Self portrait with brown ale

I found this today when rifling through old paperwork and drawings. It’s from an old sketchbook of mine and this is from around 1966 ,I think. A drawing of myself in the digs I shared with other Manchester students on what was then called pre-diploma year, but is now called Foundation.

The ‘digs’ were with a lady who taught at a nearby school and had a huge old rambling house in Higher Openshaw in Manchester, just up the road from the college department which was situated in the old municipal baths building in Openshaw. There was nothing higher about higher Openshaw. An industrial area with rows of back to back housing. I could catch a trolley bus to the college from up the road. Machines with a surprising acceleration and the one we took generally hit a bump just before our stop. We always sat upstairs on the smokey top deck and had to be very careful not to miss several stairs as we disembarked at out stop.

For entertainment my new friends in the house, the poor teacher had 5 other boys to deal with in her big house, we would wander up to the park and play football in the park then repair to the local pub to drink copious quantities of Boddington’s beer. We even had a college football match one day with the apprentices and worked from a nearby factory.Nothing official, just coats on the ground for goals. We had one or two reasonably good players but they has regulation steel toe capped boots and we came off afterwards gallant losers with bruises. A rematch was never considered.

We were encourages to do as much drawing and sketchbook work as possible to give ourselves a fighting chance of getting into the degree course. Thankfully I did loads and did get in, wether I made the best of it is another matter. One of my tutors at Manchester was Don Mckinlay who was a straight talking man at the best of times and a brilliant artist. He took some pleasing and I’ll never forget how he described my first life drawing as ‘bloody awful’. That aside I liked him and when I got into the degree he expressed a great deal of surprise.

My short time on that year in Openshaw was a massive revelation and one that I enjoyed every minute of and although I did not make the best of my other time in Manchester I certainly did on that year. Having failed almost all my “A” levels and lucky enough to have been given an unconditional place at Manchester I was determined to get into the degree year.

I’d applied to Manchester to do graphic design. I was interviewed by a group of three gentlemen. The head of the graphic design was a gentleman called Mister Lofthouse and he was the one asking the questions. I actually went on the make a screen print from this drawing, with more background and green wallpaper. I was asked “How would you describe that colour” by Mister Lofthouse. “Landlady Green” I answered. He smiled to himself and I thought to myself: That might have got you a place, and it did. I wonder if Farrow and Ball do that colour?

The brown ale in the picture is from Hyde Brewery in Manchester, and came in large bottles, Brown Ale? You don’t see that much these days and what was I, a less than stylish northern lad doing drinking that stuff? Perhaps it was cheap. Happy days.

The place was heated but as you can see it required a good heavy coat to survive.No frills with light shades.

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