Archive for the ‘Art College Years 1965 – 1970’ Category

There follows a transcript of a letter I wrote to my parents in June of 1970.  This was near the end of  my final year at Winchester Art College where I was studying Fine Art, Painting.

I had had a patellectomy the previous year at the hospital in Winchester, quite a major operation which although quite successful took a lot of getting over.


I had also been diagnosed with a serious eye condition related to my Stills Disease for which I was receiving ongoing treatment and observation.

I share this letter as a memory for myself and in the hope that it may be of some interest to others.


Winchester 9 : 6 : 70


Dear Mum & Dad,

There’s so much to tell.  I tried to phone but there was no one in. So I’ll try and write it all down in some sort of order.

Good news first:

Moynihan has discharged me. If (or when ! ) I have any trouble I can write to him for advice and/or an appointment.

Bad news:

The side effects of the cortisone got worse over the weekend….indigestion and a horribly uncomfortable stomach – that I can put up with. But increasingly I’ve been feeling very edgy and neurotic. I keep flying off in a temper at people over little things. My hands keep shaking and I feel really screwed up. I can’t bear anyone to touch me and I’m really hot. The weather has been really oppressive but even so the heat has never upset me like this before. I haven’t been able to do any real hard painting for a week. I can’t put my mind to anything. Normally I find it very easy to do all my organizing work but this week I just can’t cope at all, and that frightens me. Anyway – I thought it was just me giving in to the pressures until it suddenly dawned on me on Sunday night that it was the Cortisone. I looked up the side effects in Mary’s arthritis book and there it all was – peptic ulceration, hypertension, deterioration of nerves and psychoses!!

Anyway I told Moynihan and he said to see Jenkins – so I made an emergency appointment and saw him this morning. I told him I thought it was criminal doctors putting you on dangerous drugs without asking your permission or even warning you of side effects. So he said well, before Cortisone was invented people used to go blind with irido-cyclitis – so what could I say. He said I’ll have to come off it gradually otherwise my eye will flare up again. He gave me some endocrine-coated versions of the tablets to take instead so that I wouldn’t get the indigestion. So I said what about all the other troubles and shouldn’t I have a blood test ‘cos I can feel my blood pounding about, even in my toes and fingers. But he said it wasn’t necessary since I had one five weeks ago – (but that was before the treatment was started!) Anyway if things don’t improve I’ll demand a blood test in two weeks at the eye clinic.

Anyway Jenkins said I had to be sensible about it and to make sure I took exactly the right dosage and to make sure that they remember to reduce it. And he reckons that I’ll feel better without the indigestion.

I flared up at college and screamed at everybody for not helping me organise the Dip. Party when I’m ill and I’ve got such a lot of work on my plate what with *Lindsay Kemp coming on Monday and *Andy Newman on Friday, not to mention my painting. I mean I’ve lost two days this last week going to see all these different doctors. Anyway it had its effects – I really scare people when I lose my temper. Tom shot off downstairs and printed the party invitations. I told Crozier that I couldn’t run everything on my own ‘cos I’m ill and he announced it at a meeting and Jane said she’d take over and everybody’s terribly worried about me – not before time. Now I feel guilty for shouting at everybody – but it has had the desired effect. You really find out who your friends are – the ones who allow themselves to be screamed at and still speak to you afterwards. Anyway, don’t you two start worrying about all this – it’s all under control and I’m not so hung up about it now I’ve clarified the situation.



*  The references to Lindsay Kemp and Andy Newman need further explanation.

I had booked both ‘artists’ (separately) to  ‘perform’ at events for the Student Union Extra Curricular Society which I started at the Art College.  I don’t recall just now what the exact purpose of this visit by Lindsay  was, probably a lecture or talk, but Andy Newman was performing for us with his band, Thunderclap Newman, and promoting his hit single “Something in the Air”.  So there was quite a lot to organise!






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