The above sand sculptor on Oxford Street, London was the most interesting thing to catch my eye early on Saturday 12th September following my busking session at Oxford Circus #2.
Green Park #1 - 3rd September 2015
"Good morning!" proclaimed a cheerful train announcer on the platform at Green Park: It's remarkable how these two simple words lifted both the heavy atmosphere underground and my mood, plus it'd been great to experience a bit of a character amid the surges of harried zombies.
Today marked the dawn of my first busking session aged 40. Generally speaking, the public were pleasant and generous. My left knee hurt and I tried to distract myself dreaming about my upcoming trip to Paris, but graphic descriptions of a soldier being decapitated on a beach during the Second World War from my 'allotment' friend, Bob's book filled my thoughts instead.
A boy wearing large, green-rimmed sunglasses deposited some change in the 'scroll' section of my violin case, and I admired the satiny cream patterned kipa pinned to the head of a man with his girlfriend.
It sounded as if the acoustics here had changed for some reason because as I played I noticed that my fiddle wasn't ringing out as much as it usually does. A bearded man dug a little money out of the pocket of his massive mac for me, which I imagined could have been handfuls and handfuls in another universe.
For what seemed like an inordinately long time, a dark-skinned guy stood opposite watching me perform Irish tunes and gave me 20p. He then observed me some more, drew his wallet out and looked as if he was selecting a bank note to present me with. The next thing I knew however, he was off.
I took time out to tighten my tuning pegs, and a geezer who was all smiles joked that he'd just given me money to tune up. Both the 'up' and the 'down' escalators shut down one after another for about 15 minutes, but my earnings were decent nonetheless.
Anxiety flooded my nervous system out of the blue towards the end of the session, I resolved to get my double bass playing back up to standard, and contemplated not taking my violin to Paris this time so as not to put any extra pressure on my injured knee.
Green Park #1 - 9th September 2015
Out of peoples' initial mass disinterest, an elderly gentleman wearing a pale yellow tie dotted with blue beamed at me and gave me £1 - a gesture I SO welcomed.
Frequently, communters narrowly miss crashing into me because they come off the escalator with their heads buried inside their mobile devices. I vowed to continue not to be sucked into this worrying world of cyberspace whether I like it or not.
A line-up of schoolkids in maroon jumpers all gave me a round of applause for my folk fiddling, which felt like a good omen: I was at the end of my tether following the theft of a substantial amount of money from my current account by fraudsters and was hobbling around in a knee support given to me in 2012 by my violinist friend, Peter. Forcing myself out of the house to play music had (as it always is) been the right thing to do, however.
The actress Jemma Redgrave seemed to half-recognize me, threw me some money accompanied by a prolonged smile and said that my playing was "beautiful": I'd been her late father, Corin Redgrave's dresser at the National Theatre on the South Bank about 15 years ago, and I remember having met Jemma briefly in his dressing room. I was very fond of Corin and he was the first to publish one of my poems - in his magazine, The Marxist.
More good fortune followed when a young blonde businessman gave me a fiver and an elegant dusky lady knelt down and placed a folded £20 note in my case.
My busker friend, Sid (or Syd) who plays the melodeon told me to get hold of a solicitor or to contact the 'finance' woman at The Telegraph regarding the money that mysteriously vanished from my debit card last Friday, and it had been music to my ears to hear a station announcement in French.
I felt as if a guardian angel had been looking out for me this session because the extra money I'd gathered came to me at just the right time.
Green Park #1 - 11th September 2015
The station supervisor in the office grunted in response to my "Hello!" as I signed in, and the staff back in there at the end of my session just looked through me as if I wasn't standing there: I couldn't wait to get back to Paris in a few days for a change of scene.
I thought of my Polish concert pianist friend, Nuna; of how neither of us feels like an outsider when we chat.
A squat woman I reckoned I'd seen before with blonde-grey curly hair and a squint handed me a fiver; a man with a 'Mr Punch' comedy face made a donation(freaking me out), and a small boy marched along in time to my folk fiddling.
My brain and inner workings of my body were spiralling out of control. I was so sick of feeling like this when I'm working, but the recollection of a robin and the sparrow with a cracked voice waiting to hop onto the bird feeder at my allotment managed to calm me down fractionally.
Both a man and a woman stopped, lent an ear to my music and gave me money. The man lingered a while longer than the woman did.
I practised bringing my 'bowing' elbow sharply into my side to create a weighted 'dance' accent: I'm now allowing the bow to simply rest between my thumb and fingertips and am employing a much lighter fingering style which will hopefully help mitigate a flare-up of tendinitis.
Oxford Circus # 2 - 12th September 2015
Performing here at 8 am on a Saturday was a new experience for me and just after I started my folk fiddle set, a blonde boy shot me a filthy, supercilious look.
I felt exhausted as a result of the 'Barclays fraud' bother.
A youngish lady confessed to not having any change to offer me, "but that [my playing] was beautiful!"; a old man with snow-coloured spiky hair growled as he walked past, and a bloke grinned at me who had two poodle-type dogs - one of whom was sporting a muzzle which looked like a basket.
People gave openhandedly, but there's always one: A pissed idiot wolf-whistled so loudly that my eardrums nearly burst, then his mate who was lagging behind tossed me some dosh to which the response from the whistler (?) was, "You DIDN'T!"
After my session I went to Schuh on Oxford Street where I bought an Eastpak backpack with a 30 year warranty and some Nike trainers which one can feel air passing through the tops of. The charismatic shop assistant said that he couldn't believe that I'd had to audition to be a busker on the London Underground and reflected that a musician can do lots of different things with the violin.