Inspector Burge Investigates the Missing Post-Card: The amazing answer revealed!








Click the smaller pictures to enlarge

From Doug Smith:

Dear David, Thank you for your email, it is such a pleasure to hear from one of Barney’s oldest friends, have read a lot about you in ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’

I had a nice phone call from Léonie Scott-Matthews who runs the Pentameter Theatre group in Hampstead. She read me an entry from her diary, after she had met Barney with regard to his set designs for a play written by Robert Calvert that she presented at the theatre.

With regard to the Inspector Burge Investigates cards that Barney gave me, I of course do not own the copyright and in fact on the reverse sides of the cards it says ‘A HABITAT POSTCARD PRODUCED IN ONEDERLAND’ , however ‘Habitat © 1967’ is not printed on the cards or the cover. (as I remembered – DW)

What was ‘Onederland’?

A Barney original construct, based on the Oakland CA pre-Disney Fairyland – DW

… I have scanned and attached a copy of the other side of one of the cards.

Habitat is now owned by Inka Holdings the parent company of Ikea, I would imagine you would have to approach them for copyright clearance.

Hey. If any body at Ikea would like to re-print why not contact me? We could do ’em in colour –  DW

Let me know about scanning the cards.

Regards, Douglas

Doug Smith Associates

“War is terrorism with a bigger budget”


  1. Doug Smith wins the prize (an all expenses paid  week for up to six congregants in Honduras in the ÉlanSuite at the Monserrat Hotel in San Paulo) for the missing card. Can you spot it? Prize to the first entrant to send a color rendering of Insp. Burge investigates. Stay within the lines, use fill, in ‘shop.

Doug says: “David, Attached are 6 jpegs…  with 1 card and cover, had to do it like this as my scanner is a small one! I hope this works for you and that the resolution is high enough. All the best, Doug”

Mystery card key to some of the shebang

The Inspector Burge Investigates Letraset title and the flush left, flush right type on either side and ‘paste-up’ was Barney’s work. The postercards were invented and drawn  by me for Habitat in 67, I got the job through Barney when he was working at Conran, I suggested the idea of postcard poster, and he presented it.

I also drew a set of  large (12 inch) stickers of a flower using a lot of second hand Midsummer Nights Dream imagery by Heath Robinson. I arranged this directly with Habitat. I don’t think the comptroller in Barney liked that. Apparently I sent the pencil rough off to Lorry, when she wasn’t well, or maybe it was her birthday or both  at a time when Barney was in a snit.

Svelte, Lorry would only ever eat a little dry bread and lots of tea. I wonder if that’s still true?

The Burge drawings are mostly referenced from a combination of a World History Illustrated, published by Odhams(?) from ’52, or the like.…

(Major irrelevant aside: The publisher, Odhams, was near what was [is now?] the NME music-mag building on Longacre. They had a special type system good for headlines and tables. A compositors room there appears in a British film I saw around ’75, and for whom I advised on locations. End aside.)

… and a History of the Movies I borrowed from the public library at Charing Cross that specializes in Film History. That’s Edward G Robinson or Sidney Greenstreet? – no it’s Peter Lorre in there; dancer Fred Astaire with whom I don’t recall, maybe Lauren Bacall? I wish it were Gish, but maybe was  Gert, oh yeah, must be Ginger Rodgers. Marleine Dietricht  in Berlin; Barney as a gangster praying with a maid filched from some movie scene.

Burge as Aleistair (sp?) Crowley lording it over all he surveys in the center. An early example of an eye of Horus  associated with Barney’s work. I also used it at the club Shady Grove in the centre of the palm tree growing on the back of the turtle. A relative was used for Margo StJames’ private-eye logo. The texts are by Barney for the most part, based on my notes with the drawings. See also my portrait of George Harrison in Let It Rock.

The postercards are a Tarot deck reading and quite closely follows the sense as I saw it that day of a traditional pack, and are set out in as a particular, fortunately-dealt hand. The cards were interpreted through random viz-match. No, I don’t remember the reading. We were both heavily into the Tarot, the I Ching, and the like at the time. We decided in a murmured welter of cryptic one-liners that all our work was imagery from a giant new Tarot deck, in all media, with multiple allusions and with this set as key to the idea.

I see now when I click the second time the pictures enlarge and I can read the instructions for play written by Barney and note the wording, “… suitable for all age groups between Four and Forty” which is another reference to the age at which he thought life was over, hipwise, and when he unwisely said (but not at this time) he intended to kill himself.

An arc of  ideas

The Thea Porter card, the Image poster, Egg Cookery wizard, the OZ 12 existence figure, who knows, maybe my Motor Racing chappie and Barney’s toggery illustrations (but nothing I think in that December 67 Nova), and this set of Inspector Burge Investigates, are all part of an arc of visual ideas by Barney and me (Obama can, me can). I think Barney and I in later years continued to play off the concept with variations, always looking for the ultimate image. Cheap and cheerful with depth. “Like a Giles cartoon.” said Barney. There being more there than the fluff on top. He was working with Scale and Depth and Change on many levels.

I gave my finished drawings to Barney and he whipped ’em into shape as the finished layout on the poster. Maybe Muggeridge worked with him on that.

I’ll try to get a decent shot of the entire deck up big if someone’s got the missing one, (Thank you Doug). They were intended to be sold with crayons to color them in. So, colour within the lines and have fun. Sombre colours work well on some. Howabut it John Coulthart? The usual Prizes of a Night on the Town and World Free Transport will be awarded to those who successfully engineer Photoshopped renderings that please me.

The first time I saw one of the cards in use was in ’67 on the desk of an art director in New York At Mary Wells, which was cool.

Tea and Scones

If i give the impression that working with Barney was all tea and scones, not.

I see many skinny legged guys on Haight street these days, the late 0hs, walking fast in pea-coats, looking exactly like Fulcher (Barney) in ’64, who memorably said. “Thin is in, is what everyone says.” By everyone, I think he meant Ginny Clive-Smith, for whom he held a torch, her word was gospel then, and he recorded the song, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ or similar, for her in the long gone, low-fi recording booth on Waterloo Station.

My concussed unreliability, lazy insolence, bad temper and scuzzy ways in the face of Barney’s meticulous intensity and industrial train-load acid consumption, inevitably led to the Barney freeze-out, to which I was eventually introduced in all its furious intensity, around the end of ’68.

His on and off sniping began a while before  the horrors of Nova, or the occupation of the LSE, I’d say his first jab hit at a Fulham bus stop, preparing for the Sounds good evening, in mid ’67. “That’s not how we speak.” he said, criticizing the non-hip, soppy way I spoke to  Sandra Garnel, the engaging bent-wire artist; escalated around the Oz 12 cover debacle; and took full flight subsequent the Thanksgiving dinner aftermath in November. Probably lasted three months, until his call for help with, “How can I spray for a Gallois like effect, but not smoke, without a spray gun?” sometime in early 69.

An unhealthy self-flagellation over misperceived self-shortcomings, insecurity squared – what they used to call an ‘inferiority complex,’ enabled Barney to unmercifully crucify his enemy of the minute. He probably rationalized his murderous methods towards others as no worse than any he felt towards himself. He had developed the process over the years (ask Burge), and he could cut one dead most effectively with a variety of deep, well honed stiletto jabs to the back.

This was before the human potential movement and we still communicated in archaic Whittonese, not lending itself to ardent discussion of social nuance, since it was mostly hip, mumbled irrelevances and obscure alusions which was fine in times of understanding, but when things got tough, uhoh. Unfinished sentences don’t make it.

If I seem confident in my analysis of the dynamics, it is of course also a self  portrait.


Now I’m reminded of it, I expect that, yes, the fact I used the picture of Barney and me painting Nikki by Phil Franks in my tacky Curious magazine of  March of 1971, may have annoyed some of the more ardent amongst Barney’s coterie, and so would have annoyed in turn, Fulcher, but he never said anything to me about it of course – that would have been uncool. I think a body (Stan the Man?) at Ink magazine may have mentioned to me, “Barney’s steaming mad.” I remember I half-smiled, pay-back. I later asked Barney about it, did he mind?, he said, “Nah, I didn’t – but some did.”

Of course Barney got over it, as I told the regal Ink-maiden, the lioness Cassandra, he probably eventually took it in good fun. I know I checked with Phil Franks and the model Nikki, got a release form and all, before it was published and I know I  told Barney I would use the pix in Curious when he asked if I’d like to do it. Curious provided work for all manner of folk: models, illustrators  (Bell, Andy Dudszinski, Peter Till) archivists, writers (Jane Kingsland) – so it had some redeeming qualities and was a really cool place to work, I learned a lot there.

In the ongoing ‘game’ of tit-for-tat, both good and bad played out over the millennia between us, Barney would have known that according to our charter you don’t cross me and expect no return.

At that level of banter I think Barney excelled, he could give a good as he could take, but he was most sensitive to criticism of his work.