A London Country Diary: Tim Bradford Interview
In his own words, Tim Bradford is a straw-haired unshaven comedy writing supernova. Other boasts of his include that during his solo art exhibition in Ireland “some French tourists said they really liked his paintings (though they didn’t buy any)” and that he won Most Improved Player in his U16 football team in 1981.
As you might tell, Tim doesn't take things too seriously and this is exactly what makes his books and illustrations so wonderfully unique and enjoyable. His new book, A London Country Diary, is a collection of diary entries Tim has written since 1999 based on his life in London and quirky day-to-day experiences in the Capital.
Your latest book, A London Country Diary, is such an original and refreshing read! Was it something you’d always planned (since 1999) or is it a result of your collection of memorabilia?
I've actually been writing it - very slowly - since 1999, so it's really a collection of diary entries written in the moment, rather than memories. It started off as a newsletter then became a website and eventually, about ten years ago, a blog. Back then a friend suggested to me I should bring it out as a book, but I think I just laughed - though possibly it was an evil laugh while rubbing my hands together. I've arranged the diary entries as a loose collection of seasonal observations, so it's not particularly chronological. Hopefully that makes sense.
What’s your favourite memory that’s in the book?
I've got lots of favourites but the best are probably the ones that involve my kids - such as the magic trees and various creative games in the park. I'm glad I wrote them down because I've such a bad memory that otherwise they'd be gone forever. But seeing as you've pinned me down I'd probably go for the entry titled 'Collapsing Old Buildings' which ties together small children, nappies, football, pubs, kids' TV, buses, local architecture and new wave music (the title is, obviously, a play on German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten - trans: 'Collapsing New Buildings') in just over 100 words.
Are there any memories that you chose not to include? If so, can you tell us?
Yes, there are some that I decided to take out to protect the identity of certain people. Possibly they were skiving off work that day and didn't want their exploits to appear in a book (though I can't possibly say). Various reasonably interesting things didn't make the cut because I never wrote them down, being too busy obsessing over stationery items, trees or unknown plants. There was also an entry about a man on our street who kept staring out me through a window. I rather harshly decided not to give him the oxygen of publicity...
Your many talents (illustration and art as well as writing) must keep you very busy. What makes you decide when to do one or the other and why?
I tend to sniff the wind, really. As ever, it's all connected. Quite often, if I'm trying to write, I'll end up drawing. And if I have an illustration to do I might go off down the cafe and jot down some writing ideas. My paintings tend to have writing in them, too - so there's a lot of overlap.
What do you when you’re not illustrating, painting or writing?
Making animations with bad musical backing, playing mandolin in an Irish trad music band, coaching rugby to little kids on Sunday mornings, hanging out with my family, planting trees in Ireland, walking in the woods. But I am always working away on something, even when I don't realise it. I once wrote a novel in my head on a walk between Highbury and Camden Town. It's not available for download as the technology hasn't been invented yet.
What do you plan to write about next?
I have so many unfinished projects it's doing my head in (I actually have a Project of Unfinished Projects on the go at the moment). I would like to do something connected to my family and ancestors, an English travel/memoir book (with illustrations, of course). But knowing me it will morph into a history of rugby or The Great East Midlands Graphic Novel - or even an animation about parrots.
I just can't seem to focus...