Having been busking on the Underground for just over a year, staff at the stations I frequent are now beginning to recognize me - as did the supervisor this evening at Charing Cross. We exchanged some cheerful banter about how come some buskers casually leave their licenses here and pick them up whenever they feel like it, and the rising cost of living (no joke)! I took over pitch #2 from the multi-instrumentalist who dresses as a clown. He said he'd earned very little during his 2 - 4 pm slot and that there were too many people at 6 pm here for his liking.
He bowed goodbye to me and I began to play slow Irish tunes, accenting notes and varying the dynamics (in the few seconds people busying by have to catch what I'm playing, I believe it's more important they can hear the music clearly than it is for me to try to dazzle them with technique). A group of people gave me a round of applause but no money and during a particularly dry period I reckoned I could be playing absolutely anything and still people would look through me as if I was nothing.
"Why care about live music when I can just listen to streams of whatever music I want on my iPod?": I worry that this is the attitude of many nowadays. While I lingered on this depressing thought, out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a man carrying a gold-handled sledge hammer which to my relief was just an umbrella. I emptied my case so it didn't look as if I'd got much money and a pissed lad shouted, "DON'T...DO...IT!" as I put my fiddle to my chin to play.
I remembered a painting I did at school of myself at home in Walsall surrounded by the things that held meaning for me. Often during this time my brothers would vandalize my musical instruments. Angry at the recollection of this, I played with renewed power and determination and during the last 10 minutes a young guy handed me £2 and said that my playing was "much better than your usual". I left work feeling content.