Charing Cross #2 - 12th November 2014
Last week I suffered from a fluey infection akin to having a razor stuck in the back of my throat, but this morning I felt better (which is just as well because I didn't have the money to pay the bills)! My violin playing sounded a bit rusty being as I hadn't picked it up for a week and I was feeling despondent due to having listened to the recordings I'd just made of myself performing in Paris.
Charing Cross at 8 am was quieter than expected; in fact it felt quite mellow down there: The station announcements were being relayed at a decent volume and many of the commuters greeted me with open smiles (a jolly man even waved to me as he passed). This heartening response made me feel almost happy to be back in London!
On returning to the office to sign out, however, the staff manning the surveillance monitors had spotted a woman in a red coat begging inside the station. I listened in disbelief as over the tannoy the supervisor humiliated, then threatened to fetch the transport police to arrest her; a reaction I thought was over-the-top and completely unnecessary. Staff could've easily gone down and had a quiet word with her and treated her with the respect that as a fellow human being, she deserved. I wish I'd had a mind to voice my concerns.
Angel - 12th November 2014
I hadn't played at Angel for about six months and it was good to be back. Reading their Thought For Today board which is positioned at the top of the entrance escalators is always something I look forward to.
Dead leaves, black fluff and long strands of hair collected around my case as unexpectedly, the money came steadily in accompanied by more smiley faces: A lady told me that my folk fiddle playing sounded "lovely" and then an older gentleman said that it was "a pleasure" to have tossed me a coin.
Feeling encouraged, I mused on how I prefer the look and feel of sterling to that of dull, plain euros.
Oxford Circus #2 - 13th November 2014
With trepidation I approached Oxford Circus #2: This was the first time I'd been back since the violent assault I'd witnessed here last month. Reminding myself that I'm a strong person; that I'd dealt with this situation calmly and effectively to the extent that my actions could have saved someone's life, I began playing my violin and my nerves dissipated.
To start off with £1 coins tumbled into my case with rhythmic regularity but then the crowds thickened almost to a standstill with commuters keen to push through to their work destinations. The money petered out, save for young guy munching on a burger who walked past, stopped, and turned to throw me his loose change, and a disciple of Jesus who bent down and laid a Where will you spend Eternity? leaflet in my case.
Singer-songwriter and guitarist, Edwige took over the pitch from me. I'd first met her about five years ago when I saw her busking on this exact spot while I was living in Brighton, and gave her my business card. We've remained in contact ever since. She was born in Paris but confessed that she's never felt French; indeed she doesn't feel as if she comes from anywhere, specifically. I told her I could relate to this because I've always felt more French than English, to which she responded that I'm probably more Parisian than she is! She recognizes that France is a beautiful country, but has always felt the French to be rather arrogant.
Liverpool Street #1 and Liverpool Street #2 - 14th November 2014
After 20 minutes I had to give up busking my accordion set on Liverpool Street #1 because it was far too noisy with trains pulling in either side of me. A man emerged after having listened to me on the platform and gave me a welcome £2 coin before I left, though, and I thought to myself that at least I'd almost earned the tube fare to get back home.
The station supervisor then advised me to try playing on Liverpool Street #2 (the 'acoustic' pitch). Here I got two more £2 coins - one from a woman with long grey hair who flashed me an appreciative smile, and I eventually earned enough food money for the next couple of days. The only drawback to playing here are the people who bang their wheeled suitcases down the two flights of steps nearby and drown out my playing.