In the late 70s and early 80s, more by accident than design, I found myself running (and playing for) 3 football teams. In the winter of 1983/4 I tore a cruciate ligament during a game. Following physiotherapy I was advised to take up swimming as an exercise, this I did - minimum of 5 times a week, using the local college pool which was a very convenient 7 minute walk from home. When the Pool Manager introduced identity card entry I was no longer able to use the pool. (Sara Greene! How could you?)
Hearing that a group of unemployed Newcastle graduates had gained use of Newcastle University's sports facilities as a result of setting up a 'self-help' group. I decided to set up Sunderland Unemployed Graduate Group (SUNGG) as a means of getting back into my nearest pool. This I achieved. (Thank you, Sara Greene!)
SUNGG produced a monthly newsletter. Following the example of a similar group in Sheffield we decided to have cartoons on the front page. Eric Karlson supplied ideas for the first two front pages. I did the (very rough) graphics. Rob Hemsley produced the next five covers, centered around the character Captain Vengeance, before leaving the North East to work for Heinz.
A little reluctantly I then took on the task of producing the front cover, and did so from issue eight until the end of my involvement with SUNGG, issue twenty-two. The covers were nearly always conceived and produced in a panic, and images were freely borrowed.
A few explanatory notes for the following pages
- Phoenix House in Tatham Street, one of Sunderland's dole offices.
- Bishopwearmouth Green, a green near the main college campus.
- Graduate Post, a 'vacancies' listing printed on conveniently absorbent paper.
- Roker (Park), home of Sunderland AFC.
- Tom Cowie, chairman of Sunderland AFC, typical egomaniac club chairman, took over the club at the top, left the club on its knees.
- A forest near Nottingham, Brian Clough ("I would crawl on broken glass all the way to Roker Park for the chance of managing Sunderland") manager of Nottingham Forest - twice applied for the manager's job at Sunderland, twice rejected.
- Hilda, middle name of the entirely appalling Prime Minister, Thatcher.
- Something else beginning with a 'B', the Argentine warship (General) Belgrano.
- Sick as a parrot, football cliche.
- Tebbitt, one of Thatcher's ministers, a particularly nasty piece of work, associated with the 'Get on your bikes' phrase.
- UB40, dole signing on card.
The 'Norbert's Mam' pin-up was produced as a pull out with the October 1985 'anniversary' issue (issue 13). The idea was suggested by Cheryl Cohen and Jude Latham, who should be ashamed of themselves.|
Issue 21 coincided with SUNGG publishing a manual for unemployed graduates. Cartoons from the manual were used for the front cover of issue 21, hence a break in the saga of Norbert Prendergast Jr.
I borrowed the name 'Norbert Prendergast Jr.' from the title of one of my paintings (No more) the Mons Badonicus Blues, now it's retrogression time with Norbert Prendergast jr and his B.A.(Hons) Rhythm Boys.
I borrowed the pen name 'Chaos the Cat' from my cat, Chaos.