Aberdeen University used to collect what I can only describe as "Characters." And I'm not particularly talking about the lecturers or the students...
Next to the Auld Toon Cafe (excellent pies!)in about 1993, where the Union Shop is now, there was a shop. It was never open. Indeed, it didn't appear to actually sell anything. The shop window was full of begonias though.
The Begonia Shop now.
And in the doorway of the Begonia Shop stood Propane Pete. As with many of the "characters" round Old Aberdeen, he was rumoured to have been an ex soil science student. My sincerest apologies to the Aberdeen Universtiy Soil Science department. It was not me that labelled you this way.
Propane Pete, or as he was also known, Butane Billy, was a sniffer of substances. See the wit of his name there? Glue... Mr Sheen... You name it. He also used to beg for money. He started off the usual way. *sniffffffff* *puts hand out for money* *sniiiiifffffff* *Puts hand out for money*
He was part of the High Street furniture. However. Things began to get interesting! Oh yes indeed.
For Propane Pete then began to use PROPS.
It started off with some drumsticks he'd picked up from somewhere. He'd bang them together or against the window of the Begonia Shop in a not totally unpleasing way. *ratatatta tat* *snifffffff* *hand out for money*
Then came the trumpet. It was a battered old thing. Like the kind of thing you'd polish and the Genii of the Trumpet would come out and obey your every command. I recall he only ever managed to get one note out of it. Nevertheless it was most entertaining.
*Toooooooottt!* *sniffffff* *Hand out for money* *toooooooot* *hand out for money*
Occasionally he'd just stamp about for money. Possibly this was dancing. I'm not sure. One time he chased some random guy up the street crying "That man is a paedophile!!!" Then he realised he'd left his solvent of choice behind and stopped mid-street with a look of panic on his face. He slunk back to his spot and went back to sniffing and begging.
Sadly, the time came when the Union Shop's opening forced him away from his spot of choice.
I'm delighted to report that his entertaining career was not at this point over! For but a couple of years ago I spotted him up Harriet Street (round the back of Boots and the Bon Accord Centre). And he had a NEW PROP!
He had an old fashioned gramophone. AND he had an old 78 of THE CHARLESTON!!!
And boy did he dance... I'm just so sad I can't portray his skills at the Charleston merely by typing into a blog. Suffice to say it was *shuffle* *scamper* *skip* *sniiiffffff* *hand out for money* *big grin* *flap* *point at crowd* *wink* *shuffle* *skip* *sniiiifffff*
You get the idea.