S Sense

Im sitting at a table in the Hari Krishna tent sipping on a rose water lassi looking at the Wood-ford Folk Festival crowd passing by. Its day four. I see someone I recognise from the first day a middle-aged man who had arrived in shorts, collared shirt, sports socks, sneakers and a frown. But the festival affects people. By day three he was wearing an Indonesian sarong, Moroccan sandals, a hemp shirt and a straw, multicolored African hat.

Today, hes carrying a small drum and talking animatedly to a feral girl wearing a brown something and dreadlocks. Hes smiling big time.

I turn to Vinnie the Shark who sits beside me and nod at the pair.

She likes him, says Vinnie. Vinnies been around.

A couple of cops stroll by with organic ice cream melting in their hands. There are thousands of people here and just two police. You give people dignity and they behave accordingly. No Aussie flags; no hate. Here, the cops are just part of the street theatre.

They should be on unicycles, says Vinnie the Shark. And if you do something wrong they should shoot you with a water spray bottle.

Maybe force you to watch the monks make their sand mandala for three hours as punishment, I add.

Or eat a German sausage, Vinnie smirks. Hes tough.

Vinnie makes a slurping sound as he drains the last of his lassi. He slams down a pile of coins and then makes them disappear. (How does he do that?) Hed scored big money out of the comedy camp the day before with some sharp card tricks.

Vinnie the Shark can hustle. Thats why hes my personal assistant.

Hey, theres that guy, says Vinnie pointing to a young fella with a shaved head we saw the day before. (Isnt it ironic that men who start to go bald shave all their hair off so no-one knows?)

Hed been wearing jeans with his T-shirt hanging from his pants. Tattoos decorated his unprotected body with imaginative (Im being sarcastic) Celtic-type designs. There was even what looked like barbed wire encircling his shiny skull. Like a crown of thorns.

Today, after one day under the ozone-depleted, globally-warmed sky, his head looked like the beetroot that died for your sins.

I gotta go, says Vinnie. Gotta a date with a bridge.

One of Vinnie the Sharks gigs is where he sets up on the bridge in the festival centre with a loaf of white bread and a sign that says I bet you $1 that you cant eat a slice of bread in under a minute. Makes a fortune. And blocks up a lot of kids.

Hes sharp, that Vinnie the Shark. Very sharp for a 10-year-old.


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