Apr 3rd. Weather cloudy, cool.
I’ve staked out a likely spot. It’s on the Carrera del Genil, or rather as I told my mate Dave ‘round the back of the Corte Inglés’. There’s a fancy cobbled boulevard that’s usually well trodden with touristy feet. I hop off the bus and make my way over. First thing I see is the policia, two of them, meandering down the carrera. The African lads in their path are expertly scooping up their hooky DVDs, umbrellas and handbags and stuffing them into large bags. I walk on up the boulevard and pass the officers. They seem small. But they have batons. And authority.
Two minutes later they complete the length of the boulevard, turn round and amble their way back up towards the Acera del Darro. It’s all clear, and I go to my favoured tree and lamppost combo. I hang my strings across and start hooking up my paintings. Within seconds a middle aged couple sidle over. ‘Es bonita...’ he says, pointing to my most, erm, bonita-ish painting. ‘Sí’ I confirm (I really must work on that Spanish) and for a while it looks like a sale may ensue. Señor y Señora then chat conspiratorially, shrug shoulders, and move on. I make sure to thank them for looking and I carry on unloading my wares.
Youssef comes over from handbag duty and offers me a cigarette. I don’t smoke though I’m seriously thinking of taking it up, perhaps next New Year, as a resolution? I turn back towards my pitch in time to see a young girl trampling all over my prints. Aww, God bless her cotton socks. Mummy and daddy are oblivious of course and I quickly assess what my window of opportunity is for clobbering her. I’m too slow, and she’s off. I carefully wipe off the booty print and in fairness there’s no harm done. Not this time anyway.
A series of whistles and arm waving indicates the return of our friendly neighbourhood police officers. They’re just teasing though, standing at the head of the boulevard wondering whether to bother strolling down again or not. It must be a tough gig for them this one eh? One can easily imagine the thought processes. Do we walk all that way again or do we nip into that cafe for our early afternoon coffee (gratis)? We hover on tenterhooks, waiting for their next move. With much relief they decide another stroll down the boulevard is just too much and, for the time being, they clear off.
Youssef’s back. He likes one of my paintings and though I’m pleased (obviously) a small sense of panic begins to rise from the pit of my stomach. What if he wants to buy one? Do I have to go over and buy one of his handbags as a gesture of thanks? How ludicrous would that be? Rather than exchange cash would we just stand there and swap goods, like opposing footy captains handing over team pennants before a European tie? There’d be good mates of mine who’d claim I’d look good with a new fake Coco Chanel clutch bag in black and gold but I’m less than sure.
A stray balloon in the shape of a horse floats above our heads and diverts attention and thankfully common sense prevails. The horse looks oddly beautiful as it glides over the Corte Inglés, like a helium filled Pegasus without wings. I’m transfixed at the surreal sight and when I eventually turn my gaze back to street level I see a couple of other pundits have been watching it too. I cough clumsily in an attempt to get them look at what really matters but merely succeed in driving them away. They probably think I’ve got some horrible coughing disease – even though I haven’t even started smoking yet.
Oh-oh the police are back and this time they’re walking with purpose. They make swift progress. A flurry of activity studs the boulevard as goods are quickly transferred into large bags, towels are folded away and pitches summarily abandoned. Well, maybe it’s time to move on anyway. I get the last of my pictures down and my strings unravelled with seconds to spare.
Then it starts raining.
Time for a cerveza I think.
No sales today but a few nice comments and who knows, maybe someone’s at home now wishing they’d bought one of them and is vowing, as I write, to search me out next time and snap up a bargain (and they are bargains, all of them!).
I won’t be at the Carrera del Genil though. Tomorrow I’ll try the San Nicolas Mirador. There’s a saucy young French artists up there who likes my brushstrokes. And no one’s stood on my stuff up there for ages.