Characters I meet in the street

'Old John & Bella 1936'

Sitting outside the Town Hall was this road-sweeper in old-fashioned garb, complete with broom and bucket. His real name was Richard Giltrap, 62 years old and originally from Bexleyheath, though he’d traveled across the world in his time, he told me. His rather unusual hobby was giving street-performances in a variety of roles on the theme of street characters: immobile statue, chimney sweep and street cleaner were his favourites.

“I’ll be coming back to Rye several times this summer”, he confided, “I like quiet places and the people here have been kind – even bringing me a sausage roll from Simon the Pieman.” His work didn’t seem very demanding or effective, but then neither is that of the thunder-machine that roars up our way at 7am, shaking us out of bed. I wished him “Good luck” and went on my way.


Photo: Kenneth Bird


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