Is there anything more likely to bring nations together and bestow a collective sense of hatred than alfresco dining being interrupted by a mime artist? If there is I have yet to encounter it.
We all saw him approach – chalky white faced in a leotard and top hat – the destroyer of dreams (the previous morning it had been a euphonium player murdering the hits of Taylor Swift, but this would be way worse…)
But wait, that morning there was a hero in our midst. A fellow diner – German, bearded and flamboyant, jumped from his seat into the path of the cash extrapolator and:
- Mimed eating his breakfast and rubbed his belly to indicate that he was content.
- Mimed being trapped in a box.
- Mimed stabbing the mime artist to death.
- Held out his hand as if demanding payment.
To add insult to injury one of his friends mimed laughing and clapping (without his hands making contact).
The mime artist mumbled some obscenities under his breath as he walked away, prompting the German to say something that was clearly along the lines of: ‘He can speak – It’s a miracle!’
I would dearly love to take this busker-repelling tactic back with me to Blighty, but alas I am English. Such a direct, grumble-free approach simply isn’t cricket.
Back at the colonial guesthouse in which I was staying my host asked me if I had yet seen Pablo Picasso’s ghost.
‘He lived in that building right there,’ she said, pointing to an adjacent window, ‘and his apparition can often be seen walking about, trapped in time.’
I smiled, but she seemed deadly serious.
Later that evening her husband called me to the veranda.
‘Martine, come quickly, regard, Pablo Picasso’s ghost, trapped in time…’
I stared down into an empty window.
‘…He was there a moment ago, but left when I called you over.’
Once again my mirth was met with utter sincerity.
‘Wait…he will return…Pablo Picasso…trapped in time.’
An old bald man with white side-burns and a stripy top came to the window, and for a second I thought I was seeing the aforementioned apparition.
‘What’s that in his hand?’ the landlord asked playfully, ‘Is it a pencil? Is it a brush? Hey Pablo…PABLO!’
Pablo flipped us the bird and slammed the shutters.
In the morning I was packing to leave when I noticed a large glob of chewing gum stuck to the sheets. A brief attempt at removing the offending item proved fruitless. I would need a sharp implement of some description. A perusal of the kitchen yielded a large knife. This did the job nicely. On the way back to return the item of cutlery, shirtless and armed, I encountered the landlady. Her warm features grew cold.
Justifications scrolled through my retarded mind:
…I thought I saw Pablo.
…That’s the U-bend unblocked!
‘Buenos Dias,’ I beamed like a sociopath before making good my escape…