The time Eoin Jess got me a huge bollocking

When I lived in London, for a couple of years my job was painting blackboards and the occasional mural for pubs and restaurants. It was a fun job, and central London is a pretty exciting place to have as a workplace.

Sometimes the pubs needed Sky TV promoted, so a picture of a footballer would be needed to illustrate it. As a Dandy, well it had to be Eoin Jess. I was a bit apprehensive, you don’t want to piss people off when this is how you make your living, but having got away with it the first time, I then put Eoin onto most of the football blackboards. Stephen Glass went on a few too (just to mix it up a bit).

I justified it as, since it’s London, so much rivalry between London clubs, it should be someone neutral. Central London is also very international from the huge volume of tourists and those working there. Plus everyone is very, very busy. Not really time to check what badge that footballer in red is wearing.

This was still kind of ignoring the fact the pubs were selling the English Premiership while Shearer, Wright, Bergkamp and Cantona were in their pomp.

Then one day I was working outside a pub on their A board (the big double sided board that sits outside pubs), just a little bit out of the centre. I’d forgotten adding Aberdeen footballers to boards might be wrong, it had gone on so long. A furious pub manager came at me from another pub altogether.

‘You are the guy painting Eoin Jess onto pub blackboards, what the hell do you think you are doing?’ He was proper angry. Furious. He kept on at me for about five minutes. A big guy, like a lot of pub managers, a heart attack waiting to happen, but in an immaculate white shirt and beer stained tie. I just sort of nodded apologetically while thinking, ‘must be pretty good illustrations if you knew who it was’. So a little bit flattered.

So then I had to stop. As the particular angry pub manager was English (London pub managers were often Irish or Scottish) I then painted whoever had scored against England onto the boards. I got Maradona onto one, and assorted German players. Passive aggression through art. Not all pub managers were into football. They think it’s a nice illustration of a footballer, me and everyone Bulgarian, knew it was Hristo Stoichkov.

My dear departed Dad came to visit in London. I had two sisters living in the South East at the time too. But miles apart. He’d visit one in Woking, the other in Guildford, then over to me in the centre. He hadn’t yet seen me, had arranged to meet me later. He turns a corner in Soho, and there is Stephen Glass on a blackboard right in front of him. He is a Pittodrie season ticket holder at the time. He knows he’s not far from his son…

Below is one of the examples. Two metre high board, a pub about 50 metres from Trafalgar Square, round the back of The National Gallery. That’s Nelson at the top. Eoin about to be tackled by a plate of fish and chips. I painted a mean fish and chips!


And the rest of these have nothing to do with football, just some of my blackboards. This was just before digital photography began. I took some photos in the beginning, for a portfolio to sell my work, after that sadly…