Shsssh! and welcome to the silent world of the mime artist. Perpetually trapped in imaginary boxes or pressed up again glass that isn’t there, mimes are to be found all over the UK, from Covent Garden to the International School for the Terminally Shy. A throwback to days of yore, recent studies have shown that the pulse rate of the mime is half that of the average man, woman or driving instructor. Perhaps we should all jack it in and become mimes. I certainly wish my wife would – with her constant yakking, she’s got more rabbit than Sainsbury’s.
I recently flew to Paris to interview world famous mime artist Marcel Mumbles. Waiting for me outside his front door, he appeared to be patting an imaginary dog. I patted it too, we shook hands and he coughed, though no sound came out. Once inside I asked him what it was like being a mime artist. He stared vacantly back at me and said nothing. Next I questioned him about his technique. Again, silence. “What’s it like being quiet all the time?” I enquired. Still nothing. Thinking on my feet, I told him I’d slept his sister. He shrugged. I told him that she was really into it. He shrugged twice. “I’ve got a column to write, you know!” I said, angrily. “And I’ve come a long way!” Then he did that crying thing that mimes do, when they turn their mouths down and pretend to wipe a tear away. Just when it couldn’t get any worse, he pretended to be stuck in a box. As I left his apartment and walked toward the Seine, I heard a booming voice: “She’s only my half sister, you know!”