The pub is teeming with people; milling in, milling out, weaving through the tables that spread out onto the street well into the territory of the other place opposite. From the corner of the eye a tattooed shoulder makes an appearance. People linger in the nooks and crannies, peering. Looking for seats so they can settle down onto their idea of a Saturday night out. Saturday night in this yellow-pillared enclave on Jonker Street, where old men bend over their pints in companionable silence, young men and women perch in sociable circles at combined tables, their laughing faces shining through the liberating clouds of cigarette smoke, where intoxicated tourists make friends and exchange shots, perhaps etching another travel story into the list of conversation starters when they go home to suits and ties. This side the upbeat singer shimmies and belts in her husky register, and from her neck hangs her name: Anne. She holds a hand out for someone to dance, maybe only because that’s how it’s done, because although her hand is inviting, her eyes are guarded. The other side an unseen face warbles to his plugged-in strumming; minor 6th, major 4th, major 5th. The crowd is pleased. There is much cheering. But these chords would please anyone; that’s why all the songs are written in them.
And then us in the middle of all that. We know the lyrics, and so of course we yell it out loud. Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?… (Alice is right here, at the next table. But perhaps she chose the name herself.). We don’t the like the songs, and so we yell again. What do people see when they look at us? Probably nothing at all. Just another fragment of the crowd, a bit of rise and fall in the din. Just visitors, strangers, travellers in one way or another. Back they go to their conversations. We’re good. We’re invisible. It’s grand.