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Hemingway Adventure

Key West, Florida (fourth day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureCeiling fans stir the fetid air, giving a gentle flutter to the dusty flags that hang down over the bar. A painted marlin arches across one wall, and Hemingway’s great rock of a head stares back at me from the black back-cloth behind the band.

Kevin talks fast, his clipped New York delivery jarring amongst the southern drawls of Florida. He brushes aside any questions of what books of Hemingway’s he may have read. His is not a literary thing, it’s a mind thing.

‘I’m a man of action. A romantic activist. I’m a chaser of bulls and a dodger of boredom. Boredom’, he says, fixing me with a manic stare, ‘is a very, very, scary thing.’

From what I’ve seen, Kevin’s fellow contestants look an amiable bunch. Does he detect a generosity of spirit amongst the look-alikes?

‘No, they hate me. They can’t stand me.’ He smiles cheerfully at this and his eyes go slightly misty.

‘I’ve been taking abuse down here for ten years ... and now I’m like a local. Ask anybody, I’m a local legend down here now.’

He has a plan for tomorrow’s final. For his presentation he’s going to team up with an even more venerable local legend, an 83-year-old by the name of ‘Shine’ Forbes, who boxed Hemingway back in the thirties. I should come along. This could be Kevin’s year.

I accept his invitation to be a sort of unofficial second, but I’d like to meet Mr Forbes for myself.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Key West, Florida (fourth day)
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Key West, Florida
  • Book page no: 146

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