Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Paris boost - 16h - 27th September 2015

Parc de Bercy, Paris
Chez Adel, Paris - 16th September 2015
It felt strange not having my violin with me on my latest Parisian jaunt, but my left knee was still paining me, so I endeavoured to reduce the weight of what I was carrying as much as I could. In Bagneux I got caught out in some of the most torrential rain I'd ever experienced, and so happily, leaving my instrument at home turned out to have been the right decision. This blog is punctuated with photos I took from my enchanting week there.
Notre-Dame de Paris gardens
Chez Adel, Paris - 16th September 2015
As it's so easy to do in Paris - no matter how many times one has been there, I got lost on the way to my beloved café-theatre-bar, Chez Adel on Rue de la Grange-aux-Belles. The owner and my friend, Adel, was pleased when I eventually arrived in the bright yellow woollen coat I'd just bought from Recto-Verso, Montmartre the saleswoman who fitted it me with described as being "a bit of sunshine for you."
Both Adel and his iron-willed seven-year-old daughter, Paloma, looked tired when they sat opposite me for a catch-up, in fact Adel had the flu. Nevertheless, as eager to please as ever, Adel swiftly furnished me with hot chocolate, Coca-Cola, bulgur rice and vegetables, plus a toasted cheese and vegetable panini accompanied by his 'special' sauce. In return, I played on piano for him jazz standard, 'Autumn Leaves' and the theme tune from the Jane Campion film, The Piano just before a duo of two excellent Italian singer-guitarist guys began their set.
59 Rivoli, Paris - 19th September 2015
The piano at 59 Rivoli, Paris
In the heart of Paris on Rue de Rivoli, I visited 59 Rivoli - a building packed full of artists' studios that the public can mooch around for free. Within seconds, an in-your-face greeter with drug-spangled eyes was on me asking if I play the piano. I said that I do - although I'm more of a piano accordionist, and he pressed me to play the colourful piano above. I played my old faithful - the theme tune from The Piano, but just as I was getting into my stride, a flock of screaming kids descended on the piano stool, shoving me out of the way, then bashed the hell out of the already worn ivories. 
Notre-Dame de Paris gardens
Green Park #1 - 23rd September 2015
Desi on niume.com commenting that she'd liked my busking blog a lot, yesterday, impelled me to do this morning's session even though I felt atrocious with PMT.
Memories of last week in Paris (of visiting Maxim's Art Nouveau Collection and of strolling through Saint-Germain-des-Prés past trad. jazz bands busking on the street), inspired my folk fiddling.
I received six contributions of £2; a schoolgirl enthused, "That's amazing!"; an elderly gent presented me with £1 and told me, "Well done!", and a stylish lady with cropped meringue-textured hair run through with purply-pink swirls gave me a £1 coin, said that my playing was "Beautiful! / Lovely!" then wished me luck.
Some coins were tossed my way by a bloke who was of the opinion, "Nice music, but it could have been louder"; a few people with attractive smiles spilled the 'small change' sections of their purses into my violin case, and (maybe by accident) a small red badge with "1968 FILM GROUP" written on it in black ended up in my case, too.
It felt rewarding to be spreading joy with my music instead of inciting mindless violence: I innocently got caught up in and injured by flying glass in a riot between brutal police and (mostly off their faces) pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Place de la République on September 19th - the evening before I returned home from Paris.
Schoolchildren lined up against the wall opposite clapped me, and perhaps the public could hear 'Paris' in my playing given the above-average amount of money I collected today.
Rue de Vaugirard, Paris
Green Park # 1 - 25th September 2015
I felt both determined to focus on my music again following all the stress of dealing with the fraudulent transactions on my current account, and strengthened by my return to practising the double bass.
The loud banging of metal on metal coming from around the corner that had occurred here for a number of weeks throughout the summer had returned, but fortunately these interruptions were only sporadic.
I clocked an elderly man with the complexion of a pancake I remembered I'd experienced before, and he performed exactly the same ritual as he did last time: For some minutes he painstakingly searched his belongings - for a 50 cents piece that could be mistaken for a £1 coin. He was unsmiling when I thanked him, and for reasons best known to himself, I instinctively -  as I'd felt last time, believed there to have been a little spite in this gesture.
A young bubbly blonde wearing pink earphones turned and gave me a double thumbs-up; a trail of schoolkids narrowly missed my violin case; I made excellent money again while vizualizing the birds chirruping and plants growing in the fresh air on my allotment, and two people gave me a total of over £3 - after I'd stopped performing.
Oxford Circus # 2 - 26th September 2015
5 Quai de la Seine, Paris
I'd been lucky to get a slot at 12 pm on a Saturday.
It was a session of re-connecting with familiar buskers: 'Sax' John wasn't surprised that I'd just returned from another trip to Paris or that I normally get in the region of £35 when I play here because, he reckoned, "You're better than me." He confessed that he'd been going to email me because he hadn't heard from me for such a long time. 'Guitarist and singer from Paris' Pierre checked that I'd be finishing up at 2pm and said that he'd come to see if I was ok, and 'Elvis' commented that he'd just had a shit session at Charing Cross because there'd been no overground trains stopping there.
Some loudmouth guy shouted out, "Bollocks... Slash...Bollocks...Slash...Bollocks...Slash..." in time to my folk fiddling; a girl zipped past on rollerblades even though 'wheels' are prohibited on the Underground; a ball of black hair rolled past like tumbleweed, and a tiny sweet old dear confidentially asked me something I didn't catch - probably if I'm a student musician, gave me money and complimented me on my playing (I think).
There were lots of people shouldering musical instruments and a toddler chucked some coins into my violin case really hard prompting the mother to crinkle her nose in the expectation that I'd found this cute, too. I hadn't.
Intermingled with a few disparaging remarks which I couldn't hear properly, were claps and cheers and unexpectedly the back of my left arm was sore - probably because I'd unintentionally overdone the double bass practise again.
My friend, Shirah's comment on Facebook a few days ago that in a split second things could turn nasty for anyone at any place was repeating on an loop in my mind, but I neutralized this with images from my allotment.
A young man with a twitchy neck was in the office when I went to sign out, reporting a fault or something, and wanted to know if the tube trains were going to be halted as a result.
Bubbles at Hôtel de Ville, Paris
Oxford Circus #2 - 27th September 2015
The atmosphere was edgy here at 8am on Sunday for the first time in weeks: Staff were trying unsuccessfully to negotiate with an argumentative customer as I arrived.
A teenager on a skateboard roared past and not far into my folk fiddle set a bellowing drunk man approached, asking his friend how much he earns, how he works out his tax and if he takes home £60 a day. He then dashed the remaining contents of his booze bottle along the wall before ducking down onto the platform.
Two policemen who were sticking their chests out came towards me and the Scottish one commented (eyeballing his watch) that I was out busking early.
Boulangerie-pâtisserie, Paris
About six more pissheads weaved their way down the corridor: There is a new board up at Green Park stating that drinking alcohol in prohibited on London Underground. What a joke!
My accordion and I were jolted backwards by the intensity of the stench of vomit coming from a lolling lanky bloke as he walked past me. After the stress of having had to witness all this disgusting carry-on this morning, I opted to go and pay the renewal fees for my allotment for another year instead of going on to busk at Green Park: The best decision.
Parc de Bercy, Paris

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