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OK, here’s a bit of fun.
The London Paper and Capital Radio who sponsor the London Licenced Buskers Scheme are having a
data collection exercise Competition for your favourite Busker.
I couldn’t possibly influence your choice of course, I simply lay the following information before you and let you make your mind up.
First a warning. You’ll need to register (grrr…) here in order to enter, but you can opt out of getting too much crap from them. You’re all grown-ups and you can decide what to do with your personal data. I will understand if you feel this is too much to ask.
I would also point out that I’d like to keep my licence please so try not to piss the organisers off with fake data. There are also draw prizes every day for people who enter which you’d miss out on if you gave a false id.
Once logged in you need to go to my profile and click on the voting button. You can only vote once per day but since most people I know are online at midnight, doing it at 11.55 and 12.05 every other day should make it more efficient for you, if less easy to remember. I think you get a notification then of where I am in the chart. Naturally, you should also feel free to vote for any busker you wish. I just hope you can live with your conscience.
So my busking adventures continue – I was at my second home, Bond St tonight – quite quiet, lots of small change dropped, but also lovely stuff like the lady who gave me a rose and the other who said I was the best thing she’d heard on the tube [compared to the coaches on the Bakerloo Line, presumably ].
Counting the money is giving me lots of fun. I have a spreadsheet going with the following metadata: date, day, time, location so that I can do some analysis. So far I’m averaging a bit more than minimum wage… but not quite up to my consulting day rate. No matter, the most important return I get is something I’m not quantifying precisely: the number of smiles and winks.
Today I met a Busking Manager for the first time. These guys get to go round the network, checking in with buskers that everythings alright and making sure that people have turned up to the right pitch at the right time. I’m also getting to meet more and more of my fellow performers. Most are really nice, but I have to say that a number of them are just bloody miserable, I suppose it’s like anything, but I do think there are a few who buy in so much to the suffering artist myth that nothing could make them happy.
The most obvious thing I’ve learned is that people with shorter legs walk more slowly than those with long legs. It’s really noticable when a train comes in, the crowd just gets shorter as it passes by – you just don’t see these things when you’re in the crowd yourself.
Photo by Russell Davies
Ramon commented on my busking post and so I subscribed to his blog about his daily adventures crossing the border into Mexico to do his thing. It’s fantastic – here’s a snip:
“As I was arriving at the pedestrian area of Velarde St. I saw that the place where the Andean musicians where last time was taken by this gentleman selling a sort of dancing magical skeletons. He sells them by putting on a show with them. These things are made of plastic, about three inches tall and hang by a very thin, invisible almost, fishing wire and he sort of inadvertently makes them dance while speaking to the public. I kept on walking to my usual spot in the shoe store area. I was so focused on finding out if the PA system of the big shoe store was on that I didn’t noticed that the Andean musicians where already setting up right there. When I saw them I noticed one of the agents of commerce talking to them and telling them that they should get a permit, I think it’s because they have the whole kit, including CD’s and flutes to sell. I talked to them and found out thatthey are actually from Mexico City and not from the Andean region, they usually busk at Malls during this season.”
I had a giggle closer to home seeing Lars’s comment on flickr about my busking photos:
“Ah I get it now. I thought you were going to be king of a bus for a day” – you crazy literal Danish person, you.
So just a quick thought before I stroll over to Embankment tube for 2 hours of ukulele fun.
When they hear I’m busking, I get some funny reactions from some people – they immediately assume it’s about the money, or that it’s a bit low and dirty. It just occurred to me that sometimes these are people who don’t have any problem with blogging, but the reactions seem to me to be the same as, say, mainstream journalists to social media.
So, thanks guys for helping me see that my busking is just the same my blogging – just because I’m busking doesn’t mean that I’m trying to get to the top of the CD charts, I’m not doing it for the money, or that I’m slumming it with the low lifes – and it’s not about whether everyone likes what I do or not, it’s for the odd glances of recognition and those people whose day is made a tiny bit better by hearing some old git singing his little heart out today – and it’s for me – I’m having a great laugh
Long-time readers here will have been aware of my plunking and warbling, but I’ve only recently been coming out of the ukulele closet more widely.
I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, so I just wanted to warn those who are uke-averse that shortly (just waiting for my police check) you won’t even be able to escape by going underground…