Record of edited text Bern 2007 19 10 2009

It was a warm summer's afternoon in August. As we approached Speakers Corner voices could be could be heard against the rumble of traffic.
We passed from speaker to speaker when we were faced with a small dishevelled man standing on a blue plastic milk crate, He was wearing an unbuttoned black coat, a dirty white shirt open to the chest, black stained trousers and plimsoles. He was in his fifties perhaps, but might have aged prematurely; he had long strands of matted black hair hanging from his skull, and was partly bald. His face was deeply lined and weather  beaten. His elevated position on the crate suggested he might have something to say. Then he spoke. “I am sick, I have a heart condition”, he said. His demeanour was mildly apologetic. “I don't have long for this world” he said and fell into silence amid the babble.
After a long pause he bent down and pulled one trouser leg up to the knee and then the other.  Stuck to his legs were dried up streams of what looked like black shit and blood: that is what it looked like. There was an intake of breath and some gestures of disapproval. People turned away. Leaving two or three of us behind. It was suddenly embarrassingly personal
Our faces screwed up against fierce sunlight. “I am dying” were his last words. We waited until it was clear that he wasn't going to speak again. Someone offered him money out of sympathy for his condition, of for the minimal performance he had given.   but he refused it.
We found our way through the crowd and strolled out into the park.

On another day thirty years later in November I  went for a walk in the park. One section has been reserved for walking dogs and was fenced off. It had been a wet night relatively mild for the time of year. I went into the dog walking area and began to stroll through the bushes and trees. The rain in the night had enlivened the colours of the leaves and bark of the trees. I was contemplating all this when I heard a voice but couldn't quite hear was was being said.  As I turned to walk back  I saw a fire in the distance. I was not surprised since the dog walking area had become a dumping ground for rubbish and took a path which led me initially further away and then back closer to the fence. As I turned the corner  the fire was some thirty metres away directly in front of me. It was on the other side of the chain fencing. A person was sitting in the fire with his back to me. 

As we approached voices could be heard against the rumble of the traffic.

We passed speaker after speaker when we saw a man standing on a milk crate. 'He was wearing a black overcoat, a grubby white shirt, stained black trousers and plimsoles. He looked to be about fifty or so. He was balding, with long strands of matted black hair.
After a small group had gathered he stopped shuffling about on the crate and addressed us:

“I am sick, I have a heart condition”, he said, in a mildly apologetic manner.

“I don't have long for this world”.

After a long pause he bent down and pulled up one of his trouser legs and then the other. There were dried up rivulets of shit and blood stuck to his legs which had run down into his socks and plimsoles. He stood there in some disarray glancing slyly in our direction .

Most of the audience turned away leaving two or three of us behind, our faces all screwed up against the blazing light of the sun.

“I am dying” he said

No one moved

Someone offered him some money but he brushed it aside.

We left him there standing on the crate head tilted down, one trouser leg now covered  his leg, the other held fast at his knee.

And walked into the park.

The Burning Man
Into the fenced off dog recreation section of the park I passed by the corner of the playing field bounded by a chain link fence. I passed on into an area of woody scrub with some fast growing trees in long grass  and bramble bushes. It was as a dump for domestic items too big and cumbersome to be taken in the weekly domestic rubbish collection.
It had been raining heavily the previous night, and the sky was still full of heavy rain clouds with a slight break towards the west It was was soft and muddy underfoot Everything was saturated enlivening colour in the dying leaves. And sodden grass.
As I was