Monday, 22 October 2018

Round 43.


Phillipe plays the trombone in a marching band.

He isn’t playing it at the moment, he doesn’t even have it with him but we are discussing some of the finer points of the art.

I tell him that I stumbled upon a marching band in the city a few weeks ago, and that even though they weren’t marching at the time – they were in fact standing in the road outside a bar – I was impressed by their rendition of Hotel California.

I explain that I thought the arrangement for brass instruments gave a really nice twist to the tune and I venture that if he and his colleagues are ever looking for something new to add to their repertoire then they should look no further than this Eagles classic.

“We’re not good enough”, he replies. 

“We like to do covers but prefer something that isn’t so well known,” he adds. “We risk disappointing if the tune is a crowd favourite”.

Phillipe’s marching band is not a professional outfit, more a collection of enthused amateurs, at least one of whom is a vegetable grower by trade.

The market in which we are standing is a great place to buy vegetables and I am particularly happy with a kilo of mixed white and purple aubergines that I have procured, I am intending to make an aubergine parmegiana later in the week.

Phillipe has no vegetables about his person and is carrying next to nothing, so he offers to carry one of the two trays of fruit I had been struggling with before we stopped to speak.

I say that it isn’t really necessary as further progress along the street is impossible anyway, because a local marching band are in the process of marching along it and collecting a huge crowd in the process.

“Do you know them?”

The asker of this question is Geoff, who is not a member of any marching band as far as I know and also seems to have an unhealthy lack of vegetables about him. He has joined us on the steps by the church after recognising Phillippe.

It is not difficult to recognise Phillipe; he is almost 7 feet tall and is wearing bright orange.

“Not personally”, he replies, “but I know OF them”.

“They are good”, i offer, keen to be part of this conversation. “I think they are playing St Jame’s Infirmary.”

Phillipe looks blank.

“The Cab Calloway number.” I add.

Phillipe looks blanker.

I’m not sure if it is possible to look blanker than blank and it must be very difficult anyway if you are over 7 feet tall and dressed in bright orange; you stick out, and you can’t afford to look anything other than intelligent. 

But I find myself thinking that this is a glaring gap in the knowledge for someone who plays the trombone.

It is at about this point that Geoff says goodbye and I sense that Phillipe would like to go too.

I hold him a little longer by mentioning the gallery that is less than 10 meters behind us.

“There’s an interesting exhibition on the second floor of the gallery”, I announce.


I’m suspecting that Phillipe doesn’t get out much.

“I never come to the market”, he says as way of explanation.

I think about saying that the gallery is here even on the days when the market is not, but then I think - what’s the point?

About fifteen years ago, Phillipe randomly placed eight public telephone boxes in a field in the middle of nowhere about eight kilometres from the market where we are standing.

What was the point in that?

He illuminated each one with a simple lamp run on batteries and people were free to wander in and out as they felt the need.

It looked pretty as the sun set.

The cows whose field it was seemed ambivalent.

I would like to be able to report that the field belonged to some elephants and that they had placed no trunk calls, but that would be pushing literary licence somewhat; the field in question was and remains in France.

I am English.

Geoff who we met earlier but has now left, is French.

Phillipe is Belgian.

Phillipe plays the trombone in a marching band.

He isn’t playing it at the moment, he doesn’t even have it with him; but we have been discussing some of the finer points of the art.

(i forgot - the editor, life is so full !!)


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