FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: WATERCOLOURS…

Recognising George’s artistic abilities at a very early age, his teacher presented him with a little box of watercolours after an unanticipated meeting in Ramsgate. He used them for the rest of his life and they served him well, especially when trying to relax during the nerve-wracking down time between air raids at the fire station.

Gradually the cardboard box disintegrated and to be replaced; like the old story of converting swords into ploughshares. Prior to the outbreak of war, the government feared the possible use of poison gas. Among the gear issued to firemen were tins of anti-gas ointment for use on skin contaminated by Mustard Gas. Happily it never happened and George’s tin box was recycled to house the small selection of water colours used while painting.

His minimalist approach was probably influenced by financial considerations, but he managed with a small colour palette, sometimes sketching in monochrome with pen, Indian Iink and wash.

So for art and aviation lovers, “Flights of Fantasy” has close to a hundred slightly naive paintings and sketches illustrating George’s natural skills. While shops remain closed during lock down , the book can be obtained from the publisher, World of Creative Dreams and Amazon UK. (just click on the links)

FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: WARTIME ART THERAPY…

As the air raids grew increasingly severe in intensity, life in the Auxiliary Fire Service, proved to be a complex, far more dangerous occupation than George had ever imagined. To avoid British fighters, air raids took place at night which brought its own difficulties. Writing about fire fighting on the waterfront, he says…

“Spatial awareness becomes distorted by the brightness of the fire and the contrasting blackness. Coils of hose constantly trip us, one wrong step and we could end up in the dock. Wet hoses attract shreds of glass that not only cut our hands, but make small holes that shower us with water, soaking us from head to foot. The heat from the fire roasts our fronts while our backs are frozen. And holding the hose is like grasping an enormous snake, relax your grip for a second and it’ll whip up, break your arm, smash your nose or crack your skull.

Oh! and did I mention the high explosive bombs that continue to fall around us.”

During those stressful times, sketching became a coping mechanism that helped George to escape, until the government required paper to be rationed. Improvisation was the only answer, old greetings cards, discarded exercise books, official forms, no potential drawing material was ignored. And the AFS training manual’s blank pages, ostensibly for notes, became ideal for George’s quickly sketched cartoons during down-time between raids.

Over 2,700 Merseysiders lost their lives, including 68 firemen during the Blitz. The stories in Flights of Fantasy may be a practical way for older children/young adults to understand the life their Grandparents – and Great Grandparents – endured – and enjoyed during the first half of the 20th Century.

Flights of Fantasy, is available from the publisher, World of Creative Dreams and Amazon UK

FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: THE BLITZ BEGINS…

Too young to fly in the last war – and too old to fly in this one. Poor George was grounded. And it transpired, he was also too old for the army, or the navy.

After much thought, he joined the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS), just two weeks before the first air raid on Merseyside by the Luftwaffe. Over the following 18 months, firemen everywhere did the best they could with relatively unsophisticated equipment. A prime example was the Auxiliary Towing Vehicle acquired shorty after war was declared. Very basic with a ladder affixed to the roof; hoods fitted over headlights (ineffective in the blackout); a white stripe painted on each wing so they could be seen in the dark and a bell to alert everyone to their urgency.

The hand coloured photograph shows AFS Firemen at Abingdon Road Fire Station grouped around their fire tender. Relaxing after the previous night’s air raid, the words of London’s AFS Commander made during a visit to Liverpool were undoubtedly on their collective minds…

“Enthusiasm, courage and endurance are not enough. Knowledge and experience are needed because there is a science and an art to fire-fighting. The science can be taught at the fire station, the art can only be learnt at fires.”

George and his colleagues were learning fast!

More to read in Flights of Fantasy available from World of Creative Dreams and Amazon UK.

FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: THE 30s

It was pure luck that George and Iggy bumped into each other in that well known Liverpool pub, the Philharmonic. Iggy, now in the newly created Royal Air Force made up from the Royal Flying Corps (RFC and Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) was a flying instructor at Hooton airfield on the Wirral, and the guys often met up and chatted about aviation.

Then after war finished, he disappeared from George’s life for some considerable time until he reappeared a long time later. Both older and wiser, the friendship continued as before, with different life styles and new aircraft to discuss…

A Vought XSB2U-1 Vindicator, an American carrier-based dive bomber developed in the 1930 and the first monoplane in this role.

Following on from the rapid progress during the Great War, the development of new aircraft had slowed, until the threat of another war galvanized yet more activity. And as the 30s came to a gradual end, a second World War appeared to be looming in the distant future…

Read more about new developments in their life stories in Flights of Fantasy, now available worldwide from World of Creative Dreams and Amazon – but only in the UK.

FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: THE MAIN PROTAGONIST

The lead character of “Flights of Fantasy” was born in Ramsgate, where his father was skipper on a fishing smack. While out on the boat one summer morning, George had an early brush with aviation when the French pilot, Louis Blériot, flew over him during the first airplane flight across the English Channel.

That never-to-be-forgotten moment laid the foundation for a life long interest in aviation, reflecting the pioneering days of flying in his art – created on any available paper…

Albatros D.V fighter aircraft used by the Imperial German Air Service during World War I. ©George Munday

It was during a train journey when George and his family re-located from Ramsgate to Liverpool, that he met “Iggy”, an RFC pilot. Through a series of coincidences and a shared interest in aviation they became firm friends, sharing life, drinks, experiences and stories whilst drifting in and out of each others lives for years until one of them went west…

Their life stories can be read in Flights of Fantasy, the book is available from the publisher, World of Creative Dreams and from Amazon UK.

FLIGHTS OF FANTASY: RED FACES…

Except from the book: “During training, we learned how the hose is fitted to a hydrant to access the mains water supply below the road. In the event of a distant water source, two lengths of hose are coupled together using instantaneous couplings, described as male and female. Younger and perhaps more innocent firemen in those days – and later fire-women – occasionally asked why” … and were featured in my dad’s cartoons.

I can emphasise with the red faces because prior to Christmas, the feeds posted directly from my website/blog about my about-to-be-published book, “Flights of Fantasy”, gave incorrect information, as a result of the on-going effects of the COVID 19 pendemic. Honestly, who apart from bacteriologists and their ilk knew COVID would last so long?

I also felt the layout of my website/blog needed to be re-organised, which meant those earlier posts would link to a black hole in cyber space. So, rather than add confusion, I decided to delete the earlier posts, and start again, with relevant up-to-date information and correct links on the new blog posts…

To new viewers, welcome. More information about my books, links and photography can be seen on my website here. Thank you and enjoy…