I hope it was sufficiently clear that I was joking when I mentioned Chris Riddell a couple of posts back. I am enormously grateful to Chris. In fact when he came to the launch of Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, I was so intent on acknowledging his generosity to me over the years that I clean forgot to mention David Roberts.
My six-year stint at The Economist started in 1990 when I sat in for Chris when he was on holiday. When he came back it was felt that there was enough work for three - Chris, Dave Simonds and myself. Actually there was also Kevin Kallaugher who works as KAL, submitting from the States (something he still does) and Bobby, the pocket cartoonist.
Anyway, cue many drawings of Sadam Hussein, George Bush Snr, Helmut Kohl, John Major, Boris Yeltsin etc etc and heated debates about 70s rock bands, football, old TV programmes and goodness knows what. I do miss the camaraderie, if not the actual work. It was a bit like sitting at a bar all day. Without the booze. And with the stress of trying to get Bill Clinton's nose right. So not like a bar at all really.
I had worked for The Economist on and off for years (and for Penny Garret, the art director there, at The Listener before that) but this was the beginning of a weekly attachment to the paper and (hopefully) a life-long attachment to Chris and Dave.
It was Chris who suggested I write a children's book one evening while we were sitting in a row up on the 11th floor at The Economist. It was Chris who took the book I eventually wrote and handed it to Annie Eaton at Transworld and in so doing, it was Chris who effectively kickstarted my career as a writer.