July 23, 2008

Fire up your buns!

On our last night in Corsica, we crossed half the island just to go to Guitar Nights in a tiny village called Patrimonio. Tommy Emmanuel and the John Butler Trio were playing at a guitar festival there.

If you’ve never seen Tommy Emmanuel, you really should and I don’t care if you don’t like guitar music. I’m not especially fond of guitars myself (I prefer playing the fool), but I saw Tommy Emmanuel a few years ago in Chantilly when friends of mine had been asked to open for him. Despite my total lack of enthusiasm for guitars (an all too easily abused instrument owned by far too many mediocre players), I was hooked by Tommy. The guy’s genius is so obvious that WHAT he plays becomes irrelevant as you’re mesmerised by HOW he plays it.

With total abandon he drums, bangs, brushes and slaps on his guitar. He pulls on the neck to make it whine and presses it against his chest to cause all sorts of distortions. He jumps, jigs and head bangs the microphone to keep the beat going – in short, a live concert of his should be on the list of “1000 things to do before you die”. And, by the way, I still don’t like guitar music.

So, there you go. We drove to the open-air arena for two hours, waited for another two and drove back for two, just to get our dose. The John Butler Trio was great too.

After Tommy Emmanuel’s energetic performance, however, something happened to certain audience members and they lost all self-discipline. Originally there was a standing section in front by the stage, seating in the middle and people standing in the aisles and behind the seats of the open-air arena. After the break, a few people who had been standing behind the seats, decided that love-thy-neighbour and civil cooperation is for the birds, and ingeniously stood themselves in front of the seats, on the same level. The upshot of this obviously was that the seated people directly behind them (most of whom had arrived two hours before the start of the concert – ask me, I know) had their view of the stage totally blocked. This happened to a guy and his son/brother 2 rows ahead of me. So, instead of asking the people in front of him to move further forward (and thus be lower), this clown and his son/brother decided to stand up in front of their own seats, resulting in another 4 rows behind them to be blocked. When a few of us called to him and his son/brother to sit back down again, he turned around, shrugged and pointed at the people in front of him. So I signalled to him to move further away if he wanted to stand. Only, with the John Butler Trio playing onstage and in the darkness, all I managed to do was wave my right arm in a voetsak* motion and yell, “Go then! Go away. GOOOOOOOO!”

The guy, who was wearing sunglasses (at night), lowered his glasses on his nose and looked right at me, threateningly, as if wanting to imprint my face on his mind so he could thump me later and said: “Quoi?!?!” He also looked across at The Boyfriend and made menacing hand signs.

I continued my waving/rowing/voetsak motion and my yelling, adrenaline pumping through my veins. After what seemed like an eternity, he pushed his glasses back up and turned around to face the stage again. His son/brother sat back down while he remained standing and started to sway his bottom around to indicate how much he was loving the concert that we could no longer see. Next, he held up his video camera to ensure that he would be able to enjoy it for years to come.

Meanwhile, people were getting more and more out of hand as half of the people from the back had followed suit and moved in around the seats, and half the seated population had either left the stands or stood up and added to the chaos. In a short break between songs when it was quiet, people at the back yelled “SIT DOWN” and a man behind me shouted: “One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. The musicians have come here in the name of PEACE!” It was a circus and a typically francophone scene. This culture is not brought up to consider anyone but themselves (and maybe their own children, if the kids are lucky).

I was fuming at how the supposed music-lover’s behaviour had degenerated. I was also secretly hoping that the video camera jerk would come and find me afterwards to clap me, so that I could then go to the cops outside. (Waving your arm is not an offence, smacking girls however, is) I’m not one to fear a fight, although perhaps I say that now precisely because I have often been on the verge of receiving a beating that never materialised - I may not be so brave after a broken nose. Anyway, I was full of fury and adrenaline and needed to DO something to fight back. Just then, I remembered I was chewing gum. Yes, people, I did stoop that low. Not just once, but twice, to be on the safe side.

I inconspicuously launched my beloved Cinnamon FIRE gum (found tucked in my suitcase from my last trip to SA) onto his seat. I couldn’t lean far forward enough to make sure it hadn’t bounced off the seat, so I pushed another piece of Cinnamon FIRE into my mouth. The BF saw me and asked for some too. I did not mention my clandestine activities because I knew he would disapprove of such un-lady-like behaviour. I chewed, until it had reached just the right mix of stickiness versus chewiness, then with a flourish disguised as an attempt to see the band on stage, I leaned right forward and launched the second piece of gum onto his seat. This time I was certain it had stayed there. I couldn’t get the Cheshire cat grin off my face, so the BF noticed that something was up and I admitted to having ‘lost’ my gum.

No, you didn’t?!?! He asked incredulously, not without a hint of a mischievous glint in his eye.
“I’m afraid I did… and it’s bright red, so it might leave a stain” I moaned.

And so the concert continued and my heart raced as I watched the video camera jerk’s white Bermuda-shorted bottom (remember, I have absolutely no view of the stage). Eventually, I got bored of that and decided that I was going to try to get a glimpse of the stage from the back. I left the BF in his seat and stood among the reasonable people at the back to see John Butler.
Not long after, the BF appeared and said: “Let’s go. Your man sat down and when he got back up he wiped his bottom, turned around and looked at the seat and then looked around for you like mad. I just sat there looking away, but I swallowed my gum because I don’t want to be caught with bright red evidence in my mouth.”
As we strolled out of the arena and up the hill to the car, I laughed my ass off… in a real he-who-laughs-last-laughs-longest manner. The Boyfriend, however, is still marvelling at my precision throw (pssssshhhhhhh, let’s not tell him it’s all in the forward lean….)

*voetsak or voetsek [foot-sak]
South African offensive, informal an expression of dismissal or rejection [Afrikaans, from Dutch 'voort se ek' 'forward, I say,' commonly applied to animals]
in other words: piss off!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heike, you gum-chewing bad-ass!