Friday, November 15, 2013

Marble Arch was a bit strange today. I did 4 hours in Tottenham Court Road from 12, so got there at 4. There I was fiddling away, doing better than expected because I was a bit tired, and this bloke comes up to me waving a religious leaflet in a manner that suggested I might want to take it. I carried in fiddling in a nonchalant manner. 'Do you want this in you case?' 'I don't care mate.' He looked a bit put aback. 'I don't believe in God.' And he was all. 'But can I put it in your case?' 'No.'

The Devil plays the best music was my attitude. So I carried on fiddling for a bit, but was making no money and I was getting more tired and I started to think maybe God did exist and now he was pissed off. Just out of the corner of my mind. Then a young Scandinavian woman came and listened for a bit, then came over and said 'I like your music, would you like this cash?' holding out two handfulls of coppers ' 'No thanks, they wouldn't fit in my case.' She wasn't trying to buy my soul for the Devil, but you can't be too careful

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Lady Carey's Dump.

Dompe, but I prefer dump. It's a good one to busk on the fiddle.

Here it is on the harpsichord....

I just do the right hand on the fiddle. But with both my left and right hand. It doesn't work during rush hour.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Camden Council.

Camden Council are trying to enact a law that means if you busk there you will be fined £128 and they can confiscate your instrument if you don't pay. My instrument is worth £2000 (According to a bloke in a violin shop, he said it would be worth £5000 if he fixed it up and sold it.). It was a gift to my mum because she's cracking at the fiddle. She got given it when she was 17ish, then played it for many years, then my big sister played it for a bit and now I'm proud to play it. My instrument is part of me and if anyone tried to take it I'd go beserk. I would become a beserker. Beserkness would ensue. My instrument is one of the many reasons why I enjoy busking. It's a quality instrument and it sounds good. It should be played. So Camden Council can bugger off.

So I went on demonstration outside Camden underground station tonight with the Citizens Kazoo Orchestra. We all had kazoos. I purchased mine from the music shop on Chalk Farm Road. They've got a pedal organ in there. Bought two kazoos actually, just in case. Kazoos only really make sense when there are at least 15 people playing them at once. At one point there were 30 kazoos pointed squarely at Camden High Street. We played Express Yourself, Dirty Old Town, Land of Hope and Glory, Yackety Sax, all that sort of stuff. It was great. There was a bloke right close to me who got a lovely tone out of his kazoo. He took it upon himself to lead us in a few tunes from the microphone. This should be a feature of future Kazoo Orchestra actions. There was also a bit of trombone, some fiddle (Not me.) and some guitar. Very good musicians, but it put a stop to the kazooing. There should have been more kazooing. Also, a Conservative bloke got the chance to use the PA for a speech. He should have been told to bugger off. 
Milk? Errr! It's what Ian Rush drinks... Ian Rush? Who's he? Exactly! Give us some lemonade.

So I was busking under the museums in South Kensington a few Saturdays ago and a young lad (Must have been 15ish) puts a 2 litre bottle of Waitrose milk next to my case. I put it to the side of the pitch and tried to forget about it. The next busker there remarked on it. "Do you want it?" I replied. "Nope." He replied. So there it stayed. I'm glad people don't generally offer me milk when I'm busking. It was a lovely gesture I'm sure, but odd. Also, given he was a teenage lad, there may have been a turd in there or something. Maybe I should have thrown it in the bin. Nothing made sense.

Then the other day in Bank someone jigged their leather jacket off. I braved the flow of people past, picked it up and put it on top of the big blue boxed fan next to my pitch. They came back 15 minutes later and fetched it. Sanity was restored. Things were making sense again, then this woman comes and leaves a Waitrose bag next to my case. Maybe Waitrose are running a 'Save the Busker' campaign. She told me she was leaving it, as she was leaving it 'Some biscuits and things'. "OOh, thank you maaam, the kids'll eat tonight!" was something that I managed not to shout after her.

Ended up that I ate the half eaten packet of shortbread biscuits. They were a bit soggy. Threw the brie, grapes and salad sandwich out though. Maybe I was supposed to 'pay it forward'. Some young bloke once threw £2 in my case in Hammersmith "Just don't spend it on booze yeah?" his earnest face smiled "That's exactly what I'm going to spend it on mate. You'd better take it back." Why doesn't anyone ever leave a nice single malt in the buskers case? Exactly!

Who are Accrington Stanley? 

Saturday, October 5, 2013


I got a pizza in Highbury and Islington last night. Asked for an 8 inch one but the bloke handed over a 10 inch one when it was done because 'You're a big lad.' Then I retired to the park with 2 cans and ate my pizza. Very tasty pizza. Lovely park. Autumn weather. Sun poking through trees...etc.

Then this woman comes up to me with her son in tow. She was far away, then she was close, then she was addressing me.

'You're the last person I'm going to talk to today.'


'The reason why we're all drinking and smoking so much and everyone is miserable is that we're all fucked. We're all going to die one day.'


Then she said a few more miserable things which made me giggle and then she was away with her son, him looking really embarrassed and confused.

There was a bloke 90 degrees to me on a bench with a can. He took a swig, the silvery base glinted and I caught a glimpse of green. Heineken. 

Autumn is good for thinking. I thought about what she was trying to tell me. She'd said it with a lot of conviction and didn't like me giggling. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013


The last time I did a request it was Danny Boy for a nice old woman in Fulham High Street. I've been asked a few times for others, but I did not oblige. Where does one start, for example, with the James Bond Theme? Or the Godfather Theme? I did the Pink Panther Theme for a bit, but it was just too rinkeydink for me in the end. Then a lovely bunch of kids ran up to me under South Kensington and went 'Can you play us a song please?' sort of all at once, but not at the same time. 'I don't normally do requests, but if it's one I can play I will oblige.' 

   Twinkle Twin...

All at once, but not quite at the same time. 

I can play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. First song I ever learned. They were well chuffed when I played it. Their mum didn't give me any cash though. She didn't need to, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is a crowd pleaser. 

Sometimes I play it as badly as possible. See how long I can keep it up for. It's a bit like going on strike. That's what you get if you're showing no love to the fiddler. One minute is probably the longest I've gone so far.

I've started playing a bit of Pachelbels Canon too. Had to learn it for a wedding (Technically making it a request.). It's a nice tune that everybody knows. Got lots of different passages that have been added over the years. I can never make my mind up which bit of it to play after the other, which is probably why I never play it for long. St Kilda Wedding was also a request for that wedding. Lots of vigorous bowing in that one, not good for the back when busked.

So yes, I do do requests, but not always.

Like the time I played a gig in a working mens club in bloody Ealing of all places and they requested all sorts of stuff that I have actively avoided listening too through the course of my life, then underpaid us in the end, after I'd showed the drunken arsehole who'd hired me how to work his own sound system. 

Staggering over to us mid song and going 'Ooh, I think you've lost the crowd there...' then expecting us to just know how to play every song ever written by any really shite artist you'd care to mention. 

Mind you, the average age of the audience was 80. Some of them were sitting there having a nice tap of the feet, but the In Crowd weren't happy. They came to dance to Daniel O'Donnell. The only dancing tune we had that came close was I'll Tell Me Ma. The rest were about stuff like James Connelly and lovely horses. (Did I mention that it was St Patricks night). So the drunk arsehole who hired us came over 'Lads, you should probably just call it a night, I'll pay you the full whack'. I started to pack up at that very moment. 

He sent his wife out to pay us. She didn't pay the full whack. That was a while ago, but I've got a long memory. When I get a functioning busking amp I may just go back there and give them the full Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Hair Loss.

Horse hair. I've done it again. This time I've newly embaldened my second favorite bow by smacking it against the fingerboard and getting all rhythmic. It's a stupid bloody thing to do and made me the princely sum of 50p. To be honest the bloke looked concerned as he dropped it into my case, he was probably just coming over to check I wasn't having an episode. I went back to folk and only then I noticed the hair flapping like fetlocks either flank of my fiddle. About £15 worth lost in a moment. 

That was Sunday, beneath Green Park. I tried both spots. Green Park 1 has lovely acoustics. I think spots that are in Jubilee line tunnels generally do. Green Park 2 was horrible. This is the one just before you enter or leave the Piccadilly Line. The people were lovely and seemed to like the music, but my arm started complaining after about 15 minutes because the sound wasn't forgiving. I packed it in after an hour and strolled through Green Park where some sort of running race had taken place. The last time I busked above ground in that part of London was around the Olympics. They weren't much fun to busk.

Near the beginning of the Olympics I had a busk outside Brompton Road Station over the road from the Earls Court Exhibition Centre where the volley ball was being done. I wasn't going to let armed coppers stop me. Unless they came over and asked me to stop, then I'd let them stop me. Nothing happened, but my fiddle sounded ropey because it was early in the morning and I hadn't dropped any of my own cash in my case. Twenty minutes later there was still no cash in my case. My mistake was to focus on the guns when I should have been focusing on the sunshine. I relocated to just in front of the station, between the doors. A swift £7.50 later I'm moved on by a copper. They only like busking when it's pro bono. 

I should stick to playing the theme from The Pink Panther. My top e flat is too flat though, except for when it's too sharp. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

I've Gone Underground (La la la la).

My new god may just be the busking hotline. This is the number you call to get your slots when you're a licensed busker.

The name's Brown, Montmarcey Brown, licensed to busk.

It's a whole different kettle of fish when you're busking beneath the streets in lovely echoey tunnels. I've got a good bow that I liked using, but my style is heavy on hair so it went bald and I haven't had the cash to rehair it. Back in the case now thanks to the lovely echoey tunnels beneath London. Not quite bald, getting there swiftly. Makes a lovely noise when I smack it against the fingerboard. This is a very expensive technique though, and people don't throw cash when I do it, so it's not one I should pursue often. The trouble is that I really like the noise it makes so I'll end up doing it. Bow stroke, then smack bow on fingerboard then another bow stroke (Maybe a different double stopped chord this time.) and before I know it I've got carried away and wiped out on a bum note with horse hair dangling accusingly from my bow. 

I looked up and there stood what looked like a violin teacher sadly shaking her head. She walked on. 

The people pass in some stations only when a train has emptied itself onto a platform that feeds your allocated bit of tunnel. Fantastic for improvising when no one's about. The money comes steadily. My big trick above ground has always been to try and get people dancing. Kids, generally are the easiest to get to dance. I often worry that I've struck upon some sort of pester power when their parents stop to watch their kids boogie, then feel compelled to reach into their pockets. Drunk people are good too. Often the most confrontational ones are subsequently the most generous. On the tube it seems more controlled, people walk with rhythm and purpose. My big trick now is to play something that matches the general pulse of people walking past. 

The sound though, it's addictive. What other musicians get to experiment with a varied set of acoustics on a daily basis. Sound engineers get to play about with them in their headphones, but tunnels are really interesting. On the underground they fill and empty with bodies really quickly. If I'm playing a pub with a band we always have to turn our instruments up as the pub fills, ambient noise is created by humans and the mass of their bodies dampens sound waves. The same is true on the tube, one second the noise is reverberating beautifully, the next it's lost all of it's body and tone to the feet stomping past.

Two spots I've played so far don't suffer from this problem. The first exit from Tottenham Court Road Station and the patch before you leave Hammersmith on your way to the exit with the statue. Tottenham court road is so echoey that I'm sure the individual notes get muddled up at points and entirely different tunes to the ones I'm playing emerge. 

Anyway, I've got to go, it's raining and I need to ring the busking hotline.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Portobello Market.

I started out in High Street Kensington, but was swiftly moved on by a cop. It was too sunny to argue, but we both agreed that it was very silly indeed that he was moving me on. I managed to give him a short lesson on acoustics and the value of an awning when fiddling. 

So I went to Portobello Market and ended up busking next to a dustbin for about 45 minutes. I made about £20, but I didn't like the acoustics so I wandered about for a bit and ended up next to the entrance of Ladbrook Grove Underground where I made £1.50 and started to sound a bit less hungover so I headed back into the market where I stumbled across this bloke....

He was packing up, so I took his spot. I'd busked it in similar circumstances two years earlier and concluded that it was not a good spot to busk. Similar weather, similar amount of cherry tree petals having fallen...etc. I made £4 last time round. This time I made £40. Busking's a funny old game.

Then this woman....

gave me a fiver. She's got a live gig coming up, but she didn't give away any clues as to where or when it was taking place.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I stumbled across a half empty can of beer

on my carpet today. Just now. I'm drinking it as I blog. Happy and bad times busking. Managed to jiggle up £35 today in an hour and a half but, given the weather, should have gone out earlier and made three times that. 

I've been hitting High Street Kensington a bit too much. This is a patch I have busked now for two years consistently despite several stand offs with the police. The worst one was the first time. A community officer came up to me and asked me to move on, so I played every trick in the book on him because I was getting grief from an anaesthetist and needed to vent. Half an hour later 3 squad cars arrived and because none of us had a grasp of the law they had no option but to verbally abuse me out of the area.

Today two community officers walked past and gave me a smile and I had to smile back. I smiled at someone because they weren't being a tosser. 

Actually, he had a bit of a ginger beard sprouting, so that may be why I smiled at him. I probably noticed that before the uniform. 

You can hit High Street Kensington often though. It's one of those streets that's perfect for busking. The last time I got moved on from High Street Kensington the copper told me to go and busk in Kensington Gardens about a week ago. Bloody cold day with a bit of wind but sunny too. I parked myself on the main thouroughfare infront of what looked like a palace and fiddled up about £60 quid before the park manager came along and introduced herself. She didn't want me busking there because you're not allowed to do business in a Royal park. Unless you're royal of course, then you can charge people fifty fucking pence to empty their bladder after you've sold them a can of diuretics. 

I moved on without argument. She is the only person who gives a shit about preventing people from busking there. They don't believe in park wardens these days. Basically, I'm her Yogi Bear. I'll be back there, busking and making cash while she's busy doing boring park manager stuff.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Violin lessons.

Occasionally someone will come up to me when I' busking and ask me if I give violin lessons. This is the point where I ask them a few questions. Usually through the questioning stage they decide they/their child/aquaintance would not be served well by regular lessons from me. As a result, I have only given one paid lesson on the violin in my life. Some bloke came up to me when I was busking in Chelsea and gave me £10 to give him a cheeky lesson in the park. An ODP who'd shown me a few things in Ealing Hospital happened to be passing and the three of us retired to a bench beneath a shaded tree where my lesson consisted of me saying 'Just look on youtube mate, then listen and stuff, but hold it like this.'. 

I give out lots of free lessons. I particularly enjoy teaching 3-6 year olds because they hold a violin like a guitar. For me the only important lesson at that age is to respect the instrument and not drop it, which all of my pupils have so far passed. 

Today a young man who is playing guitar regularly on a Sunday in his church came up to me and asked me for lessons. This is a very good start if you want to play music. The weekly discipline of a public performance combined with the general focus of a congregation is good for a musician. I told him it's £20 a lesson and he told me he doesn't have a fiddle, so I told him it's £100 a fiddle, it'll be made of crap wood but it'll do you through a few things. Considering I'll have to spent £45 on strings for it and part with a decent tailpiece..... Then I gave him a free lesson on the street and he struck a decent F sharp on the E string double stopped with the open A under instruction. Asked to do it again, he would succeed. He really wants to learn it. 

So hopefully I may have found a pupil. On an ad hoc basis though. He's not gong to pass any grades with me as a teacher. I don't like grades. In music there are only performances and editing. 

Monday, February 25, 2013


I started under the awning outside Knightsbridge tube. The road was too loud, my fiddle was too quiet. My bow is losing it's hair, it's almost past halfway. Just couldn't get the volume I needed to get peoples attention. I took a risk and headed towards Marble Arch. If you go up the escalators and turn right into the tunnel there's a T junction. This is both a good spot to busk and beg. The homeless guys who occupy the foot tunnels have a rota for this spot. If there's no one there I'll busk it. Some times I've been busking there and a bloke has wordlessly sat down beside me and started begging. I just move when this happens, don't even say much to them. Maybe I should pack a tambourine for such occasions. It's good etiquette though, they're basically saying 'bugger off' and 'you've got as much right to be here as I have' at the same time.

There was already someone there. I had a choice: get back on the tube or go to the quieter tunnel behind the Australian War Memorial. People pass through this tunnel about every minute or three. It's not a good footfall, but sometimes if you strike a few sweet notes you can get a good hit rate. At one point I was hitting substantial change from one in every four or so punters. Good practice, but not getting the bow hair replaced. I stopped when I found myself engineering tunes that started when I heard footsteps at the end of the tunnel and reached a crescendo as they drew almost parallel. I also played a little game of doing really whacky dances for the security cameras while no one was walking through the tunnel, then standing on the spot when people passed. 

I got the number 10 to High Street Kensington, but the crowds around Harrods drew me off and there I was stood outside the main entrance opposite some bloke collecting for charity. He didn't look that bothered about collecting until I turned up, must have been a long day. I played a few tunes and people had a choice. Busker or charity, it did him good, before I piped up they were just busy ignoring him. Then my D string snapped. That's twice in a row outside Harrods.

Friday, February 22, 2013


The snow was milling about unsubstantially, unsure of where to land. The Thames was swollen at the turn of a full tide. I stepped off the 414 and headed across the bridge to Putney.

Under the awning between Boots and TK Max. 'Anyone able to move their fingers in this weather deserves a reward.' £1 'They do, cheers man.' Then I realised what he said and felt a bit big headed for a bit. Then I thought about it a bit. 

Did he mean that I wasn't playing that well, but never mind because it's cold? Bugger it. A pound is a pound. I used to do a bit of rowing, so I'm used to moving about in the cold. Fiddling's no different, you just wiggle your fingers more, which is a good way of keeping them warm. My main problem was my hangover, so I lit a fag.

I did some work for a singer a little while ago for a song called 'Anklets'. Out of it I've developed a kind of rhythmic chordal riff that I've sandwiched in between some baroque. I thought it sounded classical, or at least a bit mysterious, but people have started to do impressions of highland dancers as they pass, so yet again it sounds folky. The original is an urdu folk song about a young woman in anklets dancing around, singing about her lover, while trying not to wake him with her jingling anklets. My version is a bit less refined. I'm thinking of calling it 'Anklets in the Air.'.

Anyway, I played that one. Nothing. My fiddle was clearly out of tune. I struggled on for a bit and made about £30, then a woman came up to me and handed me a £20 note. 'Are you sure?' I said, taken aback. That's generally what I say when someone hands me a note. She looked annoyed and said 'Yes, I'm sure.'. So I said 'Thankyou very much.' and she said 'I've got cancer and I want to live until I die.'. 

Thinking about it, she probably needed that £20 to help pay for some living, but she'd looked so annoyed when I said 'Are you sure?' that I put it in my pocket and shook her hand. I didn't ask any questions. The nurse inside me was screaming. We exchanged a few looks and she walked on. 

I kept an eye out for her as I played on for another 20 minutes or so. I was thinking of giving her my phone number for if she ever needed some fiddle. Any time any place.

Then I started to think about death. A lot of people have last rights before they pass. Maybe musicians should offer their services to play for people facing death. It would be interesting. 

When I was on my final nursing placement the nurses convinced me one morning to play some fiddle at the nurse station after a night shift. It was a high dependancy unit and as it was mid summer there were only four patients in. The ones that could be awake were awake. There was a lovely old woman whose hair I'd helped wash the night before. The qualified nurse showed me an ingenious technique. She had her door open and jiggled along as I fiddled.

She didn't die. When she recovered she wrote a lovely letter and mentioned me in it. I think the surgeon who'd saved her life was a bit pissed off. My ginger beard helped, she complimented me on it while I was massaging her scalp.

Monday, February 18, 2013

West Hampstead.

Never been to West Hampstead. Been through, never to. So I went yesterday on the advice of another fiddler who went there to get his bow repaired and fiddled up the price in the time it took. That's just over an hour. 

I started off by playing some sound billiards on the main road just up the hill from the rail station, bouncing my fiddle off the sharp brickworked offices above a bathroom shop up towards the Black Lion in one direction and over the railway tracks in the other.

There were residential single glazed windows above me, so I didn't stay too long. £30 later I'm off up the road to have a look at the fire station. Nice old building. Looks a bit like fireman Sams' one. 

West Hampstead has public toilets! This meant I could buy a pint of ale from the offy and enjoy the park before splashing me boots. There's also a little opening next to a jazz club that leads up some steps to a terrace that over looks some well kept back gardens. 

The tube station looked inviting with a sunset developing. Tube tracks cut the skyline down over the bridge, exposing a clear atmosphere glowing away with the light of approaching spring.  Here I had one of the best busks I've ever had, aided by a 10cl bottle of Bells. It took me an hour to fiddle up £40. I've done £60 in an hour before, but not had as much fun. Some strange acoustic affect meant that my fiddle was loud without having to try too hard. It really confused me because there were no structures above me to reflect the sound. I was busking into the sky, but the sound was staying close. It meant I could really get into the rhythms. 

It was an intimate busk. People milled about for a bit, checking their phones, trying to teach their toddlers how to throw a £1 coin into a fiddle case. That sort of thing. The whisky made me feel like we were all at the same barbeque.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bloody Jazz.

So there I was busking outside the Natural History Museum, but if you'd just been in the Science Museum or the Victoria and Albert Museum, you'd be forgiven for thinking I was busking outside them. 

Two young Chinese lasses came up to me. One of them was a fiddle player. They edged over from their group and stood next to me while I was playing, just out of view over my left shoulder. They clearly had something to say.

"I like your playing very much." A good start. Her friend was translating because she wasn't impressed by her mates perfect English. A fellow violin student. "Would you like a go?"
"Oh, no, it's been months since I played last." "She worked very hard on her playing since she was three and she's 13 now." "I've had a lot of exams recently and I haven't had a chance to play but I passed all of my grades."

She's 13 and she's grade 8.

"I only got up to grade 5." They looked at me like I had just told them I was an orphan. Mind you, I did kind of say it in that kind of tone of voice. Eventually I talked her into having a go. Given that judging from her size, she probably played a half or 3/4 size violin and that mine is slightly larger than your standard strad copy, she was pretty good.

She's called "Grape". She's going to send me some music, so I think I'll look up some sheet music of some folk tunes and maybe try and transcribe a few of my busking tunes so she can try them out in China.

While I was chatting to them a mum came up with her two primary school age sons. They stood there and I recognized them from another patch. I think it's High Street Kensington, but I'm not sure. They looked like they wanted some music, but I was too busy forging important international connections. I had to apologize to them as they left. Probably lost a customer there. 

Then the sweet tones of a saxophone being played extremely well wafted over from the direction of the Science Museum. I stopped to powder my bow and asked  a bloke wandering past with his family "Is that a full band down there or what?" "No, it's a double bass and a saxophonist." "Cheeky buggers, I was her first.". He giggled and walked on. That was probably the first time his kids had heard the word 'buggers'. I decided to play on, but the bloody jazz lads were really good. It's difficult to play folk tunes with conviction when you've got something you'd rather be listening to drifting over from the Science Museum.

Friday, February 1, 2013


So I'd just picked all the pound coins and 50p pieces out and put them in my coat pocket and I was scooping the remaining shrapnel up when I saw the shadow of an outstretched hand over the case and I thought 'No fucking way mate.' and I looked up and stated "What?" to the hairy short bloke in front of me. "It's not much." He said with £3.50 in his hand. 'No fucking way mate.'. He was after something, he was lightly swaying and he was holding the money in a manner that suggested he'd rather spend it on beer than give it to me. I could identify with him because that's exactly how I felt about the cash in my hand, so I put it in my coat chest.

Case empty of money, bow in case, violin still out on the pavement resting on shammy leather, roisin crushed under foot because I balanced it on the edge of the case and it fell off and I didn't notice then someone trod on it. They're going to have lovely smelling shoe soles for a bit. I picked banger (My great grandads' fiddle.) up and tucked him under my arm.  

"Mate, I'm done busking now and I've made enough so I'm not really after your cash."

"OK. I'm just after a go on your fiddle."

I made an assessment. He was swaying slightly, his chin was down, but his eyes were up and he had lovely delicate fingers. He was a bit hairy, but in the right places and his hands were dirty, but that happens when you're next to main roads for long periods of time and it's not like my fiddle and bow are surgical instruments.

"Put this shammy leather on your shoulder and rest the bum end of the fiddle on it lightly." I handed him banger neck first into his left hand. He rested the fiddle lightly on his shoulder in the manner of this bloke:

So I tightened my bow up, dusted it with roisin and put it into his right hand. Eventually, with a little suggestion, he balanced it using his thumb as a fulcrum and proceeded to play the instrument about 5mm away from the strings in the air.

"My violin teacher at school said my chin was too small to play the violin" He said and I said "Your violin teacher must have been a right wanker then, take your fingers off the strings and put the bow on them just in front of the bridge."

"Like this?"

"Yes, now move it perpendicular to the strings and remember to stick your elbow out." Both elbows out he played the fiddle. He had the right pressure, but he was scared to move the bow too quickly in case he damaged the violin and I was like "That hung on a kitchen wall for 40 years gathering airborn grease, the only way you'll damage it is by smoking too close to it."

So he increased the pressure but not the velocity, so I shut up for a bit because I was distracting him. I lit a rolly up.

He came up to me yesterday with an acoustic guitar slung infront of him inside a shoulder bag in the manner of this bloke:

He's bought a snazzy new hat from the proceeds. Wolfy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm off for a busk in Shepherds Bush tonight.

This is what happened last time I was there in mid December:

I pissed off a Copper tonight. He looked like he wanted to hit me. His lower lip was wobbling. He said "I've never been spoken to like that in all of my life." And then I said " Wa Wa Wa, I'm a community support officer and I've got nothing better to do than harass popular local buskers because I've got a massive inferiority complex mwa mwa Wa Wa Wa." And he looked like he wanted to hit me even more so I said "Look at you! Properly squaring up to me. Oh my god, that's so aggressive, you seriously need to work on your body language." And he was all "you don't know me." because he wanted me to like him while he was moving me away from my spot.

So I'm a little bit nervous to tell you the truth. The second time you see one after you've pissed them off things can get a little hairy. I really pissed this copper off. He was with an attractive young female officer who he felt protective of and was clearly trying to impress. Maybe when they strolled up to me to stop the music, they felt a slight thrill. 

Sometimes when I'm really pissing an officer off, I get lent a hand. This time an old black guy in a fedora came up as I was saying "No, I'm not going to give you my details." and said "Don't worry, I'm your independent legal advisor." the copper ignored him and said "Why aren't you going to give me your details?"

"Because, and I'm sure my independent legal advisor will back me up on this, I don't have to." then fedora bloke goes "Why are you bothering him anyway?"

"Because he's committing a crime."

"He's not, he's playing music."

It's one of my favorite busking spots too. Shepherds Bush Market tube station under the bridge and facing the market. Most of the time my fiddle is drowned out by the traffic or the Hammersmith and City line overhead, but when the traffic settles the acoustics are lovely. The flower stall over the road has a woman who often comes over and says "beautiful, beautiful." in a lovely sort of Eastern European accent before dropping a bit of cash in. There are loads of youngsters about who sometimes have a jig and sometimes come and ask for a go on me fiddle. The occasional drunk. One or twice people have come up to me when I'm smoking a fag and just started singing. 

There's a cold Northerly wind blowing tonight, I need to make £20 at least before my rehearsal with 'Firefay' who rehearse in the Bush studios, literally just around the corner from my spot, which is shaded from cold Northerly winds by the bridge and Shepherds Bush Market. The only thing standing in my way is if that copper has a shift today or not. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Karma is Bagpipe shaped.

'I had a chat with that singer down the road, I'm going to wait a bit before starting so I don't drown her out.'

Bagpipe players are considerate like this, they know how loud they are and are used to getting moved on. 

The first I heard from the singer was when I'd just gotten into my swing for the second time outside Harrods. The first time I got into my swing, my d string broke. I was a bit pissed off because I didn't have a spare, so I went down to Kensington Chimes and coughed up £12.95 for a D'adderio Helicore. I was pissed off because the d string shouldn't break often and that one had only been on a month. 

So I'm back outside Harrods and I've had a pint and a chat with a pervert. I joined him when he spotted me, can in hand, as I was walking past the cafe. Latte, steel chair and table painted red.

'So, do you think a nurse would do that for me?'

'This one wouldn't.'

A PCSO wafted past, paused, pointed at my can, wagged his finger and wafted on.

No sign of the 'mildly anti beer on the street cop' and I've made my excuses and I'm into my swing and my fiddles started to get louder because I've started to get used to things (Took me about 45 mins with the new string.). So it's time for a fag, but not before playing another one. I played another one, took a breath, put me fiddle down and before I reached in my pocket I heard a sound behind me.

It was an amplified opera singer with a backing track. On any occasion, in isolation, a pleasant thing. Not a pleasant thing when pitched at close range against my playing though. She was too close and she knew it. Her volume edged up as I was rolling my cigarette. So much so infact that I rolled it, lit it, took one puff, laid it delicately on the edge of my case, pcked up me fiddle and played my bottom off. It can't have been pleasant, but it was loud and rhythmic.

Dueling buskers. I was losing, but only because she was amplified. Then the bagpipe player turned up. We'd had a chat earlier and he said he would come back at eight o'clock, which is when I told him I was planning on finishing. I'd just about made enough by half seven, but decided to keep going.

'Fuck it.' I said, 'She wasn't worried about drowning me out. Drown her out.'

And that's precisely what he did.

Monday, January 7, 2013

So I was busking in Chelsea the other day...

and this police community support officer comes up to me and says;

'Did you have a good Christmas?'

and I said

'Yes thanks, I did, and I also had a happy new year. How were yours?'

'Mine were good thanks, I can't remember what you said your name was last time we met...'

Her hand flicked slightly towards her notebook pocket. Her game was up!

'That's because I didn't tell you my name.'

She smiled and reached inside her top pocket for her notebook.

'So did you see any family over Christmas?'

'Yes, I had a lovely time in Liverpool at my sisters', then we went and visited my girlfriends' sister, then we came back down to London. There was a terrible crash on the M6. Makes you think really. I'm not going to give you my name.'

I was looking deep into her eyes as I said it, just to make sure she was paying attention.

'Oh, ok then, have fun...' she said and strolled off down the street with her mate. Happy as Larry, not at all bothered by the busker with no name. Then Kurt and his Gran came up and said 'Hi Matt.' and we had a nice chat and Kurts' Gran gave me a worthers original. She gave me murray mints the last time I saw her, so it was a nice surprise.