Happy 80th birthday, David Hockney!
Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 16:04
Simon Clark

Happy 80th birthday, David Hockney!

Extraordinary, I know, that such a confirmed and unapologetic smoker should reach such a ripe old age, but there we are.

I won't bore readers with yet another account of the time you travelled to Brighton to speak at a Forest event at the 2005 Labour party conference and joined us for dinner afterwards.

Nor will I recount the time you made a surprise appearance at a small private dinner hosted by Forest in the City of London.

Or the time you attended the Forest Annual Awards at the Groucho Club to collect your 'Smokers' Rights Champion of the Year' award.

Or your appearance at a Forest event to mark the first anniversary of the smoking ban.

Or the afternoon you turned up at the House of Commons and addressed guests at a Forest event that marked the fourth anniversary of the ban.

I have written about these occasions many times because they are seared in my memory. That day in Brighton was the best of my working life, bar none, and I shall never forget it, especially the fun and the laughter.

Your defence of smoking, and smokers, has been an inspiration and a comfort.

But what I really admire is your sangfroid, your open-mindedness, your refusal to judge people and your palpable tolerance of the many quirks and eccentricities of human nature.

If only politicians and public health campaigners shared your outlook on life, what a happier and less divisive world it would be.

So congratulations on your birthday. I hope you enjoy many more – and thanks.

Previous posts:
Hockney: Brighton breezy (May 2007)
Life is messy, says Hockney (December 2008)
Up yours, Hockney tells Brown (September 2009)
David Hockney lights up the House of Commons (June 2011)
David Hockney: "Why shouldn’t I smoke?" (February 2017)

Above: David Hockney pictured in front of a portrait of Pablo Picasso. Below: Susie Dean goes in search of Britain's greatest living artist at the House of Commons, June 2011.

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