour than fashion.
Heinz: For me, when looking at a well dressed, beautiful woman, for this to give me real pleasure, without giving any sexual overtones to it, it's like looking at a good meal, something which is well done, it;s the well done-ness of it which gives the pleasure.
Joanne: What about an undressed beautiful woman?
Heinz: Erm, haha, well... haha... huruumpph.
Joanne: Like in The Sun.
Heinz: I am aware of the Sun. They printed my obituary three years ago, which caused me a certain amount of embarrassment. In Sun language, it was perfectly correct. It would have been even better had I not had to take extreme measures to convince the world that I wasn't actually dead.

Joanne: I've got something else I want to ask you. Is there such a thing as aliens and other stuff like that?
Heinz: Well what do you think?
Joanne: Well I rely on people like you to tell me. 
Heinz: Now that's a cop out.
Joanne: Well alright, I believe in a spiritual world. I don't believe this is all there can be. But when you start thinking about the unknown and nothing's been proven, then it becomes belief. Like whether God created the Earth or whether there were dinosaurs.
Heinz: Well, God could have created the dinosaurs as well.
Joanne: But all the timing's wrong isn't it?
Heinz: But that's only if you believe what the Bible says. But then scientists are always asked, 'how is it possible for scientist to believe in God?' but the answer is simple. Somebody must have made the rules. Straight from the big bang to now, the rules were made up.
Joanne:What about aliens?
Heinz: Well my standard answer for this, because I lecture about this, life elsewhere itself may be dead common. (They drink their tea out of saucers then? - ed) Unambitious life like bacteria and amoeba. When you come to intelligent life like you and I. It's probably much, much rarer. I'll ask you this, imagine you open a newspaper tomorrow morning, a newspaper you trust, you open page three...
Joanne: And it's me.
Heinz: Oh OK, a proper newspaper. And it says for the last three years people have been receiving signals from space which proves without any doubt that there's a civilisation which is at least as intelligent as we are. Now how would this effect you?
Joanne: Well, er, I wouldn't immediately believe that they were aliens. Id believe more that it was coming from a spiritual world. And that's another debatable problem, whether there is a spiritual world. We've picked up vibrations that could be ghosts or could be radio waves coming from a cab.

Joanne: Do you ever get drunk?
Heinz: If I drink lots of alcohol the only thing which happens is that my upper lip goes stiff. It doesn't uninhibit me because I don't actually need uninhibiting. But the main thing is that I don't think alcohol tastes very nice. Out of a choice between apple juice and beer I would choose apple juice.
Joanne: But if I took you for a drink you would have some alcohol. So which would you have?
Heinz: Well, so not to upset you I would choose champagne or a glass of whit whine.
Joanne: I love beer too much. If I drink too much my legs just go.
Heinz: You see, I don't like to loose control. I couldn't do that. I only end up with indigestion with alcohol. I seem to be able to drink quantities of it that other aren't able to cope with. I have often been to parties where I have been responsible for everybody else going home.
Joanne: You should give your brain cells a rest for a little while. Have you ever tried any drugs from experimenting? Because I've only ever had a spliff and I didn't like it.
Heinz: No, never. I haven't even smoked too much either. I've no hang up about pills though. I've taken sleeping pills for the last 30 or 40 years.
Joanne: But they just make you unconscious don't they?
Heinz: No, no, I sleep well and wake up as fresh as a daisy. If I don't take them, I'm tired the next day.
Joanne: I've smoked a joint, I've not done any of the pills, Es, acid or whatever. Joints didn't work with the alcohol. I tried it once and it just didn't mix. It's just that my body starts shaking and muscles start twitching. I felt ill and I just didn't like it.
Heinz: So you don't like loosing control?
Joanne: No.

Heinz: There's something that not a lot of people know about me but I'm actually bionic. I have a large lump of electronics in my chest. Because I was dead about three years ago, not for very long, but I was resuscitated and ever since then I've got a defibrillator in my chest. So if my heart misbehaves it gives me a huge electric shock to get it started again. Rather like hitting a television set.
Joanne: So is there anything you can't do?
Heinz: I don't know. It's never gone off yet.
Joanne: Do you peep when you go through customs?
Heinz: Well, they allow me to walk around.
Joanne: I had to go through the law courts one time after there was a story that Wonderbras make their detectors go off. Mine didn't go off though.
Heinz: Curiously enough, the metal which is used in Wonderbras we do quite a lot of work with for medical purposes. You see some bras have their support made of something called 'Shape Memory Alloy'. And this has an interesting property which enables it to memorise shapes. Is this interesting?
Joanne: Oh yes I'm interested in bras. 
Heinz: Well, I have no views on bras.

Loaded: Would you say both your jobs are important to life?
Joanne: [to Heinz] Mine's probably less important than yours. You're doing things for children, for the future. I'm just doing things for the moment.
Heinz: It isn't an open or shut question. If people open your magazine, or the kinds of things you do, and they're grants a moment of pleasure or happiness, I wouldn't have said that's an insignificant contribution to human existence. [All laugh, then Heinz to Loaded] That's an endorsement for you.
Loaded: What would you have been if you hadn't been a professor?
Heinz: I became a professor quite late in life, because I would quite have likes to have worked in an advertising agency.
Loaded: What would you have done Jo?

Joanne: Well, I tried my modelling while I was at college doing hotel management so it would have been ideal to have gone into that. If it hadn't worked out in the summer and I wasn't getting anywhere, I would probably have gone back to hotel management. In the first year I was cleaning the toilet and changing the beds and I thought 'I want to be a manager', but I would have been – I know.

Loaded [To Heinz]: As regards to fashion, does fashion bother you at all? I mean you've always gone for the dicky bow...
Heinz: You mean my own personal fashion? Or men's fashion?
Loaded: Do you take an interest in it or does your wife...?
Heinz: Yes, well my wife, I've been married for 43 years ad never did a moment, an occasion, pass without saying that I couldn't have done without my wife's support. And she's looked after me very well. She on the whole buys my clothes. I'm a stock size so it's not difficult. Men my age wear suits or they wear corduroy and sports jackets.
Loaded: How many bow ties have you got?
Heinz: About 100 I should think.
Loaded: 100?
Heinz: Yes, but they wear out you see, because my beard goes from above the top edge and I throw them away after a time.
Loaded: Do you have a lucky one?
Heinz: I suppose in the morning I go and say 'Well what sort of tie should I wear today/'
Loaded: Does it reflect you?
Heinz: Up to a point it reflects my mood. I suppose, also the colour of my shirt.
Joanne: Mine match my knickers, ha ha. To be honest I wear the underwear for work. I don't usually wear any the rest of the time.
Heinz: I don't believe you.
Joanne: No I don't, cos I think I might need it again for work the next day and I have to wash it again. I don't usually wear any.

Loaded: Who do you most admire in life? We'll start with you Jo, you were saying Kathy Lloyd.
Joanne: Yes, I really like Kathy actually.
Loaded [To Heinz] Kathy Lloyd is another glamour model, she's a few years older. She's one of the most famous glamour models we've had in Britain.
Joanne: I don't think it's hard when you admire the work somebody's done and you meet them and become their friend. It's like... you share things...
Loaded [To Heinz] What about you?
Heinz: Obviously I met thousands of people in a year and there are great scientists I've met that I admire- particularly when they come to a lecture of mine. I was very chuffed when an 83- year-old molecular biologist, a man who's won the Nobel prize, a fellow of the Royal Society, came to one of my lectures.
Joanne: I think you admire people for different reasons. I admire Madonna for her boldness and her ability to express herself. I admire David Seaman for saving goals and for being the gentleman that he is. I admire Mother Theresa. You admire different people for different reasons. I admire Kathy for keeping with it all the time.

Loaded [To Heinz]: The other thing I was going to ask was about love and when you first met your wife, what wooing was involved then?
Heinz: Remember this was 40 years ago things were a lot more sedate in those days.
Loaded: There was lots more wooing I'd imagine as well.
Heinz: Yes, oh yes. My wife and I met...
Loaded: What attracted you to her?
Heinz: That she was a beautiful woman. In those days, nurse's uniforms were exceedingly flattering...
Joanne: They still are today!
Heinz: With a bow under the chin and a starched caps and those lovely cloaks which were red on the inside and blue on the outside. That I suppose drew my attention in the first instance. We went out together and in a good old- fashioned way got to love one another. It all happened in Wales, at this particular hospital in Wales where she was working. Courting habits then were quite different. Loaded: Do you remember where you were for the first kiss?
Heinz: Yes, I remember. I could take you to the spot. It was in a town called Caernarfon, and there's a park. I think we'd been to a dance hall or a restaurant and that day in the park I plucked up the courage for the first time.
Joanne: It sounds so much more romantic. I mean, it wouldn't even be a kiss now, it'd be a snog and a one night stand. It's so unromantic.  

Loaded: What are the next jobs that you're doing? The reason I ask is that Joanne's got an interesting job to do this week. Tell us what it is.
Joanne: I'm speaking at the Oxford Union...
Loaded [To Heinz]: Have you got any advice fr her?
Joanne: scary.
Heinz: What is the motion? What are you speaking about?
Joanne: They've invited me to speak about myself...
Heinz: I see, so it's not a debate.
Joanne: I imagine the ladies there are going to make it quite difficult... they'll all go 'model' and...
Loaded: It's the subject of Jo's life.
Heinz: That's right. Because what normally happens at Oxford Union is that there a motion that 'This house deplores beautiful women getting more money than ugly women' or something like that- you could have been speaking on that. It's very unusual I would have thought, I mean it's quite an honour to be doing it.
Joanne: That's why I'm doing it. I'm excited but I'm really nervous because I've got to do a 15 minute speech and then question and answers after that because I'm on there for an hour.
Heinz: Really! Have you made up your mind what you're going to say?
Joanne: I don't want to cover all the answers to their questions in the first 15 minutes, so it's just 'Hello, thank you for inviting me' and do the history of the pin-up, which is something like 'The pin-up has been around since man began...'
Heinz: Yes, I suppose pornographic pictures are a form of pin-up. I think the pin-up is really a product of the First World War. I think before that because of the effect religion on population, it would have been very naughty.
Joanne: Cavemen, they had naked drawings of women on their walls...
Heinz: They were probably not pin-ups. They were for fertility.

Loaded: The last question I was going to ask and then you can escape back to your laboratory- is if the pair of you were stuck on a desert island- it's a hypothetical question- and you've got meals and all that, who would do what to survive?
Heinz: To whom are you putting this question?
Loaded: To both of you, you've got to fend for yourself, you've got to survive...
Heinz: I would kid myself that because, I've read books about it I would probably be better at making myself a flint axe or finding a sharp edged sea-shell or something like that than Joanne would.
Joanne: If I was going on a bat or a plane I'd have a pair of white knickers in me bag case. I'd tie them to the top of a stick and wave it. Just sit there and wave me knickers!
Loaded: Thank you both.

Story by Pete Stanton and story photos by Derek Ridgers

© Arfon Jones 2020. All images are copyrighted throughout the world. 

Thursday 2 July 2020

From the Scrapbook: June, 1990 and June 2020

Thirty years last month I had an article devoted to me in our local welsh paper, the Llanw Llŷn which was terribly exciting! Tudalen Y Plant ('Children's Page') not only featured an article devoted to yours truly and my cartoons but also a colouring in picture created by my 12 year old self! A great deal has happened in thirty years and the Llanw Llŷn followed up my progress! What with everything going on in the world at the moment, the Llanw wasn't published but instead made available online – here is that article written by Mared Llywelyn and as always I have translated the article for the benefit of all you non Welsh speakers out there! Enjoy!

Ym mis Mehefin 1990 y cyhoeddwyd yr erthygl gyntaf erioed am Arfon Jones o Nefyn a’i gartŵns – a hynny ar Dudalen y Plant Llanw Llŷn! Dri deg o flynyddoedd union i’r mis hwnnw, dyma ailymweld ag Arfon i weld sut y mae o a’i waith wedi datblygu erbyn hyn. Mared Llywelyn fu’n sgwrsio efo fo ar ran Llanw Llŷn. Dyma Dudalen y Plant Llanw Llŷn mis Mehefin 1990, sy’n cynnwys yr erthygl am Arfon ynghyd â llun ohono ac un o’i gartŵns cynnar. I gyd-fynd â’r cartŵn mae stori fach wedi iddo’i sgwennu: ‘Ers talwm, llwyd oedd pob pry. Ond un dydd gwelodd y fuwch goch gota enfys, ac aeth drwy’r enfys. Daeth allan yn dlws ac yn lliwgar. Penderfynodd y lleill fynd ar ei hôl a daethant hwythau allan yn lliwgar.’ Mae’r erthygl yn sôn bod Arfon, yn ddeuddeg oed, wedi creu hanner cant o gymeriadau mewn gwlad ddychmygol lle roedd Llywelyn Llew yn frenin. Ymysg y cymeriadau eraill roedd Lari Lama, a Plastig Pît oedd yn gallu troi ei gorff i unrhyw siâp ar ôl iddo syrthio i ryw hylif. Efallai bod rhai ohonoch eisoes yn gyfarwydd â gwaith Arfon? Fe lwyddodd i ddilyn ei ddiddordeb o’r cyfnod hwnnw a heddiw mae’n gweithio fel cartwnydd a dylunydd ac yn gwneud gwaith llawrydd. Pan oedd yn blentyn ysgol, byddai’n gweithio mewn warws gomics yn Edern ac yn mynd yno ar ôl ’rysgol ac yn ystod y gwyliau. Roedd gan Darryl Jones gwmni gwerthu hen gomics – paradwys o le i hogyn fel Arfon a fyddai’n helpu i ffeilio a storio. Aeth i Goleg Menai am dair blynedd ac yna symud ymlaen i Brifysgol Bangor am bum mlynedd arall i wneud gradd mewn Dylunio yn rhan amser. Bywddarluniwr neu animator oedd arno eisiau bod, ond i bawb ddweud wrtho y byddai angen iddo fo symud i Gaerdydd i ffendio’i draed ac yn y blaen. Penderfynodd Arfon aros ym mro ei febyd a mynd ar drywydd y gwaith dylunio. Tybed a oes rhai ohonoch yn cofio strip comic o’r enw Vincent T. Vulture yn y Cambrian News rhwng 1997 a 1998? Tra oedd o yn y coleg, Arfon oedd yr artist y tu ôl i hwnnw. Byddai’n gwneud y strip ar nos Sul, mynd i’r coleg i’w ffotogopïo ar y dydd Llun, ac yna ei bostio i Aberystwyth o’r blwch post y tu allan i’r coleg – a byddai yn y papur ar y dydd Iau. Mae’r drefn honno wedi newid erbyn heddiw yn amlwg ond, fel mae’n digwydd, ar gomics y mae Arfon yn gweithio’n bennaf. Sut fath o rai? ‘Horror comics’! Mae’n bosib nad ydynt at ddant pawb ond mae gan y genre yma lawer iawn, iawn o ddilynwyr. Unwaith roedd Arfon wedi mynd at y deintydd, ac wedi digwydd sôn ei fod yn dylunio i gomics. Pan aeth yn ôl i’r gadair am yr apwyntiad nesaf mi ddywedodd y deintydd ei fod wedi prynu un o’r comics a’i fod wrth ei fodd efo Slaughterhouse Farm! Gobeithio na chafodd y deintydd unrhyw syniadau o hynny! O leiaf gadawodd Arfon y gadair yn saff! Yn 2013 roedd dipyn o sôn yn y cyfryngau Cymreig a thu hwnt am y ffilm Zombies from Ireland, a gafodd ei sgriptio gan Ryan Kift a Sian Davies. Ffilm Zombi a wnaed gyda chyllideb fach a sgriptio wedi ei ysbrydoli gan yr hen ffilmiau o’r un genre o’r ’80au. Y stori yw bod carcharorion yn Nulyn yn cael eu defnyddio mewn arbrofion anfoesol i ddod o hyd i driniaeth ar gyfer ffliw’r moch. Maent yn cael eu cludo i Ynys Môn am fod diddordeb yn yr arbrofion gan y llywodraeth yn Llundain, ond ar y ffordd mae rhai ohonynt yn troi yn Zombie – ac mae’r gadwyn yn parhau… Mae’r ffilm ar gael i’w gwylio ar Youtube – ond chi sydd i benderfynu a fyddai’n well gynnoch chi aros nes y bydd y pandemig yma wedi mynd heibio cyn i chi edrych arni! Teg dweud bod gan y ffilm nifer parchus iawn o ddilynwyr erbyn heddiw. Arfon oedd yn gyfrifol am y gwaith celf ar y poster, ac mae hynny’n sicr yn bluen yn ei het. ‘Zombies from Ireland’ Fel person creadigol, beth yw’r gwahaniaeth rhwng gwneud ei waith personol a’i waith bara menyn? Gyda’i waith cyflogedig, meddai, mae’n llawer mwy ymwybodol bod angen iddo blesio rhywun arall a bod angen cyrraedd rhyw safon arbennig. Mae ceisio lliwio gweledigaeth rhywun arall yn cario rhywfaint o bwysau. Mae’n cael llawer o waith o America, ac yn cael negeseuon am bedwar o’r gloch y bore i drafod gwaith! Ymysg y gwaith personol sydd ganddo ar y gweill ar hyn o bryd mae sianel ar Youtube sy’n cofnodi’r broses o fynd i siop fideo ers talwm. Mae’n pigo hen ffilm ac yn peintio llun ohoni ac yn ffilmio’r broses. Pa mor bwysig yw’r broses o wneud llun felly? ‘Mae cymaint o bobol yn iwsio cyfrifiaduron i wneud gwaith fel hyn, ond dw i’n eu peintio. Mae’n cymryd oriau.’ Wonder Woman a’r Tardis Er enghraifft, mae wedi gwneud llun o boster y Gremlins ac mi gymerodd hynny bythefnos. Mae hefyd yn gweithio ar hen gloriau llyfrau Dr Who. Mae dros 100 o danysgrifwyr ganddo. Mae’n edmygu gwaith vintage Tex Avery, yr hen Looney Tunes a Tom and Jerry ond ei hoff ffilm yw Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Bu’n cymryd rhan mewn Sharkathon ble gwyliodd ffilmiau siarc am 24 awr i godi arian at elusen Alzheimers. Pan ddaeth cwmni teledu Heno draw i wneud eitem ar hyn roeddynt yn ei weld yn hynod o ddigri mai Who Framed Roger Rabbit? oedd ei hoff ffilm gan fod y tŷ yn llawn o luniau arswyd! Y clasuron yw ei hoff ffilmiau yn y bôn. Mae cartref Arfon fel amgueddfa; yn amlwg mae’n byw ei ddiddordebau a’i waith. Mae’n hoff o gasglu DVD’s a fideos ac mae wedi creu siop fideos yn ei gartref. Mae’n casglu amrywiaeth o bethau o’r ’80au a’r ’90au, yn gemau bwrdd neu ffigyrau He-Man a hen gemau Arcêd. Ella bod rhai ohonoch yn cofio’r eitem ar raglen Al Huws pan oedd o’n chwarae’r hen gêm Donkey Kong tra oedd o’n cyfweld Arfon yn ei gartref. Mae ei holl gasgliadau yn dylanwadu ar ei waith, ac yno am reswm. Wrth i’r ddau ohonom gael y sgwrs dros facetime mae tomen o Daleks uwch ei ben. Bydd Arfon yn mynychu’r Comic Conventions enwog yn Wrecsam, Caeredin a Llundain ac mae wedi cyfarfod Arnold Schwarzenegger mewn Comic Con ym Mirmingham, Stan Lee yn Llundain a David Hasselhoff yng Nghaeredin. Mae’r diwylliant yn rhan o’r brif ffrwd rŵan hefyd, felly mae’n help i hyrwyddo gwaith newydd. Mae Arfon yn sicr wedi gwneud ei farc yn y maes yma – ond cofiwch, yn y Llanw y darllenoch chi amdano fo gyntaf! Gellwch weld rhagor o waith Arfon ar ei sianel Youtube VID-O-RAMA! 
Mared Llywelyn Williams


June of 1990 the first ever article written about Arfon Jones from Nefyn and his cartoons and it was on the children's page of the Llanw Llŷn! Thirty years ago to the month we revisited Arfon to see how much his work has developed since then. Mared Llywelyn chatted with him on the Llanw Llŷn's behalf. Here is the children's page from June 1990 which included an interview with Arfon along with an early cartoon by him, which featured with a short story, “A long time ago, all insect was grey- but one day a Ladybird flew through a rainbow and came out the other side colourful- and so all the other insects decided to do the same.” the article also mentions that Arfon was twelve and that he had created fifty characters which live in his imaginary land, ruled by King Llywelyn the lion. Amongst the various characters there are Larry Lama and Plastic Pete, who can reshape his entire body at will having fallen into a strange chemical. Perhaps you might be familiar with Arfon's work? He successfully pursued his then ambition and today works as a freelance cartoonist and illustrator. When he was younger he worked during school holidays for Darryl Jones in a vintage comic warehouse in Edern, who sold old, vintage comics- a paradise for someone like Arfon who helped to store and catalogue the comics. He went on to College Menai for three years, then moved on to the University in Bangor, enrolling in a part time course for five years achieving a degree in illustration.
His ambition was to be an animator, everyone kept telling him he would need to move to Cardiff to achieve this goal- and so he remained here and embarked on a career as an illustrator. I wonder if any of you remember a comic strip character called Vincent T. Vulture who appeared in the Cambrian News between 1997 and 1998? Arfon was the artist responsible for that, while at college he would create the strip on the Sunday evening, travel to college the following morning- he would photocopy it, post it to Aberystwyth via the postbox outside the college and it would be in the paper the following Thursday. The days of doing things that way have long since passed- Arfon works primarily in comics these days. Which kind? 'horror comics'! Not exactly to everyone's taste- but this genre has a massive following. Once, while visiting the dentist he happened to mention that he illustrated comics- the next time he returned to the dentist chair, the dentist informed him that he had purchased Slaughterhouse Farm and was a big fan! Hope the comics didn't give him any funny ideas- thankfully Arfon got away safely!

In 2013 there was a stir in the world of Welsh media and beyond due to the release of a film entitled Zombies from Ireland. Scripted by Ryan Kift and Sian Davies, it is a zombie movie inspired by the horror movies of the 1980's. The story tells of a boat carrying convicts that had been experimented on in order to find a cure for swine flu on the orders of Parliament- which lands on Anglesey causing an infestation of zombies... the film is available to watch on YouTube. It's entirely up to you if you wish to wait for this pandemic to pass before watching it! The movie has many fans, Arfon was responsible for illustrating the movie's poster. I asked Arfon, as a creative person what is the difference between commission based work and his own personal projects? He said that with commission based work, there is the emphasis to please 'someone else' and reaching someone else's expectations can be daunting at times.
He receives many commissions from America and often finds himself having to respond to messages about projects sent to him at four in the morning! One of his own personal projects is a channel on Youtube in which recounts the days of going to rent videos. He picks a film from the past and paints a tribute to it documenting the process. What is involved in this process then? “There are so many people using computers these days, but I paint everything- and it takes hours to complete” Wonder Woman and the Tardis for example, he also created a poster for Gremlins which took him a fortnight. He now has over one hundred subscribers.
He admires the work of Tex Avery, vintage Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry cartoons and his all time favourite movie is Who Framed Roger Rabbit. When he took part in a Sharkathon in which he watched shark movies for 24 hours to raise money for Alzheimers he was asked by the Heno television crew, who were filming an item, they were amused to find that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Was his favourite film and not a horror!

Arfon loves the classic movies, and Arfon's home is like a museum and his interests can be seen in his work he collects VHS's and DVD’s and he has created a mock video shop in his home. He collects all manner of things from the 80's and 90's such as board games, He-Man figures and arcade games. Perhaps some of you might remember an item on Al Huws's radio show when he was playing the old Donkey Kong video game while visiting Arfon at his home. His collections are there for a reason as they influence his work. As we both chatted on Face-time he had loads of Daleks just overhead. Arfon has attended numerous comic conventions- from Wrexham, to Edinburgh to London and once met Arnold Schwarzenegger in Birmingham, Stan Lee in London and David Hasselhoff in Edinburgh. These conventions are very popular now and and great for promoting one's work. Arfon has certainly left his mark on this field- but remember it was in the Llanw you heard about him first! You can see more examples of his work on his YouTube channel VID-O-RAMA!

© Arfon Jones 2020. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.  

New Book: Shock Value: Legacy

A brand spanking new stand-alone horror anthology for you from the good people at Hellbound Media (shown off here by my good friend, and creator of the online Competitive Colin the Comic Strip, Nick Brown!) This new 92-page, black and white graphic novel is their latest addition to an already impressive line-up of horror and dark fantasy titles and it features ten tales of terror from some of the best talent in the independent comic scene from around the world. The book celebrates “the monsters that stood as the vanguard of the horror genre”. Yours truly had the pleasure of illustrating the interior back art – follow this link to find out more, and don't forget to follow them on Facebook for more news and future releases. Tell them Arfon sent you!

© Arfon Jones 2020. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.


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