Today, Eva and I went out. With only the barest bones of a plan and only one Rainbow Magic book. And somehow we stayed out for 11 hours and, more remarkably, didn’t have any fights. It was a charmed day and I’m sure I’ll pay for it tomorrow.
Our first stop was the English class at church, which we often teach together. The students think she’s adorable and don’t even mind when she gets restless and starts flashing her pants. That finished at 1 and we were both hungry so went for a quick Happy Meal (Lego Movie toys FTW) and then went to meet some of our imaginary friends at the Candid Arts Centre behind Angel tube.
It’s an eccentric place, Candid Arts. I went there 15 years ago for a series of singing lessons and had kinda forgotten it existed until now. There’s a surprising amount of space in there, and a cafe tucked away up two flights of steps. But we’ll get to that. First, the Cambridge School of Art MA Children’s Book Illustration Graduation Show. The imaginary friends had gathered because one of us has just completed the MA – the very lovely and talented Robyn Wilson-Owen, who previously featured on the blog almost five years ago. We really should convene these imaginary friend meetings more often. I was also meeting, among others, C’sMum who featured on many adventures back when we lived nearish each other and were on mat leave at the same time. Plus friends from gig adventures, Coram’s adventures and even a friend who’d thus far only existed in my head. SPLENDID times.
And while I was chatting to them all, Eva was having a splendid time too. There were foam stickers out on the floor and paper so she could make a “nature picture” and when she’d finished that, she cruised around the various illustrators’ stand, reading all their books cover to cover and leaving encouraging notes in their feedback books. She really enjoyed it. You can tell from this bit of feedback:
If you can’t read Eva’s writing, allow me to translate – “Tee hee hee hee! Ha ha ha. Now I’ve – tee hee read – ha ha – Home – ha ha – I can’t stop – ha ha! Laughing”. I can only hope that “Home” was meant to be funny. I believe it’s the work of Bethan Stevens so I apologise if it was meant to be deadly serious.
She also wrote some touching feedback for a book called “The Gardeners” by Jo Berry – something along the lines of “I love “The Gardeners – so much mystery!” along with her reproduction of the front cover. Drawn while singing the “I Have Friends” song from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, obviously.
I should point out that we don’t let Eva watch CXG, because she’s 6. But apparently I’ve been singing that song around the house a bit too much and she’s picked it up.
And of course we had to take advantage of this ready-made photo opportunity, courtesy of Dongni Wei
By 4PM she wasn’t even partly done with the exhibition but I needed coffee so dragged her away. I wasn’t sure how much enjoyment she’d get out of it, but honestly she loved it all. More beautifully drawn books than she can ever imagine and she got to critique them all! In some ways she does take after me, I guess…there’s a future reviewer in her I reckon.
We went next door to the Candid Cafe, which was up two or three flights of narrow stairs. Eva was lured in by the front half of a golden horse sticking out of the building and she was curious to see if we could find the back. We didn’t. But we did find this little room of wonders, which I vaguely remember from my singing days there (I think I had to walk through it and out through the fire escape at the back to another room but I may have imagined this all):
There was a giant picture of a naked lady on the back wall that Eva confidently told us must be of a god because only gods are allowed to be painted naked. Reuben told her this so it must be a Fact. I’m pretty sure it’s not a fact but it wasn’t worth arguing about. She sat down to do some of her own artwork, which mainly consisted of very leggy people dressed as fairies and we awaited our coffee and cake.
Now, this probably isn’t the cafe for you if you’re in a rush as C’sMum had pretty much finished a main by the time our coffee and cake arrived but if you have no particular marks to hit, like us, then it’s just grand. Try to resist picking the wax off the candle. If I can resist, anyone can. Oh, and it was good cake – Eva got halfway through before handing it over so I did well out of the deal.
Before long, though, we did have a mark to hit. Holly and her family were in town and wanted to meet us for dinner around the Waterloo area. So we said goodbye to the imaginary friends and headed south on the Northern Line, intending to go down to Kennington on the Bank branch and back up the Charing Cross. But fate intervened, as it often does, and we found ourselves diving out of the tube at Elephant and Castle to use the toilets in the shopping centre. It’s been a long time since I last visited those particular facilities and I’m happy to report that they’re still only 20p to use and sad to report that it’s still not 20p well spent. Enough said. We got back into the tube and headed to Charing Cross as there’d been a change of plan and we were now meeting the Hollies in Pizza Hut in the Strand.
It was almost six by the time we got there so you’d expect Eva to be flagging but no, she was still being suspiciously sweet and charming, happy to eat a bowl of salad bar salad (nachos count, right?) and chat to her friends even long past her bedtime. I’m not sure she technically had dinner but again, she let me finish off her ice cream so I’m not complaining.
It was final stretch time. I can never resist a walk over Waterloo Bridge at nighttime to take in that most London of all views so we escorted the Hollies back to Waterloo before saying goodbye outside the station:
Before going down to the Waterloo and City Line. Where we got to sit opposite this poster for five minutes and, oh lawks was it a talking point:
Eva’s reading is good and her voice clear and piercing so I’m just relieved she didn’t manage to pronounce all the words correctly. Still, as a neighbouring and only marginally more appropriate poster said, “Awks”.
We finally got home around 8:30, with he Lego Movie Happy Meal toys providing the entertainment she needed on that long final stretch. It was a remarkably successful day but don’t get used to it…normal LWAT chaos will resume soon…..