Sally Kindberg’s notes about her childhood in Nottingham

This seems to be a recurring theme (far too often?) in notes for my graphic mystery/memoir. From the age of three I occasionally stayed at my grandmother’s house in Nottingham, periods coinciding with my mother disappearing, then turning up with another sibling.  Nothing was ever explained.  Sometimes my cousin stayed there too, causing disturbances in the night when she levitated.  Sadly I never witnessed this directly as when I was woken up by her thuds and cries I was forbidden to get out of bed and investigate.  ‘It’s only your cousin,’ I was told, ‘she’s floating again.’   Much later I asked her if she still floated occasionally? ‘Oh no,’ she told me, ‘not after I found Jesus, he doesn’t like that sort of thing.’This is a conversation I overheard between a vicar and my grandmother.  Did the vicar really look like this?  Who knows? I was hiding under the table, eavesdropping.  Sometimes my characters seem to have a life of their own, and have insisted on having a voice (or indeed, their own book, like Robotina).  Last week I found this doodle, drawn on a crumpled paper napkin, in my coat pocket whilst waiting for a friend. Can’t actually remember drawing it, but I’m glad the vicar has had a career change …

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Sally Kindberg looks at the Thames

Last saturday night’s view of Southwark Bridge and the Shard from the end of narrow Stew Lane at low tide, mudlarks with torches searching the foreshore visible below.  There would have been steps down here where you could hire a boat to take you across the Thames and see a bit of bear baiting, or visit a brothel aka stew and encounter the Winchester Geese – women who worked in them, and so called because the Bishops of Winchester were the brothels’ landlords.  The detail from an early map shows what the river frontage on the north shore looked like in Elizabethan times.

Stew Lane was deserted, apart from a young lad, heavily cowled and huddled in a stone alcove, one of the 11,018 currently homeless in London, figures according to CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network).  The City continues to fascinate and appal at the same time.


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Sally Kindberg’s workshop & talk for Canterbury University, and a Helter Skelter

My Hat of Surprise was back in action yesterday, this time with an assortment of written prompts for delightful BA and MA students in a workshop at Canterbury UCA. After a brief but live drawing demo and a bit of sound effect encouragement they spent the next couple of hours making many inventive and often surprising four frame narratives.

After the workshop I gave a presentation about my work, the importance of curiosity, and of keeping notebooks.  One of the students had made a poster for my talk.

While walking back to the station through Canterbury High Street, and admiring the Christmas lights, I was tempted to whoosh down a Helter Skelter, something I haven’t done for many years.  If ever.  What larks!






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Sally Kindberg’s podcast ‘The Writer and the City’

Whilst working as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at City and Guilds Art College, I explored the area around Kennington if I had a free lunch hour.  This short podcast was the result of one such exploration.  At the time I didn’t know until later about the connection Pollocks Toy Museum had with the bees and to the Brandon Estate mural.  Jack Fawdry Tatham of the Toy Museum is part of Bee Urban in Kennington, and was involved in painting the mural.  Copies of my Hand Book (of hopes and dreams) are on sale at the wondrous Toy Museum btw, as well as many other places. Below, the portrait of the blue hatted dog with the artist and owner.

Other podcasts here and here as well as on the Royal Literary Fund website.

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Sally Kindberg and a robot

Every so often I try and clear some space in my (very small) flat but … attempting to sort out books to take to a charity shop I start reading them again and then where are you?  Not quite as bad as taking piles of books to a charity shop then later buying them back again, which an acquaintance of mine did.  Hundreds of drawings, packages of book artwork, book plans, too many envelopes crammed with illustrations for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers occupy cupboards and plan chest drawers. I wasn’t really going to get rid of this old image because I wouldn’t dare, and in any case it kind of reflects my mood at the moment.  Actually de-cluttering is over-rated, don’t you agree?

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Sally Kindberg notebook page about family pressure

Talk about family pressure! But later today, as light relief from today’s (mostly leaked) Budget announcements from this awful government (resmbling Leo Baxendale’s comic strip frame below?), I shall visit the wonderful world of Beano.

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Sally Kindberg’s podcast on how she pitched Tricky Tricks, her first published book

Many years ago I pitched my first children’s book, about my versions of various magic tricks. I was asked to demonstrate one to the publisher.  It went very wrong but happily there was a positive outcome … Tricky Tricks.  Listen to what happened here.

With apologies to Lovely Daughter for sawing her Action Man in half for the Visit From Outer Space trick, and for getting her to try out silly tricks so I could draw them. Tricky Tricks is still available btw!

Coincidentally on the day my podcast went live I was in Clerkenwell, London and checked out if the magic shop was still there – so many fabulous old businesses have disappeared recently.  It was, and I chatted briefly to Barry the Magician who showed me a card trick, although not how it’s done, obviously.  Recommend a visit!


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Sally Kindberg’s notebook selection 2021 so far …


A few notebook pages, roughly in chronological order, sometimes reflective, often to do with journeys, and the use of Pritt Stick usually obvious. Cutting out and sticking is such a delight.   Occasionally content will find its way into a current book project, and is always fuelled by a certain amount of curiosity.







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Sally Kindberg’s RLF podcast includes an avian visitor

Another very short podcast for the Royal Literary Fund, about the writer and nature.



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Sally Kindberg visits St Albans

The thirteenth century chronicler, artist, map maker and Benedictine monk Matthew Paris was based at St Albans, one of the reasons I decided to visit again – I first came here a few years ago.

I’m a big admirer of Matthew P, who’s a bit of an entertaining gossip as well as being hugely multi-talented.  I admire his curiosity about … everything. You can see his itinerary map of how to get from St Albans to the Holy Land with handy hints and fold out sections here.  Maybe he himself didn’t travel all that much (although he visited Norway to see King Haakon) but perhaps he travelled in spirit through his map-making.  His maps of England vary, probably as new information came in from travelling clergy?

This time I was lucky enough to get chatting with someone who works at the cathedral, is full of enthusiasm and passed on wonderful snippets of information, indicating the location of some of the hundreds of ancient graffiti on the cathedral walls, some of which are tricky to see without a torch. These are listed and illustrated in a handy guide, one of the more mysterious pieces of graffiti from the booklet shown below.

Relics of St Alban, who died in 305 AD, were once spirited away for safe-keeping during religious upheavals, but his restored shrine now contains a piece of his scapula, delivered from its resting place in Germany in 2002.

There’s an intriguing wooden staircase near the shrine, protected by a metal grille. It leads to a Watching Loft, where an eye could be kept on sometimes costly offerings left by pilgrims at the shrine.

After a snack in the Abbots Kitchen – a piece of Miguel’s ginger cake is recommended – I had a go at a bit of brass-rubbing. This charming dog, who looks like he is sniffing, has tiny bells attached to his collar.  As I finished the picture, the Cathedral bells appropriately rang out.

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