Q&A: Bob Richardson Library learning and education officer, St Bride Library 

Jo Francis
Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Richardson, known as the ‘Encyclopaedia Of All Things Print’ at St Bride Library in London, has just retired. But friends and colleagues are delighted he will still be on hand to share his expertise as a volunteer.

Why did you get into printing?

I saw an advertisement for an Adana printing press in 1970 and knew that’s what I wanted to do. The press cost me 10 pounds and 15 shillings and I still have it

What would be your dream job?

These days I’d be very happy as a tester of comfy armchairs

What would you like to print? 

Victorian music hall posters or something like the famous ‘For the Benefit of Mr Kite’ poster

What is your favourite film? 

Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon - the ultimate escape from the rat-race

Sweet or savoury? 

Always savoury. A Gregg’s cheese & onion pasty can’t be matched

What do you dislike the most? 

Travelling on the Tube during rush-hour. I’m 68 and need a seat but don’t look sufficiently decrepit to have one offered

What is your favourite album? 

Probably something a bit weird and electronic like Jean-Jacques Perrey’s The Out Sound from Way In. Perrey’s Minuet of the Robots was a great favourite of Kenny Everett

What is your favourite book?

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I’ve worn out many copies and still return to it

Cat or dog? 

The best of both world’s is a cat which thinks it’s a dog. I had two like that – Cagney & Lacey. They came when called and did tricks

What is your greatest luxury? 

Taxis. An expensive way of avoiding the tube!

What is the strangest job you’ve ever done? 

Keeper of the Daleks... and Cybermen... and Zygons, as assistant in the BBC Exhibitions Unit in the early 1980s

Who would you like to be stuck on a desert island with? 

For good company, Liza Tarbuck or Ken Bruce, but from a practical viewpoint Ray Mears or Bear Grylls

What is your greatest ambition? 

Complete financial independence, not quite the same as great wealth

Who or what makes you laugh? 

Broad comedy like ‘Allo ‘Allo! There’s nothing like a naughty knackwurst to raise a titter

What piece of kit would you like to see invented? 

Two pieces: a sock putter-onner, and a shoelace tying machine

Favourite party guests? 

Terry Wogan, Kenneth Williams, Margaret Rutherford and Les Dawson

Where would you go if you could time-travel? 

Caxton’s workshop at Westminster – to see how it all started

What was your childhood obsession? 

Dr Who in the monochrome Hartnell/Troughton era, when my youth made it so much more believable

What is the worst kind of print?

Gimmicky stuff that doesn’t work, like a real example with reversed text printed alongside a foiled sheet which was meant to act as a mirror – but patently didn’t

Life is... 

About enjoying yourself without hurting others

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