The sun’s out, and that means lots of free ‘entertainment’ in busy public places. The busy public place I visited today was Lyric Square in Hammersmith. I had to go there, I was buying some lunch.
Pretty much everyone else there was buying lunch, too, queuing at various stalls at the weekly farmers’ market. Quite how many actual farmers there were among the purveyors of falafel, Japanese dumplings and cheesecake remains a mystery, but as it beats eating the same old stale triangles filled with cardboard ham, it remains a popular option.
Today was different to most weeks, though. The sun had his hat on, and so there was an entertainer there. He had a little tent set up, and a stereo that was booming out the James Bond theme tune.
“I’m an acrobat, magician, mime artist, comedian and dancer,” he boasted. Really? Is that it? What would he do, we all thought, somewhat in awe in his presence now we’d been made aware of his considerable talent.
The anticipation was palpable. How was he going to wow us? Scale a building with his bare hands? Turn everyone’s stupid bottles of ‘This Water’ into wine? Punch a lion in the face?
He did a handstand. Then a sort of press-up thing, still standing on his hands. Kind of good, if you’re trying to impress your mates in a pub, but come on. Surely you have to do better than that to keep a crowd’s attention in the middle of the day in a busy London street.
Apparently not. He walked over to the stereo and switched the Bond jingle for some futuristic-sounding noises. Then, he put on a long leather jacket and sunglasses. Okay, he’s being Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix, right. What now?
“And now, I’m going to do something not many people in the world can do.” The handstand was clearly a warm-up, I thought. Now he’s going to show us some serious moves.
He jumped up and down. On the spot, dressed as Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix. That’s it. And at one point, he actually looked in my direction and smiled, as if to say, “I know you know I’m a fraud, but I’m getting away with this, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it”.
And he’s right. He had a captive audience, people so bored in a never-ending queue to buy some deep-fried prawns that they’ll watch any old shit to pass the time.
So for anyone that was in that queue, or a similar one, that’s not entertainment. This is entertainment.