The Artist

Spontaneously, the young couple had floated to Clissold Park in the summer breeze. Drawn by the unrelenting promise of cheap Cornish Ice Cream, relatively.

When the porch wrapped around the old stately home quietly whispered to them to come back soon they walked hand in hand, in love, down the hill to the path below. The river glistened and slowly, but surely the spring leaves unfurled revealing a lush green, waxy texture.

They saw the jacket before they saw the face. It was vintage, bought cheaply in a thrift store in Australia. Ten years ago it had simply been practical; it had fitted, it was cheap. But now, it had become the height of fashion. So, who was laughing?

They knew him. They all danced together; Wednesday nights were the highlight of their week. They would dress up, and wind down to hot jazz, with good company. ‘Lightfoot’ as they called him, was part of that company.

The coincidence was pleasant. It was the first time they had felt part of a community. London, with all of its quarters and districts, areas, groups, winding streets, tall buildings, concrete; had become somewhere where one could belong, and casually bump into friends in the park when enjoying a stroll in the sunshine.

The beer garden experience was great for two, but not the other. Politics was the agenda; she was not sure whether left or right. All she was sure of was that she was not interested, not involved and hungry. Food was on her mind.

That is why when young Michael invited them for dinner she could not resist. It felt like they were being taken around a new city, somewhere unknown and exciting. Yet, they had been in the area, often.

The house, the Australian housemate- the ‘reluctant accountant’- it was too good. The mushrooms detracted slightly, but, Lightfoot was right; what vegetarian in their right mind doesn’t eat mushrooms? The conversation ebbed and flowed; between hipsters, the internet, mobile phones and art.

Art. What a wonderful thing. Artists. What fascinating people. The living room was the heart of the home. This is where it happened. The paintbrushes, the canvases, the easels, the books; how could somebody not be inspired here. The painting of her, based loosely on Manet’s ‘woman with hat’ (or something along those lines), was striking. The expression fluid yet unchanging, the young woman couldn’t take her eyes off her. Until she realised that Lightfoot had done a drawing of her and two friends in pen and ink. It was strange to see a drawing of herself, a representation of what other people think. She looked normal, happy, playful; a pleasant surprise.

By the time the clock struck 12, metaphorically, they left. After a quick dash back to retrieve a forgotten bag the night was over. The bus scooped them up and whisked them back to close proximity of where the whole adventure had begun.


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