Undone Town - a play on the phrase 'London Town' - was a weekly strip that I wrote and drew for the London listings magazine Time Out for a couple of years starting in the very late 1990s. It appeared in the events section - properly known as Around Town - as a thin strip at the bottom of the first page.

The oddly stretched outline was an inheritance from the prior occupant of the page, and a challenge to fill, especially as I didn't actually get the job until just after I had moved out of London. ('Typical Barfield timing,' as my wife Jessica would say.)

Luckily London's historical quirks have always been a big interest of mine and I had grown a huge library of books about the city during my 18 years of living there. These were to prove an invaluable source of pictures in those days when comparatively little information was available online - and all internet connections were dial-up.

My wife and I had moved to North Hertfordshire to start a family, though I had sent
Time Out editor Dominic Wells an idea (unsolicited) for a regular cartoon feature whilst still living in the capital. The idea was to depict a series of totally fictitious London landmarks as if they had been sketched in ballpoint on yellow post-it notes. The title for this was Post-code Notes, which I think would still be a grand idea.

Of that original submission, I can remember that one of the London features I had invented was the Princess Margaret Skunk Pavilion at London Zoo - a natural companion to the Snowdon Aviary.

Anyway, as is so often the case with unsolicited ideas, months went by and I had still heard nothing from anyone at
Time Out, for good or ill. Now settled in a new home in Hertfordshire, I finally plucked up the courage to ring them, whereupon I was put through to some harassed sounding editorial assistant only to be given the brush-off: if I hadn't heard anything, then it was pretty certain that they weren't interested and I could expect to receive my artwork back any day now. Disheartening, but I hung up the phone with a shrug and immediately wondered where else I could send it.

Just a few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the same assistant, but this time sounding very friendly and very apologetic. Having now consulted him, it seems the editor was actually a fan of my
Apparently... cartoons in Private Eye and would be delighted for me to do something for Time Out - just not the idea I had originally submitted.

Undone Town was the result - a free-wheeling take on the many myths, legends and curiously genuine, genuinely curious facts associated with what is indubitably the UK's finest capital city.

The Around Town page was edited by the very lovely Sara O'Reilly and I would turn up at
Time Out's offices on the Tottenham Court Road every few months to hand her a new batch of finished strips. The foyer would often be harbouring lots of hungry-looking art students with their portfolios of beautifully finished drawings in the hope someone might give them a gig. With only a biology degree to my name and a sense of humour, I felt a bit of fraud. But there you go.

Shown on this page are a few examples of the strips from its two year run, before it metamorphosed into another weekly feature called
Museum Pieces.

I think most of these are from its later stages, when my drawing skills had markedly improved from their artistically shaky start. A few are in the permanent collections of the British Library, the Museum of London and the National Maritime Museum. Plenty of others are still available. Do please get in touch if you think you might like to purchase one.