I finally hit the streets again after a several-week break. The students are back for their first term of the year here in Cambridge, and City Centre is once again bustling with life. I wasn’t sure how it would go—college students are notoriously poor. But, if you’re a college student in expensive England I figure you’re either exceptionally poor, or exceptionally rich. Might as well find out…
I did better than the week after the tourists left, but not as good as with tourists. I got more publicity than any other moment in my life as a photography class wandered through the market behind Great Saint Mary’s and each student found me irresistibly photogenic. But after having thousands of pictures taken of by over 20 photographers, I hope their teacher takes one look at the material and says, “Did any of you pay this mime for all the amazing shots he gave you???” Note to students (yes, even photography students), I know you are out there to do school, but I am out here to work. If I’m helping you get a good grade, you can help me get some good income.
Photo-students aside it was an all right day. The highlight for me was clearly the arts students. There were gaggles of artists wandering around the incredibly scenic squares of Cambridge, and two of them stopped to watch me for a long time. After quite a while they came up and dropped a few coins in and asked to take a picture with their phone. Thank you; and, of course. The politest photo of my day.
After that they set up nearby and began to sketch me, and the people stopping to watch. They were there so long that I sort of befriended them. When I needed a break I would go over to them, and pretend I was having a drink of water, or something silly like that. We played a little charades when they asked my name, and in the end I think they got enough to look me up on YouTube (Dan Cossette Mime). After a while one of the girls brazenly interrupted my wall routine.
I had just set it up when she knocked on my first wall. Hello? I skipped to my usual punch line and immediately opened the wall like a door, and invited her in. She walked straight past me and put her hand up. What I thought was a beckon for a high five turned out to be another wall. She was trapping me. I let her, and she walked back to the front to admire her handiwork. But how can I be trapped in a box with a door? I opened it again and invited her in. She entered and I quickly pulled up a chair for her. I poured the wine (and glared at her for not waiting to toast before I had mine to drink…), then made us a lovely little meal. We traded gags back and forth: if I was messy, she was civilized; if she was fast, I was slow. Finally I poured us another wine, and she nearly drank it without me—I stared her down! She giggled and remembered to wait. Finally I cleared the table and waved her goodbye.
Round of applause for everyone. To her credit (and if you’ve ever done mime, you know how hard this is) she actually “sat” on the chair I gave her—that is, standing in plié (bent legs)—the whole time she was at the table with me! Her and her fellow artist did not leave even after that, but went back to their drawing. In the end it was me who packed up shop first. I dragged my junk over to both of them, had a drink of real water, gathered my hat and coins, and waved goodbye.
Maybe I’ll see them again.