A few days before Christmas, my esteemed editor Miranda and I had the pleasure of a very leisurely lunch at the home of our illustrious cartoonist Lyndon Wall, who has been toting the WDM pencil since we launched two years ago.
We felt it was about time we celebrated the work of this prolific and multi- award-winning cartoonist, whose illustrations and satirical world view on our front cover have captured the hearts of those in West Dorset and throughout the country.
Just a handful of months after we launched in 2022, Lyndon produced ‘The Borrowers’, a spirited slant on the political landscape at the time, featuring Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng, with Sir Keir Starmer depicted as a ‘Borrower’ under the floorboards.
This piece of genius appeared on our letters page and caused quite a stir in Parliament, propelling the WDM to be shortlisted for the national Political Cartoon of the Year award. Lyndon won The Tenniel Cup, beating the likes of The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and Private Eye. He received his award from Jacob Rees Mogg at a ceremony in London.
It isn’t just the WDM for whom Lyndon cartoons. His work has appeared in The Dorset Year Book and Dorset Life, and he is besieged with commissions. As an avid pipe smoker, he has cartooned for the Pipe Club of London and, as a classic car owner – he brims with hilarious stories of his Riley adventures – for the Riley RM Magazine.
His long-awaited book, Upsydown: Cartoons of Dorset Life, is set to be published in May.
Born into a creative family in Taplow, near Windsor, Lyndon has had art as his life-force since he first held a pencil. His father, an exceptional studio potter, inspired and encouraged him, and instilled technical skill in this huge talent with a sensitive soul.
Lyndon said: “My father instructed me in the art of painting and drawing from an early age. He had a very critical eye yet was encouraging. He taught me observation of form, composition, light and shadow together with the judicious use of colour. All these facets were taught along with the discipline of endless practice.
“I had always geared up for an art career. Art was my passion. When my sister and I were teenagers we both drew greetings cards, and we even had an agent. However, it soon became clear he was bringing in an awful lot of money from our work – far more than we were being given. Our father soon put a stop to it.”
Lyndon laughed: “He was quite dodgy really.”
A highlight for Lyndon was the thrill of coming runner-up in a Blue Peter art competition, with more than 26,000 entrants, especially when the much-coveted Blue Peter Badge arrived through the post.
Lyndon laughed: “The question was ‘What is the sea you would like to see?’ but I somehow misinterpreted it and drew lots of things, such as junk and cans at the bottom of the ocean. I won for drawing the exact opposite of what the judges wanted!”
At school, Lyndon at first excelled. “I had a fantastic art teacher who would allow me to sit at the back of the classroom to work on my own pieces and develop my own style, with a gentle nod to the curriculum. I really believed a career in art would follow.”
But hopes of an art career were dashed when a new teacher was employed and ripped Lyndon’s art to shreds, smothering his work with spiky red-penned criticism.
“My father liked to keep my work and was so incensed that this teacher ruined my art with her red pen that he even came to the school to have a meeting.”
Unfortunately, her scathing remarks and harsh words over Lyndon’s work were crushing and slowly destroyed what confidence he had left to the point Lyndon no longer wanted to study art at all.
“This teacher put the mockers on my art career and underpinned two years of hell. Fortunately, I had a wonderful music teacher who encouraged me greatly and my confidence grew. I eventually went to music college in London and pursued a career in music, teaching at independent schools across the country. But I never stopped drawing; art of course never stops.”
Lyndon took up the bagpipes some three decades ago, playing in a pipe band and as a solo piper. His home with its great, thick walls withstands the noise and means he disturbs no one in the wee small hours when he practices.
Lyndon is father to four children, and brims with pride over their achievements. Tragically, when the children were little, his first wife Stella was diagnosed with an exceptionally rare disease, and died soon after her diagnosis.
Lyndon was left to bring up his children, all under the age of seven, alone. Little Sam, the youngest, was just 18 months old.
Shortly after Stella died, he applied for a job at a convent school in Surrey.
“It was crisis time,” said Lyndon. “When the nuns received my letter, they assumed I was female and invited me in for an interview. I didn’t enlighten them, as I really needed the position. I also desperately needed someone to look after my second youngest son, Arthur, so I could work.
“They were shocked when I arrived for the meeting, but interviewed me nonetheless, and I even got the position of Head of Music.
“I was the first man who had ever taught in the convent.
“What was even more remarkable was that they suggested my little waif Arthur (aged five) attended the school free of charge while I was teaching. They were terribly kind.”
A decade after losing Stella, Lyndon found love once more and will be celebrating 13 years of marriage to Cathy in April.
He said: “I really didn’t think I would ever meet anyone again as a single father with four young children.
“I mean, who would want me?”
Cathy said: “Lyndon is a keeper. He is a wonderful person, exceptionally kind with the biggest of hearts.
“And he is a man of many talents. When he was 14 years old the manager of QPR came to his home with contract in hand, wanting to sign him up to the team.
“Our friend calls him Renaissance Man, because he excels in everything he does.”
For many decades, Lyndon has thought of himself as a musician who cartoons. Following redundancy, he feels privileged to be able to embrace his greatest passion – art – while keeping up with his musical commitments.
“I split my time between teaching privately and cartooning,” he said. “I take my notebook everywhere I go and there are certain places I go which are full of fascinating characters. I often sit chuckling away behind my sketchbook.”
We cannot thank Lyndon enough for our eye-catching, amusing and quirky front covers he produces month after month.
n Lyndon’s book Upsydown, Cartoons of Dorset Life will be published by Amberley Publishing in May and available from all good local bookshops and online at the publisher’s website, at Amazon and other retailers.
More of Lyndon’s work can be found at justsocaricatures.co.uk