Saturday, June 17, 2006

Alternative Entertainment


This week Shakespeare and Company have been running their second literary festival entitled: Travel in Words. It started on Thursday, but as I had to go and watch the football I didn’t make it then and last night was the Flamenco Evening organised by Anne, so I didn’t make it yesterday either, but today I got there. You could say that all in all it’s been quite a cultural few days!

Anyway, Claire and I went to see Tim Parks talk about Travelling and Settling, Different Visions of the Same Country. I chose his talk as I felt it was an issue that I have been wrestling with for a while, but then after I read his little blurb in the programme I realised I had actually read one of his novels: Europa. He raised quite a few issues about travel writers and the difference with those who settle in one place. He didn’t answer any questions that I have been asking myself, rather posed more questions, but I would certainly like to read more of his stuff and that’s partly why I won’t tell you anymore about his talk, go read it yourself. He’ll tell you a good few tales and obviously can do it better than me.

So I’m not really a person who has the attention span for lectures, so I spent a lot of the time staring out at the Park Rene Viviani planning pictures I would like to take afterwards and gazing at Notre Dame until the SDF (Sans domicile fixe) arrived announcing he had a drink.

There’s something about Shakespeare and Company talks and readings that attract the SDF. A few years ago on a humid summer evening, in conjunction with Ambit a few Writer’s came over to Paris to read their work. During one particularly bad reading, a lanky dreadlocked bearded drunk ambled over to see what we were all sitting intently looking at. I have to admit at this stage I was looking intently at the drunk and his hilarious method of rolling about from side to side looking as if he was about to topple over before miraculously righting himself. The twee middle-class accent droned on and on about this lurid scene in a Laundrette and little by little I realised that the new hush that had descended over the audience was due to the drunk’s antics in the background. His next trick involved cupping his hand under the drinking fountain so that the water sprayed over the authors waiting to read. A wave of repressed smiles spread over the audience who could see this and those who had their back to the drunk looked up bemused at this sudden downpour. But still the voice droned on. Eventually after a few minutes of spraying the organiser spotted the drunk and hurriedly marched off to deal with him. The drunk realising that he was caught did a slapstick jump and scuttled off to the little park, but not for long. Next he came back with his rucksack; perhaps he was interested in the story. He dumped it by the fountain and did a few comedy leans where he missed the fountain, catching himself before he fell over. By now the organiser was practically apoplectic that he was getting more attention than the writer. The drunk scuttled away again and this time came back with a can of beer. He did a rather debonair two footed leap over the chains linking two bollards but this time his timing was askew, one foot caught on the chain and he came lurching forward his beer hand stopping him from crashing to the floor. A gasp emanated from the crowd. Unfortunately his can had not come off so well and a stream of beer shot up into the air drenching the reading writer. This time we couldn’t suppress the giggles and no amount of waving from the organiser could rid us of the drunk, he was desperately trying to catch the stream of beer before it all gushed away.

This year’s heckler didn’t get so much audience time. Well not until Parks was trying to explain the rivalry between Verona and Vincentia (hope the spelling is right) football clubs and let forth a stream of Italian obscenities which spread far and wide over the little garden. This was too much for the heckler; he stalked back with his bottle in hand and chastised Parks and his foul mouth very loudly from the back of the tent.

3 comments:

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