This blog is dedicated not only to the victims and survivors of the Paris terror attacks, but to those who have been devastated by terrorism all over the globe.
Musician in Montmartre, Paris - August 2013: I'm determined that I won't have my sense of freedom compromised by terrorists.
On the tube from Hainault an Asian male Underground staff member I know by sight was sat opposite me looking a bit on edge, but given that I was afraid going into London following the senseless I. S. terrorist attacks on Paris a couple of days ago, I felt him to be like my guardian angel.
I was touched and buoyed by friends' concern, yesterday, that I hadn't been caught up in the massacre: Paris is my spiritual home, and being as I spend a lot of time there - especially in the 10th arrondissement where most of the attacks took place, I could've easily been one of the victims. As I write this blog, over one month since the tragedy, I'm still struggling to get my head around the pure evil of what happened at the hands of those who have no appreciation for the value of life.
Overriding my feelings of trepidation as I started 'folk' fiddling, was a strong belief that it's at dark times such as these that people need music the most: I thought of the R.M.S. Titanic orchestra who played their instruments, intending to calm the passengers, for as long as they possibly could before they drowned when the ship went down.
A lady with lengthy nut-brown hair full of grey streaks commented ahead of tipping me, "That sounds beautiful!"; a young buzzing man said of my performance, "That's very nice," then presented me with coins; some kids pestered their mother to give me money. "Not today," she intoned, and a youthful drunk Frenchman said to me, "Oui, mais..."
Hopefully my music soothed some, but because of its cheerful nature, may have offended others.
Green Park #1 - 15th November 2015
It was unusually quiet on the Central line platform at Oxford Circus, I noticed, as I travelled to Green Park.
An Italian-sounding woman asked me the way to Buckingham Palace and thought I'd told her it would take 50 - not 15 minutes to walk there across Green Park, then her friend gave me some cash by way of thanks; I received two £2 coins for my Scottish / Irish fiddle playing from a group of girls of different nationalities, and a 'girly' girl with token long hair said "Hello!" before making a donation.
I was aware I looked like crap because I'd summoned up the courage to busk last-minute this morning, but I'm glad I did because if I hadn't have done, I would've missed out on indviduals of all wonderful colours and creeds showing their appreciation for my music.
Peter and I playing jazz standards outside Le Carrousel, 8 rue des Trois Frères, 75018 Paris - 19th April 2012.
Green Park #1 - 18th November 2015
On the tube in, reading in The Journalist magazine about how the media vilifies the poor, and listening to the driver telling us to report anything suspicious, I felt despairing and scared, but resolved not to be intimidated out of doing what I love as a job.
An Underground worker in the supervisor's office wished me "Happy busking!" and beamed as he walked past me on the pitch later on.
Three British Transport Police patrolling the concourse made me feel a little safer, and I considered how our countries' leaders that instigate war have all the protection available, while innocent civillians are left sitting ducks.
I felt inspired, however, by my singer-guitarist-songwriter friend, Claudio Zaretti: He lives in Paris, and is still gigging there despite the place being under severe threat of attack. Here is one of his joyous songs: https://soundcloud.com/claudio-zaretti/quelque-part-dans-le-xiieme
Many commuters thanked me for my accordion tunes and a suited man who seemed particularly grateful handed me a £5 note; an oldish man with auburn flyaway hair clutching a black holdall bound in a black bin liner plus another equally dodgy bag in his other hand, rushed towards the escalator shouting some sort of protest which alarmed us all; a lady described my version of 'I'm In The Mood For Love' as being "a lovely tune"; an Asian mother gave her little daughter cash to give me then encouraged her to ask me what instrument I was playing, and I noted the brunette with a bad limp who appears every time I perform here at 10 am during the week.
People indicated that they'd been especially moved by my take on Edith Piaf's 'La Vie En Rose', and a middle aged woman with russet hair sang along to it.
Visions of Islamic State shootings plagued me. I'd wanted to carry on busking, but the minute I stopped playing I felt panic rise in me fuelled by paranoia about an imminent terror attack - and so just wanted to get the hell out of there: Sitting in a warm station performing music and making others smile had lulled me into a false sense of security.
Green Park #1 - 20th November 2015
Once inside the station supervisor's office, I reported that I'd seen a black woman in a black coat vigorously rattling the metal gates at the end of the Victoria line platform at Oxford Circus. The supervisor relayed this to staff back at Oxford Circus, then I told him that I was feeling very anxious being down here what with Great Britain being on high alert. "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," he replied.
It was a quiet session on 'folk' fiddle.
An Asian policeman grinned at me each time he walked by; an male Underground staff member smiled and recommended I play something from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof; a coffee-skinned boy waltzed an impersonation of me playing the violin; a smart guy sucked on his asthma inhaler; I collected another euro for my next trip to Paris, and like an angel, my Scottish 'poet' friend, Anne Macaulay turned up with her husband. It was great to see a friendly face and to have her support: She said that she knew that I was a nervous wreck inside but that I was doing very well, to keep going, and that she admired the acoustics.
St. Paul's - 21st November 2015
Sleet and slanting rain combined with high winds on the way to Hainault station turned my brolly inside out, the tube into London was delayed by 12 minutes, stopped at Leytonstone with the doors wide open so that I froze for what felt like forever, and I eventually arrived on the pitch 20 minutes late.
Immediately, two small sisters in pink coats each gave me £1; a Chinese man with his girlfriend presented me with a fiver which blew with a gust of wind down the corridor. He couldn't capture it at first, and I had to right the heavy flask that fell from his person; a salt 'n' pepper-haired guy looked at me askance as if to say, "What's that racket you're playing?", and I brought to mind the Tina Charles disco hit from 1976, 'I Love to Love (But my Baby Loves to Dance)' in order to repress my worry about being blown up. You can listen to it here: https://youtu.be/dSuulW6XqSA It worked because I ended up with a decent hoard of money and my composure intact.