Sunday, 16 March 2014

And we were not disappointed! Beautiful on many levels, Ralph Fiennes heads a star-packed cast with a performance of comic genius that's utterly engaging, perceptive and detailed in what is a delightful, fizzy, dark and delicious film of exquisite visuals, witty dialogue and well-paced story. Yet the Grand Budapest Hotel is still a considered, unsettling and surprisingly moving film, given its stylised nature.

Being of Eastern European decent, I found the hotel surroundings in the '70s GBH strangely familiar. Wes Anderson has captured every detail of the faded grandeur common to the similar establishments I visited on holiday in Poland as a child in late '70s (the stacked trolleys, white starched napkins and tired crockery containing always the same kind of delicious broth) and in so doing, he's re-created the lonely, crumbling atmosphere of a once beautiful now despondently beige Communist country.

The GBH in its heyday is of course a place of sparkle and delight about to be crushed by the ugliness of a dark and unknown army. The deliberate parallels with our own European history are obvious yet no less unsettling for that. The delightful Gustav H (played by Fiennes) manages to stick it to these dark oppressors and fiendish thugs, by maintaining his high standards, eccentric charm and poetic grace under what become the most ghastly of circumstances, and despite an almost catastrophic lack of cologne.

Ok, perhaps it could be trimmed here and there; there are moments that are perhaps unnecessary but hey, it is a confection as delectable as the Mendl's cakes that pack such a punch (as well as saw, hammer and chisel…)

"She was dynamite in the sack, you know…" 
"She was 84!"
"Hmmm I've had older…"

What's not to like, *mum?!

(*To explain, my mother called just before we set-off to the cinema and when she heard what film we were seeing announced, in what could be a line from the film: "Oh you'll hate it, darling...")

All quotes with kindest permission from

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BACKGROUND information...

My first picture book - called A Possum's Tail - is a collaboration with brilliant illustrator Alex Barrow and came out 6th February 2014. A second book called London Calls! is a whistle-stop tour of London, led by a Pearly grandma and her granddaughter. London Calls! came out on 4th September 2014 and is my second book with Alex Barrow. A Possum's Tail was nominated for the 2015 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal.
Both books are by Tate Publishing.

Please see my CURRICULUM VITAE for more details & updates.

As well as writing children's books, for children's television and two award-winning children's magazines, I do both private and commercial art commissions, a selection of which you can see here.

The children's shoes are part of an ongoing series of "first shoes", including several cards commissioned by the Almanac Gallery.

Hand-drawn, bespoke invitations, announcements, portraits and menus, such as the examples here are also available upon request..

Any enquiries please email:


I've been a regular contributor to children's art and science magazine OKIDO since 2007. HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY (WOW) beautiful Okido!

An Okido animated kids tv show, based on characters from the magazine is currently in production with Doodle/Squintopera The original adaptation of the show (co-created/adapted by myself, producer Ceri Barnes and Doodle Productions) was acquired by CBeebies. 52 x 11 minute episodes will be coming to a screen near you soon in 2015.......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .............................
N E W S F L A S H! MESSY GOES TO OKIDO Series TWO is now in production, following a super-successful 52 episode first series!



Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet

Cartoon Forum 2011 Okido booklet
Okido Cartoon Forum 2011

Happy Birthday OKIDO!

Happy Birthday OKIDO!
Okido was 5 years old this issue...the wonderful art and science magazine for kids I've been lucky enough to have worked on for the past - 8 - years now