Taking a life drawing class that Berlusconi would be proud of - all in the name of being a good dad

Man About Town

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The Independent Online

Getting married makes you think about children. Everyone starts asking you about them, so you start thinking about what sort of parent you’ll be and the myriad ways you could mess them up. But one thing I don’t want to mess up were I to have children is teaching them to draw.

When they ask me to draw a chicken, I don’t want it to end up looking like a potato. For some that is a very real possibility. I hope that they will one day be better at everything than me, but for some things I don’t want it to be embarrassingly soon.

Of course it’s easier at first. Small children can usually only manage giant-headed stick men, with eyes in places only Picasso would put them. But in no time, they’ll be managing much more and you want to wait until they are older than you until they start laughing at your failings.

This thought had been pecking away inside my mind when I received an invitation to a life drawing class at Bunga Bunga. This restaurant and bar, you may have spotted, was named after the game allegedly played during clothing-optional parties hosted by former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Despite the name, I was assured that nothing untoward was planned that evening.

As the name also suggests, it’s a venue that doesn’t take itself too seriously. From the gondola-shaped bar to Eurovision nights (with gigs from former contestants) to Italian conversation classes, the venue doesn’t want to be the same as any old bar.

The owners Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling have had other London successes with Barts, a speakeasy-style bar hidden in a block of flats and an 80s-themed nightclub called Maggies (yes, after Thatcher), cleverly realising that people actually like quirky fun places.

It was good to be doing life drawing in continental surrounds, as sitting that close to a naked person you’re not sleeping with feels decidedly un-English. But when it came down to the actual sketching, I wasn’t nearly as bad as I had initially worried.

The instructor gave me helpful pointers and those, combined with the fact that my mind was focused on the charcoal in hand and not making a horrible smudgy mess, meant that I wasn’t the worst there.

If I keep practising, I feel as though I might not humiliate my offspring with my bad artwork. Instead I can save the embarrassment until they’re older when I offer to take them to a life drawing class.