The Third Leader: Street life

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The Independent Online

Where do you stand with street entertainers? Up front, at the back, or swiftly passing by? I ask because there is a move afoot in Barcelona to tighten up on the human statues many of you will have met on the famous Ramblas.

I must declare an interest: I'm a great fan of street diversions, even those involving less than entirely developed skills or playing cards and less than entirely honourable intentions.

I admire the nerve with which the entertainers embark on their pitch and mostly carry it off. I love to watch the audience, particularly those with the brass neck to move along shortly before the hat comes round.

Being slightly fanciful, I enjoy the idea of it going back through the centuries, be it (once) a gypsy with a dancing goat in Santiago de Compostela, or (more often) a bloke fumbling with a couple of sticks and some lighter fluid on a chilly South Bank Sunday.

So I hope the living statues will forgive me if I am fairly unmoved by plans to impose a licence on their licence, as it's my least favourite genre. The Second Leader writer, being more perceptive, says they move too much, but, with me, it's that they don't do enough. Time to move on, I say.

Tricks, juggling, that sort of thing. Snake-swallowing was very popular in Victorian London. I haven't seen the Indian Rope Trick for some time, either.

Finally, a tip: if you want to avoid becoming the audience participation, one of those blokes on the South Bank told me that he always went for the people who looked relaxed or American.