As you probably know, Hockney’s a relative stranger to the media unless he’s got a show coming up, and he’s got a huge one at the Royal Academy in January, taking over the entire building with work he’s done down the last four years, much of it inspired by the Yorkshire Wolds near his home in Bridlington.
You might well ask what I’m doing rubbing shoulders with the greatest living artist. Well The Boyfriend is a director on Countryfile and Hockney seemed keen to be on the show, so I naturally tagged along – are you kidding?
He’s funny, down to earth and full of fun. Hockney, not TB. After spending an hour or two in the unglamorous warehouse on an industrial estate in Brid that doubles as his studio he drove us to his house on the front and gave us lunch. Or his partner Jonathan Fitzherbert did – and what a good cook he turned out to be! A gloriously light and tasty cheese soufflé/pie arrived with roast spuds, crunchy winter veg and a huge bowl of crisp green salad with a fennel dressing: lush.
Hockney entertained us with side-splitting non-PC jokes and pro-smoking rants. His take on life/the government/nanny state/people that make you take your shoes off when you come in the house is unarguable with. As soon as the last mouthful of food is finished the fags come out and before long a familiar fug hovers.
A recovering smoker, I longed to join in, instead mourned the passing of great times spent in pubs and fellow-smoker’s gaffs lighting one after the other and bloody enjoying it. Hockney’s house is like him: full of charm, slightly chaotic and relaxed. The three things about him I will carry with me for ever are his limitless lust for life, the smile that constantly lingers around the corners of his mouth ready to crack out at any moment and his bone-dry humour. Remind me to tell you the one about the three pretty girls going for an interview ..