Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale is on Sat 6 Dec from 10am.

So the festival is all geared up, reindeer are on their way and the postcards are all hung in Passobello 174 High Road East Finchley N2 9AS.

Even better, there is a parking amnesty on, which means free parking on the high road.

All the cards are £20 and, just to remind you, we have cards by Dame Zandra Rhodes, Axel Scheffler, Richard Lumsden, Davina McCall, Magnus Irvin, Louisa Crispin, Simon Roberts, Nadege Meriau, Martin Shovel, Somon Ellinas, Ben Jennings, and many many more.

There is a sneak preview of a small number of the cards here

See you tomorrow.



Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale 2014 – Magnus Irvin


Magnus Irvin is another artist who has kindly agreed to contribute to the Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale for the second time in a row.

His work is held in the collections of the V&A, the British Museum, the Arts Council of Britain, the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London and the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. He is a founder member of the London Institute of Pataphysics and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers. And he is utterly lovely.

You kind find his work on his website here – the surreal, the scatological and the seascapes.  His work is beautiful, funny and brilliant, imbued with mischief and wonder.

However, for those readers of a delicate disposition, unwilling to explore the sections of his website entitled “poo” or “anus”, here is a lovely film of the man in action, painting something rather larger than a postcard.

Thank you so much Captain Magno, for all the sweetness and joy you bring.

A Community Effort – Local Businesses and Local Charity


The Age UK Barnet Secret Postcard Sale – another little preview.

The relationship between local businesses and local charities is a complex one, but they both support each other.  Sometimes the relationships are easy to understand – the estate agents who sponsor primary school fairs for example. Both the schools and the agents benefit from the advertising placards, but the agents also benefit from having good, well-supported schools, because a good school pushes up house prices and therefore the commission the agents can achieve.

The relationship between Age UK Barnet and the businesses which kindly support it is a little less straightforward.  I could tell you that Age UK Barnet’s benefit advice service put £165,000 into the pockets of older people last year, money which is likely to be spent locally, rather than online or in town. I could also tell you that, whilst 14% of older people in Barnet live in poverty, the section of the community with the most available income is the 55-65 age group (who are often caring for their parents, our clients).

Older people both need and support local shops and services, because many are not online, and find transport a problem. A thriving high street is a necessity for them.

But generally the shops and businesses which support Age UK Barnet, like Tally Ho Discount @thfruitandveg or Funky Flowers @lisanthusliz, who helped support the recent fundraising concert that raised £1,600, do it out of kindness. And in return, I would like to express my gratitude to them and to the local businesses who have offered to make postcards for the Secret Postcard Sale.

Planet Jump @planet_jump_dw – supercool animators who donated last year too

Insight School of Art @paul_regan – art classes for 6-18 year olds

Maven Design – @mavendesign – websites and branding

Artists Resource @artistsresource – Art and Craft workshops for children and adults

Frame Stop @frame_stop – framing

Ann Froomberg Design – @annfroomberg – hand painted silks scarves and textiles and another second time contributor

Thank you all for your generosity

If anyone reading this would like to take part, please see more details here







Secret Postcard Sale – Carrie Reichardt

One of the artists who has already promised a postcard for the Secret Postcard Sale in aid of Age UK Barnet is craftivist Carrie Reichardt.

You can see her work at the moment in the V&A.

There is another review of the show here

Follow her on Twitter @carriereichardt

Thank you Carrie.

For more information about the sale and how you can take part take a look here



Secret Postcard Sale 2014



Hooray! The Secret Postcard Sale is on again this year.

Age UK Barnet need hundreds of people to make and send us a postcard with a drawing, painting, photograph or artwork in any medium on the front. On the back you can sign and print your name, and add any other details you want, like your age, your website or an art group if you belong to one.

The cards are then sold anonymously, all for a fixed price, although there is a list of contributors available. This means it is partly an art sale, because you buy an image you love, and partly a raffle, because you might spot a valuable card buy a well-known artist or celebrity.

Last year we had cards by artists like David McKee, the creator of Mr Benn and Elmer and the Elephant, whose joyful image is shown above, as well as cards by the likes of Jude Law and Sir Chris Hoy.

But everyone can join in. Our youngest artists were 3 last year – here is a beautifully worked example:Scan76

Our oldest artist was in her 80s – here is one by the late mother of Councillor Richard Cornelius.


So, please send any contributions to Age UK Barnet, c/o Julia Hines, 37 Briarfield Ave, N3 2LG by 5 November (earlier if possible). Size is not crucial, but 6×4 works best.

With many thanks, Julia

Silver Screens and Silver Surfers

Did you know that nearly 3/4 of women over the age of 75 (73%) have never been online? That is two million people. 59% of men in the same age group haven’t either – another 1.2 million people.

Why does it matter? Because it is increasingly difficult to do simple things, like change energy provider, buy insurance, or apply for a blue badge as a disabled driver, if you are not online. Because buying shopping online saves you having to pay a carer to carry it for you. Because social media is fun and a way to keep in contact with people, particularly if getting out is difficult. Because relying on family, neighbours or information services like Age UK Barnet’s to do these simple things is disempowering, and ultimately infantilising, if you have always managed your affairs yourself.

Age UK Barnet runs classes right across the borough, where older people can get free one-to-one tuition, mainly with sixth formers from local schools. We also have IT buddies who will help people in their own homes and a number of iTea and biscuits events (with many thanks to Brent Cross and John Lewis who have supported some of these).

The classes are not just about learning how to use a computer or a tablet, you can explore mobile phones and digital cameras too.

I love this project for so many reasons. Because the older students have told me how exciting it was to Skype their children for the first time, or speak to grandchildren on Facebook. Because they say things like “Now I know what everyone is talking about; I feel part of the modern world”.

I love the confidence and skills it gives the sixth form tutors. One boy told me he had never had to communicate with a person with a hearing impairment before; he had to learn to make eye contact, speak clearly and not use slang, because “innit” doesn’t translate very easily.

More than anything, I love this project for the way it breaks down the stereotypes of age discrimination. Age discrimination largely affects teenagers and older people. There is a perception of teenagers as lazy, workshy, selfish, aggressive and dishonest. There is a perception of older people as honest, but weak, pitiable, slow and humourless. 60% of older people believe that age discrimination affects their daily lives, more than any form of discrimination, and 53% believe that when you reach very old age people treat you as a child.

I think the only way you break down those stereotypes, the only way you change discrimination of any kind – whether it is based on race, gender, sexuality, disability, religion or any other characteristic, is to bring people together. Because once you have a relationship with someone, the stereotypes fall away. And so our sixth form tutors have found that older people do have a sense of humour, can learn new skills even in their nineties and are not as pitiable as they might have thought. And our older students have learnt that teenagers are kind, patient, willing to volunteer and honest. One told me that before she had done the course her perception of teenagers was influenced by stories in the media of the Summer riots and gang crime. If she saw a group of young people waiting at the bus stop she would have been too intimidated to join them. Now she is no longer afraid, in fact she may know some of them.

To my mind that is as valuable as saving money on your energy bills (which is definitely valuable too). A very special effect.

Thank you to the great schools which support this work – Whitefield Academy, St James Catholic High, Christ College Finchley, Bishop Douglass, Queen Elizabeth Girls, Copthall, Mill Hill, Woodhouse College and Wren Academy.

Just to be a little controversial, Barnet Council is planning to channel shift, to put all services online, because it is much cheaper for them. There are 60,000 older people in the borough, and many of them use council services. In order to make this policy work and to realise the savings they want to make, I think they should allocate some money from their IT and communications budget to help get older people online. I don’t think this should be an adult social services issue – they need to fund care. I think it is a communication issue and this would be a reasonable adjustment if you want to make everything online. If you agree with me, do let your local councillor know.

Back to the Secret Postcard Sale – 23 November in Mr Simms, 781 High Road North Finchley, N12 8JY and a subtle shift from little screens to bigger ones, with all the animation of a bounding teenager. I want to highlight three film directors/ animators who have kindly donated postcards to the sale, all three experts in very special effects.

Terry Gilliam A man of many talents – screenwriter, film director, animator, actor and a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. As well as appearing in Monty Python sketches, he was responsible for the animations. His many films have earned a string of awards, including a BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award in 2009. Thank you Mr Gilliam, you are very kind to support us and I adore your postcard.

Marco Sandeman is a gentle man and a gentleman, who has made music videos for the likes of Paul McCartney, Bart Warshaw, The Kooks, the Pipettes, Molotov Jukebox and the National Youth Theatre amongst others. You may not know his name, but you will love his work and his postcard. Take a look here:

Darren Wall is a director of Planet Jump, an animation studio based right here in Barnet.  From storyboarding the new One Direction video “Best Song Ever” to a Judge Dredd 3D animated comic, via a trailer for Call of Juarez, his work is atmospheric and totally beautiful. So is the postcard. Take a look at their website here:

Thank you all – I am so grateful.

Sugar and Spice – illustrators with sweetness and cartoonists with bite

Age UK Barnet’s Secret Postcard Sale will take place in Mr Simms, 781 High Rd, North Finchley, N12 8JY on 23 November, the same day as the Christmas Festival.

The nearest tube is Woodside or you can take 125, 221, 263, 626, 134, 82, 460 or 683 buses.

And so, in honour of the sweetshop Mr Simms used to be, I thought I would let you know about some of the lovely illustrators who have promised cards and tell you about some of the more biting cartoonists who have also promised cards.

David McKee – author and illustrator of books which many older people have read to their children and grandchildren – Mr Benn; Elmer the Patchwork Elephant; King Rollo; Not now, Bernard; and many more. He was the UK nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen prize for children’s book illustration in 2006

Rebecca Cobb’s book Lunchtime was the winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2013 and has been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway medal. As well as her own books she has illustrated the Paper Dolls for Julia Donaldson and a number of Helen Dunmore books.

Nick Wadley was Head of Art History at Chelsea School of Art and Design until 1985. He was a weekly cartoonist for the Daily Telegraph and Financial Times 1997-2001 and, as well as writing and illustrating his own and other books, he is a Regent of the College de Pataphysique.

Simone Lia has written and illustrated children’s books, graphic novels and is a cartoonist for the Independent, the Guardian and the DFC. Her work has been exhibited at the Tate Britain

Hari and Jake are political cartoonists at the Guardian who make difficult financial issues simple. You can find their work here, on the Ripped Off Britons blog

Scott Getchell is a cartoonist for the Boston Phoenix in the USA, as well as a gifted musician.

Ben Jennings is an illustrator and cartoonist and winner of Political Cartoon of the Year 2011 by the Political Cartoon Society. His work appears in the Guardian, the Independent, New Statesman and a host of other publications.

Last, but by no means least,

Martin Rowson is known best for his visceral, satirical political cartoons. As he himself said  “I long ago worked out, from bitter experience amid the hate mail and death threats I’ve received from around the world, that while I see my work as a cartoonist as firmly in the tradition of William Hogarth and Gillray, everyone else sees it as breathtakingly vicious.” His work appears most often in the Guardian and the Independent, but has also featured in a host of other newspapers.

And if that is not enough to whet your appetite, can I tell you about how Age UK Barnet provides lunch clubs, including one for Muslim women, and a new supper club at Café Buzz; support for older people who are underweight through the Eat Well project; and cooking classes for older men, many of whom have been widowed or become carers? All proceeds from the sale will support the work of Age UK Barnet.

Thank you all for your fantastic generosity. It is hugely appreciated. A veritable banquet and something for every taste.