Oxford Circus #2 - 25th January 2015
Heaving myself out of the sack at 5.30 am to go busking this morning was difficult, but it was made easier by my Facebook friend, Josh Langley, who shared to my Facebook timeline his article, 'Frog and the Well: How to get started doing what you really want', and cited myself as being one of many examples of people who are already 'doing what they really want' - as in my music.
I believe that the glaciating weather outside was keeping the drunken nutters I often encounter, out of the station: Genteel passersby made regular drops of dough into my case and a family-type guy commented, "You're brave!"
Back in the office the station supervisor asked me how I'd done playing at the wildly early hour of 8 am, and was surprised when I told him that I'd earned my 'bill' money for the week. He then asked me if us buskers have to actually book pitches, or whether we just turn up and play. If only it was that simple!!
I left on a high and enjoyed a bracing walk via Hyde Park all the way to Knightsbridge.
Knightsbridge - 25th January 2015
I arrived early: The Australian-sounding tattooed station supervisor with a short Mohican let me sign in but I wasn't allowed to start busking until 11.30 am, when that part of the station opens. I told him that I'd already played at Oxford Circus today and that I'd done well. He put my success down to the probability that the customers were still hung over from Saturday night. Charming!
A sleepy staff member who was fiddling with his phone let me through the ticket gate to the pitch and for over an hour of playing I got a grand total of £1.17: In my experience, designer-clad people can be the most stingy and the situation wasn't helped by a bagpipe player performing outside the entrance to Harrods, just above me. I felt depressed again (it's amazing how one's fortunes can take a nosedive in just a couple of hours).
Green Park #1 - 26th January 2015
PMT dizziness marred my enjoyment of my accordion performance today. A young girl in a bobble hat interjected, however, that she loves the accordion and the fact that I'm a female accordionist. I smiled at a few people as they walked by which prompted them to turn around and give me money.
A young and an older Chinese-looking women asked if they could take my photo and as the older woman squeezed up next to me and gave the 'thumbs up', the younger one pressed the camera button: I believe that my love of playing the accordion shone through today, which is why I attracted many admiring looks. I felt I'd pulled a muscle in my left shoulder, though, and probably should have given up far sooner than I did.
Sid the melodeonist who took over the pitch from me said that he was getting ready for Morris dancing season and that I should have a break and come down to the Islington Folk Club again on a Thursday to support the Angel Band that he's a member of. He told me that he'd objected to being ordered by a school he'd offered to play at for free, to fork out for a CRB check so that he could play there, and that while busking, he'd seen a chap wearing a "Paris and France" cap who turned out to be Ukranian! We reflected that as buskers we don't half meet some characters.
Oxford Circus #2 - 29th January 2015
There were newspaper pages all over the place when I arrived at 12 pm.
A gentleman said that it'd been good to hear an Irish tune I was playing on my fiddle - that it had cheered him up; a geezer in a suit strode past in slow motion, listening, and then produced a £10 note for me; a group of dark-faced and dark-hooded teenage boys were suddenly in my face and I stumbled back slightly, in fright.
I was due to play at Liverpool Street #2 next: Guitarist and singer, Pierre, urged me to give it a go even though it was cold; to stop making excuses. He semi-shouted, "It's cold, cold. If you go out [busking], go out!... Your music is good... It's a risk... In half an hour you could get £10!"
My shoulder felt sore, and in the end I think that my decision to finish and take care of my body had been the right choice to make, particularly as when I got off the tube at Hainault it was torrentially sleeting meaning that chances are, people at Liverpool Street wouldn't have been in the mood to part with their money.
A secret location on a street in East London - 30th January 2015
This evening I shot my first professional music video (playing double bass) on a street in East London: Musician, comedian, radio presenter, charity challenger and motivational speaker, Shaun Buswell had gathered 11 or so London-based buskers to record his arrangement of 'Geronimo' by Sheppard for Decca.
This project marked the second anniversary of the Underground Orchestra's performance (which I was a part of on double bass) at Shepherd's Bush Empire, made up of musicians that Shaun had met as strangers whilst travelling on the London Underground.
I used my fee for this recording to pay for the new allotment garden in Hainault I'd just acquired.
Oxford Circus #2 - 1st February 2015
As I was tuning up my violin before leaving home for an 8 am start, all of the strings mysteriously unravelled from their pegs and I couldn't tighten them up again. Maybe the violin being out in the cold and then being brought into an environment with central heating was the cause? Eventually the strings stayed put which I was pleased about, because I today I needed desperately to earn some spending money for my imminent trip to Paris.
My left shoulder was still sore from pulling a muscle in it on accordion the other day, but to take my mind off this I daydreamed about my new allotment as I played the fiddle.
A quiet gentleman with white hair made a donation and said that he'd had a soft spot for the violin ever since hearing it being played in Cornwall: "It's so melodic," he commented, then a member of the British Transport Police said hello and just stood there - a little way up the corridor from me, talking loudly on his Walkie Talkie. Some time later he came back past with a 'man in trouble' in tow.
I felt confused when I heard another folk violinist playing nearby, but quickly realized that a blonde girl had just recorded me performing on her phone and was playing it back?!
A smelly Irish man with a wonky eye and belongings in a black bin bag stood beside me listening intently, and then showed me a cassette tape on which was handwritten the names of Irish fiddle masters, John Doherty, Séan McGuire and Tommy Peoples. I played the hymn, 'Amazing Grace' for him, and he told me he'd make a copy of the tape and come and find me here to give it to me. I was so grateful to be introduced to these famous fiddlers from whom I can learn so much.
Some guy told me that my playing was "very nice" and a troop of lads with guitars on their backs dropped some money into my case. In the end I successfully obtained a good amount of spending money for Paris and came away feeling appreciated as a musician.