The Banksy sign



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I go down the stairs. The lift is needed by the workers who are working on the condo drain and in the next two tenants are grilling the janitor, worried that the column is not tampered with. I peep into the mailbox, where deadlines and bills look at me, but leave the warnings lying until I get back from going out.

Full on summer in Rome, you fight solitude and enjoy a habitable city. In front of the newsstand, people are abandoning news because the new management has removed the newspaper review and therefore free reading. This is the only new thing, in addition to the fact that the championship is about to begin: if football is the opium of the peoples, a newsagent becomes the pusher of the neighborhood.

I meet an old friend of my father and I stop to talk about the cost of living. I learned I look a lot like dad. Same pauses, same sighs, same step. I had dreamed of dealing with other things in my life. Musician from youth and then, with age, writer. I was hoping to stay away from everyday business, and now I'm just like everyone else discussing things about everyone, as like happened to my dad. He had a serene retirement, except at the end. Since he’s been gone, I look like a normal person and I don’t mind.

Elderly groups walk aimlessly, looking for shade and a fountain. Along the tree-lined boulevard, a curious crowd fixates upon the wall of the fire brigade. I approach. They are looking at a stencil drawing with two firefighters holding a pump from where fire comes out instead of water.

 

 “Banksy, Banksy made this, it can only be him!” yells a small boy with rasta hair and a Marley sweater.

 “Who?” asks an old lady with a shopping trolley.

"He is the greatest exponent of Street Art, Madam, who makes a drawing on the wall and then flees, prefering to be anonymous," he explains the one I will call Bob Marley.

 “Well… like Zorro,” says the old lady.

 “Eh, but what does this thing mean?” says one old man to another.

“But what does it represent? It’s a work on the ambiguous role of institutions in society,” explains the rasta.

The small crowd has gotten bigger. Reporters from a radio station arrive. One approaches Bob Marley, “Is it you who phoned us?”.

 

 “Yes, it was me. Look here: this is a Banksy original!”.


Everyone takes pictures with their phones. A group with television camera salso arrive. The crowd thickens. I discuss it with a boy from the radio station.

 “You’re missing out that it’s about Banksy,” I say to him, “because he would never dream of attacking firefighters, a body that stands by the people with safety and civil defense. And then, honestly, Banksy here at the Quadraro…”.

 “Well, I don’t want to say that,” says the reporter, “actually it would be plausible that someone like Banksy would appear in the suburbs, after all”.

 “But listen, we have experts on Street Art,” interrupts the boy with the Marley sweater, “why are you saying that it’s not him?”.

 “Well you explain, then, how you can say it is him”, responds the jouranlist.

 “I am a Banksy scholar,” replied the rasta, “and so, I know his moves!”.

 “His moves. Are you talking about Diabolik?” says the journalist.

 

Bob Marley goes away, offended. He sits on the edge of the path, smokes a cigarette, thinks. Then he gets up and heads to the television crew. Talk to two of the group, he gestures. After five minutes he releases an interview, saying the same things he said earlier, adding that he is also a writer. And it does not feel much lower than Banksy. In the end, obssessed, he launches a live challenge, staring at the camera.

 

 “Oh Bansky, you have to give me a chance, I’m here with my face and my voice, but I certainly don’t hide behind a mask…”.


I walk away. I go back to the door, pass the guard, where a radio is tuned to the station that sends the unlikely news of Banksy's presence in our neighborhood. In front of the lift the door the janitor is again cleaning up the footsteps left by the workers. He is exasperated: - These come, they make noise, they get dirty and go. Do you know that I missed those I saw?

 “Maybe it was Bansky, madame, actually, I would say this is truly the sign of Banksy!”.

“Who? Bless he who wants to joke around with this kind of heat…”.

 



© ENRICO MATTIOLI 2017





© Enrico Mattioli 2017