The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s Debut Protest

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s Debut Protest

By Philippa Morgan Walker

On 14th October 2013 the pavement outside Camden Town tube station, where fleeting meetings usually occur, was the location for the Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s debut public performance and peaceful protest against Camden Council’s draconian busking policy that would see all wind and percussion instruments banned. Instead of falling prey to such a ludicrous policy and standing idly by as Camden Council erected a wall of red tape around public space; musicians, comedians – Mark Thomas, Ben Van Der Velde, to name but a few – and those with social conscience hit the streets with instruments to send out a considered message to the council: DON’T TAKE THE MUSIC FROM OUR STREETS.

READ MORE ABOUT CAMDEN COUNCIL’S PROPOSED BUSKING POLICY and ASAP’s response

SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST THE POLICY

All photographs by Gavin Mills

Jonny Walker playing Here Comes The Sun, rather ironically, in the rain

Jonny Walker playing Here Comes The Sun, rather ironically, in the rain

The Citizen's Kazoo Orchestra tunefully played songs such as Star Wars Death March, All You Need Is Love and The Great Escape theme tune

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra tunefully played songs such as Star Wars Death March, All You Need Is Love and The Great Escape theme tune

The Citizen's Kazoo Orchestra on the rainy streets of Camden, protesting against a draconian policy that would make playing wind instruments on the streets of Camden illegal

The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra on the rainy streets of Camden, protesting against a draconian policy that would make playing wind instruments on the streets of Camden illegal

Kazoos, voices, violins, morris dancers and trombones joined the throng of peaceful protesters

Kazoos, voices, violins, morris dancers and trombones joined the throng of peaceful protesters

Jonny Walker challenges Camden Council to rewrite a fair policy for buskers

Jonny Walker challenges Camden Council to rewrite a fair policy for buskers

ASAP's Jonny Walker in action

ASAP’s Jonny Walker in action

Camden Council propose to make morris dancing illegal on the streets of Camden, so ASAP invited...

Camden Council propose to make morris dancing illegal on the streets of Camden, so ASAP invited…

A morris dancer joins in the protest to Keep Streets Live in Camden

A morris dancer joins in the protest to Keep Streets Live in Camden

ASAP Director, Jonny Walker makes an effusive political speech about keeping public space open to creativity

ASAP Director, Jonny Walker makes an effusive political speech about keeping public space open to creativity

ASAP's Associate Director, Philippa Morgan Walker

ASAP’s Associate Director, Philippa Morgan Walker

Artists and musicians joined the peaceful protest and entertained crowds of smiling onlookers

Artists and musicians joined the peaceful protest and entertained crowds of smiling onlookers

Wind instruments would be illegal in the borough of Camden, if this legislation goes through...

Wind instruments would be illegal in the borough of Camden, if this legislation goes through…

The CKO performing the Star Wars Death March

The CKO performing the Star Wars Death March

This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

1 Comment on "The Citizen’s Kazoo Orchestra’s Debut Protest"

  • I’ve been playing on the streets of Birmingham very successfully now, as a ‘serious’ street perfromer, for 3 years. At times I can do amazingly well and I have on certain occasions enjoyed a rich communion out there on the road with that at times overwhelmingly beautiful audience that can be the general public.

    As is life though, all is not perfect out there , yes there are complications and I personally have met with rather ‘unexpected’ difficulties out there on the streets. Some of the problems I’ve personally witnessed I fear may beset other buskers and street performers such as those in Cambden as they struggle with the local authority to get their value as performers recognised and
    they fight in the interests of the general public good against
    Camden Council to get their right to freedom to perform on the streets regulated under a more healthy, creative, and rational civic regime

    One of the more petty, dismissive and yes spiteful comments I’ve had levelled at me thus far on my journey as a kind of ‘free’ journeyman out there on the streets, is the acerbic comment levelled at me and my like that we are ‘narcissistic dreamers!’ – this was once shouted at me from behind my back, on the train as I was getting off at Stratford Upon Avon Station.

    I must admit that at 7.30pm later that evening it very much felt like a dream as I sat on the ‘ampitheatre’ on the Bancroft by the River Avon across the green from the newly refurbished Shakespeare Theatre bathed in the twilight sun, the early evening light, encircled by rapturous applause from at least 50 or 60 appreciative folk who had gathered around, sat around, and stood around as I performed my rendition of jazz flamenco guitarist Nino Josele’s beautiful arrangement of the Brazillian
    tune The Dolphin.

    I must have just caught the ‘theatre’ crowd, and I got so high on so public a praise, so totally unexpected, that it felt like I was playing, ringed in one of our great romantic poet Coleridges ‘enchanted meadows’ rather than on a simple busking spot in Stratford.

    I could’nt believe it when a beautiful young woman who’d been sitting around watching me play for at least 30mins turned out to be a Russian actress part of the Chekov International Theatre Festival. She walked straight over to me and invited me to a performance her acting company were doing that week of Shakespeares classic English ‘renaissance’ comedy A Midsummers Nights Dream. Of course I accepted, I was overjoyed, I felt as privelaged as a Stratford councillor!

    Being a lover of Russian Literature ( & Modern Philosopy ) ,
    I could’nt wait to see the Chekov players and their expressive ‘creative’ dramatic interpretation of Shakespeares great play – afterall its what Russian theatre has built its fine reputation on – ‘creative’ expressive interpretation of classic works – and
    I thought it would be very interesting to find out how this this little cultural experiment, how this particular project in world theatre would work out and what the Russians would do with one of the greatest and beloved of English comedies……..

    I caught the train back home to Birmingham still elated, still drunk, still intoxicated from what I’d guess you professionals would call a kind of ‘stage’ reverie and later that night , sat in the living room of my high street flat in Hall Green, the room overlooking the ‘recycling’ bins so carefully and considerately placed , so well-meaningfully arranged, the rusted sky blue 2nd hand shoe deposit bin and the traffic sullied sage-green Islamic relief bin standing up so pc in front of my window, opposite the Co-op supermarket across the high street , over the road – when I pondered once more on the words ‘ Narcissist Dreamer! ‘ , those words that had been shouted at me, behind my back, so abusively that morning while getting off the train at Stratford Station.

    I was just putting my feet up and beginning to settle down to read my then current read, Gore Vidals wonderful 1995 memoir ”Palimset’ when a line from one of his most ‘entertaining’ tv interviews came came rushing to mind …

    ‘ Q. My definition of a narcissist?
    ( pause )
    A. Someone better looking than you are! ‘
    ( TV Interview of Gore Vidal – Renowned Man of Letters )

    Yes vintage Vidal! ( I laughed to myself )

    I then picked up and fingered my well worn copy of Freidrich
    Nietzsche’s classic ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ and immediately paused and began to meditate on some of the ideas I’d come across in this great philosphers writings and works,

    Clever, oh so clever!, that how I would describe his polemic on the classic Greek philosopher Socrates……..Imagine, Socrates, the wisest-man in all Athens, the Greek Sage they forced to drink hemlock for polluting the minds of Athenian youth, icon of western philosophy, bane of sophistry, sophists and unreason. The ‘Academes’ very own Jesus, holiest of holies was for Nietsche ironically the demitritis, and rather than being its saviour of man and culture its pathetic demise, yes Socrates the key figure responsible for the end of ‘healthy’ western civilisation.

    Socrates, that harbinger of death of beloved ‘Dionysian’ pre- socratic culture, for Nietsche he represented the point at which Europe rather than gaining a higher moral direction, loses its ‘moral’ compass sending the continent plummeting into a dark age dominated not only by religion but by a cultural void ‘un-naturale’, a dark star dead end culture,intrinsically anti-human and counter to life.

    Nietsche as ever the depth psychologist ( perhaps the first true
    psychologist ) asked himself the obvious question, the one that begged itself – the question why?

    Why was Socarates so disliked by Athenian authority ? and even more interestingly he speculates as to why would he have been disdained by the more ordinary members of Athenian society i.e. the general public of Athens 3000BC.

    For Nietsche the anwer was simple it was because Socrates was
    a kind of ‘tyrant’, that is, he was a tyrant of reason. You see Socrates was not only the kind of guy who went around interrupting people in their everyday doings, calling them to account for all and sundry, unneccessarily bothering people even in matters that simple folk could safely trust as common-sense, Socrates was also the kind of guy who seem to want to spend most of his time living not in the real world, but in some other world ( for many fantasy realm ) outside this one.

    For Nietsche Socrates was essentially a life denier, a seeker of love and truth and existence in other heavenly realms eg. the after-life ( a self- conceived afterlife! ). He was one of those guys who searched for solace in an ‘imagined’ super-real life rather than the life we are living in the now i.e. the life we can vouchsafe for sure – as you can most likely understand, what any sane reasonable person of common sense can understand Socrates was a philosophical position which understandably Nietsche found quite infuriating living on 2000/3000 years in the future never mind angering to rage the people of ancient Athens living back then, 2 or 3 millenium ago.

    And why according to Nietsche did Socrates with is constant tyrannical reasoning and incessant preaching and harking on and on about the afterlife seem to desire such an escape from this life – the one actually granted him ( i.e. this one the real one we all know and love and cherish! ) well for Friedrich the answer was simple, it was because he was ugly!…….

    I return to my book, I begin to read, I pause briefly, begin to read, pause again , and then quite suddenly, it strikes me, strikes me
    with the force of a thunderbolt, that those nasty, rather spiteful comments that morning, the sarcastic words of those idiots that so brutally insisted that I’m a dreamer, I’m a narcissist ,could this kind of acerbic comment, rather like Socrates badgering of the common Athenian in the market-place, could my haranging, my harrassment by these fools on the train also represent a kind of conspiracy of the ugly.?

    Afterall look at all those beautiful hollywood stars and actresses living stultifyingly couped up lives, living like caged birds up there in Beverly Hills their gilded cages constantly pecked at by an intrusive, abusive paparazzi ? Is not their sorry plight, the rather sad predicament of the worlds ‘ beautiful people’ the result of a kind of revenge of the ugly?

    ( in Birmingham there is the phenomenon of ‘street’ papparazzi maliciously spiteful guys – and girls – who go around trying to snap photos of street performers and the like from the worst possible angles, some of them have been known to not only attemptedly trash performers but also ‘libel’ them on social media like You Tube. They can only be described as a type of ‘gutter’ troll . I myself went out to test this theory acting out my own kind of
    Muller Liar Test out there on the streets, sunglasses on, signifying I desired no intrusion and low and behold up the weeds popped and rather dastardly they snapped )….

    As much as I love Nietsche – and I respect his noble quest to save man from a Godless world, to rescue mankind from a potential terrifying nihlism – I realise not even he the greatest depth psychologist of all time can be expected to get it all right, one man cannot possess the full picture, no mortal being has the answer for everything!.

    Then, thinking on, reflecting onwards and ever upwards I practically reached what can only be described as a kind of conceptual dream state, a reverie of consciousness and it suddenly struck me as if a lightning bolt out the blue that the resentful out there, the nasty, the spiteful, all the ‘haters’ out
    there that perhaps its not the fact that they’re downright ugly that pushes them to such spiteful exceess but its just that they ‘feel’ so ugly.

    And then the truth finally dawned on me, the fact that for most of us ugliness need not be viewed as a fixed physical truth but rather as a state, a dynamic and thus changeable psyco/emotional state. And this is the real good news!.

    Even the most morosely constituted amongst us, the most cynical, those with the lowest of self esteen and the biggest egos in fact if they were to work on their attititude and redesign their internal state theres a wondrous hope awaiting them all, an amazing hope, a very real hope born of more ‘authentic’ relationship between a self gleaned more ‘real’ self and the ‘natural’ truth of their physical externalities.

    The truth is there are many different types of beauty, all have been identified by man and philosopher and each have their own defintion and criterion. Yes there is classical beauty with its perfect symmetry and balanced form and yes it is a standard that works well when applied to ‘inorganic’ design objects such as the television set, the council flat and the motorway lane and the modern street lamp but not to man.

    When applied to human form however ( or any oganic form for that matter ) the ideology of mathmatical proportion as manifest in
    such practices as bodybuilding, male modelling and the advertising industry given an honest viewing tends to break down.

    Such classical proportions and human geometry render a man rather cold, and in extremitus – take the statue of David for instance – you can see clearly how what could be otherwise naturally healthy beautiful human form is for me and many others hidiously transformed into a kind of objectified pornographic figure, in this particular case a ‘homoerotic’ object that if not in practice in imagination can be owned, controlled, indeed possessed!.

    Ok there is such a thing as ‘handsome’ Greta Garbots face is testament to that a kind of ‘female’ handsome, but heh! don’t worry about that lets grant Greta Garbot her handsomeness
    Instead let us without fret nor bother enjoy her handsomeness. and then turn to consider the concept of ‘natural’ beauty and see how that may applys to the common man and to a greater more beautiful and naturally life affirming image of man and
    the everday.

    Let us closely examine the form of a tree for example and we find that true beauty in natural living form is not to be found in ‘perfection’ as some Greeks or should I say Romana saw it ie. in a kind of pure symmettry its but is located ‘percieved’ in a more ‘organic’ natural relational order ie, in that natural balance between the general tendencey to symmetry ( what we tend to call ‘perfection’ – a false and misleading value when applied to man ) and that slight and ‘mysterious’ disjuncture to symmetry we call in the arts ‘variation’.

    Take music for instance and how cold is a highly metronomed renditon of a piece by say Bach rigidly performed by some gent in a penguin suit as compared to a salon recital by an empassioned yg pianist inspired by Chopin……

    The good news is that the principles of natural beaty as applied to the human form are readily available to and applicable to us all regardless of current shape and disposition. Once more ‘aesthetic’ self realisation and thats what we’re talking about here is relatively easy to bring about – its just a matter of ‘dare to be yourself’ – remember natures done most of the work for you, just be confident, get healthy, eat a good plant based diet and just ease yourself to bloom.

    This is all good news for the hater out there whether that be poshlost troll, the street paparazzi who wants to take their vengance out on an innocent street performer and trash them
    with their cameras or the spiteful petty council official who simply wants to bash people over the head with crazy victimising council
    regulatory beauracracy. Instead of rendering the beautiful ugly
    to bolster a big ego with low self esteem these haters stand redeemed, salvation is theres, they are now free to render themselves beautiful too.

    To top it all, If you can teach yourself to become an effective communicatior, really begin to ‘connect’ with people, have some clear goals and find within yourself some ‘faith’ , fill yourself with belief then you’re well on the way to developing that mysterious quality called charisma. Natural ‘magnetic’ charisma soooo beautiful, soooooo attractive, its there for the taking, its in us all.

    And finally of course theres the sublime, well I’m afraid while in principle the potential for glorious style and content is present in us , it is unfortunately not so readily attainable and may not be realised by everyone.

    But no matter, if we’re truly happy in ourselves, got a little bit of money, plenty of hearty freedom and if we can manage to create even just a few treasured relationships we can be content to sit back and enjoy the fruits and beauty of those who have achieved it, the sublime that is, and on some occasions although they be rare ( and ‘chance’ even ) its possible to have it all, all for just a few pence.

    Adieu!

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