My first year at Howard Gardens, Cardiff passed by extremely quickly and most of it has faded from memory. I did however, have the opportunity to experiment with different ways of making art and continued my life drawing classes with a vengeance. Painting was another matter, my natural inclination towards figurative work clashed with a new found interest in abstraction, particularly the American Abstract Expressionists. The resulting work was pretty unsatisfactory!
By the end of the summer term I had to sell many of my beloved books in order to pay a retainer on the room I had at the time - a room I didn't actually return to in the autumn because by then one became available with friends in 'The Chateau' on Richmond Rd- where I had stayed when I first moved to Cardiff.
Once home I worked on the hay harvest in local farms, it didn't pay much but it was better than nothing. On the train I'd shared a compartment with an angry RAF chap who was on his way to Hereford. He assumed that all art students were 'bloody idle rich kids whose mummy and daddy could afford to send them to art school and what good was art anyway?' My dad was a steelworker and my mum did umpteen other things as well as cook and clean (she was a self trained artist) plus we had an outside toilet! None of my impeccable working class credentials seemed to placate his tirade against 'arty farty lefties' which lasted from Cardiff to Abergafenni.
It was only when I offered him a Player's No 6 from a tatty packet of ten, that his mood towards me softened. "Bloody hell you must be hard up."he said, and proffered a pack of twenty Rothman's Kingsize "Take two" he said.
The short journey from Abergafenni halt to Hereford passed in silent contemplation wreathed in blue smoke.