For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not — and very surely do I not dream.
Every year in May, a large festival takes place in Hamburg to celebrate the harbour’s birthday. For a few days, the port becomes an even more vibrant place than usual, peppered with fairground-like stalls where you can buy street food, souvenirs and clothes; thrill rides; theatre and musical shows; and of course, all sort of ships from all over the world. Tall ships, cruise vessels, naval ships, you name it.
Two years ago, it happened that my siblings C and D were meeting me in Hamburg at that precise time. Being a resourceful lot, we seized the opportunity to see the event. So, making the most of the warm and sunny weather, we went walking around in the streets and amidst the stalls for a while, until we stumbled upon the Sedov, a tall ship which was open to visitors. So we thought, why not go and take a look.
As space is limited on the ship, new visitors must wait for some of the previous ones to leave before boarding the Sedov. So we took place at the end of the queue, and started our slow way towards the gangway. Now one of my favourite activities while queueing in a bustling place, is to watch the people around me. So while C and D were discussing, I was casually looking around, until someone further down the growing queue drew my attention.
A few places behind me was a man, inconspicuously standing in line, and carrying a large round cheese. And I mean large — the sort that you rather associate with Dutch cheese commercials.
I rose my eyebrow, grabbed D’s sleeve and hinted at the unusual scene. “Say, that’s what I call carrying cheese in a natural way!” Another peek, another raised eyebrow, and we turned to C, who had been minding his own business and looking somewhere else, telling him to heed that most peculiar sight. “Hey, look, there’s a guy with a cheese in our line!”
Except that when we turned back to the mysterious person, he was not carrying the cheese anymore. He was still standing there, with the same slightly bored and unconcerned look as before, same raincoat, same place, but not the slightest hint that he had ever been carrying a large Dutch cheese before.
Of course C immediately jumped on the easy conclusion that D and I were trying to pull his leg. In fairness, maybe we would have, if only we had thought of such a story all by ourselves! And yet it was the truth, unbelievable though it may seem, in all its baffling splendor. Ever since, we have tried our best to convince C, to proffer rational explanations, all in vain; he could not believe that anything contrary to natural law had occurred.
And frankly, who could blame him?
Pictures credits: official Sedov website, dpa.