For nearly 7 years, since I moved to Norfolk from London, I have occasionally walked past an old busker in King’s Lynn who causes my mind some dysfunction. He is grey. Grey in the same way my father described his post-war childhood. Damp clothes, shoe holes patched with cardboard, never warm, and always hungry. The busker’s voice is inaudible, his guitar is broken and stringless, his dance looks like a cruel and relentless poke with a stick.
My internal scenario machine has concocted him a few tragedies, and some good times. Although, his present appearance is like a Portrait of Dorian Grey. If he and Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys ever met I would not be surprised if they annihilated each other in an explosion of high energy photons. Leaving nothing but the remnants of his guitar remnants. BTW, That last sentence was not incorrect; I did actually mean remnants of remnants.
I do often fixate on his guitar; being a guitar player myself. When I first saw him, his guitar was all in one piece and had at least four strings on it. Now, it looks like a faded picture of a guitar. It is 2D. Totally deconstructed and broken. He clamps it to his chest in a way that suggests a dysmorphic Tommy gun. I have seen him holding all the pieces of a guitar throughout the years. Turning from a close-knit family, to friendly neighbours, to lamented ghosts. Could this be a representation of his life? Or, an allegory of ours?
The information I have encountered about him suggests a life of apparent parody. The locals know him as Juggling Jim, though his given name is Tony. The Juggling Jim act was one of a juggler who could not juggle. He still has the skittles nearby, but no longer uses them. I wonder if Tony’s busker is following the same premise of ineptitude and impotence as his hearsay juggler. I could be reading too much into it. Is he the performance artist with the thought provoking plan? Is he the inflated sense of achievement for middle class shoppers? Is he the threat of capitalist failure? Is he the nutmeg of capitalist success? Or is he the old man in need of your pennies? I don’t know.
Regardless, the tourist board acknowledges him a curio worth visiting. Is he on the council payroll? I am inclined to give him a fiver, though giving him a functioning guitar may prove more constructive for my subjective musings.
Brian: Who cured you?
Ex-Leper: Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business, all of a sudden, up he comes, cures me! One minute I’m a leper with a trade, next minute my livelihood’s gone. Not so much as a by-your-leave! “You’re cured, mate.” Bloody do-gooder.