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Hemingway Adventure

Key West, Florida (fifth day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureShine, whose real name is Kermit Forbes, is amused but not greatly impressed by the celebrity that being Hemingway’s sparring partner has brought him. He lives modestly in a rented single-storey clapboard house which was once a dairy. Now it’s home to Shine’s rich collection of memorabilia. There’s a pair of boxing gloves with the stuffing spilling out, masks from the Halloween procession, beads, necklaces, a Conch Republic flag, a young child’s woollen dress, soft toys, bar mirrors, two teddy bears in a net, a cactus growing from inside a bright yellow kettle. And that’s just outside.

Indoors there’s barely room for the two of us amongst more mouldering toys, baseball hats, birdcages and photographs of Shine with various friends, which hang from the ceiling as densely packed as leaves in a tropical forest. On one wall is a picture of young Shine, fists raised in fighter’s pose. Next to it is Hemingway, his great barrel chest bared, a cloak around his shoulders, beaming broadly as he leans on the ropes of a boxing ring.

One day, some time in the 1930s, Shine was acting as a second to a young boxer who was taking quite a pasting. Shine threw in the towel. The referee refused to accept it. He did it again and once more the referee kicked it away. Furious at his refusal to stop the fight, Shine climbed into the ring and swung a punch at the referee. Only after the fight was Shine told that the referee he had assaulted was the famous writer Ernest Hemingway. He was made to go round to the house and apologise straightaway.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Key West, Florida (fifth day)
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Key West, Florida
  • Book page no: 150

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