Regent’s Canal (near Granary square), Oil on Canvas, 29 x 18 inches
The idea was to go to King’s Cross and paint cranes, JCBs, railways – all things industrial. But while I was looking for a spot, I bumped into Melissa who said: ‘Come along this way, there are some great things to paint along the canal’. So we went, but when we got to the place she had in mind, it was disappointing. ‘They’ve built this horrible new pontoon…That horrible modern building has covered up the view of St. Pancras…The boatyard is closed…They’ve got rid of all that nice graffiti…’
In other words, everything had been ruined in the name of progress.
In the end we retreated to this spot near Granary square. It’s carefully chosen. If you zoom away from it you will see hoardings done up in a horribly bland, fake-ivy design. Some people think painters are uncomfortable with the modern world – but what we really hate is not the modern, but the bland.
Feeling disgruntled, and slightly superior, as though we belonged to some secret anarchist sect, we started to paint. After a while the cold took its toll. Melissa said she was going to get coffee, and I suggested going to the nice-looking cafe that’s part of the new Central Saint Martin’s.
She came back about twenty minutes later with two coffees, a brownie and a banana cake.
Meanwhile, Alex, a young up and coming photographer and film-maker, had caught up with us, and was putting together his camera equipment.
‘They’re all yuppies in there,’ said Melissa.
‘Who?’ I said.
‘The people in that cafe.’
‘But I would have thought they would all be students…’
‘They’re all yuppies.’
There was an awkward silence. Then Alex cleared his throat and said in a voice that had become high-pitched with trepidation: ‘But Melissa, now I’m worried that I’m a yuppie.’
‘Into the canal with you, then,’ she said, and for the first time a smile crossed her lips.