Some time ago I wrote a little two-part piece about ten things you might look out for when deciding what to include in an urban sketch here (PREMIUM article). It’s called Planning An Urban Sketch: Ten Tricks For Your Toolbox. I wasn’t thinking about that list when I did this sketch (it takes a lot of focus to plan in advance like that!) but as I look at it now, I can see a few things in it that makes it fun to look at. There are dramatic light fittings, people, foreground and background; the latter two give it depth of field. I left out lots of things from the list too, the main one being what I called “stars” in my article. These are lovely objects that you include just because they are lovely. (I wanted to call them “pretties” but my husband Marcel said no man would ever read it if it had that word in it. All my female relatives agreed. What’s wrong with the world when a fella can’t have pretty little things in his sketch?)
I kept an extra seat for my daughter, which remained unused because she took her time to get to us, and I felt a bit bad to have blocked McCambridge’s from availing of those seats for waiting customers. The configuration of the tables, and my poorly-expressed request for an extra seat, meant that keeping one extra seat meant there were two vacant seats. It was all very messy. So I’m hoping that there will be at least one extra client for McCambridge’s who reads this blog post who might not have otherwise gone there. If you do, I promise you won’t be disappointed. The food is amazing, the atmosphere and décor matchless (see above sketch), the prices very reasonable and the staff beyond compare for graciousness and hospitality.
Two young men sat at a small table on the other side of us (to the left of the frame in the sketch). Neither of us paid any attention to the other – until Honor walked in. Honor is very glamorous. She had told her dad, who had dropped her to the bus stop, that she was going into town for a spot of Christmas shopping, but he did think she was rather immaculately groomed for an afternoon in town. The air tends to crackle just a little when Honor walks into a room, and yesterday was no different. The two young men perked up almost imperceptibly: I’m Honor’s mum and I have been on alert for this ever since she hit her teens and walking with her through any public place has made me feel like a rottweiler bodyguard. Heads turn and lads stare after her. She, I might add, has always loved the attention. The head goes up and she sparkles just a little more.
The conversation with Honor in McCambridge’s followed the usual course, or the usual course when there are nice young men around. Cool as a cucumber.
“I like your lipstick. What’s the colour called?”
“Are you going out tonight?”
“Are you coming home if you do?”
“Probably not.” (Glances sideways to see how the two lads have reacted. She thinks this is done subtly but she comes from a long line of people who don’t understand the meaning of subtle. Not on my side)
“Will you not just tell me whether I should expect you?”
As it happens, there was a very good chance she’d be staying with one of her charming-sounding girlfriends, but many teens like to keep their parents guessing, which I was more than happy to do for her sake. Then she said “okay, where’s my money?”, squirrelled it away and trotted off to get on with her (ahem) Christmas shopping. I have no doubt that she will surprise us all with thoughtful gifts, carefully chosen with no advice sought or given.
After McCambridge’s, Paddy and I called into Hickey’s fabric and haberdashery store. Paddy has some new tracksuit bottoms that are too big around the waist, and the intention is to put new elastic into the waistband to make it a bit smaller. I paid for the elastic; it came to just 40c.
“I’ve never spent so little in Hickey’s in my life,” I said to the assistant.
“You can’t put a price on trousers that stay up,” said Paddy in his very quiet way.
I had a fit of the giggles that I couldn’t stop. Luckily the girl behind the counter was laughing too so I didn’t feel too bad.
Teenagers. I love their company.