I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Ken last Friday to meet my friend Ben. He was late.
This was one of the rare occasions in my life that I didn’t mind lateness because I love museum gift shops as much as I hate people being late, so my resentment was neutralised.
I like to look for Christmas tree ornaments and correspondence cards. I drew a blank on both these fronts but I thought that the prints section was brilliant.
The walls of my dad’s study are covered in photographs, drawings and quotes.
Only recently, it occurred to me that most of the things on his walls are variations on the theme of hard work: he has a poster which reads ‘Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true’; the poem ‘A Man’s A Man For A That’ by Robert Burns and a picture of my grandpa sitting in the Daimler my dad worked hard to buy.
The only thing at odds with this generally pragmatic trend is the plaque on the door of his study with a line from Dante’s Inferno which reads ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here.' It sort of works though, because his study is full of stuff. You can't find anything quickly and you do end up giving up hope.
He told me a few weeks ago that he'd started to sort through his stuff and binned the clutter ahead of a make-over.
I could’ve bought five or six prints, sanity (and space in my flat) permitting. I came across one print that made me think of my dad.
'Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down' was designed and printed by Martin Walker and issued by the "Association of Members of Hornsey College of Art" during the occupation of the college in May 1968.
I don’t think that my dad took part in any revolutionary activity in his twenties, but I suppose he was a bit of a one-person revolution who has always stuck it to the man.
He didn't get into a grammar school when he was 11 and his mother wept.
But he didn't let that academic failure keep him down. Instead, he became successful, travelled the world and just kept being a cool, kind guy. In fact, he's probably the smartest person I know. I know that he’s never let the bastards grind him down.
I hope that he’ll be able to find a little spot for it on the wall.
Buy the print here
Check out my prints-as-gifts Pinterest board