Memos and meeting minutes in archives are difficult things for me; sometimes there’s a fabulous snippet of information, and you’re almost convinced you know who wrote it, but there’s no name on the memo, the handwriting is generic 1930s public school, and it’s bunched in with a lot of other odds and ends from other people. Referencing is frustrating.
However, I often feel far more connected with the bureaucrats and organisers – some of whom are named – who sit through these meetings than with their clearly named and often extremely characterful counterparts in Sudan, because of their scribblings and doodles, and often pointed asides to their board meeting neighbour on their copy of the agenda.
A doodler was at work in the meetings of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the group of Sudanese opposition parties that operated underground and from Asmara in the 1990s and early 2000s. Their interest was primarily stars of various kinds:
The most chronic doodler I have come across lately is a certain potentate at the Save the Children Fund UK in the 1970s; he is anonymised here in case his family sue me for implying he was less than conscientious in his meetings. However, he has a distinctive geometric style, modernist and elegant, with some occasional curvy and wiggly versions. Some examples follow.
I feel an affinity with this man, as a perpetual cartoonist of lecturers and speakers myself; I wonder if he ever realised his biro-works would be catalogued.