The moment an Athena shop opened near me, my bedroom in my Balham flat overnight became festooned with death and destruction, mainly provided by Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel.
As if Sir Kenneth Clark had lived in my flat, I had become an art expert overnight – as long as the paintings gave the impression that you’d have loved to have had a pint of whatever the artists had been drinking!
I’d spend a fortune in the Athena shops buying famous pictures replicated on postcards, posters and small blocks of wood; I’m sure my neighbours always enjoyed my random nail-hammering after a shop visit.
I was never tempted with any Picasso cartoon, though, as I was more an Andy Capp man.
Dali was hugely popular within the stores and if he’d bought his watches which he depicted in his paintings, you could see that Gerald Ratner had had a point.
Before its advent in 1964, very few people had art in their houses unless it was The Laughing Cavalier, a bowl of fruit, or a Chinese woman whose face was so green it looked like she’d eaten too much fruit.
However, one of the more popular images was something I never bought: Leonardo da Vinci’s Tennis girl scratching arse! – although the eyes do follow you round the room, a sign of a good painting!