Last Call for Life on Earth

Last Call for Life on Earth

Last Call for Life on Earth is a cartoon created to accompany an Orkney News article published in iScot magazine in 2019.

It is my belief that we all need to think about our impact on the environment, and take urgent steps to reduce our individual carbon footprint. The way of life we in “The West” currently enjoy, which people all over the world understandably aspire to, is simply not sustainable. If we don’t change our ways the future looks bleak for the human race (to say nothing of the rest of life on Earth).

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has caused a slowing of global energy demand and largely put a temporary halt to unnecessary luxury travel. According to a study published in Nature, this only means humanity is destroying the environment we all depend on to live at the same rate we were in 2006! This was recently compared on The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe to gently squeezing a hose – it does practically nothing to stem the flow of water (i.e. CO2).

Permanent systemic change is needed. Unfortunately people keep electing politicians who don’t even believe climate change is a problem, and who often have vested interests in doing nothing about it. On top of that everyone wants their SUV and a holiday in the sun.

Hell mend us all.

Last Call for Life on Earth -The Grim Reaper takes the tickets of holidaymakers boarding a plane at Kirkwall airport.
Last Call for Life On Earth. Pen, ink & watercolour, 2019.



A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm, the animated story of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, continues it’s run at film festivals across the UK, and is also playing in Paris this week.

Mrs Baikie of Tankerness, after a portrait by Stanley Cursiter
Mrs Baikie of Tankerness, after a portrait by Stanley Cursiter. Animation still comprised of digitally combined gouache paintings, 2019.

The Paris International Animation Film Festival (PIAFF!) runs from the 17th to the 23rd of September. A full programme of events is available on the PIAFF website, with regular updates on Facebook. A Gude Cause maks a Strong Erm has been chosen by festival president Sylvie Dimet for her personal “coups de coeur” selection.

Paris International Animation Film Festival, 17th to 23rd September 2019

The Women Over Fifty Film Festival (WOFFF) takes place at the Depot cinema in Lewes, Sussex, and seeks to showcase the work of women over fifty, both on screen and behind the camera. It begins on Friday 20th September with “Free Friday”, which features events particularly for elderly women (over 60) in Lewes and the surrounding areas who may find it hard to be social and out in the world. Carers attend for free as well. The main festival is on Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd of September.

A trailer for the film festival can be seen on YouTube:

The World of Film International Festival Glasgow runs from the 3rd to 6th of October 2019, at Film City Glasgow. The focus of this festival is independent and first-time film-makers from around the world, and there is an emphasis this year on the female perspective. Further details are on the WOFF website and facebook page.

World of Film International Festival Glasgow, October 3rd to 6th 2019.

HMS Pheasant 1917

HMS Pheasant 1917

HMS Pheasant was an Admiralty M-class Destroyer based in Orkney during WW1. Due to its strategic importance, Scapa Flow was the main base of the British Grand Fleet during both World Wars.

In the early hours of the 1st of March 1917, HMS Pheasant exploded with the loss of all hands. It had only recently been launched, on 23rd of October 1916. It is thought that the ship hit a mine.

Only one body was ever recovered, that of Midshipman Reginald Cotter, who was still alive when pulled from the water and is now buried in the Lyness Naval Cemetery on Hoy.

Drawing of HMS Pheasant, an Admiralty M-class Destroyer, with a mine
HMS Pheasant, chalk & charcoal on watercolour, 2019.

What happened to HMS Pheasant was virtually forgotten until a maritime survey conducted by Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and SULA Diving located its remains off the coast of Rora Head, Hoy.

The background of the ship’s 89 strong crew is a slice of early 20th Century society in Britain. The men were from varied cultural backgrounds. There is currently no memorial to them, and many of their relatives never found out what happened. Since writing about the subject for The Orkney News, Fiona Grahame has been contacted by some family members, and has been uncovering their often remarkable stories.

A documentary about this tragedy, to focus on the lives of the individual crewmen, is currently in pre-production by The Orkney News team. We are seeking financial backing to take this project forward – if you are in a position to help with this, please get in touch via the contact form on this site or

This project follows on from our animated telling of the Orcadian Woman’s Suffrage Society, A Gude Cause Maks A Strong Erm, which will shortly be showing at the Scottish Short Film Festival at the Art School in Glasgow, on Saturday 27th of July. Tickets are for the film festival are available from A trailer showcasing the short films to be featured can be viewed on YouTube:

black and white photograph of Rora Head, Hoy
Rora Head, Hoy.