At around the age of 15, I met a group of older teenagers who’d already finished with high school, shared a house and lived on the dole. I thought they were the height of teen cool because they could do whatever they wanted; woah.
I was still obliged to wear my school uniform and kow-tow to ‘the man’ but these young gents were free, living in a largish house near the centre of town that was a meeting point for we other teens to drop in at all times of the day. The lads were anarchic sages and their house a chaotic Valhalla– a marvellously ramshackle and glorious pigsty, financed by the gentlemen tenants’ pooled dole checks. Like ancient Greek philosophers, they lounged about and pondered many things while quaffing ale, spinning tall tales and trading japes while getting stoned, and playing their raucous music at top volume. They were a much-envied teen leisure class and yet, there was trouble in paradise.. with only sufficient funds to cover rent and food OR drugs, at least one essential ingredient of their Bohemian lifestyle was bound to be lacking each fortnight.
One drug-addled evening, while ruminating upon this conundrum with empty stomachs, the teen wise-men had the epiphany that a solution to their cashflow problems was to steal a sheep. The paddocks around town were chock full of lamb chops just walking about, and the merry men reasoned that this supply of ‘free’ food made it possible to eat AND pay rent AND buy recreational chemicals. Genius! Enthused with this idea, and infused with drugs, they eagerly piled into an old truck like madcap clowns crammed into a clown-car, and off they went to nick a sheep in the dead of night. Chasing a sheep hither and yon through paddocks round and round all night long will deplete the energies of even the most stoned of stoners, and when the poor sheep was finally cornered and stuffed whimpering into the ute, those gentlemen of leisure were stone cold sober.
The sheepnappers drove back into town mid-morning, one anxiously sitting in the back of the ute with his parka draped nonchalantly over the sheep to disguise the lads’ still-bleating dinner from curious passers-by. I walked into the scene at this point when, back at their H.Q. in the cold hard light of day, the exhausted and now-sober away-team contemplated the logical conclusion of their midnight black-ops mission– namely, the butchering of the wailing animal. The elephant in the room was actually a sheep, and who exactly was going to kill it? The humans became sheepish at what they’d done, even as the sheep itself became more stridently vocal in its desire to go home, yawping mournfully as one shifty-eyed stoner after another wiped his hands of the responsibility of knifing poor Sheepikins. “Not me! I drove the truck!” “But I caught the sheep!” “Well I won’t do it, I came up with the plan!” and so on.
Eventually, it was agreed that one of them had a mate who was a butcher (or worked at the abattoir, I never understood which) and he could do the dastardly deed. This buck-passing breakthrough was celebrated with a fortifying bong-toot or two, as the terrified sheep shat-a-tat its pellets on the kitchen floor. The finer points of lining up the illicit back-alley butchery would take another day or so, and in the meantime all the surrounding households were alerted to the presence of their new neighbour; a wild-eyed sheep constantly bawling for its life from within the wastrels’ garage. Armidale’s finest were alerted, the sheep was rescued from the dinner plate, several twitchy deadbeats were grilled by John Law, the farmer was reunited with his homesick animal, and a few stoner ne’er do wells were charged, but I never knew who, or of precisely what, because their house disbanded.
After several months of their acquaintance I finally realised that a group I’d previously seen as The Round Table of Cool was merely a Teen Three Stooges on drugs. Yes, they could do whatever they wanted, but these galloots’ choices of how to use that precious freedom was invariably asinine. Tragically, they were tempted by a plump Sheep Fatale, and so the golden era of Stoned-A-Lot Camelot fell.
64 thoughts on “Teenage Camelot”
Haha! Thank you James!
I had no idea that you hung with such dubious characters, but you’ve certainly made my day! :)
You’ll have to tell us who they were some time! ;)
Hey Peter! I don’t even remember these blokes’ names. They were ex-Duval students that I met somehow, I think through Gerard Morgan (remember him?) or perhaps Rob Brandscheid. They had a house down on Dumeresq street, I think.
Great story and drawing James! Reminds me of many of the places I lived in while going to art school and thereafter in Vancouver.
Thanks, Sean. Good to know about your sheep rustling past!
Shanks for the laugh Jimmy. Love the art too!
Thanks Deane. As I was writing this, the Chinese YEAR OF THE SHEEP began, and coincidentally, this sheep yarn took place on an earlier SHEEP year; 1979/80
Hilarious, James. Great drawings. Thanks for the entertainment.
Glad you liked it, Murray! I think we’ve all either lived in or encountered a YOUNG ONES house at some point.
The drawings are fantastic. Colors are well chosen.
But the story…. Egads, Jamie! What a dizzying tale of teen hi-hinks (and hijacking!). The story is so out there one could almost say it’s a pile of sheep…. But it’s bizarre enough, with a zinger of an ending, that it must have happened!
Thanks for sharing!
Hey, Javi! It’s all true, I swear! The only thing I got wrong is that in the first illustration I show three of the young gurus turning to acknowledge me, but in truth it was the kind of house where you could walk in or out and no one would even notice. Everyone was engrossed in their own activity; music, drugs, arguments, discussion of urban legends, and so on.
Everyone of your blogs and sketches are a book! A collection of books! Thanks Jamie!
Hey Richard! That is precisely my plan. I want to collect all these stories from my childhood into a book of recollections. I figure I’m already about a third of the way there. Everything I have so far is in a thread here:
Lovely! I have read most of them but looking forward to reading the rest! Thanks again!
Thanks Richard. If I ever get this book finished, I also want to do another list of essays about my 30 years in animation. The few stories that I already have about that subject are here:
These are so great!!
Thanks, Ryan. They were a lot of fun to do, and reflecting on how much in AWE I was of these fools was quite funny as well
Omg what a great story! And loved the drawings — this would be a fantastic animated short!!!
Thanks, Izzy. There are a few stories that I’ve been writing about my childhood lately, and one or two other people have suggested that a few of the other stories, Specifically the two about my dog, JOCK, would make good topics for animation:
Who knows, Maybe one day!
I’d love to see the Jock stories animated too! (But there’s something about this stoner teen sheep thievery tale that really kills me.) ;)
Tee hee! What really amuses me now is that I ever saw these guys as being cool. Teenage boys don’t have the best decision making skills (and we adult men are not much better!)
I had fun doing these limited palette illustrations. I find it more manageable, Especially with analog media, and I quite like the look.
Jamie, are these are fresh illustrations that you have done for your writings?
Yes Joe. Fresh lefty scrawls, in my new snazzy/spazzy style.
They are beautiful. Whoever thought that such an affable cat as you would wind up representing the rising up above disabling injury with such savage charm and style? Anybody who knows you, at all. Thanks!!
SAVAGE CHARM will be the title of my first LP.
Yeah, so I’d like to add two thumbs up, both to your outstanding yarn spinning, and also to these illustrations. I adore these limited palate paintings.
And I’m damned glad they didn’t kill the poor sheep!
Thanks, Anne! Glad you enjoyed the story!
Agreed about the limited palettes! Really nice look.
I first started using Limited palettes with two complementary colours in that elephant book I did with my dad.
Jamie this is wonderful. Knowing a little bit about sheep, a little bit about raucous music, and a little bit about stoner ne’er do wells makes me really appreciate the ridiculousness of it all. I’m already in line for SAVAGE CHARM. Thank you!
Hey Kathleen, thanks so much for posting in my blog! Ah yes, the joys of rural teenage years. We may not have had the coolness of the big city but we did have sheep..
Love your creative expression. Can just picture all this. Looking forward to the book.
Hey Mr C! Thanks again for reading and commenting. Not sure exactly when the book will happen. Hopefully by next year the writing/drawing part will be done with and I can collate it all and see about getting it printed?
This represents a side of your life that I’m glad I knew nothing about at the time, but I agree that it makes great and hilariously truth-stranger-than-fiction reading. As ever, Wendy and I urge you to keep it all up and get it published; and send you and Julia our love. Did you, by the way, get the latest vol of “Rob’s Recollections”? Love, Dad
Hey Dad! There’ll be more thrilling episodes from my SECRET TEEN LIFE, so stay tuned! Yes, I received the Scottish instalment of ROB’S RECOLLECTIONS and read it with great interest. Thank you!
I wonder what ever became of the house of sheep rustlers..
Maybe one of them is a CEO of a major global corporation.
One is a CEO, one is a philosophy professor, another mops floors at KFC, one guy died in a grisly encounter with an enraged bull, one is doing prison time in Malaysia and another is a social worker.
Are you serious? Wow what a crew!!!
I honestly don’t know, but you started imagining a possible future for one guy, so I just made up scenarios for the whole group!
It would make for a great story! I was picturing the guy who died by an enraged bull in Pamplona for the running of the Bulls.
or the rustling of the bulls in Armidale.
And I wonder what hellish deed landed the other guy in a Malaysian prison!
The look of pure astonishment and joy on your face (in the drawing) (the kid with the tie and the school bag) pretty much sums up The Human Condition.
Thanks George. Julia and i are both taking an ADOBE PREMIERE editing course at the moment. I’m thinking I might edit this, and other stories, as 1 or 2 minute movies. I can no longer do proper animation, but maybe some KEN BURNS camera-moves across artwork to a simple narration soundtrack is doable.
Wow! I wonder how the CEO remembers those heady early days?
I’ve begun referring my students to these posts to show how story works to show us who we (all) are, at our root.
You’ve always had the talent to make the most banal events into a story worth telling, at least in the moment. So when applied to memorable events of your life, that ability is given this great canvas to paint the storytelling inside of.
I figure, if the wanna-be animation storyteller can glean just a bit of that.. observational eye, they would be alright. Everyone wants to do stories on the scale of the movies and games we’ve been bombarding them with since they were wee babes. I keep trying to find ways to have them realize how nourishing actual story can be to the heart, the Spirit.
This has become a good resource to that end, as well as just good reading.
I want to hug these stories. Thanks, J
Ed, so great seeing you recently, if only briefly. I wish we had sat and chatted but hopefully some other time soon.
Thanks for all you kind words. What it all amounts to though is that I am a good bullshitter. I like the way you put it better though!
What did the sheep’s mother have to say?
Why, you silly boy, Robbie.. she said MaAa-MaAa of course!
“For one brief smoke filled moment…”
Thanks, Ralph! I’ve been having fun writing and drawing lately. More soon!
Hahahahaha…such great story. This has to become a movie. LOL
Thanks Sho! No plans for a movie, but I hope to collect many such stories into a book someday.
A brilliant story and beautifully told.
The artwork of course is amazing lefty stuff.
Anyway, the first illo looks like you just walked into Film Graphics in 1978
Thanks Arthur. 1978 is roughly right. This would have been 79/80.
Great drawings, fun story.
You still have some great stories worth telling/drawing. I hope you make some time apart from Rocket R… https://t.co/3OCb9gOJJK
This is awesome. 🐑
Any dissertation which correctly includes the terms ‘hither and yon’ and ‘asinine’ must be rewarded with 5 stars. Its almost worthy of a Tarantino short.
A fine tale about the slippery slope to adulthood. Thank God for most of us it stays within the bounds of a safe te-tell!
Ah yes, that awkward age!