Up The Garden Path by Norman Thelwell


I love Thelwell. I’ve been reading his books for so long I don’t remember when I first read them. He’s a cartoon genius, with a talent for making a great drawing and often adding just a little text which is sometimes at odds with what is happening in the picture. I laugh out loud many times when reading his books.

Born in 1923 in England he died at 80 years of age, but not before putting out a vast body of work that included 1,500 cartoons for Punch, they used 60 of his cartoons for their front covers. That’s how good he was. I probably first saw his work on the front covers of the James Herriot books, or maybe my parents had one or two of his books on their shelves.

The text on one page reads

A give-and take relationship with your neighbour is essential to the full enjoyment of your garden

And the artwork depicts a happy gardener carefully tossing snails one at a time over the fence to the neighbour’s garden. On the left the neighbour casually upends a bucket over the fence and the snails fall down in a shower.

And another page

A householder is entitled to remove any object that encroaches on his property

You can see the neighbour is sawing an overhanging branch. Normally this is fine, except that this is an apple tree and the only apples on the entire tree are on the overhanging branch.

On the following page the text reads

But it must be returned to the rightful owner

And the branch is casually tossed back to the owner with three apple cores still attached.

Thelwell is so gentle with his words, but it’s when you link the words and the text that the laughter really happens. If you can get hold of one of his books please do yourself a favour and sit down with it. No, I mean open it and read it, don’t just sit down as if it is a companion…read it!

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