There is a violin player – if you can really call his scraping playing – on Príncipe. He’s there most days, come rain or shine and he’s been around at least since we first came to Vigo about five years ago, possibly longer. We’ve also seen him in Sanxenxo in the summer time. Maybe that’s his summer residence. His repertoire doesn’t change much year on year: a bit of badly played Carmen, an equally badly played Ode to Joy. Practice isn’t making perfect. As for him, he’s not improving either, looking a bit more wrinkled and a bit more weathered than when we first saw him. Mind you, other beggars have come and gone but he remains.
So does the old chap who sleeps in a shop doorway on Urzáiz. He’s been there more than a year now. He seems to have survived the winter with his bag of belongings and a rather disreputable-looking blanket. I see him reading at times – maybe the people who stop and talk to him give him books – but mostly he’s sleeping.
The sun has brought out the bench sleepers in the last few days, stretched out in the warmth, oblivious of the street life around them. It has also woken up the traffic light clowns. In minimal fancy dress, usually loose, brightly coloured clothing and dreadlocks, when cars stop at traffic lights they step out into the middle of the pedestrian crossing. Then they do the smallest amount of juggling possible, a couple of tosses of their batons into the air, before haranguing the car drivers for a contribution in payment for the entertainment provided.
Our regular supermarket beggars in the doorway to Mercadona just next to our block of flats – a young woman who looks pathetic and asks for money and a young man who pursues you and asks you to buy something for him while you’re in there, preferably meat – have either disappeared or changed their schedule. One way or another, I’ve not seen them when I’ve gone to the supermarket. Maybe I just go too early in the day.
I’m not too early, however for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Twice in the time we’ve been here I’ve been stopped and asked if I want to learn how to make my life simpler and better. And it’s happened on other visits to this fair city. Maybe they have their headquarters – Kingdom Hall – somewhere near our flats.
Or maybe it’s my face. Do I really look so much like a sinner in need of redemption?