Cancer & Me – 30 Years On (chapter 7 – A Chance Encouner)


The Graphics department was displaying work that did little to inspire me. I conversed with some students who suggested I go over to the main building in Hope Street and look at the current exhibition. Leaving my heavy portfolio in someone’s office I wandered a little way back down Myrtle Street and turned left into Hope Street, the Philharmonic Hall on my left, the Anglican Cathedral in the direction I was facing and the Roman Catholic Cathedral at the opposite end of Hope Street somewhere behind me. I walked along the street and crossed the road to the Hahnemann Building. ‘Some hope!’ I mused as I entered the imposing building and wandered aimlessly into the exhibition gallery, looking up as someone entered from a door at the opposite end of the room. It was Mr Tall and Lanky. ‘What are you doing here?’ he asked, quite clearly happy to see me. I told him my sorry tale, my past experience in art, a brief outline of my cancers, my time in Africa and the need for me to move with modern times and my ambition to get started on a course without further delay.

I told him of my selection committee and how they disparaged me and advised me to do a foundation course. He snorted at the very thought but asked why I didn’t want to do graphics. I explained that I’d had been there, done that and felt too old for the cutting edge of the market. He understood my concerns, but went on to say that graphics covered a wider spectrum that could include printmaking – his department – and anyway, if I got accepted I could always change direction part way through the course and get transferred to painting or sculpture.

He invited me into his department to have a look around and when I had finished doing so I sat with him in his office for a chat and a coffee. I liked what I saw of the printmaking and I liked him. He told me a bit about himself, his years at the college, going back to the days of John Lennon – and that he was married with six children and his wife was a property developer. He asked if he had managed to convince me to change course, but I was still very down in the dumps at the thoughts of having to postpone for another year in order to reapply for Graphics. What would I do for a year? He had the solution; he told me to return to Myrtle Street, collect my portfolio, climb the stairs again and knock on the door of the office at the top, to go in and ‘demand’ to see the Head of Department, Bruce Sabine, the smaller bearded dapper gent I had seen with him on the stairs earlier. I laughed – in no way was I going to demand to see anyone. He was serious, but added – ‘don’t tell him I sent you’. I bade him a fond farewell and retraced my steps.

Knocking tentatively on the door of the office a female voice invited me to enter and I asked to see Mr Sabine. The secretary told me to go right in to his office – did I hear correctly – did she say ‘he’s expecting you?’ Before I could dwell on those words I was in the office and after a brief introduction Bruce Sabine told me to spread my portfolio out on the floor and no sooner had I done this than the door opened and Mr Tall & Lanky entered, grinning. In view of his instructions I was startled to see him (but I had heard the secretary correctly), and they looked at my work together. They asked if I would like to re-apply there and then and I realised this was an opportunity not to be missed. After a bit of form filling they said I would hear if I had been accepted in due course. I thanked them and left with a lighter heart.

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One thought on “Cancer & Me – 30 Years On (chapter 7 – A Chance Encouner)

  1. These is a great story.
    I did a degree in Graphic Design at Southampton. I wanted to do fine art and toyed with illustration, which I was not comfortable with. Then I realised that many of the fine artists I liked did commercial art first (i.e. Warhol) so it was good that I did. I worked on magazines and corporate logos in my past. Now I just do a bit of fine art.

    Liked by 1 person

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