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.