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Tuesday, 5 February 2013


My son is unhappy with the location I've chosen for lunch, an ancient establishment on Sauchiehall Street that has sweet-scented, glass-fronted cakes downstairs and an old fashioned restaurant up above, where black-clad waitresses glide to and fro, like ghosts from an earlier age.

Well maybe not glide. "Last time we were here the woman who served us was 93, looked like Julie Walters in the Two Soups sketch and got our order all wrong," he reminds me.

"Poor soul," my sister, always quick to sympathise, chides him gently. "She was doing her best. You'll be old one day yourself."

"No doubt," he tells her. "But I won't wear a dress three sizes too small, move at two miles an hour and bring milky tea to people who order black coffee. Why are we here again?"

I can see clearly now that this isn't one of his bright, sunshiny days. So I tread carefully. "Let's sit down and you can tell us what you've been doing at Art College," I say.

He grunts but takes a seat at the table the nonagenarian leads us to, and his aunt asks how he's getting on. The charming smile reserved for non-parents flashes in her direction, and he tells her the portfolio he's been working on for months has gained him an interview for entry to the degree course.

"Just me and one other guy in the class," he says, acting casual.

"That's fantastic," she says, kissing him on the cheek. I give him an equally delighted but more manly punch on the arm and ask when he got the news. "Couple of days ago," he says.
"What! Why didn't you tell me then?"

"Never thought."

You can't strangle a son in a restaurant, of course, but it's tempting at times. "Your mum and I have known you were an artist since before you could walk, and have been trying to get you into Art College for half your life. You're on the verge now and you didn't think to tell us?"

"See that's the thing," he says. "You pushed me too hard. If the two of you had left me alone I'd have got here years ago. Telling me it's what I should do made me decide I wasn't going to do it."

I look at the little bleeder in disbelief. "So why are you doing it now?"

"Because it's my choice now," he says, snapping the menu down on the table as the waitress ambles arthritically up to us. "Would you like soup of the day?" she asks.

 "What's the chance of getting any, if I say 'yes'?" he asks her. 

"Fifty-fifty," she tells him.

"Go for it," he says.

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