Delightful cartoons from Walmsley Place
It’s been a challenging time for us all over the last few months, but one local man from Bishop’s Waltham, Bob Gridley, was able to turn this time into something positive as he developed his passion for drawing illustrations.
Bob, 77, started creating his cartoons when the global pandemic hit the UK. Rather than let life in lockdown get him down, Bob picked up his pen and depicted his experience in a series of humorous cartoons, taking his inspiration from living at McCarthy Stone’s Bishop’s Waltham Lifestyle Living development, Walmsley Place.
Bob explains: “When the country locked down, we obviously couldn’t get out and about, so our time was spent in Walmsley Place. With 31 other apartments here, we are all surrounded by neighbours and the Covid-19 situation, and its repercussions, were bound to get talked about. Some people were beginning to get confused by all the different rules.
“My wife, Jenny, and I enjoy people watching, so we were hearing and seeing all sorts of amusing things. When I overheard conversations that I thought I could turn into a funny illustration, I’d jot down a few words quickly on a piece of paper and over the next few days I would decide what to draw to try and capture the humour of the situation.
“To be honest, half the time I don’t even have to think about it – it’s just what’s going on around you; if you sit and listen for a moment then you can often find the inspiration."
Bob was a Senior Rate in the Navy for many years, and even had the honour of being a member of the gun carriage crew for Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965, before working in senior HR roles until he retired in 2003 as an HR Director. He first realised he had a passion for drawing when he and Jenny embarked on a world cruise in 2004. He says: “We had decided to go on a four-month world cruise when I retired, and amongst the many activities offered during days at sea, was a weekly art class. I hadn’t drawn anything since leaving school but thought we’d give it a go, and we started off drawing things like bowls of fruit.
“I realised how much I enjoyed creating art during these classes, so when we finished the cruise, I moved on to doing architectural drawings as a hobby. Several years later when we moved into Walmsley Place, I joined the ‘Walmsley Boys Golf Group’, and drawing golfing cartoons was a fun opportunity not to be missed. The aim of our little golf group is to enjoy being outside, spending time with each other and keeping up a modicum of fitness too. We don’t really follow the traditional golfing rules, we tend to disobey or misinterpret them, so I decided to draw a few funny golf cartoons to share with the rest of the group, and that’s when I really began to discover how much passion I had for illustrations.”
Bob has developed a few fans since he began his Covid-19 drawings. He emails each one to his friends and family and puts a copy on the notice board at Walmsley Place. However, his wife, Jenny, 70, makes sure he stays grounded, as Bob tests out each illustration on her before showing anyone else. He comments: “Jenny is definitely very good at telling me what’s not funny! She’s my harshest critic, and if she doesn’t like them, I throw them away and start on a new one.”
Several people at Walmsley Place have commented: “We love Bob’s illustrations. He’s really been helping to keep spirits high for other residents during this difficult time, so we would like to extend a huge thank you to him.”
Bob adds: “I keep all my drawings as a memento, but I really only do them because they make me smile. I’ve got three or four I’m planning at the moment – I have a little notepad with the words I want to use; I just need to find the time to draw them.”
Bob and Jenny have lived very active lives during their 31-year marriage, including taking part in the MacMillan London Moonwalk Marathon in recent years. They have been at McCarthy Stone’s Walmsley Place development for almost four years after attending an open day where they immediately fell in love with their apartment. Luck was clearly on their side as they managed to avoid putting their house on the open market by selling it to a friend’s son, and they moved into their brand-new apartment within six weeks of first viewing. They thoroughly enjoy life at Walmsley Place with its many activities under normal times. They are very much looking forward to reigniting their very active social life at the development when restrictions are eased.