So Witsy and I went to our favourite cafe for a cup of tea and a sandwich. Just a brew, a snack and a chat. Perfectly normal, like we always do. Nice. Normal.
We ordered our food and then a man came around and gave us a menu saying "Here are some alternative things to order. It's all free". It became apparent upon looking at the menu that the 'dishes' on offer were in fact performances, and in fact, we had noticed some musical instruments being set up in the corner earlier. As I mentioned, we only went in for a cup of tea and a chat so we quickly chose something that seemed innocuous, something that sounded like it might be some kind of monologue that we could easily ignore.
We were just getting on with having our perfectly normal cup of tea when the first 'order' was announced. "Table 5, item 6" was an acoustic song about.....I'm sorry, I can't tell you. It was in English, yes, but it just made no sense. The only bit I understood was the chorus, for which the words were "Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm! Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm!" You'll have noticed the exclamation marks there. It was VERY enthusiastic, wide-eyed humming, and they tried to get us all to join in. The shame for them was, that this 'performance' had not been advertised so I don't think anyone was expecting to be entertained in this way. Most people were concentrating very hard on looking at their eggs and avoiding eye-contact at every possible cost. We only came in for a cup of tea. They got very much the same reaction when they sang the next song, with the lamenting chorus of "Fred had a muffin, Fred had a muffin, Fred had a muffin, but I had no hands" (honestly, I REALLY don't make this stuff up).
Next, our 'dish' was announced. Just as the announcement was made, we made a horrifying discovery. We had failed to notice until that moment that the word 'intimate' had been used to describe the performance we had chosen. Far from being something inconspicuous we could ignore, the woman came and sat AT OUR TABLE, while the whole of the rest of the cafe stared.
Now you need to know two things before I describe what she did. Firstly Witsy and I both have quite a low embarrassment threshold when it comes to this sort of thing. The words 'audience' and 'participation' when used together will always make me break out into a cold sweat and give me a bit of an upset tummy. This situation is highlighted further by the fact that I am very blonde and Witsy is very ginger, meaning that any internal experience of embarrassment is broadcast on our faces in the form of a beetroot red face.
The second thing you need to know is that the woman giving the performance was one of those people who have the bit of their brain missing that tells you that you should be embarrassed. Where most people would avoid running down the street naked shouting 'Onions!', people with this bit of their brain missing do it every Tuesday and can't understand why they keep getting arrested.
These two sorts of people are never a good mix, but the situation is surely at its worst when one of them is doing a dramatic monologue in a public place where there are Other People. She sat down at our table with a spoon and a box of ice cream and said to us in her loud, embarrassing drama-school voice "DO YOU LIKE ICE CREAM?" Witsy and I positioned our throbbing, scarlet faces behind our mugs and whimpered in unison "no" in a way that cried out 'Please don't make us participate! Please go away frightening lady!' But she didn't. She proceeded to say something which made NO sense about ice cream, while spooning it into her mouth, and thus inevitably spitting a lot of it back out at us.
Did I mention that she had blue hair?
She had blue hair, and massive glasses. So I was expected to sit in a crowded cafe while everyone looked at me, being spat at by a loud insane woman with blue hair and massive glasses without laughing was I?
I am proud to say, I ALMOST managed it. I concentrated VERY hard on not looking at Witsy, and on trying to listen to what she was saying, but every now and then it crept into my consciousness that I was in a crowded cafe being shouted at by a woman with blue hair and massive glasses, and my body did that school-assembly thing where the effort of not audibly laughing makes your whole body shake. I only did it 2 or 3 times, and only in short bursts. I think I did amazingly well. Unfortunately for the performers (and adding 97 fold to the toe-curlingness of it all) the whole thing was being filmed. I'm not sure our reaction provided the kind of footage they were looking for for their promotional material.
As soon as it was over I turned to Witsy to beg her to let us leave. Gladly, she went up to the till to pay. As she turned to return to our table she was horrified to find that her path was blocked by the next performance. The blue-haired lady was furiously hitting tables and crockery with a pair of wooden spoons while grinning. She did it in such a way that Witsy had to duck and swerve her way back to me to avoid being part of the installation. Just as we were scrambling desperately out of the door, Mrs Blue Hair had lifted up the receiver of a decorative phone on the wall and was shouting 'HELLO! HELLO! HELLO!' rhythmically into it while her companions continued to accompany her on the wooden spoons.
This ACTUALLY happened.
If you don't believe me, follow this link. She's there in all her blue glory. You'll notice from the photos that there is no-one left in the cafe.