Story by Martin Currie
Patrick Amber, featured in the last issue, has disappeared to Greece. With his puppet making, mural painting, shadow puppetry and all-round useful blokeyness, he is sorely missed in Pitsmoor. So I travelled to Athens, to Exarchia, the anarchists quarter, where I soon found Patrick. I had three aims, to make a short film, to put on a show of some kind, and to bring Patrick home. I regret to report, I failed in all my aims, but I can explain.
Exarchia is a very diverse, but cohesive neighbourhood, that felt very similar to Pitsmoor. The area has seen a huge influx of refugees, and the local community has rallied to support them. Unused buildings are requisitioned, water, electricity and wifi are installed, furniture found, or ingeniously fashioned from pallets, and food, advice and support are all provided. The energy and sheer humanity of the enterprise is extraordinarily impressive. However I soon found that cameras were not welcome at the scene of such necessary and kind but illegal work. So no film.
We arranged to put on a puppet show in one of these squats. I was a little concerned about Patrick’s lack of attention to detail in his performance. But Patrick knew better than me. The show we had spent a week making never got started. Our stage area was instantly invaded by polite, excited, determined children, who were never going to be a mere audience. Every prop, every puppet, everything vanished into this crowd of participators. They played noisily, chasing each other with puppets and bits of scenery, and had a fantastic time. I couldn’t help but think how unnecessary my time and attention to detail had been, and I was more than a little annoyed. So, no show.
Patrick took it in his stride. He will return, because it’s nearby, the group seems to be approachable and sensible, and Patrick can see their potential. These hard-work, little-gain kids are the people he finds most rewarding, because nobody else caters for them. This is where he can make a real difference. And so I left him in Athens, where he is valued and appreciated if anything more than he is here. I said I would bring him home — I think he is home, so that’s a success of sorts, or as I prefer to think of it, a happy failure.