Sarah Upjohn of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine's notes to me.
Oxford Circus #2 - 24th April 2016
The London Marathon was due to start later on this morning, and at 8 am it was pouring with rain: I said to the station supervisor that maybe it's easier to run in cold weather. He replied that one burns more calories that way, but that he's run in such conditions and it's tough.
English comedian Victoria Wood's shock death from cancer was still weighing heavily on my mind, and I didn't enjoy playing my fiddle because the muscles in the back of my left forearm and fingers were hurting (possibly to do with my new shoulder rest not having been adjusted to the correct height), and my bow was raspy on the strings.
I didn't remember faces - just a gentleman in a beige top hat and tails I'd seen the previous week, and that many of the passing commuters were on their phones; caught up in a faux universe of 'likes' and 'follows'.
Charing Cross #2 - 24th April 2016
Having corrected the station supervisor when he commented he didn't think that buskers were allowed here on events days, I assured him that I'd come straight back upstairs if (as he predicted) at 2pm, a crowd of thousands from the marathon were to begin squeezing through the narrow corridors.
I feared that 'London Marathon' day would be one of the most likely times for a terrorist attack, but carried on folk fiddling anyway and swiftly made the pound coin back I'd just given an elderly man begging on Charing Cross Road.
As a reward for performing new Irish tune, 'The Galway Hornpipe', I received a couple of handfuls of change; a middle-aged Chinese / Japenese chap spent an age searching for 2p-ish for me. He had on a luminous orange wool hat and stood awkwardly waiting for the best moment to take my photo.
A student with mud-coloured eyes looked at me fixedly, told me what I was playing was "lovely," and made a donation of a pitiful amount in exchange for my allowing him to film me briefly for a project he was doing about street artists in London, then a man waltzed backwards down the corridor with a squashed-face little boy in his arms to my music.
Tottenham Court Road #2 - 7th May 2016
I didn't hold out hope of earning much money for the amount of effort I was about to put in here at 8 am on a Saturday morning, and I felt as if my heart was no longer in this busking malarkey.
Not long after I began folk fiddling, I had the loud humming of a floor cleaner machine to compete with, plus a hot wind was lifting my brand new long olive green top, making it billow almost over my head.
An American lady ventured, "What's this?" Me: "50 pence." "Is that 50 cents?" "Approximately," I replied. "Sounds lovely," she said, before heading down to the platform.
A few days ago, I went to see Sarah Upjohn who specializes in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and treats playing related injuries in instrumental musicians, at the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine in London. After examining my left arm, fingers and observing how I play my violin and double bass, she gave me the fantastic news that I no longer have tendinitis, but because I was never properly taught a healthy playing posture, I'm putting undue strain on the muscles in my left arm, which is the cause of the pain.
She said at all times while performing, I should aim to keep my wrist in a "neutral" position i.e. with the little finger side of my hand lined up with the little finger side of my wrist, and to beware in general of doing any excessive wrist flexion or extension. I attempted to do just this during today's session, making sure, too, that my shoulder rest completely fillled the space between chin and collarbone - and it seemed to be staving off the usual muscle strain.
I left the pitch with a tenner, and was happy with that.
Green Park #1 - 7th May 2016
On arrival at my favourite pitch on the network, I was horrified to discover that the 'down' escalator next to it was being repaired and would be out of order for six months, thereby reducing by half the volume of passersby. I took this as a sign that I should go back to Paris - or anywhere, to figure out what I want to do next with my life.
A lithe woman in black leggings did a contemporary dance along to my folk fiddling, and a little red-headed girl wearing a white cycling / scooter helmet with pastel spots on it (too big for her head), gave me money.
Before entering the supervisor's office to sign out, I had a chat with my 'alto sax' busker friend, John. He told me that for some reason he couldn't see properly out of his left eye, and that he thought the concert American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis gave at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 1971 had been boring; just a relentless hullabaloo of congas and trumpet.
Leicester Square #1 - 8th May 2016
This was my first visit to Leicester Square #1. The station supervisor wondered what I was doing busking here at 8 am because there are only ever a couple of people about at this time, and reckoned I'd be better off entertaining the staff in the offiice. I told him that I'd done well on the other West End pitches early of a weekend, and so thought I'd give this one a try.
I liked this light, airy, acoustically playable pitch, and quickly made my train fare which motivated me to keep fiddling. A young guy who'd slid on his feet down the sheet metal section between escalators and jumped off the end was drunk, but to my surprise chucked me some change. Annoyingly, however, a couple just around the corner where chatting at the top of their voices and drowning out my music. This carried on for about 45 minutes?!
Then a man called Michael from Goa shook my hand and gave me over £3.50 for my "good technique" and because I'd helped him find his way to Piccadilly Circus. He told me something like, "God does things for people [like me] who go out and do stuff"; an Asian man flashed me his empty cream trouser pocket linings, and a bearded chap stood next to his suitcase for about the length of three songs and, appreciative of what he'd just heard, furnished me with coins.