Saturday, 26 June 2010
A Right to bear cucumbers.
A long time ago, long enough to think it happened to someone else, I was in a park in Barcelona with my business partner Dave and a couple of hundred other men women and children who lived in the city; Dave and I were just passing through.
It was a beautiful day and a beautiful park and we had found a perfect spot for a show, our backs to an ornate fountain that offered potential improvised comic possibility and we had a commanding view of the walkways from where are audience finally emerged.
We had started the performance, finished the joke about Madrid and completed the three-ball routine, we were probably just about to cut the cucumber with the knives when a policeman marched into the centre of our juggling circle and demanded that we stop.
He had a gun on his hip, we had a cucumber and six knives made from blunt steel by a friend of Dave’s who had a workshop in north London. We were prepared to stop.
But before we could the audience started shouting at him and suddenly he was faced with a 200 strong Catalan protest, everyone protesting that it was our right and he should leave us alone.
He tried to argue for a moment and then stormed off in defeat.
There was a pause.
The cucumber remained where it was.
Water from the fountain splashed contentedly.
“Carry on”, said a man at the front.
That would never have happened in England, we knew from experience. If a man in blue told you to stop, you stopped - and he would stand there until you had packed everything away, including yourself.
Later that week an American warship arrived off the coast and a small boat full of officers tried to tie up in the harbour.
An old man was standing fishing in the only space available and they asked him to move – he declined.
Very quickly a crowd gathered in his support and an international crisis was only averted when he hooked a sardine and left to ringing applause. The Americans were eventually able to dock but were forced to cordon off a small section of concrete and post two armed guards to ensure that they would be able to embark when the trip to the city centre was over.
This week, at the football world cup, an event occurred that seems to confirm that Europe still has a different attitude to authority than the English.
A footballer swore at his coach, really swore, got sent home and the rest of the team went on strike because they hadn’t been consulted - and the player who was sent home hadn’t even been playing that well!
It can’t be something to do with republics because Spain at the time of the events I describe was a dictatorship.
Maybe it’s the sun?