Many of the events (along with the character of Amanda’s mother, based on my own) in my debut novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines were drawn from real life experiences. I’ll leave you to decide if the following happened or was made up:

The book will be rewritten and republished in the near future.

 

CHAPTER 4 – OCTOBER

Saturday 2nd

It’s been an uphill battle to get Phil interested in anything or indeed to encourage him to take up any hobby since retirement.

He insists he doesn’t need one, and I’m convinced that he does. He spends far too much time in front of the computer.

After Tom went to university, I decided I would make the most of my newly discovered free time to try something new. I bought several tins of coloured pencils and taught myself to draw. I was extremely pleased with the results, and the more drawings I completed, the prouder I became. As I had the drawing bug, I forced Phil to share inmy new found passion. One afternoon, when all he seemed to want to do was wash his car and check some share prices on the internet, I sat him down with some charcoal pencils and told him he had to draw something for me. For inspiration, I had dragged out some of his photographs of birds.

In my opinion, Phil is quite a gifted photographer – one, who loves nature, and he has taken some extraordinarily good shots of wildlife in the past. Admittedly, he still uses an old Cannon A1 camera containing film, as he can’t bear new technology and refuses to even look at a new digital camera. He likes to fiddle about with the lenses and filters on his old trusty camera. He’s also one of those photographers that takes so long to set up the subject, just the way he wants it that, in the case of a bird, it’s likely to have made a nest, laid and hatched several eggs and flown south by the time he is ready to press the shutter.

Having poured through the photographs I had offered him, he finally settled on one of some magpies squabbling over some seed under our acer tree, and drew it. It was very good indeed. Having done it, he gave me back the charcoal pencils and asked if he could go and wash his car.

A few weeks ago, thanks to Ethel, I discovered that our local village hall holds an art class for the villagers, both male and female, every Friday afternoon. The afternoon is taken up with drinking tea or coffee, eating biscuits and cake, and sitting drawing or, if youprefer, painting. It is run by an accomplished artist who advises you on your technique and helps you achieve a better standard. It’s also a very good way to meet folk, and as we still only know a handful of people here, it seemed like a jolly fine idea.

I informed Phil that we were going. He refused point blank. I had a complete wet out on him and told him I was sick of doing absolutely nothing with my life. I told him he was a boring old git.

I told him he was never open to suggestions. I sulked. I cajoled. I wheedled. It was only the promise that he only had to come once, and that he would get a piece of cake, that swung it in the end. We were to take some work we had already done with us to be judged of a good enough standard to join the group.

I routed out Tom’s old portfolio case. He had used it for transporting his artwork when he was at school. I blew the dust from it and slipped my treasured drawings into it. I found a suitable cardboard A5 folder for Phil’s magpie picture and off we went.

The village hall was packed out with women of all ages.

“I thought it was for men too,” whispered Phil.

“Oh, it is,” said a loud voice, and a striking woman in her fifties with bright pink hair and large orange earrings stood before us. She beamed at Hubby. “They just haven’t turned up today. I had planned a surprise for the women in the group. You don’t have to stay.”

Phil looked ready to bolt. I grabbed him by the arm, and informed the woman that he would be keen to stay. He glowered at me. I knew better, of course. He’d be glad that he’d come. I was pretty certain that under that gruff exterior, lay an artist.

“Now, as you are both new to the group, I’d like to take a peek at some of your work. Just so I can get an idea of your standard.”

Obviously, this was the famous artist who would help us improve and interest us in art.

She took out Hubby’s magpie sketch.

“Oh yes, this is very good. You’ve captured the mischievous spirit of the birds beautifully,” she commented, her purple framed glasses perched on the end of the nose. “Yes, you have a nice sense of proportion. You’ll be fine for this afternoon’s class if you are sure you want to stay. It’ll be easy enough for you.”

Phil looked pleasantly surprised. Before the artist could examine my work, Phil was whisked away by a sweet elderly lady, dressed in an artist’s smock, who promised to find him some cake.

“It’s so nice to have young men come to this event, isn’t it, Mildred?” she cackled to her friend, who sported a jaunty beret. Phil was dragged off to the tea table.

I glanced down. The artist was staring at some splodges on a large sheet of paper.

“Oh, sorry,” I said. “There’s some work in there that isn’t mine. My son did those when he was still at school.”

“That explains it,” she said. “They are clearly less accomplished. I’ve put them to one side.”

To the left, were all my wonderful drawings sitting in a neat pile.

“Now this, however, this is superb. Very like a Jackson Pollock. Resembles his Convergence, I’d say. I’m very impressed with this piece. It’ll be interesting to see what you make of the subject today.”

With that, she smiled a toothy grin, handed me back my Tom’s splodgy picture and clapped her hands together.

“Ladies, and gentleman,” she added, looking pointedly at Phil, who was sandwiched between two blue-rinsed haired ladies, holding an exceptionally large plate of cake. “As you know, every month, we try to test your skills a little further, by giving you something different to paint or draw. Something that you might not have considered attempting before.”

I glanced around for a clue as to what we might be painting today; maybe there was a bowl of fruit hidden at the back under that tablecloth.

“Please get your materials and gather round in the usual circle. Put up the easels where you would like, and those of you with pads, help yourselves to the desks.”

We duly collected easels and tables, and shuffled forwards with them, forming an extremely large circle. Phil was going down a storm, helping all of the giggling ladies with their materials and stools and desks. He even looked like he might be enjoying himself.

The two old ladies from earlier got him set up between them, right in front of me.

This class was hugely popular. There were at least forty women set up. They were all very interested too. This artist had certainly worked up their enthusiasm or someone had put a large bottle of brandy in the tea they’d been drinking. They were clucking at each other and there was an air of excitement.

“So, ladies and gentleman,” said our artist hostess, “get your pencils and paints ready for today’s subject. I promised you last week that I would give all the ladies a present, for all the effort you have made, and here it is …”

Into the room sauntered a young, extremely fit young man wearing a dressing gown. There was a collective intake of breath.

Turning slowly around the group, his eyes finally resting on Phil, the hunk gave a suggestive wink to him and dropped his dressing gown under which he wore nothing. He draped himself on a chair to show himself off to the best advantage ready to be sketched.

The room fell silent and although you could see appreciative smiles on the faces of the women, nothing else could be heard apart from the sound of Phil’s charcoal as it hit the floor and broke.

Posted by Facing50Blog.com – 6 Comments

SexyFitChick … I’m packing my bags and art materials and

coming to stay with you. You are going to carry on with the art,

aren’t you?

Facing50 … It was a one-off. I don’t think I’ll be going back. My

drawing looked like a Picasso without talent. I don’t think the artist

was impressed. Phil had to leave. He feigned a coughing fit and shot

off home. He’s still cross about it.

COMMENTS:

Vera … What a shame your mother wasn’t there. She’d have

thoroughly enjoyed it.

Facing50 … I might tell her about it. The trouble is that she isn’t

interested in anything I do, so she’ll probably pay no attention to me.

Vera … Try her out.

FairieQueene … My boyfriend used to be a model too. He was

He was horribly gorgeous but very vain.