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Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sex and chocolate biscuits

The tables on the pavement, as we drive past, tempt us to stop and try Montgomery's in Radnor street. But the menu offers little hope of solid Scottish sustenance.

"We got bagels, waffles, croissants, muffins, panini, pastries and gateaux," I read aloud from the menu. "With an 'x'. Clearly a cultured cafe. But I see no sign of eggs."

"You want to ask?" my son says. "I like it out here in the sun so I'm prepared to be flexible."

"For a change," I smile, getting up and heading for the counter at the far end of the high-ceilinged interior.

"Ask if they've any gluten-free food too," my sister calls after me.

"No," the well-aproned guy behind the counter replies to both questions, in an accent that tells me croissants were not prominent at breakfast, when he was a boy.

Cheese panini, assorted coffees and chocolate crispy biscuits keep everyone happy and we settle down to chat in the sunshine.

"You spoke to anyone yet about your feedback art ideas?" I ask my son.

"Nah," he says. "Still trying to work them out."

"I guess someone might steal them if you talk about them too soon," Sis says.

"That's not how it works," he tells her. "You share. You throw out ideas and people pick up on them. It's a great atmosphere at Art School."

"Sounds like my attitude to food," I say, reaching over, breaking off a piece of his panini and popping it in my mouth. "Food's communal. So is art, you're telling me."

"So is anything creative," he says. "It's a very human trait. Watch what someone's doing, copy and adapt it. Music's the same. 'I like that wee riff so I'll pick it up.' All this copyright just lines lawyers' pockets."

"Don't musicians need copyright to make money?" I say.

"Maybe the really rich ones," he says. "But I've a lot of pals who are musicians. They all share stuff."

"Do they earn much?" I ask.

"Not sure any musicians do. I guess the Stones get by. But Stu Kidd is a really good musician - plays with several Glasgow outfits. He makes a living teaching music. Dave Towers is a great saxophonist. He sells insurance."

"Some creative people make it pay," I say. "I've been earning a living from writing for 15 years."

"Yeah, but that's journalism. It's hard to make ends meet doing the pure thing. You sold your novel yet?"

"No," I say.

"There you are then," he says

"What sells books, I think, is coming to the end of a chapter and there's a puzzle," Sis says. "Dan Brown is good at that. Even if you don't like the story it keeps you reading."

"I was thinking of churning out a sex novel bestseller," I say. "To fund the writing I want to do."

My son chokes on his coffee. "What do you know about sex?" he says.

"I knew enough to make you."

"Anyone can do that. Look around - kids everywhere. Just because you can procreate doesn't mean you can write a bestselling sex novel."

"Listen laddie, I was young in the 1960s. We invented sex."

"Yeah but in those days it was five minutes, boys on top, roll over for a cigarette. People won't read that now. You got to stretch them. Tell them stuff they'd never think of themselves."

"We discovered the clitoris."

"That's like saying you discovered Auchinleck. It's on the main road. You can't miss it. What about the G-spot?"

"I've heard of it," I say.

"Not good enough," he says. "You got to be able to find it in the dark with handcuffs on. You have to play tunes on it with your fingertips. Can you perform an F sharp chord progression on a woman's body?"

"You're making that up," I say.

"I'm not," he says. "Have you taken part in a mozzarella sandwich? Can you do the chocolate chip muffin?"

"You're reading that off the bloody menu," I say.

"I am," he says. "But I'll guarantee people are doing them to each other right now, somewhere nearby. Face it chief, you can't write a modern sex novel. Not unless you get someone else to do the research and write up what they tell you."

I raise my cappuccino to my lips and study him in silence.

"Not a chance," he says.

I start to turn towards my sister. "Don't even think about it," she says.

"Oh bugger," I say. "You're right, of course. It's going to have to be the crime novel then. Does either of you know any bank robbers?"

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