Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Brain-freeze and a request for 'Happy Birthday!' - 24th February - 13th March 2016

A new mosaic on the Central Line platform at Tottenham Court Road.
Green Park #1 - 24th February 2016
It was a member of staff who ushered me into the office to sign in (I'd been hanging back because it looked crowded in there), then as I put pen to paper, I got told by the station supervisor (who called me "Busker,") to wait outside when the office is packed because the accordion case bound to my back was obstructing the staffs' way.
Arctic temperatures down on the pitch caused me to experience 'brain-freeze'; an inability to concentrate enough to be able to play any of the most recent folk / jazz accordion tunes I'd learnt, plus I felt stomachy and hormonal.
A man garmented quirkily in red and green who looked as if he had a penchant for the slightly misplaced, made a donation; a lanky, olive-skinned tourist-type asked me how to get to Buckingham Palace then he rewarded me with approximately 1p for my directions, and a rouged older woman with red painted eyebrows purposefully planted money in my case, seeming as if she'd really valued my music.
Just as I'd given up hope of getting a morale / earnings boost in the last 10 minutes (which quite often happens), a lady with white hair lashed in a bun said that my playing sounded lovely. I was simply relieved to have got through the session with an acceptable fist of coins to take away.
Charing Cross # 2 - 26th February 2016
A robin at my allotment.
My 'checking' OCD was really bad, and standing commuters on the tube into London kept stepping on my toes, so to calm myself I contemplated the above photograph. 
Glacial blasts whipped around me, stiffening my left hand. but I managed to perform Irish jigs on the fiddle with a lilt. The tip of my bow kept hitting the roof of the bright corridor at the same time as the leopard skin print scarf lining my case kept doubling over, however, which made me wonder why I continue to humiliate myself like this.
I garnered appreciative grins from middle-aged women with dyed carrot coloured locks and bearded men with tartan scarves, and one such man commented, "That's beautiful!"; a guy with clipped coffee-coloured hair hurtled down the corridor as if his life depended on it; a lady stooped to drop money in my case and said benevolently, "There you go, love," and the 'selfie' photographer of a gaggle of women requested I play 'Happy Birthday' for a friend. I obliged with pleasure, and they sang along as they disappeared onto the platform.
The tail end of a line of black schoolchildren threw in change, and I felt happy that people of this age still enjoy live music.
Edwige appeared wearing shiny turquoise eyeshadow which complimented her dark eyes perfectly, and an oversized guitar strapped to her tiny frame. It was obvious she wanted to play here, so she tried it on, wheedling, "You forgot to leave your card" (in the office). I flatly denied this, and informed her I'd legitimately booked the pitch. She then inspected my earnings, commented that I was doing alright, then said, "I'll let you play."
I was supposed to play at Kings Cross next, but I was too cold so I popped into Covent Garden station on the off chance I could busk in the warm there. The station supervisor informed me that there was no busking pitch here, though, because the station's too small.
Oxford Circus #2 - 28th February 2016
A dusky young man with knots he'd twisted in his beard said of my Irish fiddling, "You know about simatics? You're creating beautiful shapes with every sound." ('simatic' being derived from 'sima'; the silicon-rich and magnesium-rich rocks of the earth's oceanic crust, the most abundant individual rock being basalt - according to dictionary.reverso.net). He probably meant 'semantics', which is the study of meaning, but I much prefer 'simatics'. His female companion told him, "I'll give her more money than you did," and duly dropped a pound in my case.
I gloried in the tone of my new D string, and being as I wasn't numb with cold, was able to concentrate on practising my newly learnt Irish polkas and jigs; an elderly man with yellowing white hair and spectacles gave me money and said that it'd been nice to hear me play; a middle-aged lady with dyed autumn-coloured hair knelt down to my case to make her offering and exclaimed, "Oh, that was lovely!" and I received compliments in a similar vein from others.
Some teenaged girls of Iranian appearance holding bottles of clear liquid, told me that my playing was very nice and wished me a "Happy New Year!" then on re-entering the corridor, they wished me a "Happy Christmas!" as well as a "Happy New Year!"
Mick - the singer / guitarist busker I nickname Elvis, asked me if I'd left a bag of busking money at Charing Cross the other day, which I hadn't. He recollected how one time, he'd left behind two big bags of money on this pitch, and guessed that a member of staff had immediately nabbed them.
Oxford Circus #2 - 3rd March 2016
A black mother hollered after her child who was appealingly named Genesis, and following a decent night's sleep, I felt revitalized and serene - even with the advance of midday commuters who filed by civilly enough, apart from a black guy who ran towards the platform like a lunatic; nearly knocking down a grey-haired man in the process, plus a bloke with a gingerish barnet commented that he liked my folk fiddling / that it was good.
Parisian singer / guitarist, Edwige, who took over the pitch, notified me that she'd had a terrible cold. She hoped that her voice, which she said had sounded like a "crow" during her illness, would be okay this morning. For the sore throat I'd been suffering, she recommended I gargle with a reputable brand of cayenne pepper and water, then to take a hot followed by a freezing cold shower three times in a row. She also advised me to keep warm at night and to drink lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Her French accent made me yearn for Paris.
Back in the office to sign out, I heard a male staff member asking the station supervisor for a "wand," which intrigued me.
Oxford Circus #2 - 13th March 2016
This was my first folk fiddling session since I'd been debilitated by tendinitis in the back of my left forearm again, and so I fingered the fingerboard as lightly as I could. All the same, though, my muscles and tendons were burning by the time I'd finished.
'Alto sax' busker, John, was on the pitch when I arrived. He said he'd never had tendinitis, but that he'd had a problem with his shoulder he assumed was arthritis. It was so painful at one point, that he was unable to lift his arm to unlock the front door to his house.
Today's was an unremarkable session, save for a guy I saw lugging a gigantic black protest sign and an older man with something taller than a human in an army green kit bag which could've passed for either a musical instrument or fishing tackle. A lady with what looked like a bird's nest atop her head placed a dollar bill in my case.
Possibly due to my brain working overtime in a self-directed bid to get my OCD under control, I kept experiencing memory lapses with regards to what tunes I'd just played.
I heard a young lad say, "My sister learned the violin," and 'Elvis' busker, Mick, told me that he and Edwige had gone through women's names beginning with 'G' - including Geraldine, in an attempt to work out what my name was. Yesterday there'd been a kerfuffle between buskers (including himself), and poets on pitches being occupied by those participating in a Spoken Word event.


  1. Very interesting blog! I`ve found the street musician blog the first time, i believe. Will look for more posts and stories.
    P.S. Nice handmade mosaic on the Central Line platform.
    You can also check Invader (street artist, he makes mosaic (mainly, about video games) and places them on walls everywhere - check his website

    1. Julie - Thank you very much for reading my blog and I'm happy that you find it interesting! Yes; the mosaic at Tottenham Court Road Underground station was beautiful. I'm not sure it's still there, though, since they renovated the station. I know they did reassemble some of them on the Central line platform and did a good job. Thank you for the link to Invader; original idea, and nice to see street scenes of London from years past. All the best, Gemma