It’s 7.45am and I’m standing in a line of hundreds of people snaking lazily along Oxford Street – all of whom are pissing off the shop owners who really want to open their stores to sell trainers and knocked off Metallica t shirts. The queue is an odd mix of skate sprogs clutching satchels through to middle aged men in sharp tailoring. I don’t quite know where I fit in with those descriptions. I certainly don’t fit in with the guy next to me with his copy of the Daily Mail rolled up neatly under his arm and his banter with his mate (“I need to show someone around a property at 9.30 so they’d better be quick”). An estate agent, the Daily Mail? FFS! Someone tries to push in which means I get to use my favourite line in these situations – “Are you looking for the back of the queue mate? Yeah? It’s that way….”. Saying that, it is generally a well mannered and patient affair. We are, after all, all queuing up to buy a new Banksy print. We get filmed by a news crew, queue porn anyone? It’s like being on a demonstration being watched by police spotters.
Some have travelled hundreds of miles, some even slept out by the door in sleeping bags (no, they were not a Mark Jenkins installation, they really did sleep out on the street). The good news is the print is half the price of recent runs and is of one the best things Banksy has put out recently. All of which makes parting with the expected £100 for a piece of paper with a delicate and finely worked image on it so much easier. The first 25 people with a print walk out clutching two tubes which induces fitting in someone near me as it’s strictly one per customer. A few minutes later and it’s all good – the first 25 customers got an additional Peter Kennard poster as well as their Banksy print for their trouble. I pay my money, pick up my print and leave. It really was as simple as that despite weeks of stories that it would be utter carnage. Well done POW.
This evening I checked on the number of prints that have made it to Ebay already. 25 by 5pm on the same day as it was released. It’s nice to see greed hasn’t gone out of fashion at this time of year, merry f’ing Christmas, one’n’all. At least the ‘scalpers’ initial outlay is going to go to restore sight for many people in Bangladesh. All the proceeds from the print are going to sightsavers, a fantastic charity doing fantastic work where for very little money a persons life can be transformed. There were a 1000 prints at a £100 a time, you do the maths but that’s a stunning donation.