Those of you who remember the FoodsMatter magazine may even remember this front cover – one of Christopher’s more exuberantly wonderful send ups of our very serious content!! In this case one of John Scott’s early articles about helminthic therapy – the use of parasitic worms to re-set over active immune systems. It was among his more elaborate creations but by no means his most whimsical.
And those of you who do remember his cartoons will be very sad to hear that Christopher died two weeks ago having finally lost a 30 year battle with an ailing heart.
Christopher and Lalia lived across my mother’s mews and over the years they became good friends. They regularly rescued her when, yet again, she had lost her keys, commiserated with her when her golf had not been up to scratch, and were rescued in turn by her when their oven died one Christmas morning. And each event was commemorated with a quick sketch, a drawing, a birthday card….
This one came with an embossed certificate reading:
‘The ceremony of the keys is performed every week in Cornwall Mews South.
The owner of the keys to number 15 marches across the mews to the door of number 11 and rings the bell.
‘I’ve lost the bloody keys.’
‘Where did you lose them.’
‘Take the spare keys.’
‘Would you care for a glass of chilled white wine?’
Here endeth the ceremony of the keys.
And this is what arrived after the Christmas debacle:
Soon we were all asking for birthday cards and Christmas cards. This was one he did for our son who was getting a skiing trip as a Christmas present.
And then it occurred to me that a few cartoons would enormously improve Foods Matter, which could be a rather depressing magazine, reporting as it did, on the very unsatisfactory treatment that most allergy sufferers were receiving. And thus began a most enjoyable 12 years. Every month I would send Christopher the research reports provided by John Scott – and he would allow his imagination free rein!
The results were always quirky and delightful – they never failed to raise a smile and occasionally, once you had ‘got it’ – a guffaw. As a good commercial artist, Christopher could turn his hand to anything but it was his pen and ink animals that were always my favourite. Who could resist ‘The Wasphound’, illustrating some research showing that wasps could be trained to identify toxins and undesirable chemicals in the environment…
Or these poor rats who had been taught to associate the ringing of bells with abdominal gripes and diarrhoea…
Or this unsuspecting cat who headed up a report on cat allergy….
Or either of these delightful camels who accompanied reports on how camel milk could be tolerated by those with cow’s milk allergies.
And then of course there was John Scott and his worms which provided an endless source of amusement and inspiration!
But much though I loved his animals I think was this tribute to Heath Robinson which accompanied an article on filtering your water that was my absolute favourite. What fun he must have had working it out!
What was so great was that I never knew what I would get – which is why I think he enjoyed doing our sketches. I never gave him ‘a brief’ – just sent him the reports and allowed his imagination to run riot – which it so often did!! (If you would like to enjoy some more of his witty takes on allergy in all its many forms check in to this page on the site which gives links to many of the reports that he illustrated.)
And when we finally went totally digital in December 2009 it was Christopher, Santa and Rudolf who got the last word!
Over the years Christopher did other projects for us too. Line drawings for the packaging of our range of vegetarian ready meals (because we could not afford photography!), illustration for various projects – even a series of children’s books about Berrydales Bear and his friend Jonathan who was dairy intolerant. Berrydale Bear and the Cacao Tree, Berrydale Bear and Chocosaurus the Dinosaur (I have a box of each still left in the cupboard that I cannot quite bear to throw away) and Berrydale Bear goes golfing, which sadly never even made it into print. I wrote the stories and Christopher did the drawings. We were to split the profits – had we ever made any. But sadly we never did although I still think they could have been a winner – not because of my stories but because of Chris’ delightful drawings.
Once FoodsMatter went totally on line we moved to directly linking to the original research rather than creating our own reports, meaning that there was no longer very much for Christopher to illustrate. And by that time my mother had died and Christopher and Lalia had moved out of the mews. But we kept in touch. They came to our summer and winter FoodsMatter parties, and we got together with other ex-residents of the mews for an annual ‘Grandma Memorial Tea’ in memory of my mother.
But Christopher spent more and more time in the doctors’ hands and despite the best efforts of some amazing cardiac consultants, his heart finally gave out. I last saw him just after Christmas when he looked very frail. But he did make it through to his son’s wedding in May and, I hear, not only appeared in full Highland rig (which he was entitled to wear!) but even danced an eightsome reel.
Although Christopher only ever drew cartoons for us, he was a skilled landscape and portrait painter in both oils and water-colours and I am now sorry that I never actually asked him to employ those talents on our behalf as well. Sadly it is now too late. We will really miss not only such talented artist but a lovely, kind, gentle but supremely humorous friend.