Monday, 2 January 2017

Double take - 8th - 14th August 2015

The Lanes, Brighton, where I used to do a lot of busking on double bass with various swing jazz and blues bands.

Green Park #1 - 8th August 2015
Of my two accordions, the 'old' one that Jan bought me from an antique shop in Shoreham is the least out of tune right now, and so I plumped to play that one this morning.
I felt determined to do well to prove to myself that those who deny my feelings and experiencing couldn't get the better of me: Doggedly I performed for over two hours, but in the end got tired of making the effort to smile when in exchange all I received were parade upon parade of rotten looks - save for a middle-aged Chinese lady with bobbed hair and a friendly smile who I'm sure I saw walking in the same direction twice (or had it been her identical twin)?
A small girl coming around the corner wheedled to her caregiver,"What is that sound coming out of?" (meaning my accordion).
As I was playing 'My Way', a guy I'd seen before with navy blue crucifixes tattooed on his neck shouted across, "That's quite depressing, that is," as he strode towards the escalator, so defiantly I kept playing it at twice the volume. He hurled more abuse at me during his ascent into the ticket hall whilst down the adjoining escalator came a nice family who gave me £1 to add to my burgeoning collection of £1 coins.
My brain felt rammed with anger, issues and worry as a boy kicked at the edges of my case.
Oxford Circus #2 - 9th August 2015
This session my fiddle playing was inspired by the zest and devotion to her art of a musician I'd just been introduced to; English folk fiddler and singer, Eliza Carthy. You can see her performing here: https://youtu.be/g8mS6rtAD8I
It was much quieter than it had been here last Sunday at 8 am, in fact I experienced large intervals when nobody appeared at all.
I witnessed a black man with dirty and unkempt dreadlocks down to his ankles; two young black women who looked as if they were chasing each other around the tunnels but probably weren't connected in any way, plus a chap accompanied by a short-legged terrier gave me £1.
The voice of an alarm that sounded like a ghost pulled me up short. It turned out to be nothing to worry about, though.
Feelings of panic engulfed me as I neared the end of my performance and frustratingly I had to leave earlier than I'd planned.
Green Park #1 - 12th August 2015
My violin sounded a lot quieter than it usually does on this pitch?!
I bit the bow down hard on the trebles (a 'treble' is a triplet whose three notes are of the same pitch and which are bowed separately), and realized that I'd developed an annoying habit of pressing my tongue to the roof of my mouth while I'm playing which I decided I must try to stop before it gets too ingrained.
A busker with a prune-textured face asked if he could leave his amp on my pitch while he went up to the supervisor's office to sign in to play on pitch #2. On his return he told me,"Be lucky!" then revisited me a while later to say that he should have been playing at Westminster instead, and "I'm getting too old for this."
I got good money for Irish jig, 'Gillan's Apples' and for other jigs I'd recently learnt; I collected a shiny £2 coin from 2013 with an '150 years of the London Underground' design on it, and an old lady with 'pulled back' eyes gave me a motherly smile.
A Jewish man wearing a kipa called out (over the top of his friend's head), "Lovely!", then an Asian girl with her face buried in her phone tripped over my accordion case sending it flying, and stamped on my bottle of water. She apologized, but I wasn't very understanding.
Next up, as if to soothe my humiliation, an Irish lady with grey mane put a fiver in my case and told me, "Take care that the wind doesn't lift it."
Tottenham Court Road #1 - 13th August 2015
The friendly station supervisor mused, regarding the at times negligible profit I make as a busker, "A profit is a profit is a profit - so long as you can make your train fare."
It was raining heavily outside: I only really covered the cost of a couple of tomato plants I'd just purchased, but the truly inspiriting documentary I saw on BBC 3 last night - about a young woman who survived a brain injury retracing the steps of her dramatic recovery, was continuing to make me feel immensely grateful that I have my health and the ability to do what I love.
A teenage boy commented, "Good job!" on hearing my folk fiddling and a guy - possibly in his mid 40's with salt 'n' pepper hair told me that my playing was "Lovely!" and (I think it was the same guy), nearly smashed his face on the corner of the entrance to the Northern line corridor as he righted himself after having tossed me some coins.
A kid sporting a luminous orange bib vest shouted out, "I like your playing!", then another kid he was with dived to pick up a 2p someone had thrown me that had ended up on the floor.
As I performed, a couple stood dead opposite, staring at me: The foreign woman with brown tresses and brown eyes was unsmiling. They then thanked me very much and gave me £2.
A shifty bloke in yellow with a tripod attached to his camera took pictures of whatever had caught his eye at the top of the escalator, and a member of London Underground staff (I guessed was from the engineering department) wearing a fluorescent orange waistcoat, looked as if he was photographing me with a tablet. He took another shot - without explanation, then moved on.
There were more people snapping away with the aid of another tripoded camera, engaging in a loud meeting flanked by Underground staff in the corner of the vast concourse which disrupted my performance for a good 15 minutes. I never imagined a grey London Underground station could be so photo-worthy - but there you go!
Green Park #1 - 14th August 2015
A German-sounding woman with a grey bob and goofy teeth bestowed me with a £1 coin and confessed that she'd been told it was the done thing to give buskers a £1 when in London, plus something else which I didn't catch because it was so noisy on the pitch with station announcements and clusters of people talking as if through megaphones.
Inexplicably the tips of the fingers on my right hand were sore when I pressed down the keys of my piano accordion - maybe because I'd been sweating?
Once again, whenever I looked up and smiled at passersby, I was met with so many miserable faces and filthy glances that I gave up and stared at the floor instead: It was a joyless session and I played nothing different.
Sometimes people seem to love the accordion and on other occasions they totally dismiss it.

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