Kate and Clara's Curious Cornish Craft Shop - Ali McNamara


‘I don’t get it?’ my daughter says as she stares up at the huge, brightly coloured canvas on the wall in front of us. ‘It’s like something I did when I was little, and you stuck on the fridge for everyone to see.’

I have to agree with her but, wary of where we are, I choose my words carefully.

‘It’s called modern art,’ I whisper, ‘Not everyone gets it.’

‘Do you get it?’ Molly asks, still in a voice a little too loud for my liking. ‘And more to the point, do you think it’s any good?’

A few people standing nearby turn their intense gaze away from the artwork in front of them towards our direction.

‘Molly, you need to keep your voice down,’ I whisper again, not answering her question. ‘Art galleries are a bit like libraries – people don’t want to be disturbed while they study things.’

Molly folds her arms. ‘In a library people actually want to take the books home. I can’t see anyone wanting to take a series of blue blobs home again and again, can you, Mum?’

I open my mouth to agree with her, but a refined female voice speaks first. ‘As a matter of fact this painting is one of our most popular exhibits. Our shop sells more postcards, prints and bags reproduced from this one work of art than any other in the whole gallery.’

I look at the woman standing next to us. I’ve seen her around the town from time to time, flouncing about in brightly coloured scarves and layers of mismatched clothing.

‘You obviously work here,’ I reply politely. ‘I thought I’d seen you around St Felix.’

‘I’m one of the curators at the gallery,’ she replies self-importantly. ‘I’m in charge of the new Winston James exhibition. I assume you’re here for the opening tonight?’

She looks us up and down as though she’s wondering if we’d been wrongly invited.

‘Yes, we are,’ I say, pulling the invitation from my bag.

The woman takes it from me and examines it carefully. ‘Ah,’ she says knowingly. ‘Local business, are you? That makes sense.’

‘Yes,’ I say, snatching back the invitation from her. ‘I own Kate’s Cornish Crafts on Harbour Street. We sell art and craft supplies,’ I emphasise when she looks blankly at me.

‘Mmm,’ the woman says, quickly losing interest in us as some more people arrive through the main gallery doors. ‘The party is through there.’ She points vaguely in the direction of some heavy glass doors. ‘Do enjoy your evening.’ Then she scurries over towards a large man wearing a long black trench coat and a matching black trilby hat with a green feather. ‘Julian! How wonderful you could make it!’ she gushes, air-kissing the man on both cheeks.

‘Come on,’ I tell Molly as she grins with amusement at the eccentric group of people following Julian through the door. ‘The sooner we get this party over with, the sooner we can go home.’

‘Kate!’ a young woman calls with delight a short while later, as Molly and I stand awkwardly with our complimentary drinks gazing at the people around us. Some of them we recognise as fellow St Felix residents, and some of them seem to be distinctly different from the usual out-of-town visitor yet seem to fit in extremely well with the art gallery surrounding.

‘Poppy!’ I call back, pleased to see one of my fellow Harbour Street shop owners. ‘How are you? I haven’t seen you in a while.’

‘I haven’t been in the flower shop much lately.’ Poppy grimaces. ‘Morning sickness,’ she explains, patting her tummy.

‘You’re expecting again?’ I ask with delight. ‘How wonderful.’

‘I certainly am!’ Poppy replies looking pleased. ‘Hopefully now I’m past twelve weeks I should start feeling a little better like last time. ‘Hello Molly,’ she says, spotting her. ‘Having a good time?’

Molly shrugs. ‘It’s okay.’

Poppy grins. ‘You remind me of my stepdaughter Bronte. She would have said something similar at your age, being dragged somewhere like this by one of her parents.’

Molly looks awkwardly at Poppy.

‘It’s wonderful news about the baby, Poppy,’ I tell her. ‘I didn’t know you were expecting again.’

‘Jake and I are only just telling people now it’s safe to do so. Actually I think it’s taken Jake all these weeks to get his head around the fact he’s going to be a father again.’

‘This will be his … fourth child, won’t it?’

‘Yup, second by me. The first two are hardly children any more now. Bronte is twenty and Charlie is twenty-two.’

‘Bronte is at art college, isn’t she? I think she popped in