The Evening Standard: High Court backs £1,000 fines for Camden buskers

The Evening Standard: High Court backs £1,000 fines for Camden buskers

Published by The Evening Standard on 11th March 2014.

See the Evening Standard article here.

New licensing restrictions on buskers in Camden have been declared lawful by the High Court.

Comedians Mark Thomas and Bill Bailey and musician Billy Bragg are among celebrities who protested over changes introduced after noise complaints by residents.

Busking without a licence is to become a criminal offence in Camden, punishable with fines of up to £1,000. Bragg, who used to busk in London, said licensing would hurt a fundamental aspect of British culture.

But Mrs Justice Patterson ruled today Camden Council’s policy was “both necessary and proportionate”.

The ruling was a defeat for the Keeping Streets Live Campaign, which was ordered to pay £7,500 in costs. Appeal permission was refused, meaning the campaigners must now face the Court of Appeal.

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

16 Comments on "The Evening Standard: High Court backs £1,000 fines for Camden buskers"

  • Heres a little ray of ‘Enlightenment’ for you, Birmingham my home city, up until fairly recently, one of the places in which I’ve been performing regularly as a Street Performer for 3 years now, is about to be put through its own particular ‘brand’ of contemporary ‘social re-engineering’.

    What for me was one of the most ‘free’ and ‘liberal’ busking cities in the UK is now in very real danger of being transformed into one of the most ‘oppressive’ Street Performing locations in the country.

    Concerns regarding the current very ‘successful’ city Busking Scheme being ‘re-aligned’ with up and coming ‘new’ Public Order Laws being introduced in October are in the air at the moment. I guess Jonny, you and Streetslive and the ASAP are already aware of a meeting set-up and ( supposedly ) facilitated by a local City-Centre Beat Cop that is time-tabled for this month July on this particular issue?. Anyway heres what I’ve got to say on this issue!.

    A couple of longstanding busking ‘friends’ of mine have told me that they have been approached by the few remaining Birmingham Retail BID Wardens ( most have now been ‘let go’ due to lack of finances! ) who have gone around and informed them of this meeting and recommended that they go along. ( I myself have never been approached about such an event, I simply just picked things up in the grapevine and then made my own enquiries! )

    Of course I and they are very wary of anything supposedly being held in the name of busking by this character calling ‘himself’ the Busking Bobby. As you perhaps know, we ‘certainly’ do know, anybody knows who have street performed in Bham over recent years, this so called Busking Bobby is not a Busker at all, he’s a Police Officer (originally from Bromsgrove ) and ironically in fact a charity worker.

    Over the last year or so, he’s got very close to another Busker who regularly busks in Birmingham ( I won’t state his name but I think you may know him, I know you Jonny and Chester Bingley ‘Buskers Unregulated’ linked up with him during your first visit to Bham a couple of weeks back, in fact I note that Chester has even gone so far as naming him as a ‘friend’ on his twitter page) and who ‘himself’ I see, indeed played at a local Police Charity Event only last month, invited in to do so by the powers that be etc.

    The truth about The Busking Bobby is he’s been riding on the ‘ticket’ of being a Busker ever since this busking individual lent him his acoustic guitar last Summer 2013 to perform a cover ( a pretty dire version ) of Oasis’s Wonderwall which was videoed and then downloaded onto You Tube as a busking ‘promo’ in the city. This Busking Bobby has not really appeared on the streets since he’s busy running his own Charity called ‘Chocs and Socs’ – supposedly for the homeless! (he himself has just recieved a ‘Point of Light’ reward from the Prime Minister David Cameron for his ‘good’ works and from what I can see is fast building a reputation as a model replacement for the Welfare State, especially amongst Camerons Tory Peers )

    I have an alternative picture of the Busking Bobby, I have come to see this guy as basically an ‘egotist’ trying to gain ‘kudos’ from busking and charity work in the city and to tell you the truth I’m not convinced he has busking at heart at all. In fact I found out from the Manager of Birmingham Retail BID, that its the Police who have requested greater ‘controls’ over busking in the city-centre hence this meeting etc.

    Fairly hypocritical of the Police I think given its their failure to control ‘junkies’ etc in the town-centre thats led to the many problems and nuisances that now exist and the social reality is that these kind of problems, in the main, have had nothing to do with Buskers at all. The truth is, rather ironically, that it is his ‘friend’/Busking Buddy ( the busking individual who ‘iniated’ him into Busking last Summer lending him a guitar for his Oasis recital) who has been cited by many as the city centres biggest busking noise nuisance, in the relatively ‘rare’ instances that complaints of such busking nuisance do occur.

    For this reason I’m staying away from any meeting to do with this Busking Bobby, this particular ‘busking’ individual or anyone like them. Between them, to my mind, they’ve already begun to ‘poison’ what is already an OK Busking Scene. Why change it? why burden ‘innocent’ Street Performers with more controls etc, much fairer and better to just ‘contol’ the Junkies, the Chuggers, the Manic Street Preachers and the likes of Busking Bobby’s Good Mate who not only can be quite clearly viewed as an egotistical nuisance himself but is also evidentially a social media bully to boot!.

    The Manager at Birmingham Retail BID has called in me and some other performes for input and ideas on busking in Bham. He should have called in a few others too. However these ‘others’ with many years experience – not only street performing in Bham but elsewhere across the country – have it seems been consciously excluded, deliberately left out -I don’t know if this has anything to do with the fact that they are ‘Black!’.

    This is why its impt me and a few others have held our own discussion ( and are linking up for further discussions! ). You see as always is the case in sitations like this, there is evidence that a wider political game is being played out here concerning Busking in the city, not just involving the Police but also the BID Manager et al and a couple of other interested ( ‘self’ ) parties – believe me, they’ve all got their ‘petty’ control interests !.

    The great and eternal political problem here of course is that its when the interests of the Office begin to reign paramount over ‘The Public Interest’ thats things tend to go wrong. And yes the fact that some individuals are not being being put in the full picture by Bham Retail and rather shiftily ( manipulatively ) the Police can nudge things in the wrong direction too eg the bulk of Street Performers merely being directed to the Busking Bobby’s meeting, for me, smacks of a potentially ‘serious’ case of racial, street, individual discrimination! – and of course let us not forget that common act of political chicanery, the social manufacture of consent!.

    The most basic and obvious critical question you can raise here of course is given that the Busking Bobby is clearly a Police Officer first, Charity Worker second and only a supposed Busker third, That question is Q.Is he, in this context, in fact the right person ( ‘fit and proper’ ) to conduct, chair, facilitate a meeting discussing the future of Street Performing in the city especially at a time of possible unprecented authoritative control of the Public Space via controversial ‘new’ Public Order laws being introduced in October! A. I for one think not!.

  • Jonny says

    I can only say that whatever you think of this planned meeting I can see no good reason for your to boycott it. Your presence there may help give voice to the very real concerns that you raise.

    • Jonny
      Planned meeting? Ha! ha! ha! Locally ‘contrived’ meeting more like. No I’m choosing not to attend the Busking Bobby’s event on ‘rational’ political grounds, nevermind the fact that I’ve not actually been invited!. For an elaboration of my reasoning *See Below!.
      Cheers
      Nigel

  • Inside the Belly of the Whale?, No thanks Jonny, theres neither beauty nor joy in that!. Like I’ve said elsewhere, Liberal Democracy may be failing ( and theres a powerful argument that it is! ), however I’m choosing to use whatever remains.

    And again like I’ve said before, I intend to open up my ‘own’ channels, prise open my own lines of communication, find a way around ‘ The Blob’ ( the ‘petty’ local establishment ) and beat out my own pathway to the top of the ‘decision’ makers tree. I strongly urge any others out there, like me, in the interests of ‘free’, direct and open democracy, to do the same.

  • In fact its only 2 or 3 weeks back now, in Stratford upon Avon, that I had my most satisfying experience yet of political action regards Street Performing. Yes, ‘collective’ group action, at its most powerfully responsive, natural, ‘spontaneous’ best.

    The District Council had shut the Bancroft Gardens ( a key ‘outdoors’ performance area ) down completly the week before last. They begain using ‘new’ Contract Gardeners as security, and appointed a Head Warden to keep watch and restrict all Steet Artists and Performers from playing in the park area. They also started a process of issueing everyone ( incl Performers who had played in the Park without restricion there 30years ) with a ‘graded’ set of warning warning notices ranging from the ‘polite’ request card to more ‘serious’ warning cards threatening to kick performers off the park by police ejection and backed by the threat of arrest.

    My immediate ‘spontaneous’ response ( working alongside literally ‘a few’ others ) was to immediately start the campaign ball rolling and tget restrictions lifted. The process began first of all over the telephone with my communicating with both parties i.e. the District Council and the ‘new’ BID ( Business Improvement District ) Manager at Stratforward Karen Wild so as to bring them together to resolve the issue at their own management level.

    Afterall it is their job, The Councils ‘Street Scene’ Dept and Stratforward BID that is, to formulate and shape good cultural policy regards street performance in the town. At the end of the day, what was really a council management anxiety about the collapse of BID central management and concerns about lowered ‘standards’ was soon resolved – in fact after a flurry of emails, and rapidly devised meetings, it was practically all sorted in a couple of days.

    The great thing was that by the time everything had got to the local press ( some performers called in local ‘news’ reporters ) the Council and Stratforward had upturned their restrictions and everything was back to normal again. Everything except now you have to register with the ‘new’ Town Host/Warden Manager Dianne for a ticket that permits you access onto the Bancroft.

    Of course the whole process of ‘healthy’ spontaneous local ‘direct’ democratic response and ‘rational’ responsive management was threatened in the ‘early’ stages by the usual office/personal ‘status’ issues that do, all too often ,unfortuately crop up,in a way that could de-rail just and proper resolution. There was a concern on the behalf of Street Performers that the council were merely trying to degrade buskers by giving arbitrary ‘power’ to those who don’t merit them ie. using who are really ‘contract’ Gardeners to act as civil policemen. The District Council had even called up an old 1901 Byelaw that legally backed performance and entertainment being banned from the Gardens. Anyway after a bit of reason on all sides including a dose of patient restraint from us, healthy communiction and the right kind of pressure on our behalf, it all payed off and the Council with this time ironically short notice reneging on their ‘own’ restrictions and allowing us all back on the Bancroft.

    The lesson from Stratford upon Avon was that ‘spontaneous’ public action can work and work quite beautifully, when the right players are involved and ‘reason’ abounds. Adopt a balanced approach and at the end of the day ‘good’ will, and yes things can work out, and justice prevail, without too much beauracratic interference nor long drawn out ‘legal’ shenannigans.

    Of course, now things are afoot in Birmingham too, Street Performing-wise, in the context of ‘new’ Public Order Laws being introduced in Oct. Whilst there are ‘several’ seemingly ‘competing’ initiatives going on, I’ve been called in by some key Council and City Management figures to find ways of acutally preserving and ‘extending’ what is in fact a very successful Busking Scheme, the idea is to simply align it with the ‘new’ powers given to the police ( * They’ve called a couple of Buskers in to provide input on the nature of the current scheme and how it can be ‘improved’! ).

    After all the freedom we’ve had in the city centre over the past few years, it seems its the police who are apparantly now pressing for more central ‘control’ of busking. Thats why I personally don’t want to get involved with the meeting arranged and facilitated by the Busking Bobby. You see all the trouble that mostly occurs in Birmingham City Centre could be dealt with effectively right now by the Police. In fact only 2 years ago the city centre was relatively free from drink problems, petty crime, public harrasment by Chuggers etc it could be like that now. Town Wardens also had a tight grip on busking related problems including noise nuisance etc. So whats the problem?

    What seems to be going on here, is that the Police seem to be acting out some sort of petty political game. The Police appear to want more powers simply because they want more powers and that they are now there to be had. And of course its a truism that they’re now readily available as from October courtesy of this Tory/Liberal Government.

    If theres one thing I’ve learned concerning ‘Street’ Politics over the last 3 years as a Street Performer, its simply this. When the office interest begins to take precedent over the ‘rational’ Public Interest thats when things tend to go wrong ( that goes for the ‘individual’ ego too, when ‘it’ begins to take over, thats when things tend to go wrong ). Its on these grounds that I am formally withdrawing my attendance from the Busking Bobby meeting – that and besides I’ve not been invited anyhows!.

  • * An Ode to the Busking Bobby

    Oppression by Langton Hughes

    Now dreams are not available to the Dreamers,
    Nor songs to the Singers,
    In some lands, dark night and cold steel prevail,
    But the dream will come back,
    And the song break its Jail.

    ( James Mercer Langston Hughes – Poet, Social Activist, Novelist, Playwright and Columnist )

  • A scheme which requires people to get a ticket from a council official before they busk places the power to arbitrarily exclude a performer into the hands of a state official (or is a Town Host employed by the BID in which case even worse!) is not a victory in the sense that I understand the word.

    • Jonny glad you raised this issue however I think in this particular instance you may have missed the point. The ticket is basically just a ‘one-off’ form fill-in for the construction of a data-base of performers. Its function I’ve been openly made aware of by Stratforward and the District Council is an honourable one.

      I have to say your response comes across as a littly cynical and paranoid here, not the usual ‘faith’ position ( positive expectation attititude ) I’d normally expect from a ‘good’ Christian Evangelist such as yourself . I personally tout here a more positive perspective stating the scheme in Stratford upon Avon is now set up for a ‘postive’ registry of Buskers rather than their ‘irrational’ exclusion. Anyone on the data-base can now for example be contacted in the event of paid ‘mini-gig’ offers and the like – which I stress do crop up at times like Xmas and do become available from time to time, for ‘regulars’ in the town!

      Of course badly behaved Performers can also be more easily identified and made accountable for their ‘negative’ actions in the ‘rare’ instances they do occur. For example your best mate and colleague at Streetslive Chester Bingley ( Buskers Unregulated ) has a so called busking ‘contact’ friend from Bham, you know the Busking Bobbys busking buddy and ‘meeting’ confidante mentioned above. Now, he represents the kind of rude, aggressive and ( the ‘real’ truth ) consistantly bullying ‘noise’ nuisance performer who if ‘new’ in town can be now easily identified and dealt with in the event of trouble as a result of recently introduced ticket registering by the Council/BiD Warden office.

      Last Summer the guy appeared in town with a female singing partner and set up full blast with amp an’ all on Stratfords central ‘small’ knit Henley Street. He arrogantly refused to abide by the busking ‘voluntary’ code of 2hrs ( blocking my and other buskers ‘fair’ access to spots ) and broke the no amp rule for vocals on the street, lying to me ( again a code infringement ‘misdirecting’ other performers ) that he’d been given 3hrs permission to play by Wardens.

      ( * Note its performers like him grossly overdoing it with vocal amp volumes that cause amp bans in the first place. Its only a small narrow Tudor Street and the noise ‘ I testify can be terrible, it was that particular Summers day! )

      Inevitably when Town Hosts turned up ( including the ‘female’ Manager ) he immediately ‘behind my back’ made malicious bullying claims about me being hated in Bham, implied ‘racist’ claims about people like ‘me’ being treated favourably over others in Stratford ( complete nonsense! ), and went on to make a big embarressing hysterical scene on the street about being ‘victimised’ ( I’ve witnessed him play this game before, and today in Bham he has a rather comically ‘bad’ reputation for it ). In this case however the police turned up and forced him to turn off the ‘loud’ ( and volumnously ‘provocative’ ) amp. He cowardly complied with police but made threats about me saying ‘ he’d see me in Bham! ‘ etc.

      Within a few days after the event a spiteful video of me had been downloaded on You Tube with him making the criminally libelous slur that I’d been ”Bullying Buskiers In Stratford Upon Avon”. Of course no mention of the Town Host Manager and him being confronted by Police etc ie. no mention of the truth,at all, a complete and deliberate mis-representaion of events by him, and what you see here is in actual fact, in this instance, the ‘smearing’ and ‘social’ media bullying of me .

      I note that you Jonny at Streetslive and Chester Bingley have been ‘friends’ with him since this incident, even rather absurdly backing him over a dispute he had with Bham officials over noise nuisance on the city’s Xmas German Market.

      Now if if by ‘registering’ in Stratford upon Avon it means a more efficient means of getting rid of lying, cowardly, manipulative, game-playing, some may describe as ‘low life’ like him out of the town having caused much disturbance well l’m afraid I’m a 100% backer of this type of scheme. I take a similar position in Birmingham, and would support any town/city authority in making accountable and bringing to book ‘persistant’ troublemakers and ‘noise’ nuisances like him. I’m sorry but he gives us all a bad name and cynically or blindly supporting the likes of him does no justice to busking, Street Performance nor Street Arts in general at all.

      In fact you and Chester are rather stupidly in danger of making a mockery of yourselves and your Street Activist campaiging in this context. So sorry Jonny I have to disagree with you on this ‘registering’ issue, because from the administerative perspective and my ‘personal’ experience of Stratford upon Avon, it has a ‘clear’ positive function. So again Jonny I’m sorry but I state loud and clear here, you’re seriously wrong on this one, badly, badly, most terribly wrong!.

  • Oh and byetheway on the subject of ‘arbitrary’ exclusion. I’ve already hinted at what a grotesque absurdity it is to be presented with the picture of 2 representative ‘ destrucive’ forces of Street Performing in the city of Birmingham organising a so called democratic meeting in the town and presenting themselves as ‘buskings’ saviours.

    Gosh the audacity of putting out end of meeting memorandum expressing the faciliators sentiment of looking forward to the receipt of ideas for the ‘improvement’ of Street Art in the city-centre. Well one idea springs to mind straightaway and it does’nt take much imagination or forethought nor the intuit understanding of a genius to work it out.

    That is simply and rather elegantly, is, face up to reality, stop playing games and do something quick about your Busking Buddy/Support Protege, because its ‘noise’ nuiscances like him who are much of the problem, and source of complaint in the city.

    Arbitary exclusion possibly exists perhaps in the case of performers like me in not being directly told about meetings ( ‘ arbitary’ in the ever so slightly ‘ lets isolate him and keep him out ‘ tyranical sense! ). However ‘necessary’ exclusion which does’t seem to exist at present though may need to in the future in the truly liberal ‘just’ sense for persistant ‘code’ breakers as from October.

  • Another point on the topic of loose ‘arbitary’ exclusion which has’nt gone un-noticed my myself that is, is in relation to one of Birmingham’s Busking Bobbys most recent charity promotions.

    Given the advent of ‘new’ Public Order law in October is this sheer coincidence, I must admit the ‘timing’ feels quite uncanny, that the Busking Bobby is currently heavily involved in promoting an anti-knife Crime DVD which he seems to want shown in all local cinemas, at a time when police, the goverment are introducing radically ‘heavy’ anti-social behaviour legislation etc. Could it be the public are being ‘prepared’ ( or indeed ‘scared’ ) here into accepting what could prove pretty draconian public space legislation? Thats a question that keeps springing to my mind.

    The first thing that strikes me about the ‘promo’ are the usual string of ‘sterotypes’ associated with the video on his Twitter page
    eg. you’ve guessed it, a series of insets of black faces, young black males!. Look I for one know for one that there has been a problem with this kind of ‘deadly’ knife crime in the Black Community over recent years, however I do feel it necessary, I do make strides to point out here, that the homocidal maniac who stabbed to death 2 Big Issue Sellers in Birmingham city centre the other Christmas was ‘white’, he was a ‘white man’.

    As for another perspective, I’ve just been watching the Commonwealth Games on TV and commentators and audience alike have been busy citing the warm hostpitality of the city of Glasgow and its people with regards this great sporting event. The comedy show before ( Edingburgh Fringe ! ) however ‘blackly’ reminds us that the place is also the murder capital of Europe where the knife ( the ‘chib’ ) is a choice weapon.

    An important point to mention here of course is that the general populace of Glasgow is not ‘black’ and neither are the gross perpertrators of these kind of ‘knife’ crimes, in fact they are NEDs ie. non educated ‘white’ delinquents. How do I know this? well a local police expert pointed out the fact, its the NEDs ( white Neds ) who are to blame, they’re the ones behind the highest murder rate on the continent, NEDS! ( ‘white’ ones ).

  • As a guitarist/singer with an amp I would have found Statford’s advisory ‘ban’ on vocals to be prejudicial and unworkable so can hardly take issue with a busker who ‘breaks a code’ by using one.

    I feel like it would be unwise to comment about an incident about which the facts as I understand them are disputed. Suffice it to say that regrettably conflict is not uncommon on the streets and attempting to resolve it amicably is one of the challenges of being a busker.

    I’ll make a comment about the words ‘noise nuisance’. These words in combination have a particular meaning which does not extend to a dislike of a particular musical style or singer. It concerns me when people within the busking community use descriptions like this about people who are effectively their colleagues (or competitors) if you prefer.

    It seems to me an unhelpful way of building better relationships in the busking community.

    As for Statford’s ticket system any system which seems to privilege administrative convenience over the rights of access to public space (whatever your stylistic affectation might be), and places the power over a person’s livelihood into the hands of an unelected official is questionable to say the least. That you present this arrangement as a victory for civic democracy is telling.

    • As a rather over ‘zealous’ Christian Evangelist type to my mind Jonny, a man with it seems with a rather ‘unhealthy’ constitutional bias to believing in such far-fetched things as the existence of Gods, Superbeings and all that, without a jot of credible proof, I don’t think you are well qualified to even cite what counts as ‘reliable’ objective evidence in matters such as what went on in Stratford upon Avon busking last Summer nevermind what could in those circumstances be clearly regarded as a dispute or not.

      As for me you can’t get much better, reliable witness ‘Street’ testimony as the Head Town Host ( herself ) and Police on the scene themselves, who again I repeat were the civil forces that dealt with you Birmingham Busking Buddy friend ‘directly’ that day and not myself on the grounds of being way ‘too’ loud whilst performing etc. Nevermind in being confronted for breaking the ‘spirit’ of the code for ‘misdirecting’ ( lying to ) me about performance permissions and times etc.

      You also need to consult the local Shop Retailors, Office Managers, Council Officials and Wardens in Bham ( plus other Street Performers like myself ) who would testify and legitemately complain of the kind of noise nuisance caused again and again in Birmingham City Centre by that individual Busker.

      Gosh and they say ‘power corrupts’. You know something Jonny there are people in this world who will consort with anybody, the lowest of the lowest of sorts, ‘the devil’ himself even, to gain albeit a morsel of extra political power and ‘personal’ influence. Its rife in mainstream politics, the David Cameron and the Andy Coulter affair very much comes to mind as a recent topical example – you know the PMs dalliances with the News of the World Editor, hired Tory Spin Doctor now in jail for tabloid media phone tapping scandals.

      You know what Jonny, I’ll say it again and again, some people ( yourself included! ) would go a long way in terms of social good and credibility if they were to listen to and pay heed to the more ‘reasoned’ opinions of others and in turn pay a little bit more conscientious attention to the kind of company they currently keep – a very useful Leadership quality methinks especially if you can achieve this on top of focusing ones own ‘personal’ political agendas!.

      The ban on amps and vocals in Stratord upon Avon has in fact been successfully challenged by the likes of me and now on an experimental trial basis singing and amplification is now being allowed. As far as Administrative criticism goes, in this context, it is in fact now non-existent. By far the loudest complaints about ‘noise’ nuiscance and amplified singing is coming from established ‘outdoors’ performers eg Acrobats and Magicians on the Bancfroft Gardens whose performances are constantly getting drowned out by specifically ‘overloud’ Singers. And bytheway Jonny they’re telling the truth.

      Commonsense dictates here what constitutes ‘unreasonable’ noise interference and I think in this particular case you would be ‘out-voted’ Jonny, as you would be concerning related matters in Birmingham, and with regards the incident I stumbled across on Henley Street Stratford upon Avon last Summer. In fact you’re beginning to sound like a rhetorical ‘hairsplitter’ on the issue of what defines noise nuisance Jonny, and for me again, its in contexts like this one that you and your piffling arguments are rapidly beginning to lose credibility.

  • Oh and bytheway on the subject of ‘taste’ I’ve found the public remarkably ‘tolerant’ with regards to the form and ‘variety’ of acts to be found out there performing on our steets. Singers included!.

    People I find are generally openly and honestly praiseworthy of the good eg. I often get positive comments about my playing despite it being representative of a non-popular musical genre ie. for many, non too familiar on first listening, yet an ‘air’ that genuinely connects with a passerbyes ‘aesthetic’ sensibility’s and thus appreciated for that.

    On the other hand folk also manage to find ‘entertainment’ in the not so good eg. theres a Kareoke Singer you often see performing in Birmingham who provides ample amusement to gathering crowds albeit in a medieval ‘ lock ’em in the stocks and mock ’em kind of way ‘. ( I guess as an ‘ardent’ follower of the Christian Evangelist tradition even you Jonny would’nt find offence at that? ).

    What I find does arouse everyday folks irritation and sometimes boils over into anger is in cases where they’re sitting down solitary, with their partner, with their family, with friends and enjoying a relaxing coffee ( or tea, perhaps a less contradictory example ) and some guy comes along and casually without thought nor consideration sets up with amp and distorted ‘electric’ guitar and begins blasting out Heavy Metal. Or should I say Jimi Henrix in the case of one rather ‘unpopular’ performer who regularly frequented Birmingham city centre not so long back. Here I would state that yes ‘taste’ does come into the street performing picture, that is taste, common-sense, and ‘fit’ (platonic justice of fit! ).

    In this kind of case its not a matter of calling the Council Environment Dept out to measure noise decibels for proofs etc, its not a matter of appealing to the Heavens for divine justice to reign, no people understandbly want the rather ‘tiresome’ irritant removed ( moved on! ) straight away. Its not a matter of legal procedure and God, what naturally happens here is that people drawing upon their natural ‘organic’ sense, common sense and ‘instincts’ make a judgement, ‘a call’ is made, and they will respond, accordingly, generally angrily, though often with contempt, to what is percieved as an ‘odious’ ( and obvious! ) disturbance of their peace and comfort.

    A ‘natural’ human emotion that, one which in that very human sense is acted out as an ‘actual’ percieved ‘inalienable’ Human Right, given the attendant circumstances ( a ‘natural’ right ), and the response in this context as a feeling action unquestionable in its line of reasoning.

    Now this is a phenomenom well worth paying heed to Jonny, because not even ‘you’, nor for that matter even the most ‘casuist’ of argument will be able to control, put stop to , suppress nor repress this kind of human phenomenom i.e. the self evidently ‘natural’ flow of human justice.

  • A further point on Street Performing and the issue of ‘taste’.

    The Philosopher Mary Warnocks response to Jean Paul Sartres notion of ‘absolute’ freedom i.e. he’s wrong! was very cleverly articulated in characteristically pithy thought fashion below ( I also find it a rather useful preamble ‘metaphor’ illustrating a good point on the morality of taste )

    ‘ If you gave a person a choice between scrambled eggs for
    breakfast or eating coal. What would he or she choose ?.’

    Well we all know the answer to that, but we also have to acknowledge that some individuals would choose the coal to eat.
    Yes you have the ‘free-will’ to do so, eat coal that is, but what do we call a person who decides to do that ‘ a free thinking, liberated individual expressing his personal taste in coal? Maybe the likes of you would do Jonny describe ‘our’ coal eating friend in this rather generous, benevolant way, but most others, most of us ( myself included that is ) would call him something else!.

  • On the subject of prejudice ( prejudice and ‘hypocrisy’ that is! ) never mind ‘bias’ towards Singers. Yours, Chester Bingleys, and the Busking Bobby’s busking buddy from Birminham may find himself one day, up against charges of ‘discrimination’ from the Gypsy Council.

    I for one noted ( it being brought to my attention ) that on his Twitter page not long back he referred to a Romanian Musician who’d set up playing in a spot up the street from him in Birmingham as a ‘ Beggar with an trumpet! ‘.

    What blatant hypocrisy!. When he a ‘white’ English male is brought to book for ‘noise’ nuisance by Council Officials, Wardens, The Police, Shop Retailors, Offices etc he cries ‘victim’ and you Jonny rather questionably defend him with sophistry about the definitions of noise nuisance etc. When a performer from the poorer regions of Eastern Europe starts playing in a style particular to himself, hes described rather abusedly as a beggar.

    What have you got to say on this Jonny? Are you going to debase this Gypsy Roma Performer even further by coming up with another specious argument in defence of what should and ought to be regarded as ‘racist’ behaviour from your friend of a Birmingham Busker.

  • In the meantime, whilst you ponder the above question, ( thats if you bother, thats if you really have what it takes to truly ‘grapple’ with serious moral questions ) you carry on harping on about bringing ‘peace’ to the streets.

    Though I must say, the more and more I hear ‘you’, sounding off about such ‘high minded’ ideas, it begins to sound more and more like a ‘personal’ platitude. One things for sure and going on the most reliable currently available evidence, I don’t think you’re the best person to bring it about – ‘peace’ that is!.

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