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The Art of Derek Dohren

painting, writing, photography



Where the streets are paved with gold

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 6:33 PM

It’s odd. I now have more luggage carrying capacity than I have actual luggage. My meagre worldly possessions consist of, amongst other things, a couple of suitcases, a rucksack, a laptop bag and a roll of plastic bin bags capable of taking the bulk of my tired and washed out clothes. When I move out of this apartment next month I’ll be able to shove the whole Dohren estate into the back of a family sized saloon. All I need to prove it is a family sized saloon. I do have a stash of exceedingly dodgy early paintings in my daughter’s Glasgow flat – but perhaps the less said about that the better.

Does it get me down? Yeah, course it does.


But on the other hand it’s kind of good to be able to travel light. I was always fascinated by the Dick Whittington fairy tale figure who walked to London, where the streets were paved with gold, with what little baggage he had tied to the end of a stick slung over his shoulder. For a penniless hobo I can’t think of a worse destination, yet he became Lord Mayor, and several times over, unless I’m mistaken. Good for him then, but I think most people nowadays would prefer to be a homeless vagrant than a politician.

I feel no worse off for a lack of ‘stuff’. In fact it’s very liberating.

Not for me the worries of how I’m going to find time to bubble-wrap the family silver or how to find the best method of decommissioning, transporting, and reassembling the laboriously catalogued library. No, my biggest concern is agonising over whether I should celebrate the move by buying a new toothbrush or maintaining draconian austerity measures and keeping the existing one. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re rich or you’re poor, there are still heartbreaking decisions to be made. That toothbrush has been a fine servant.

And it has to be said, the less you have, the more you appreciate what little you do have. I’m pleased to announce that the spare pair of shoe laces I’ve been using as a washing line will be making the trip with me. Fellas, it wouldn’t be the same without you.


When those early Glasgow paintings are discovered in some godforsaken Gorbals attic, say in 2080, they’ll be worth a fortune. The lucky owner will witter on about the ‘tragic life’ of the artist. My story will be made into a panto, starring the foremost D-list celebs of the day. In this panto I’ll be seen trudging to Granada with all my worldly goods tied up in a Mercadona bag.

In the Dick Whittington story they gave him a cat. I hope they give me a shiny new toothbrush. This one’s gone all splayed.

Categories: La Zubia, Art, thoughts