column 9 One Man Band


We drove for the second time into Key West and managed to find a good parking place for the camper.
"If you park here before 9 am it costs just ten dollars; after that it rises to fifteen and in the afternoon it's twenty. Supply and demand," the man at the parking place informed us. I told him I knew where to go and pointed to the indoor part. "No, put it there in the corner at the back."
This gave Anita a bit if a fright. "We're parked beside hobos." And indeed we found ourselves parked beside two street artists we had seen at Mallory Square the day before. Bob London, a one man band from England.
He turned out to be a disillusioned musician. "So, welcome to Paradise. It's fine if you're here on holiday but hell if you've got to work here. I became a street musician to escape the nine to five routine but ....."
I asked if the frustration had to do with the music he made.
"Oh, yeh.... above all. When I got to the U.S. thirty years ago I had a higher expectation of this land. It's not nearly as liberal as I thought it was going to be. And the politics! Don't let me get started on Mister Bush and his stealing gang. Have you read in the paper about Sharon this morning. " And before we knew it we were in the middle of a political discussion.
"Bob, let those people get off. They want to go to Hemmingway's house," called his wife, but I didn't regard this as a delay.
"By the way, I can recommend glue for you so that you can stick down that butt-strap. Go to the Wall Mark and buy their GOOP glue with 'Household' on the label. It's good and cheap. They make it in three grades; there's 'Do-it-yourself'; that's twice the price and 'For boats', the same stuff but three times the price. You want 'Household'."
When we left Hemmingway's house we saw him lost in thought cycling along Green Street
That evening a huge cruise ship had moored and when we went to visit our neighbour at a quarter past six we saw, in contrast to the day before, that the rope which marked his territory was surrounded by a large crowd. The bucket was filled to the top with dollars. Like a real professional he stole the show and the children were so enthusiastic that they began to dance spontaneously. I gave him a euro note because he had announced that at the end of the season he was returning to Europe. He has my address so if you come across a fantastic one man band in the region next season you'll know how that came about.