Paternoster Tales: Chapter 36

Endings and beginnings

How are you at art?

Not the enthusiastic swishing of paint brushes and Pollock-like splatters and drips onto paper, or the washes of colour and scribbles of pencil that we all experiment with at school. No, the appreciation of Art. Gazing upon a picture and feeling its worthiness. Across the river from Paternoster Square is a gallery. In a gloomy room in that gallery are huge canvases boldly painted in swathes of deep reds and blacks. I go there and weigh the air that touches those paintings. It is heavy. Almost overpowering. I go there when I am burdened with something I want to forget. In another room, there is a painting of music. Yes … music. The artist – a chap called Gerhard – painted the sounds as he heard them in his head, while he touched his brush to the canvas. I go to it for enlightenment, for joy and exuberant energy like the zing of lemon juice in my mouth and drops of icy rain on my face and long grass between my toes. It makes me feel alive. Art can do that. It’s just a case of finding a painting, or a drawing, or a statue, or art in any other medium, that does it for you.

The judge appreciates Patrick’s art. He appreciates it greatly. So much that he hatched a plan. I’ve told you this before – it’s the plan that Paternoster and Patrick were discussing when I last mentioned them.

The plan is now way beyond hatching. It’s happening. It’s so happening that you could almost say it’s happened.

Patrick and Mungo have opened their home to the street people who cared for Mungo when Patrick was away. Those people were homeless but being homeless didn’t mean they didn’t care. Remember? They stayed with Mungo until Patrick returned. Yes … some of them did know Patrick; from afar. They’d observed the old man and his paintings. They’d felt their fingers twitch and inside their heads, they’d created their own pictures. Now, in Patrick’s home, they’re going to help him run a gallery of his art and, perhaps, in time, they’ll contribute some of their own. They need to settle. To adjust to the roof over their heads. To learn to live and work together. It will take time. Time that will slip past more smoothly with some of the food that the candle-stick maker, Alice has been making in Patrick’s sparse kitchen – she took him shopping on the day after she moved in, to buy bowls and knives and chopping boards and several pots of herbs that Patrick had not tasted before. The judge has helped with the legal side, not just to protect Patrick and his home, but to ensure his new lodgers receive the help they need.

Patrick will never live with the parched emptiness and long silences of loneliness again.

Paternoster has promised to visit and the judge, after his retirement, plans to move into the rooms on the upper floor and start to work his way through the leather-jacketed books, with the gold lettering on their spines, in Patrick’s library.

As for Agatha. She’s home. She was as mystified as … hmmm … as a little girl would be if she was discovered ankle deep in a heap of broken biscuits and chocolate wrappers, sitting at the bottom of a ladder constructed from her brick box, the kitchen stool and a chair, while claiming with huge unblinking doe-eyes above lips lightly dusted with icing sugar that ‘it was like this when I came in,’ when she visited Uma and was shown the terrible vandalism that had happened to Uma’s Wendy house and Uma’s garden. “Awful!” Agatha agreed, after some quiet consideration.

Agatha’s mother is of course never going to let her out of her sight again. Great Aunt Agatha has asked her butler to buy some new biscuits. She also bought several of Patrick’s paintings, including the one of Little Agatha.

Great Aunt Agatha is an Arynx. She doesn’t know this yet.

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