Excerpt from Play me Something

by John Berger

From Once in Europa in the Into Their Labours Trilogy

Read by Emma Rye and Alejandro Serrano

Do you like dancing? she asked.
I can’t dance carrying this.
Give it to me.
She disappeared with his instrument case into one of the nearby buildings.
And if it’s stolen? he said, when she came back empty.handed.
Comrade, she replied, this is a workers’ festival, and workers do not steal from one another.
Peasants do! he said.
What is your name?
Bruno. And yours?
He held up his arm for her to take his hand. He did not dance like a man from here, she thought. He was more single-minded, as if, when dancing, he put everything else out of his mind.
What is it like on your mountain?
There are rhodos and while goats.
Little bushes of flowers.
How do they vote in your village?
For the right.
And you?
I vote for anyone who promises to raise the price of milk.
That isn’t good for the workers.
Milk is all we have to sell.
They were dancing round a plane tree in a corner of the piazza.
In the tree was a loudspeaker, perched like an owl on one of the branches.
You came here alone? she asked.
With the whole band.
A band of friends?
The brass band of the village.
The next time the owl fell silent he proposed that they should have a drink. She guided him to a table beneath a gigantic portrait, drawn on a sheet and hung from the top windows of a house. The painted face was so large that even the flanks of the nose had been drawn with a six-inch housepainter’s brush. They looked up at it together.
Do you live alone? she asked.