Once upon a time there was a great place,- although something of a sleazy dive- in New Orleans called the Rock an’ Bowl. There was bowling downstairs, but the top floor was the heart of the place; a sweaty, stomping beer swigging bar filled with cigarette smoke and bodies hurling themselves about to live Zydeco music. To reach this one had to ascend a long, narrow staircase in the middle of which sat a lady of formidable proportions and disposition whose job it was to relieve people of a couple of dollars for the entrance fee. No one slipped past her and no one escaped, including one night a long time ago Mick Jagger and Keith Richards who, like royalty, didn’t carry any money. The lady was unimpressed and told them ‘I don’t care who you are, you might be God Al’mighty, you will pay me the money’.
There was once a famous restaurant in the All Saints Road, Notting Hill just around the corner from where I lived in a previous life. One night Madonna arrived unannounced with a group of friends and demanded a table. She was refused since the empty tables were already reserved. This refusal only added to the fame of the restaurant.
There was once a Doctor in Chief at the Djenné Health Centre. One day a Djenné grandee arrived at his surgery, pushing passed the line of people waiting patiently their turn. ‘Please would you wait in the line’ said the doctor. ‘Do you know who I am?’ said the grandee in his big boubou. ‘Yes, I do’ said the doctor. ‘You are the Imam of Djenné. That makes no difference to me. Please take your place in the line and await your turn, sir’.
There was once a Municipal Manuscript Library in Djenné, the property of the town of Djenné…?