The storm clouds were gathering in one of the photos on the wall of Kirk McCambley's cafe. The image featured a white sailing ship at full tilt careering through the growing waves.
Customers exchanged knowing glances as Iris Robinson's 19-year-old toyboy lover yesterday worked busily behind the counter serving up lattes at the Lock Keeper's Inn — less than 10 hours after he found himself at the centre of a political scandal.
Still boyish-looking, it was evident that despite his bravado the now 21-year-old had not emerged from the saga unscathed.
Even the odd smile could not hide the pale, unshaven face and heavy, red eyes, undoubtedly the result of a restless night’s sleep.
Mr McCambley, with his gelled dark hair, dressed in a black shirt and trousers with a black apron, spent much of the time outside fielding calls on his mobile phone, and when asked about the controversy simply smiled wanly, said “no comment” and shook hands.
But less than four hours after opening up the business, shortly before noon, the young man with all eyes on him made his escape, gingerly making his way across the stone bridge, over the river and across the frozen snow to a waiting red Renault Megane.
Several hours later he had not returned, leaving his nervous young staff to run things. His location remained, like the man himself, a mystery, and once again it was stated that he would not be issuing a statement.
Not surprisingly, yesterday the packed cafe did a roaring trade with even little old ladies braving the snow-laden towpath to catch a glimpse of the now famous Kirk McCambley.
While the lure of hot drinks when temperatures were as low as -4C made a seat in the small cafe an attractive proposition, many of those who thronged it were lured by something more than cappuccinos and muffins.
Janice Richards (33), a full-time mother from south Belfast, said: “It is just such a surprise, to think with someone so young.”
Another female diner, who declined to be named, said: “I just came here for something to eat. The programme (BBC Spotlight which made allegations about Strangford MP Iris) has certainly created a stir.”