“Hands up all who hate traffic wardens? the man asked, looking around at the people who were gathered in the room. He was wearing a khaki jacket, white stripped shirt and blue denim. “Thats a lot of hands” he exclaimed giddily, no doubt glad that the people in the room were playing along.
“Hands up all who hate anyone who profiteers out of other people’s misery? ” Again, not surprisingly, there were many hands, unashamedly so, nobody even looked bothered about what anyone else thought. Even Lellouche raised his hands without flinching. But again Bernard wasn’t one to be phased by what others thought.
“Ok, now hands up all who don’t hate traffic wardens? “He looked around mischievously, and there were several hands. “Ooaarrh, great!” he snarled “These must be the Christians, and the Buddhists” he remarked, .
It was a politics and philosophy gathering, and there must have been between 40 to 50 attendees, and ofcourse this canine. The meeting was taking place in the upstairs room of the aptly named Street cafe [which was off a main street of the town]. Because there weren’t enough chairs in the room, some people were standing up. Lellouche took me along, and sat in the third row from the front.
The first speaker, a long haired, grey bearded man of maybe 45 then went on about how some authorities have began sending out biked “wardens” of some sort. That this amounted to spitting onto the civil liberties of society, and that the government must stop this archaic fault finding practice.
“Lets call them ETW’s for elevated-traffic
wardens wannabes” He exclaimed excitedly, pacing around the microphone stand militantly, microphone held in hand, which he would periodically bring to his mouth to speak, only to return it facing downwards again, as if he were performing a sort of robotic dance routine.
” On first impression, they look like police community officers, you know them loiterers.” Chuckles filled the room. “But when you look closer, you will notice that their job it seems is to go around on motorcycles, street by street, looking for unlicensed vehicles” He stopped short, looked up, wide eyed, almost embarrassed, as if he had just inadvertently let out a fart, in the presence of in-laws.
“Lets set some wires on our streets, will teach the b******s a lesson” shouted a deadlocked fan, his light white skin contrasting sharply against his dark brown mane.
” Well, you can’t actually do that, can you. ” He said dismissively. It sounded more like a statement than a question. “Its illegal, and we’re not criminals, ladies and gentleman. Doing so would, somewhat bring us down to the same cheap levels as them. Also, I have to admit that they are somewhat ahead in this game as they set out to work when pretty much most or all us are at work, about 11- 12 sort of time. But what better way to throw money away and blow the tax coffers than to send out biked bailiffs” I gazed at Monsieur Lellouche, who seemed to have been captivated and was listening rather intently to this weird pep talk.
Following this geezer, who was cheered upon loudly by the then half-drunken crowd, as he left the stage and handed back the mic to a short plumpy woman dressed in a skirt with Jamaican flags draped all over it, I learned that his name was Reg, for Reginald, a political activists who many years ago had read Classics at Cambridge. I couldn’t help but wonder what Reg now did for a living.
A flurry of others took turns to voice their strong opinions on the stage: Poets, Writers, Philosophers, Liberalitarians, Naturalists, Confusionists and other disturbed sorts. It was a free country, and if you were not mainstream, the Street Cafe was closer to paradise. They were all here, and everybody seemed to cheer affirmatively at everybody else’s cause, so it appeared like you could say the most ridiculous thing, and there would still be a fan.