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Venus of Urbino

Drusilla Fotheringay-Syylk, part-time Art teacher and housemistress

at St Vitus’ School for the Academically-Gifted Girl, likes to get out

and about in the community, so she offers a Monday evening

adults’ class in Suttonford, on her day off.  She rents a shop which

has been vacated by Aquanibble, whose piscatory dermo-abrasion

service never really took off.

Most of the potential customers preferred to retain their calloused

skins.  Indeed, some actively cultivated the equivalent of a

rhinoceros hide, whether metaphorically, or not.  The minority

delivered their dermis to Beauty and the Beast, once named Pride

Knows No Pain before Citronella took over the business and the

premises.

But to our tale…

The last straw had been when she went into the staff loo and was

confronted by a laminated instruction panel comprising of no less

than twelve boxes, illustrating the correct way to wash her hands.

I think I have survived *years without succumbing to bubonic plague,

she fumed. Then she said *****under her breath, I hate to inform

you.  You see, you just can’t get the same quality of staff any more.

On entering the cubicle she wondered if there would be any further

instructions on hygiene: ten steps to wiping… No, she didn’t wish to

think about it.  This excessive infantilisation of adults was driving her

to deliberately spit in the tea urn. She just fantasised: don’t worry!

(Well, they should pay them more and they’d get better types

applying for the posts.)

Anyway, it was this that drove her to seek mature company, save her

sanity and to have her talents fully recognised.

And so it was that on the first Monday of the month, Drusilla faced

her initial ten adults, who had turned up with their portable easels,

squirrel brushes, palettes of acrylics and boxes of pastels.

She spoke for the first three quarters of an hour on perspective, flat

surfaces, light sources and ways of seeing.  She showed them a

painting by Titian: The Venus of Urbino.  Then she sensed that they

were all itching to start drawing.

Melinda D’Oyly-Carter, the local masseuse and aromatherapist,

emerged from behind a decoupaged screen, wearing a pink chenille

bathrobe and fluffy mules.

Tristram flinched.  She had been a fellow contestant in Come Dine

 With Me and had, in fact, won the £1,000 prize.   He was feeling

discomfited as he was the only male in the class.

Drusilla turned on the fan heater.

The ladies arranged their easels around the chaise longue and one or

two sharpened their pencils; others snapped a stalk of charcoal and

yet another cleaned her putty eraser.

Tristram suddenly felt queasy.

Excuse me, ladies, I’ve suddenly remembered that I left some

meringues in the oven.

He fled.

Melinda, or Mimi, as she preferred to be addressed, disrobed in one

confident, burlesque gesture and lay in an Olympia position, which

would have gratified Manet.

Half an hour of making marks, instructed Drusilla, wondering where

Mimi had secreted all the business cards she was distributing. Next

week we will explore the symbolism of the cane in Le Dejeuner sur

L’Herbe.

Olympia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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