In the summer of 1966 I heard that a silkscreen printer who specialised in producing the ‘flags’ that estate agents place outside houses for sale, had suffered a major fire. Racks full of stencils repeatedly washed with white spirit, drums of solvent based inks and cans of cellulose paints were so inflammable they were destroyed in minutes. I contacted them to see if they needed any help recovering as I had a rudimentary knowledge of the craft through college. They responded instantly and soon I was hard at work helping replenish their stocks of screens and stencils and helping print new flags. This was at the hard-nosed end of commercial print, but the learning experience was invaluable as was the opportunity to work with industrial quality materials and equipment. Scrap ends of materials which would normally be consigned to the skip were donated to me by the foreman allow me to develop my printmaking technique through the summer months.
That was also the summer of the World Cup, and Old Trafford, where some of the matches were to be hosted, was only half a mile from our premises. Two of the old hands sidled up to me and suggested that if I stayed behind on the night of the big match, there was an opportunity to make some extra money. Before the building was locked up for the night we borrowed three white coats from the signwriters’ studio and took up our places at the entrance to the extensive yard that made up our car-park. Two neat signs by the entrance proclaimed: ‘Parking 10/-‘ and as the Old Trafford floodlights illuminated the summer evening sky we began directing cars inside and parking them in neat rows to fit in the maximum possible. By the time the roars from the ground filled night, I had pocketed my £25 share of the takings and headed for the bus. Considering my wages at the time were £11 per week, this was a serious contribution to a poor student’s coffers.