'Allotment #1' by Gemma Boyd: Thoughts of fresh air and my allotment soothed me as I was busking on a London Underground braced for terrorism.
Oxford Circus #2 -22nd November 2015
Anxiety gradually invaded me on the tube into Oxford Circus for my usual 8 am Sunday slot, and I felt tired on top, but at the ticket barrier I saw again the bearded Asian staff member who told me that he was still working on being able to recognize me, which I thought was sweet.
In general, the atmosphere on the pitch was as black as the cute mouse covered in soot that scurried off across the corridor, and so for the most part, I played my accordion erotically to myself.
A bespectacled guy asked, as he stopped to fish £1 out of his clear plastic money bag, "Is that Gaelic music?... You're playing it well... Have a good Christmas and a happy new year!", and a man jumped like a racehorse over my accordion case.
The passing 'classical violinist with a yellow violin' busker was surprised to see me on accordion, as he'd only ever seen me performing on fiddle. He commented that the music I was playing sounded "musical" and "beautiful," and that for a change he'd managed to land St. Paul's, where he was headed.
My antique accordion, which is already cracked and has holes in its grille lining, banged on the floor due to my feeling harassed when busker, Simon, who plays the recorder among other instruments, barked, "It's 10 o'clock!"; in other words, "Get off my pitch!!"
Green Park #1 - 22nd November 2015
My left shoulder ached after another half hour of accordion performance today, but at least I'd attended the booking and my disquietude had lessened.
Chancery Lane #1 - 25th November 2015
'Allotment #2' by Gemma Boyd
When I complained to the aimiable station supervisor about how cold it was on the station, he responded, "It's a windy city; it's the way it was built." I told him that I'd not been here before and he confessed he hadn't worked at this station much, either - but that we wouldn't mention that.
I had alternating annoyances to put up with: Streams of detached 'city' sorts demoralising me; my violin case blowing away twice (but thankfully blocked for the third time by a black gent); unnecessarily blaring station announcements, and tube trains grinding in and out of the platform facing the pitch.
A balding, neat fellow gave me £1 and a quick formal blow; a young 'musical theatre' type man clasping his phone sang in a ridiculing way along to my 'folk' fiddling; Underground staff in bright orange jackets appeared to be (out of the corner of my eye), tape measuring the the adjacent billboards; a 'suit' with a scowl back-kicked 5p towards me that'd bounced out of my case; the stunning sable station cleaner signalled that he'd been enjoying my music; a group of garish orange waistcoated males having some sort of meeting interrupted my performance; a Jewish-looking, grey-bearded man in a black top hat flipped his 10p that'd missed my case at me without risking eye-contact, and repeated cold squalls afforded me a raw throat.
I received two £2 coins which boosted my meagre takings, and it dawned on me that I had, in fact, played here before.
If I hadn't have had my very thick book of French poetry with me to hold down the case and a foot firmly down on my sheets of musical prompts, I would've had to have given up the session (most sane people probably wouldn't have even attempted it)!
Oxford Circus #2 - 29th November 2015
This early morning session was an unmemorable one which featured many people with hacking coughs.
"That's REALLY nice!" remarked a bloke about my Scottish and Irish folk fiddling; the female companion of a really drunk man tipped me, and I spotted a guy with a "Weekend Offender" tag on the front of his T-shirt.
Green Park # 1 - 29th November 2015
'Allotment #3' by Gemma Boyd
Someone had farted in the office when I went to sign in, and the 'directions to Winter Wonderland' station announcements had returned, but weren't being fired out on a continuous loop as they have been in previous years.
Jewish lads - one sporting a pigtail on either side of his head of otherwise very short dark hair, handed me in excess of £3, and a black boy gave me the same amount; protestors filed past; a red-headed lady said of my 'folk' fiddling as she made a donation, "That was lovely!" and I accrued over £20 for an hour's playing to add to the excellent money I'd just collected at Oxford Circus. More importantly, however, I felt as if I'd broken the back of my fear of terrorist activity happening down here.
I gave my 'electric accordionist' busker friend my business card so that he could send me details of an accordion tuner / repairer he knows. He never got back to me.