Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Grand Park - Part Two

I gather there is quite a ‘Bois du Boulogne’ element to the park, but apart from some covert coke snorting behind trees, and the usual dodgy dealing that goes on in every street and café in Albania, I have seen nothing untoward, with the possible exception of the 'pensioners in pants’

Now that the sun is well and truly out in Albania and has been for some time, the sunbathers have appeared. I must say people reckon Britain has the last word in Mad Englishmen who at the faintest whiff of a ray of watery sun, whip their shirt off and don their shorts, but of course keep their socks on with their sandals…

But I have to say Albanian men are one up on the Brits on this one. I have passed numerous men walking along in jeans, and lace up shoes but sporting vests, which are rolled up to their midriff. If you have a protruding belly so much the better, but half mast vests are very ‘de jour’. Then there is the chap who wanders round in underpants and socks carrying a flimsy bag, which clearly does not contain the rest of his clothes. Apart from this he seems quite normal… Men seem to be sun mad here, whilst the women shield their faces with a book or paper (in a very familiar ‘hot country’ gesture) and carry parasols or umbrellas.

But I have to say it’s the pensioners in pants who win the prize. Now most of the elderly men in the park are soberly dressed in dark suits, hats and buttoned up shirts with no concession to the sun, but then there’s the others. To be fair there are only 4 of them as far as I can tell. I had thought it was happening all over the place, but as I have 4 opportunities a day to witness this, I have gradually identified it as a group of 4 geriatric sun worshippers who are always in the same place, where they hang all their clothes on trees, except for their (very white) pants, a newspaper or white hat on the head, AND socks and lace up shoes. They mostly stand around hands on hips like cormorants drying their wings, turning every now and then to bronze another angle of their already ‘polished chestnut’ torsos. Occasionally they move around, walk over to the war memorial, totally unself-consciously. Certainly more cormorant than peacock. Except of course that it’s all in aid of a suntan…

I guess it’s all about context. On the beach one wouldn’t blink, but because it’s on the main drag through a park, past the cafe, and prams, and dog walkers, it’s a trifle disconcerting, A bit like the “I had one of those dreams where I was naked in a public place and everyone around me was clothed” scenarios. The socks & black lace up shoes add a surreal dream-like quality to the scene. (Unless of course you are an Englishman having this dream, in which case it would seem perfectly normal no doubt.)

1 comment:

RG PetComm said...

You should be thankful for dog walkers.
Dog walkers and dogs are the most reliable and inexpensive security resource in society. With their daily presence in our parks and on our nature trails, they are the eyes and ears of the community, frequently the first to discover crime and consistently a deterrent to it. We should be encouraging the presence of dog walkers and their dogs rather than implementing public policies that restrict and prohibit them.

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