Saturday, 31 December 2016

Winter Wonderland - 26th - 30th November 2014

Green Park #1 - 26th November 2014
Another accordionist I keep bumping into recently was packing up as I arrived at Green Park #1 with my violin. He played me a folk tune he reckoned that the public respond well to (I think I already perform it), and let me into a secret: He can play the violin, too, and is hoping to audition to play it on the Underground.
Twenty minutes of my time was taken up by my 'boss' who had decided to come and discuss the complaint I'd made yesterday about the inadequate "new" (in other words, cheaper-to-cut-costs) phone line that keeps cutting buskers off when we try try to book our pitches in advance. Once again he assured me that he was acting on our behalf to rectify the situation. I said I keep expecting an email informing us that the next thing to be cut will be the London Underground Busking Scheme itself. I remain unconvinced by his attempts to reassure me that all will be well.
Oxford Circus #1 - 29th November 2014
I'd only performed on this pitch a couple of times before and I anticipated it being hard work given the strong icy wind blowing through, and I didn't anticipate it being as lucrative as Oxford Circus #2 normally is at 10 am on a Saturday morning. The acoustics here, aided by the wide, light corridor, suited my violin, however, and even though my left arm was a little stiff from doing too much double bass practise the night before, I decided to think positive and to just go for it.
A father with his baby son strapped to his chest (facing outwards), stopped dead opposite me, encouraged his son to listen, dropped a coin in the case and wished me my first "Merry Christmas" of the year, then a young long-haired brunette commented, "That sounds gorgeous." My case filled slowly but surely with 'good' coins.
Mixed in with the cold wind whipping around my torso were sporadic blasts of warm air coming from an unknown source, and a guy with his head down placed a plastic H&M bag loaded with 1ps, 2ps, euros, kroner and other coins with exotic temples on them next to me as he walked past.
A white-bearded gent made a donation accompanied by the explanation, "I'm a musician, too... the organ," followed by a glamorous American lady who told me that my playing had brought back memories of when she'd played violin as a child.
After two hours worth of playing, I handed the pitch over to Ted (the only 'performing' trumpeter on the network) who mused that if we were to be given a euro every day, after a year we'd have enough of them to pay for a holiday, and in the supervisor's office as I was signing out, my African-Parisian guitarist and singer busker friend said that for five years he'd played the drums on the Underground and got "beaucoup de money." He gets about the same amount of dosh for playing guitar which he prefers playing because it's easier to carry around than the drums.
Green Park #1 - 30th November 2014
I brought the lighter of my two accordions out with me this morning because I was feeling pretty exhausted and slightly psychotic due to having the dreaded PMT (which was made significantly worse by the godawful stench of shit that hit me as the escalator deposited me in the ticket hall of Green Park station).
Simply the act of pumping the bellows of the accordion in and out relaxed me, however, and I felt confident I would do well. Unfortunately I was wrong about this, though: The majority of kids that passed gave me penetrating 'evils' or stared in my case to see how much money I didn't have.
A stiff wind blowing through me, youths shouting and ceaseless station announcements giving customers directions to Winter Wonderland, made for an intolerable session and very little money in the hat.
Charing Cross #2 - 30th November 2014
On my arrival at Charing Cross there were no staff present on the gate, meaning that there was nobody there to let me through to the office so that I could sign in and get down to the pitch. Eventually, after waving frantically to attract staff members' attention, I was let in but was 10 minutes late starting.
A guy threw me some money and commented that my accordion is a "lovely instrument," but after a good start the session went down hill with the arrival of the usual blank-faced bearded hipster-types who display no interest in my playing at all. I felt depression threatening to descend on me once again and so decided that the best thing to do would be to just give up for today and go home.

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