Tom Stone

What is the relation between performance and the social?

Paddington Station 14:17

What a show!

A lady passes close by – a Prada clutch bag is held tightly. Fabulous. She disappears seconds later swallowed by the criss-crossing throng of bodies. My next ‘spectacle’ bowls through, heading straight for me, eyes fixed not on mine but on the departure board which hangs overhead. He is a large man. He stops no more than a few feet in front of me. As I’m sitting down, my eye line meets his midriff. His midriff stares back. Its impressive.

A man stands in the heart of the crowd. Seemingly happy to act as a stationary, crowd-frustrating bollard. He is also bald. Slightly odd looking – plastic flower in lapel, that sort of thing. He wears a smirk whilst staring intently into the middle distance. He looks like he’s going to do something. Something odd.

A suitcase accompanies him.

He lifts an arm and points up to the cast iron ornate roof. He holds this positon with smirk and stare, for 15 minutes. I’m now very intrigued. He has to do something else. I almost demand it as his only attentive audience member.

He bends down, unfastens and opens the suitcase. A pigeon leaps forth and flys off cooing wildly. With a deadpan composure he takes out a newspaper. He then begins to read aloud from each page before screwing it up and throwing it to the floor, ‘Honda supports Gay Marriage!’ ‘Budget leaves monkeys confused!’ ‘Hats only on Sundays!’ ‘Price of chairs to fall!’ ‘ ‘e’ to be omited from the English language!’. Upon completion of the paper he begins to dance. It’s an odd dance. His feet shuffle , shifting him from left to right – he manges to stagger, swagger, feign and trip all in a single step. What a dance! He humms a tune, almost inaudible.

What the feck is he doing!! is the expression worn by most of those who pass-by.  Some stop, others ignore. The crowd move effortlessly, shifting pace, gait and step as they remain determined to exchange spaces with one another. 14:44 Spectacle over. The man clears the newspaper into the suitcase and walks off, quickly engulfed by the crowd. Order has returned to the station. I run for my train.

Tom Stone is an artist based in Bristol.

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