The day I was drawn to Cummings


Clearing out the loft the other day I came across an original cartoon by Express Political Cartoonist Michael Cummings who died in 1997.

I remembered he was a kind, unassuming man who worked for Punch for 30 years before joining the Express in 1949, leaving in 1990.

Michael Heseltine once said of him: “Being caricatured by Cummings was ‘Death by a thousand strokes … but at least I die laughing’.”

When I looked at the cartoon of an ugly politician seeing the reflection of an angel as he looked in the mirror, I remembered it was around the time of the Privacy Bill and the Commons debate about what should be revealed and published about people.

Then my mind wandered back to how I came to have the original artwork and I remembered that it was early one evening when the late, dapper Bobby Cocksworth, bless his woollen suits, and I were on the Backbench.

He was searching for some pictures to frame and hang in his old oast house that proudly displayed The Crusader weather vane on the roof.


“What I’d really like is something original Tel,” he said.

I had just walked past cartoonist Cummings, pictured right, fully suited and booted, sketching away on an art board.

“Let’s see if we can get you a Cummings,” I said. It was worth a try and so we marched up and announced our mission to the silver-haired man of humour who always looked so serious.

To our surprise he said: “Do you know, people never seem to ask me unless it is a subject that concerns them. Come with me, I’ll show you something.”

He marched us along to an 8ft steel filing cupboard, unlocked the doors and threw them open. There before us were around 200 neatly-piled old Cummings cartoons.

“Help yourself  Terry,” he said, “I’m leaving soon and was wondering what to do with them all.”

I took one and Bobby got a box to take quite a few. I believe he made a gallery of them.

Coming down from the loft this week I thought I would look up Cummings on the internet.

So imagine my surprise when I opened a page from London’s Political Cartoonists’ Gallery to find his originals selling for around five hundred quid each.

Bobby and I should have taken a wheelbarrow to that cupboard.  

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre