We took a trip recently to the UK capital city to meet some book editors and meet up with dear friends and Irish cousins. London is a really great place for wasting time. I stumbled on this little place when on one of my “Michael walks” while Mel was visiting her editor. My walks tend to go in anything but a straight line. I criss cross the back streets, poking my nose down as many trendy mews and brick alleyways as I can.
The Attendant is on a side street in London’s peaceful Fitzrovia area, not far from the roar of Oxford street. It’s an old Victorian underground urinal that has been converted to a coffee shop. The original wrought iron entrance is still there. You must walk down steep steps to get to the small counter and a couple mini seats, so it’s not exactly handicap accessible. But it’s a better place for warm weather anyway, when you can balance your espresso and cake as you negotiate the narrow stairs back up the street. And luckily it was particularly nice weather in London on our visit. Below, the original white porcelain urinals are still there, (looking immaculate I must say) converted now to individual mini counters with green metal stools. The coffee and eats were beyond excellent. If they weren’t I would have not gone back three times… What illustrator can resist a wall of graffiti at the bottom of the stairs? Here I am stooping to the challenge. Not much on the way of fine art here I must say. Here is my masterpiece on the only available space, right above the astroturf carpet. This is a kind of affirmation that I can take the pressure drawing in permanent ink in a public place. A few years ago I had the chance to draw on the unfinished wall in the lobby of Knopf publishers in NYC. It was so bad, I drew another one right away, much better, but the only space left was way up high and only seven foot visitors or authors on stilts will ever see it. They’ll just see the horrible, Michael-who-can’t-draw one, at eye level. Sigh. Ta Da! A comfortable looking “Gatto” sipping his latte on a stool. Not bad. Now if I had only drawn this one in New York… I was able to do a little work outside. on the laptop, when I eventually figured out London Wi-fi through BT. It was terrible.