Prissy German Tourist phones. “Hi G. I’m at the airport. How and where do I catch the West Coast Express?”
So I give him a detailed explanation and ask him to call again when he is on the train. A quick phone call to Rumpole confirms that he is on his way home and can pick PGT up from our local train station. I pull out the bottle of wine I have been saving for PGT’s arrival, check out that the guest bedroom is ready for him and start preparations for dinner.
The men arrive at seven o’clock. Rumpole helps PGT bring in his travelling gear. I uncork the wine. PGT mucks about in his bedroom, unpacking things. Rumpole goes off to shed his work clothes.
Rumpole, wearing his new shorts and a boxing t-shirt emerges from the bedroom. He checks out the arrabiata sauce on top of the stove, takes a spoonful and makes smacking sounds. PGT surfaces from his room, also wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and bearing his white Apple laptop. He makes a bee-line for the wine, pours a glass, sighs and folds himself on a kitchen chair.
“Do you want supper now or later?” I ask him.
“Let me drink my wine now and show you guys my pictures from Ontario”, he says. “Also, I need to take a lie-down, afterward. Can we eat later?”
“Sure”, says Rumpole. “Let’s look at some photos.”
Being somewhat of an eternal handmaiden, amanuensis, or otherwise a Stepford Wife ( a real stretch!) I set aside dinner to cool, and sit down, ready to be treated to some pictures.
We look at photos of PGT’s Mom and Dad, his sisters, their spouses and children. There is a great shot of his Dad, tilted back in a chair directly under one of his paintings. There is a pink shadow on the wall behind his head, a ghostly double of delicious colouration. We discuss this at length. PGT tells us his Dad was a journeyman house painter trained in Germany in the 40s and that his avocation was painting landscapes which are “pretty good” in PGTs estimation. His Dad paints in somewhat similar manner as the Group of Seven, and why shouldn’t he, living as he does in Ontario where there are many GofS landscapes to be seen. The next group of photos are of Ontario lakeshore landscapes, and of the peculiar skies typical of the area. Definitely, these landscapes are ones which appear in variation in many G of S paintings, we agree. Rumpole rolls his eyesand commands “no more artspeak”. PGT and I, chastened, change the topic back to details about his family, his visit on this occasion of his Mom’s 70th birthday and of how pleased she was to have him home to celebrate this occasion.
Unfortunately, PGT and I slip badly back into artspeak when he mentions how his Mom was instrumental in the birth of a good art gallery in her Ontario town, and pulls out a catalogue of a photography show to show us. Rumpole likes black and white photography so he happily looks at them, but as soon as PGT and I begin to debate, in earnest fashion, about certain cliches that crop up in this body of work, he moans “artspeak” and leaves in a huff. PGT takes his half empty wine glass, excuses himself and goes off to have a nap. The General, our Maine coon cat, slopes through the kitchen, makes a disparaging cattish comment and follows PGT into his room.
I am left in the kitchen, dinner cooling, abandoned by the males in the house. So I journal and plan the next day’s excursions with PGT.
Next morning. The three of us are drinking coffee, reading the papers. Rumpole asks PGT and me what our plans are for the day. PGT wants to go shopping for summer shirts. I want to go to the nearby municipality’s art gallery to see a drawing show and go to a bookstore and browse. Rumpole gives PGT keys to the truck and house and reminds him not to let me drive and to keep me under a watchful eye when we are out and about. “And wear your sunglasses, G”, he adds. He goes off to dress for work leaving PGT and me to discuss the order of how we will do our activities. First shopping, then book-store, then art gallery. Rumpole goes off to work, PGT and I venture out to the local mall to look for shirts.
At the mall, at Winners, we browse the aisles in the menswear section. PGT is an efficient and decisive shopper. He finds a couple of light cotton shirts while I unearth a pair of cream silk slacks from a nearby rack. These are made of gorgeous feeling material and are a good price. PGT goes off to try this on, comes back and announces “I like!”. Then he finds a tiny flaw near one of the pockets. We debate as to whether or not this flaw is forgiveable. I suggest I go up to the till and bargain down the price, and if he finds it then a good buy with a reduced price, then he will have a nice pair of pants. I take the pants and dicker with the sales clerk, who magnanimously drops the price by five dollars. PGT is pleased and pays for his purchases. We leave after having spent only twenty minutes in the store. Off to the next stop of our itinerary, the bookstore.
Here we browse for a good hour. PGT finds nothing he wants to buy, but I find a beautiful illustrated book by Art Spiegelmann which Renaissance Man will love to have. It is a terrific price and I am very glad to have found such a lovely book for my son. I pay up and we leave to go on to the gallery.
Here is a show of drawings by a young artist. His theme is skateboard culture. Quite fascinating, I find. PGT really dislikes the drawings because he finds them stiff and lacking in “gesture and movement” that he associates with skateboarding. I quite appreciate them because of reminders of punk aesthetic and the deliberate downplaying of draftsmanlike skill. We argue, sotto voce, our differing points of view, and we end up taking the argument outside in order to not disturb the gallery attendant. Driving home, we carry out a lengthy discussion for the hour it takes us to get back to the house.
Back at the house PGT escapes to have a nap. I google Raymond Pettibon, because PGT is determined that this young chap’s drawings are “derivative” of Pettibon’s work and even his manner of clustering a group of drawings. I plan to waylay PGT with further discussions about this comparison, so am gathering ammunition.
Poor PGT, the rest of the weekend I keep referring back to the argument. Even right after watching the first season of “Weeds”with Rumpole and him, I find a way of bringing the topic back to this drawing exhibition. Rumpole is exasperated with me. “Will you drop this topic and give PGT some respite?” he orders. I cease and desist, and leave off the art talk for the rest of the weekend.
However, this afternoon as we were driving PGT to the Ferry terminal, I took another shot at this argument from my back-seat in the car. Really got some sparks flying, furthering the argument. Rumpole shut me down. At the terminal, PGT made his escape.
It was a most satisfying weekend for me. Rumpole reports having enjoyed PGT’s company. We both enjoy having him come and visit!