Today was the first day of the New Year at the Cartoon Museum. Usually, first days back are things to be celebrated; things that are full of exciting possibilities and hope for the future.
Alas, today was not one of those days.
Today we learned that Ronald Searle, the master cartoonist, had passed away peacefully on 30th December 2011 after a short illness. I hope the hospital allowed him his daily glass of champagne.
Yes, he sipped champagne daily; a factoid I learned this time last year when the Cartoon museum was exhibiting his fantastic, poignant Mrs. Mole drawings. Inspired by his wife’s (Monica) battle with cancer they were both adorable and heartbreaking. I still get a bit misty eyed thinking about them, especially the one with Mr and Mrs Mole sipping champers together.
But what does this champagne thing have to do with anything?
Well, Searle was a prisoner of war. Upon his release he vowed to enjoy a glass of champagne every day to remind him of the good things in life.
Despite a large output covering themes such as wine, cats and moles, Searle is most famous for creating St. Trinian’s School and her anarchic students. Searle heard of a new type of school; a St. Trinnean’s where the girls could do “whatever they want.”
Searle, as I’ve said, was the master cartoonist. He had exquisite draughtsmanship and an eye for satire and he has had an impact on pretty much everyone since. He’s part of the permanent collection, which means you can always see some of his work.