28th December 2009
Alan called me up yesterday. He invited me to L'Etoile, a swanky French place I've never been able to afford. "Only if you're paying," I said. He'd always been a rich bastard.
He was waiting for me when I arrived. "I'm Alain now," he said. I asked him to spell it. The waiter showed us to our table. Alain explained the menu to me and chose the wine.
With old friends, school friends especially, you always talk about the past. Then about girls. Occasionally the conversation turns to what you're up to now.
Alain's an artist. A world-travelling artist. Has been for two years. "You should show me your paintings sometime," I said. I was half-serious.
He looked confused. Offended. His tone was patronising. "I haven't painted anything yet," he said.
I tried to react as if this is normal. "Oh, why's that?" I asked.
"I haven't found anyone worthy of my effort to study and paint them," he said. "No one I have seen on this earth is beautiful or flawless enough."
What a weirdo.
2nd January 2010
Met Wes today at Harry's Tea Chest. He was already there when I turned up. "Coffee please," he said when I arrived. "Eight sugars." Some people never change.
Turns out he's an artist too.
As I sat down with my coffee - sugar free - and handed him his dentist's nightmare, he grabbed the salt pot from the side of the table and thumped it down in front of me.
"Draw it," he said. He took a biro and a sketch pad from his bag, and placed them next to the salt pot.
"I can't," I said. I pushed the pen back towards him.
He laughed. "Anyone can draw a salt pot."
"You can," he said. "Look."
I opened his notebook. Inside was page upon page of scribbled portraits. Before the last blank page was a sketch of me queuing to buy the coffees. The portraits were profoundly simple. They were all scrawled line drawings, yet in every portrait you could see something of the soul of the person being drawn.
Everyone Wes had drawn, he'd asked to draw a salt pot next to their portrait. I had to admit, all the drawings were alright. And all of them were as unique as the person who'd drawn them.
"Draw the salt," he said.
"Alright." I took the pen.
As I contemplated the outline of the salt pot, Wes explained his philosophy, the philosophy of his notebook.
"I draw everyone," he said. "Every café I visit, I buy a coffee and I draw someone."
"What if there's no one to draw?"
"There's always someone to draw. Even if it's the bored waitress. Everywhere I look, in everyone's face, there's art happening."
"Even the ugly bastards?"
"Especially the ugly bastards," he said. "They're the most beautiful."