When Bruce Lee opined that "Simplicity is the key to Brilliance", it is doubtful that the fictitious county of North Pimmshire, UK, and the inhabitants of Tottering Hall could even have been on his radar! However, he accidentally but aptly summarises Annie Tempest's portrayal of Dicky and Daffy Tottering and their interaction and challenges with everyday life, glimpsed through the eyes of the fading British aristocracy.
Tottering by Gently first appeared as a cartoon on the back page of Country Life Magazine in January 1994. To say it was an instant hit is a serious understatement. Testament to the success is that the cartoon still appears in that same place every week, 26 years later! As the 7th Duke of Devonshire is quoted as saying,
"It is because of Annie Tempest that people tend to read magazines backwards".
Lord and Lady Tottering reside at Tottering Hall. Annie's cartoons superbly capture the essence of British life through the charming vignette of comedy but with a serious undertone; it brings Burke's peerage into wonderful reality! The relationships between husband and wife, family, staff and friends all are explored in a non-political but insightful manner.
Dogs are a constant theme with the ongoing debate between labradors and spaniels front and centre. Slobber and Scribble would warrant their own roadshow as there are legions of fans of those two rascals in isolation and their interaction with "those humans". No surprise really that "The Dog Rules" is Annie's most popular print from the entire range - so far!
Wine and champagne are writ large; a staple of life in every Englishman's Castle, the debate and excuse of consumption in terms of timing, quantity and jolility will be reminiscent to all of us who recognise those anxieties...
Trace their steps from the early days and follow the adventures of the Totterings as they grapple with increasingly modern life and all the challenges that that evolution of progress entails and represents.
We all laugh out loud when looking at these cartoons; laughing at, and with, Dicky and Daffy. We all recognise ourselves, our friends and others in the skill that flows from Annie's hand. That's all part of the magic and why we enjoy them so much.
The characters are widely recognised throughout the UK and beyond. In May 2019, Quentin Letts, writing in The Times, observed that the then UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, as "she applied designer half-moon specs which, with her gash of scarlet lipstick, gave her a hint of Daffy in the Tottering By Gently cartoons in Country Life." What more is there to say?!
So: grab a glass, put your feet up and start with the County Life Magazine collection...
And remember to stay frisky!