All life passes by in the morning sunshine: the short and the tall, the young and the old, the tattooed (lots of these), hens and stags, buggies and wheelchairs and so on, and so forth. You’d think one or two of them might have a spare penny or two for my tin. Actually, it’s not a tin which is just as well or you’d hear the emptiness as I twirl it around on the end of its little rope. It’s a goblet, so I’m told. Doesn’t look anything like a goblet to me. A goblet is meant to be full of something tasty – the elixir of life for example or a warming Shiraz, which is the same thing I suppose. I’m not twirling it in people’s faces because we’re not allowed to: it’s twirling in time as I rock from side to side in an attempt to ease the pain emanating from my ancient hips. Walking is good; standing still is not. I also have some imitation roses. A man approaches. This looks promising.
We always used to give to this cause until we discovered how much the CEO earns. It’s a bloody disgrace.
Thank-you for sharing that.
The main problem is that there’s too many of us. Well, there’s only four of us stretched along the front of Café Obscura (do they still have the camera in there?) but then there’s the others. For a start, the university has two gazebos directly opposite. One advertises the Festival of Learning and has lots of fun things for people to do and free drinks. Also, as they’re not a charity, they’re able to accost those passing by and tempt them away from my goblet. The second gazebo houses the sports department and they also have lots of fun things like a bike that goes nowhere at breakneck speed which is also more exciting than my revolving goblet.
Alongside the gazebos, Archbishop Makarios (who I thought was long dead) is sitting on a wall next to a placard advertising the Orthodox Church. He’s got quite a good pitch as he can nab those flooding in from the pleasure gardens before they’re grabbed by the bods from the Festival of Learning. To my left, just in front of the Big Issue vendor, is a man with a large red trolley affair. He’s in the tourism promotion business: bus and boat trips are his speciality. And in between all of us, are two young men who are proactively pushing some new kind of coffee.
Just as I’m feeling a tad sorry for all the shoppers and holidaymakers who have to manage their merry way through all of us on their way to the Saturday morning temptations of Primark, the silver man arrives. Shabby doesn’t come close: he’s got silver shoes, silver trousers, a worse-the-wear silver trench coat, the pockets of which doubtless contain silver sweets covered in bits of old fur and hair. He has a silver scarf and two thirds of his face is covered in sweaty silver make-up. And when I say ‘silver’, I really mean grey. The only thing real about him is his silver hair which is tied in a silver pony tail. The silver man ignores all of us. He takes out a box and covers it in a silver cloth. The silver man sits down on the box and rolls a grey cigarette which he proceeds to smoke. When the cigarette is finished, he gets out a small silver mirror and adjusts his even more sweaty silver make-up. Then he puts on a pair of silver sunglasses, a silver hat, puts another hat upside down in front of him and stands on the silver box. Very still. Very, very still. He is a living statue and I bet you can’t guess who takes the most money this morning.
People have no shame. All he’s doing is standing still and people are paying to have their photograph taken with him. ‘Look – I met a man who can stand still’. Or, disturbed by his ability to stand still, they give him money to move. ‘Look – I met a man standing still and I made him move’.
Look at me. If you put money in my goblet, people might live. Yawn.
I make a pact with one of the men promoting the coffee. If you put some money in my goblet, I’ll sign up for your coffee. Done.
A bunch of women with dogs and green goblets turn up with a view to collecting money. Our leader has what might be termed as a polite altercation. This is our pitch. We have permission. So do we say the dog people but they’re persuaded to move further down the Square. Whilst distracted by these competitors, we fail to notice the arrival of Sponge Bob Square Pants. By the time we’re aware of this intruder, it’s too late: all the children who aren’t busy poking the silver man have persuaded their parents that Sponge Bob is where all the action (and money) is. But then, just as all seems lost, a woman makes straight for me. However, the small child with her already possesses an imitation rose so must have been previously beaten round the head by one of our team. Not so says grandma.
We’ve only just noticed she’s got this rose. We haven’t given anyone any money so she must’ve nicked it.
I don’t know what to say and anyway, I’ve just noticed two men with painted moustaches and arms full of coloured balloons and more bloody goblets. They’re from the Make a Wish charity. Well, I’ve got a wish: I wish I wasn’t here. But, I make a stand:
We’ve got permission to be here, I begin.
Well, we’ve got permission to be anywhere in Bournemouth except the beach, they reply smugly. I give in, turn round and find that Sponge Bob Square Pants, the two coffee promoters and Archbishop Makarios are all having their photo taken with the Silver Man. Another missed opportunity.