Observing The Square At Night

(The following piece was performed (and not by me – hurrah! no mumble mumble mumble) on Saturday 17th May at The Word On The Street – A Literary Cabaret, part of the 2014 Guernsey Literary Festival)

“If we wait at the window until it gets dark, you’re guaranteed to see something. It sounds like a trick, but it’s not. What I mean is, the things you’re looking for – the people you have expressed an interest in seeing – will only come out once the sun’s gone down.

“Look now, look there. Here’s the first. Can you see what he’s doing? Writing his poetry in the cracks between the cobbles. Yes, he scratches it in. You should go down tomorrow once it’s light, and read it. Or you could get someone to go down there and take some pictures of it instead, of course.

“Have you noticed how slight the moon is tonight? Nearly new, as if it’s barely there at all. No, no, that’s a good sign. Do you see down there? There’s a group congregating around that bench. They’re performing a theatre piece. I could take you down there and we could arrange for them to perform for you? No, of course. We can watch from here.

“What’s that? Yes. Well done. Well spotted! Yes, there is something sinister about the way he stands at the entrance to the alley. But you see what’s coming out of his pipe, don’t you? What he’s producing? Smoke animals. No, no, I don’t think he’d be interested in that. I don’t think it’s for show. I think they’re supposed to be there one minute and gone the next. Well, I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say it’s a waste.

“They’re everywhere now. See up there? Yes, there’s one on that roof as well, scribbling observations down his trouser leg? I don’t know, perhaps their minds are so preoccupied with other things that they just wander. You’re right, it would be fascinating to follow them, to log their movements. Though I wonder what would be the purpose of such an exercise? Well, I’m not sure that having them under control would necessarily be a good thing. The fact that they can wander wherever they please is what gives us such a rich- Well yes, everywhere. We don’t generally lock the doors, I thought you understood that. Well, I could close the door but I think it could ruin the- Ok, ok. I’ll go and- I’m sorry, I thought you understood.

“Hang on though. Shhhh. Did you hear that? On the stairs. No, no, don’t worry. It’s fine, he won’t harm us. We can whisper, yes. Just be careful not to startle him. Can you see how he’s crept in, the door is barely open. See how he keeps close to the walls, stumbles into things, bumps his feet and his knees. He’s working his way round to get to that chair. Don’t worry, it’s fine. He’s just deep in thought, it’s nothing to be scared of.

He’s found the chair. See how he swings in to the seat and hooks his legs over the arm. Quiet, still. He’s looking right at us.

“What’s that? What is he writing about? I’m sorry, I thought you understood.”

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