Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The millionaire's proposal - 15th - 26th August 2015

This image is what I've been confronted with for about three weeks, now, while I've been busking on pitch #1 at Green Park: Dreaming of cake is a fantastic form of escapism..
St Paul's - 15th August 2015
Balancing my three jobs of being a musician, writer and allotment holder can be very demanding, and today I felt exhausted.
The light falls differently onto the top of my violin, here, than it does on the pitches I play at more regularly, meaning that I couldn't play in tune until my eyes adjusted.
A black lady said that my fiddle playing was "Beautiful!" and asked if I teach violin to kids. I replied, "No - I just perform at the moment." She told me that the previous violin teacher she'd employed helped her child to achieve a distinction in an exam, but now he's gone back to Portugal she needs someone to replace him.
I asked my dead violinist friend, Peter for help this morning after the lucrative part of my session dried up. Not long after this, I received one donation of change after another from a line of Chinese tourists.
Towards the end of my performance I started to develop a sore, tendinitis-inflamed left forearm; my body imploring me not to push it.
Oxford Circus #2 - 16th August 2015
Fortunately it was cool enough to play my accordion down here at 8 am this morning, however every three or four minutes I had to compete with blaring announcements issuing from a male station supervisor with a grating voice - another one who pronounces "Walthamstow", "Walsamstow."
A dark, drunk guy with silver glitter around his eyes asked with regard to my accordion, "What is that?" I got given a couple of compliments with peoples' contributions which I couldn't hear because they were spoken in an offshore tongue.
It was so quiet that I was able to take mini-breaks before most numbers!
I was surprised I could play new tune, 'La Vie en rose' so well; I performed Scottish folk melody, 'Annie Laurie' with all my heart and a young woman with cropped, smooth blonde hair paused after she'd walked past, then presented me with a fiver.
What appeared to be a crowd of fishermen dressed in identical black T-shirts with a 'Sussex' logo printed on them sang along to my version of 'I Get A Kick Out Of You', and a tall, charming gentleman said of this number, "I didn't expect to hear a Cole Porter song so early in the morning... and played by a young person, too." (I'm 40 next month)! I replied, "I love all that," to which he responded, "Me, too!"
Green Park #1 - 20th August 2015
"Sounds great from up there!" exclaimed a Scottish woman about my folk fiddling who had just come off the escalator pulling along a wheeled suitcase; In my mind as I performed I was recalling the rich tone of fiddler, Màire O'Keeffe's Irish hornpipe playing you can listen to here: https://youtu.be/31RxMxIo76o
"She plays very well!" said a small girl to her mother, who agreed with her about my performance, though I couldn't remember all of the hornpipe I'd just learnt, 'Harvest Home' - maybe because I was worrying about my cat, Tigger, who had damaged a muscle in his leg and was at the vet with Jan right now.
I felt refreshed following a visit to Brighton yesterday which included having a delicious meal at Foodilic on North Street with my artist and writer friend, Audrey, visiting artists' studios on the seafront and listening to Dusty Springfield in The Prince of Wales: I felt that Brighton was still 'mine' even though I don't live there anymore.
Green Park #1 - 22nd August 2015
An off-his-face-looking man from the Ukraine who kept demanding I play something "Polski" on my violin, took away the tenner he'd lain down in my case for me when I couldn't play what he wanted.
Practically every time I have a session here from 10 am on a Saturday morning, I see a 'fan' of mine; an old Asian man who pesters me. This time he handed me his new phone number written on a The Fragrance Shop 'Spray a little happiness' fragrance sample strip, and reminded me that he is a "millionaire and a good man." He asked me to promise to text him (as if I'm that desperate). I told him straight that I wouldn't be doing this because I don't know him and have a partner at home.
An elderly man wearing a straw hat who reminded me of American author and journalist, Ernest Hemingway, stepped aside from the perpetual trudge of customers for a few minutes to feel around for some change to give me; a little boy did a silly, jerky dance to my music while his mother got a shot of me, and an 'Imelda Staunton' type furnished me with a £2 coin.
Green Park #1 - 26th August 2015
It was raining cats 'n' dogs outside and the passing 'suits' grasping long, designer red and green umbrellas were grumpy as hell. I came away with an aggravated knee injury and a profit of just over £3: People had been dropping me 2ps and 10ps together with £1 coins, but my case never seemed to look any fuller.
I played my fiddle with everything I had but it made no difference; indeed commuters seemed to be more fixated with heir mobile phone screens (a drawback of having Wi-Fi available in some of the stations, now) than on anything going on around them: I kept thinking I needed to enlist the services of singer, Neal Francis. Check out this link to see what he got up to the Underground last Christmas: https://youtu.be/3hmsMLkvHU0
A sweet little black girl turned 2ps out of her green trouser knee pocket for me and I was enjoying playing; I even managed to master the Slide (a form of left-hand ornamentation in Irish folk fiddle playing that gives extra emphasis to a note, executed by bringing the finger in at a low angle).
Some kids with their mothers shyly responded to my music; a twat with a red phone attached to a short stick videoed me, and I pondered this gorgeous song I heard by English musician, Norma Waterson the other day: https://youtu.be/hb90AS6quyM
I dedicated my performance to the memory of the 11 known victims of the Shoreham air crash last Saturday. Shoreham is special to me because I performed there on double bass with jazz bands for five years at the farmers' market and on the footbridge as a soloist, when I lived in Brighton.

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