Keep Streets Live response to Cultural Clampdown/PSPO consultation in Birmingham

Keep Streets Live response to Cultural Clampdown/PSPO consultation in Birmingham

A real threat exists to cultural and civic freedoms on the streets of Birmingham where the City Council have opened a consultation to make it a criminal offence for buskers to use any amplification on key pitches in the city. Please take the time to respond to the online consultation which you can complete by following this link: https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/the-introduction-of-public-spaces-protection-order/consultation/intro/view

The Keep Streets Live Campaign has already submitted a response to the consultation which we reproduce below. Our response explains in detail why the PSPO is not the right response to the problems in Birmingham and calls on the council to work with the busking community in the city to find a compromise that allows the council to deal with complaints about noise and nuisance on the one hand, but safeguards cultural freedoms and a vibrant and open busking policy on the other. You can feel free to use our response to the consultation as a reference point for your own response:

Keep Streets Live Response to PSPO Consultation 

The Keep Streets Live Campaign is a not for profit organisation which exists to protect access to public space for informal offerings of art and music and to prevent the encroachment of criminal law upon grassroots culture. We seek to work alongside local authorities wherever possible to build positive relationships that safeguard street culture, and to constructively challenge policies that marginalise street culture.

We strongly oppose the use of a PSPO to place a blanket ban on amplification in the proposed restricted area, and the use of a PSPO to target busking per se. Whilst we recognise that some buskers cause noise issues which need to be dealt with, the use of a blanket ban is a disproportionate response because it penalises many street artists and performers who have not been causing issues and is therefore arbitrary. Any musician who breached the proposed ‘Public Space Protection Order’ would face a potential criminal record and punitive fines. The proposals would marginalise its street artists and musicians and devastate their livelihoods by effectively making it illegal to perform with instruments that incorporate any form of amplification on some of the key busking pitches in the city. This would diminish the informal cultural life of the city of Birmingham and deprive visitors and residents alike of a huge range of musical performances in the social and grassroots cultural hub of the city.

The Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 should not be used to stifle freedom of expression and criminalise musicians. Busking is a social activity, not an antisocial one. It is a tradition that enhances public space and deserves to be wholeheartedly supported and protected by the local authority. They already have robust powers available to tackle the inconsiderate behaviour of a small minority of performers that cause issues. It is already a criminal offence to create a noise nuisance on the streets, and, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the local authority have the power to issue noise abatement notices to anyone creating noise nuisance, including buskers, and to seize instruments.The PSPO powers contained in the the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 were not designed to regulate busking and the government gave assurances in Parliament would not be used against buskers per se and that the powers contained in the new Act were only aimed ‘against the anti-social minority who give street performers a bad name:

“I might illustrate them as being aggressive beggars and drunken louts”(http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/140121-0001.htm#14012175000753)

Birmingham’s current proposals would affect all street musicians, not just the minority who have caused issues. The use of a PSPO prioritises ease of enforcement and administrative convenience over freedom of expression and the grassroots cultural life of the city. It represents a disproportionate response.

Many contemporary street musicians use some amplification to support outdoor musical performances. Some use quiet instruments or music technology which can’t work effectively without amplification. These include keyboards, electric violins, mandolins, guitars as well as loop pedals which are an increasingly common part of contemporary musical performances. Accomplished performances, many of which incorporate some amplification, are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Birmingham each year and are an established part of the grassroots cultural life of the city. The use of amplifiers can actually allow musicians to play and sing more quietly and still be heard just above the hustle and bustle of ambient street noise. This is especially important for vocalists who can face voice damage straining to be heard over the sounds of the street.  It is not difficult to find a volume level which is not intrusive and volume levels can always be adjusted upon request. A ban on amplifiers to be consistent would logically have to extend to wind, percussion and brass instruments, all of which have the potential to be significantly louder than ‘amplified’ sound depending on the context. The issues in Birmingham have been caused not by amplification per se, but by excessive volume on the part of a small minority of individual performers. The local authority should target enforcement action against those performers who have caused a persistent issue with noise nuisance, whether amplified or unamplified, using their existing statutory powers such as the power to issue noise abatement notices and confiscate musical instruments under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The principle that enforcement should be against individuals who have caused specific issues rather than creating an arbitrary criminal offence (i.e. use of an amplifier) is key. The local authority have powers under the new legislation to issue CPNs (Community Protection Notices) to any individual whose behaviour is of a persistent nature and is a)unreasonable and b) having a detrimental effect on those in the community. CPNs could be used by Birmingham as a power of last resort to use against buskers, or other users of public space, who have caused persistent issues. Whilst CPNs still need proper oversight, they are targeted against individuals rather then entire groups, or cultural activities and therefore represent a more proportionate and balanced response to the issue of noise from busking, enabling the local authority to take effective action against the minority of performers who cause issues, rather than requiring them to take action arbitrarily against, for example, someone using an amp in a PSPO area who otherwise is not causing any issues. CPNs could be backed up by a Best Practise Guide for busking published by the council setting out expected behaviour in the city, tailored to Birmingham’s specific cultural context and agreed between the busking community, the Musician’s Union and the business community. Such an approach has worked well in Liverpool and York and has led to a reduction in the number of complaints received about busking. A measured response that targets individuals is less likely to be politically contentious and to cause damage to the city’s reputation. It is also much more likely to be compliant with Article 10 of the Human Rights Act (Freedom of Expression) and therefore less vulnerable to legal challenge. On behalf of the Keep Streets Live Campaign I urge Birmingham City Council to take this approach.

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

116 Comments on "Keep Streets Live response to Cultural Clampdown/PSPO consultation in Birmingham"

  • Josephine says

    In the light of the current severe cuts to music education I think it is criminal to stifle the inate musicality in so many people. Music has so many benefits to player and listener alike. And for a young musician to play to an audience is exciting and personally satisfying.

    Another benefit is that very often the proceeds are used to benefit charities. (My kids raised hundreds when they were young.)

    Moreover, street entertainers are a tradition of our English culture.

  • Yes, problems are possibly underfoot with regards the possible use of ‘new’ Anti Social Police Bill ‘control’ orders to police Birmingham city-centre ( Buskers included ). The city ‘Environmental’ Health Officer Simon Cooper is certainly pushing for their use ( ‘disproportionately ‘ so, given he’s basing his actions on complaints’ about ‘a few’ ‘non-representative’ performers )

    I was warned of this Xmas by city-centre Police, it seems now official ‘touting’ for ‘consultations’ ( with shops, retailors etc! ) have begun. Of course ‘new’ moves by Officialdom regards busking in Birmingham may demand ‘fresh’ thinking ( & activism ) by Street Performers themselves in the city.

    A point I make is that in considering busking issues in Birmingham its important to remember, there are many ways to skin a cat, & the best solutions are town ‘specific’. Please don’t be decieved on this issue the ‘dominant’ busking culture now found in places like Liverpool is a ‘perspective’ i.e. one of many ways of doing things.

    Don’t be fooled because like the codes, & schemes found all around the country, playing in this particular city has its advantages & disadvantages, depending on ‘where you’re coming from’ & what instrument you play etc.

    As I see it, the Liverpool environment most certainly favours ‘circle-acts’ & Pop Acts ( incl; ‘amplified’ SingerSongwriters/’Covers’ Singers ) over the ‘romantic’ guitarist & lone Gypsy, particularly on the High Street where even if you got there first, others would soon arrive, & once set-up, drown you out!.

    From a ‘personal’ perspective ( a bohemian ‘street’ gypsy, ‘future’ Artists point of view ) this is the kind of situation ( & prospective ‘conflict’ ) I’d like to see avoided.

    • The ‘tragedy’ in cities like Birmingham where you can currently avoid such difficulties by ‘booking’ a spot on the High Street, is that the problem has now been exasperated by ‘Street Preachers’.

      These kind of ‘Christian’ folk are people who think nothing of turning up & standing right next to you & ‘sermonising’ with a loud haler ( or PA system in the case of Moslem Preacher Activists ).

      • Even so, forget your PSPO’s, no manner of ‘artificial’ public space control in the city-centre will solve this kind of problem.

        At the end of the day, it will be good old-fashioned human communication ( & ‘negotiation’ ) involving ‘all’ parties, & including a lot of ‘religous’ goodwill ( they’re tolerated well enough! ), that will be the truly successful ( ‘peaceful’ ) harbinger of Culture, Politics & The Public Space.

  • Rembember if ‘priority’ is’nt given to the right kind of ‘inclusive’/ democratic consultation process, what we end up with is not civil justice but the public abuse of a whole creative ‘section’ of the city-centre ‘working’ community.

    • I stress again ( See elsewhere on this Blog ) it is a gross ‘civil’ wrong when individual Council ‘authority’ figures are allowed the rather ‘arbitary’ Power ( based on the ‘feedback’ of ‘a few’ shopkeepers/retailers ) to draw a ‘circle’ (ring) in what is ‘public space’ & then be able to say any ‘action’ ( such as singing a song ), that crosses that line ( that steps over ‘my’ constructed boundary ) I can now define as criminal ‘anti-social’ behaviour.

      I truly grieve the ‘potential’ loss of the kind of ‘organic’ ( eclectic! ) busking state of affairs/solutions currently at play in Birmingham. I love the ”mixed solution found in this city where on the one hand you can you can ‘book’ a spot ( protection ) or on the other you can simply turn up in other parts of the city-centre and ‘spontaneously’ perform.

      PSPO solutions are basically town-planning mis-applied & security gone mad; a post-enlightenment, social hygenists nightmare. The Streetslive Liverpool ‘come as you are’, just set up 30 or so metres from each other & everythings fine street philosophy, I find in many ways just as ‘destructive’. Does everywhere have to be the ‘Edinburgh Mile’ at August festival time?.

      • No! it certainly does’nt, we have a little bit of ‘chill out’, a touch of gypsy ‘romance’ on our High Streets from time to time? Ok please excuse my ‘romantic’ reveries ( delusions! ), culturally it may not work in a place like Liverpool ( the ‘creative’ space not to be found ) but believe me it can ( & does ) in Birmingham!.

        In an old industrial city like this one currently undergoing ‘economic’ transformation its most defintely an ‘artistic’ direction to be encouraged.

        • * Correction

          ” we ( ‘ can ‘ ) have a little bit of chill-out, Gypsy romance on our High Streets from time to time ”.

          • Of course the ‘grotesque’ irony is that the very ‘spots’ that I ( & other gypsy type musicians ) currently find most ‘suitable’ to perform in when busking in Birmimgham are the very areas most likely to be identified for ‘control’ orders ( PSPO’s ).

            So theres possible ‘scapegoating’ underfoot here as well I’d say; here we go, a further gross ‘civil’ injustice!.

          • So the future of Street Performing & ‘creative’ use of the pulic space in Birmingham is in jeoaprdy.

            A very real ‘cultural’ Chicago politic looms large & may very well take root in the city. One where existing ‘liberal’ solutions are calously overridden; and local authorities in conjunction with, in this case, the city-centre ‘busking’ mafia essentialy destroy everything & then takeover.

          • Yes, things are going in an ‘evil’ direction towards a process of self-interested enculturalisation’ & ‘minority’ social exclusion l.

            This is something that any ‘art’ lover, any ‘truly’ liberal-minded person, those who just want a ‘variety’ of decent entertainent in the city streets would want to avoid.

          • The ‘good’ folk Gypsy, the Artist Gypsy, ( ‘true’ Gypsy passion! ) thats what I personally aspire to & want to see on our streets.

          • That plus the romantic ‘visionary’ spirit of Davey Graham, ” Folk, Blues & Beyond ” – ( or Gypsy ‘Blues’ as I call it! )

          • An ‘eclectic’ mix of ‘acoustic’ blues, Romanian dance tunes, songs from South Africa & pieces by Bach. Originals plus ‘new’ arrangements of traditional songs from around the world. Back in the 1960s!.

          • However I don’t want to be seen here as making the common the mistake of idealising any ‘community’ nor individual!.

            On the one hand I’m sick of religion ( including celebrity ‘pop’ culture ) & of course many of us ( not only myself ) are well aware, that even in the case of relatively ‘benign’ groups ( where they in ‘reality’ exist! ), there are always the exceptions to the rule, there’s always the ‘bad apples’ – & in the case of ‘busking’, very noisey ‘art’ cheats, dilettantes & street rogues they can be too!.

  • In my opinion the current Busking Scheme in Birmingham ought to be ‘positively’ revised. I argue that the High Street & HSBC spots be kept as ‘booking’ slots.

    These ‘larger’ public spaces can still then be easily available for bigger acts eg. Pan Pipe Players, Marquee Acts etc to perform. ‘Booking’ a spot will allow them to avoid turning up having carting around loads of equipment to find a ‘smaller’ act has already taken the pitch. This is only fair,

    As for all ‘other’ current pitches eg Cherry Street, Victoria Square etc I state that they be retained but as ‘first come first serve’ spots. The problem here is that I’ve tried to book Cherry Street in the past to find it already taken before the alloted 9am office phoning time. This speaks of ‘favoritism’, discrimination by the city management BID office. Something which I for one a Street Performer would like to bypass.

    As for the ‘off-piste’ spots in other areas of the city, some of them no doubt ear-marked for ‘control’ orders, I argue the ‘longstanding’ ones rather than being closed down, or ‘criminalised’, that they be officially recognised ( after ‘consultation’ ) & included in the scheme.

    Note those ‘few’ Buskers who have been complained about for excessive ‘noise’ volume in these ‘tighter’ cafe spaces ought to make note , get to grips with their ‘ego’s, & make the necessary ‘mature’ adjustments.

    As for other places, & possible ‘expanding’ the scheme, I also recommend the ‘active’ finding of ‘new’ spaces eg by the old library ( near the Conservatoire ). Theres alot of building work going on here at the moment but it is an ‘adopted’ playing haunt of the Romanian Gypsies plus I successfully played in the area over Xmas.

    After some initial ‘competitive’ tension ( me getting up early at 6am in the morning to get the spot ) I managed to get on with these other performers. I love ‘good’ Gypsy culture & music; violins, accordians, romance etc so generally I find it easy to mix with these people. Any this area could be part of an ‘expanded’ and importantly ‘inclusive’ ( not overly supervised or controlled ) Birmingham Busking Scheme.

    • Oh so many ways of ‘doing’ things in Birmingham. Theres an ‘artifical’ parade ( not purposely built nor intended but ‘real’ enough ) that exists between the HSBC bank & the Rotunda/Bull ring. Now, I know this long ‘stretch’ of street, is a busking area ‘highly’ favored by the city-centres acoustic popsters, Jonny Walker Brigade, ‘streetsvolk’ et al.

      So why not creatively ‘shape’ this particular city-space ( lower New Street zone ) into Birminghams ‘Edinburgh Mile’ ( similiar to Liverpool ). Leaving the ‘top’ of New Street & its cafe’ spots, chill-out zones with an ‘officially’ recognised wider ‘gap’ between performers ( * a natural outcome too given the actuality of the town-planning map this side of town ). This would allow the ‘quieter’ ( possibly more ‘romantic’ ) acts to busk ‘freely’ ( & without interference! ) & the ‘resting’ public to be entertained in relative peace.

      • * Note

        When I talk of ‘quieter’ romantic Acts being left in peace to perform in eg. Cafe areas, I do recognise ‘the reality’ of the damage that is caused when one of the few bad apples turn up, & often go on to ‘spoil’ that location, with ‘drowning’ volume &/or poor, ‘erratic’, playing.

        When these turn up on the scene I’m a big fan of ‘spontaneous’ solutions to solve these matters.
        eg. Cafe Managers or ( their representatives ie ‘ the Waiter ‘ ) popping over & having a few words with the culprit(s) explaining the situation & if necessary asserting ” either turn down or move on! ”.

        Despite the current trend for ‘control’ orders etc, I still find this commonsense, ‘direct’ approach, the most effective for dealing with nuisance.

  • *Another Issue

    The number of times I’ve played at the ‘top’ end of New Street, Birmingham ( nr Victoria Square, The Council House ) where all the cafes & retaurants are and had a whole ‘variety’ of people; individuals, ‘couples’, families members ( moms & dads who send their kids over ) who approach me after/during performance & genuinely ‘congratulate’ me on the ‘beautiful’ music, on how great it is to hear a ‘proper’ musician on the streets for once.

    Now this is something, a very real common ‘experience’ that you can’t really capture on film. I’ve come across all sorts of busking ‘spin’ on the internet, on social media, where even quite awful people in ‘reality’ somehow mangage to make themselves ‘comparitively’ look good. The ‘reverse’ happens also where ‘fine’ musicians end up looking the worse ( * of course some ‘images’ never lie! )

    I call on Coucillors, Politicians, all ‘interested’ parties, the media & the general public plus ‘good’ Buskers to look into themselves honestly & probe for & respond only to, the ‘social’ truth on these matters.

    As a kind of once ‘cultural’ romantic ( ‘excellent’ amateur ) now ‘seriously’ aspiring Artist as Public Musician, I know that some of the best romantic classical guitar music cannot be really captured on record, it has to be witnessed, experienced through the ‘senses’ live on stage ( or alternately the ‘public’ arena where it can & does work, in not all, but many instances ).

    Unlike, hyper-brushed up, ‘squeezed’, producer ‘clean’, Pop music, this is a form of ‘evocative’ music deliberately designed for the stage ( , during the age of pre-phonography ) it was meant for real ‘live’ experience ( * of course thats why ironically poor ‘cover’ versions of pop tunes on the street, may not ‘really’ work, & as such annoy the ‘sensitive’ ears of many listeners )

    Bearing this ‘artistic’ truth in mind, before ‘decisions’ are made about such important issues as cultural policy certain Buskers, Street Performances have got to be experienced before final political judgement; not ‘artificially’ pontificated about in ‘back-door’ council committee rooms.

    • We live in a ‘media’ saturated world of ‘simulcra’ smiles, ‘designer’ fashions, dream sofas, beautiful men/women, paradise beach holidays, smart-phones & TVs. But look out of your living room window, perhaps take a step outside, & as John Berger did in his 70’s cult arts/documentary ‘ Ways Of Seeing ‘, ask yourself, ” where are these things? I don’t see them! ” (See John Berger – ‘Ways of Seeing’ YouTube )

      • ‘Beauty’, real vitalising, natural beauty, can of course be found out there, in reality ( * in the publice space ). The English romantic poets Blake, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelly testified to this in nature.

        Romantic thought today has moved on, Post-Modern humanist thinking states that the closer we get to ‘the truth’ of ourselves, the more ‘authentic’ as a person we be, the more beautiful we tend to become. Let that be ‘consistent’, our constant, our life constituency, & we indeed may acutally become ‘beautiful’!.

        • Take on board this philosophy & its true the ‘ego’ tends to drop into light ‘psychic’ relief. You feel more relaxed, more ‘confident’ in the inherant charms of the music itself. In fact the self itself quite naturally starts to step aside & you let go to ‘effortless’ flow.

          You start to come across a better person too; less abrasive, less imposing, less in other peoples face. Something that in an individual may go ‘un-noticed’, often ignored! ( repressed ), until this ‘art’ liberating moment, where members of the public, who you know at other times have stayed away, ignored you, can’t help but come up to you & congratulate you, & comment on how somehow you’ve changed, you’re different!

          Moments such as these are priceless, echoing the words of French Poet Arthur Rimbaud, in his wonderful poem ‘Dawn’ ” its too beautiful, its too beautiful! ”

  • * On Music & The High Street

    I currently live in ‘shared’ ( communal ) accomodation, a ‘rented’ property on the High Street. Directly underneath me where I live in a South Birmingham suburb is a ‘mobile’ phone shop previously an Estate Agents, & at the back a ‘working’ Restaurant.

    I’ve been living here for 4 or 5 yrs now, with every night ‘music’ reaching up from ‘downstairs’ from the Restaurant. I don’t vew this as ‘mental’ torture’ though unlike the constanty ‘mobbing’, over ‘surveilling’ etc by City-centre Wardens, Town Hosts, Public Officials etc who claim to be just doing their job & ‘policing’ Street Entertainment when I’m out publicly performing.

    No in this ‘context’ what I experience as a ‘tenant’ living above/adjacent to a High Street shop/restaurant although ‘intrusive’ is more accurately ‘percieved’ & more fairly described as ‘functional’ noise. It is in ‘reality’ a noise integral to the business & as such you rationally ‘accept’ it, percieve ( mentally ‘frame’ ) it differently & ‘filter’ it out. You then adapt to & get used to it. This is what shops, retailers, offices need to do with regards ‘busking’ in our town/city-centres. This is one of the mature ways forward in resolving the issue of ‘noise’ disturbance & ‘busking’.

    I had constant noise interference with the ‘previous’ shop underneath This time an Estate Agents with their daily ‘live’ news & TV shows broadcast by satellite from India. Now in this case the situation did get a little bit too much, what with no ‘work’ apparantly going on in the downstairs premises, just Bangla & Bollywood. I must admit this got genuinely annoying, more frustrating than the ‘intermittant’ Rap from the current ‘mobile phone shop downstairs.

    Remember, its Government policy to persuade more & more High Street Shopkeepers to let out the ‘living’ space above & for homeless ‘tenants’ to rent & move in. This ‘reality’ a bit like ‘Busking’ on the public streets can take a bit of ‘grown-up’ understanding & healthy ‘adaptation’ for both parties ( though mainly the tenant! ) for this kind of relationship to work ( Which it can & it does!. )

    However, today, if local authorities & town/city centre high street ‘vested’ interests groups eg shops, offices, retailors, are to ‘brand’ Street Performers as ‘ anti-social’ miscreants & deviants then I beseach the council to instruct the police to come & arrest all the shopkeeper/landlords , restaurants & newsagents included, on my Birmingham residential ‘suburban’ high street, as noisy ‘exploitative’ criminals.

    • * Note

      At home right now, its just approaching 7pm. Shop underneath still open, nevertheless managing to chill-out just before Channel 4 news. Listening to one of my favourite Poets, the also Composer & Dramatist Chico Buarque & his piece ‘ O Que Sera A Flor Da Pele’ ( with Milton Nascimento 1976 ). And no like the protagonists in the video, I’m not smiling!.

  • S Mumford says

    The intentions of the Council on the parameters of this law is repression, not making for peace and quiet on streets as they claim.
    The fact that it happening in several Councils in England suggests it a policy decided on by a conglomerate of senior Councillors so changing the ambiance of England’s sense of freedom – shame on them. A concession to disagreeing with the Council is to possibly disallow amplification of performance of speakers/musicians.

    An addition – that Oxford Council thinking of fining cyclists riding on ‘wrong’ roads, – what!? Ridiculous, one being, – some tourist in Oxford doing the environmental cycle thing instead of bus or taxi gets fined for riding where Oxford Council doesn’t like … then they’ll wonder why tourism drops as word passes worldwide.

    • Good points Mumford, I further stress here that the link between anti-social behaviour & ‘busking’ in Birmingham is a socio-economic ‘red-herring’. Its a ‘myth’ thats beem steadily built up & propogated recently by certain ‘strands’ in the city authority to justify the use of ‘oppressive’ measures in managing ( ‘controlling’ ! ) Street Performing.

      We all know that Environmental Officer Simon Coopers job will be made easier ( a lot cushier! ) by the introduction of PSPOs ( Public Space Protecton Orders ). Proper Liberal ( & ‘balanced’ ) justice is much too tiresome, use of the more ‘reasonable’ current powers at his disposal to resolve the ‘minority’ complaints, way too much hassle. Easier to slap an On -The -Spot penalty ( fine! ) on someone regardless of the long-term ‘negative’ social consequences, afterall in this age of austerity it may good for ( & help fill ) the Council Treasurey Coffers.

      Whats not so well known is that this is also the ‘shared’ view of longstanding Birmingham Retail BID Manager Mahendra Chaughan ie. that busking represents ‘anti-social’ behaviour in the city-centre. I spoke to him recently as he was ‘auditioning’ future town buskers by St Martins Church, when he dropped this comment into the conversation.

      Theres no ‘evidence’ to back this statement of course. Yes there have been a ‘few problems’ over the years with ‘aggressive’ beggars using busking as a ‘front’ for their activities. And there have been ‘problems’ with a couple of ‘egotists’ causing excessive noise level problems in certain locations eg. by Tescos, at the Cafe end, of New Street. But examples of actual ‘anti-social’ behaviour? Is this guy crazy? Performers such as myself ( ‘ Public Musicians ‘ ) going out to not ‘entertain’ but be anti-social? Are you insane?.

      The truth is only 2 ( or maybe 3 ) years ago the city-centre was a genuine public ‘busking’ Eden. No drinking, relatively little violence, a comparitively trouble free zone. However with the ‘redundancy’ of city Wardens & then Police taking ‘the back-foot’, open ‘bad’ aggressive begging & noisy Street Preacher issues ( not many busking problems! ) have crept back in

      I argue they have cynically been allowed to take hold in anticipation of this ‘new’ Anti-Social Behaviour & Police Bill. Interested parties like the Police & city-centre management now have the ‘ready-made’ excuses to use it, to tackle ( or should I say bludgeon out the way! ) social problems. Again ones that could easily ( & importantly more ‘fairly’ ) be resolved through simple ‘traditional’ good policing methods.

      ( *Nb. The one & half Trillion Pounds national debt nevermind 30 billion pound proposed cuts, the highest housing shortage on record with property prices due to go up 25%, and the total ‘abandonment’ of a ‘strata’ class of society to poverty & homelessness has compounded these issues of course! ).

      Now no policy in a ‘democratic’ country should be the result of the neurotic ‘control’ needs of city management, nor the laziness of council officials, nor the status & ‘prejudices’ of the police & select ‘vested’ interests . But if you examine the situation further even the underlying ‘politiks’ does’nt make sense either.

      The ‘reality’ is we live in a ‘consumer’ Capitalist Society. Now I recognise that shopping Malls like the Bull Ring, rather like any fast food chain, like to get customers in shopping & then out as quick as possible. Check the eating spots in such places, the hard & uncomfortable seats, the pushy waiters & waitresses & you can clearly see that such architectural shopping meccas are purposely designed & ‘structured’ for revolving purchases & high consumer turnover’

      However this human conveyor belt ‘principle’ does not rationally apply to the Cafe, restaruant zones of the city-centre. Where the interests of these ‘specialist’ places of leisure is to ‘attract’ people in, & keep them there as long as possible; offering genuine ‘rest’ & very real relaxing entertainent. In fact these are the areas in the city-centre where the ‘real’ community is!.

      And if you want people like this to feel replenished ( not left ‘drained’ ) after heavy bouts of shopping & to ‘return’ to the city to shop & not opt for places like Solihull, Manchester & Liverpool then the only ‘sane’ policy is for actual ‘Public Musicians’ like me to be actively encouraged, not labelled ‘anti-social’, scapegoated & then criminalised!.

  • * On How To Get Rid Of Jehovah Witnesses

    In Birmingham today, no buskers at all, just ‘Jehovahs Witnesses’ everywhere, strategically placed adjacent to every busking spot, & making what was ‘weatherwise’ a miserable day, considerably worse!.

    Heres a tip for all Street Performers on how to get rid of ‘unwanted’ Jehovah Witnesses who annoyingly approach you with their leaflets ( or on passing by, rudely dump them, in your guitar case ). Yes heres a tried & tested method to divert their ‘aggressive’ ( & psychically violent ) affront to reason, their madness.

    In fact I tried this on 2 such religious activists who approached me in Stratford upon Avon yesterday ( yes they’re there too now not just Birmingham et al ). These folk I swear are ‘triffid’s’ beamed down from another planet i.e. planet Zog! & yes they’re taking over. I stress I’m not paranoid but I’m beginning to think this is part of a wider council conspiracy to mess all us Street Performers over completely so for me its doubly important to be able to deal effectively with these monstrous weeds, these religious nuts, now dominating albeit ‘silently’ ( no amps or megaphones! ) every town & city corner with their wierd presence.

    Anyway heres the psychic ‘self -defence’ tip. Two Jehovah women came up to me offering a leaflet & talking about ‘council’ control freaks as I was setting up to busk yesterday by the River Avon. I retorted ”you’re control freaks too!”. I also stated that whilst I support full religous freedom of expression in this country I don’t believe a word/thought people like themselves espouse.

    I then dropped in the line ” heh are’nt you the cats who believe only 1200 people can get into heaven? ( they replied yes giving the actual qualified number ). I then put the question ” Well how many members do you actually have at present ? ( they both replied rather proudly ” 8 million worldwide! ”. I then retorted ” In that case don’t you think you’re a little oversubscribed? ” ( at point I walked away to carry on setting up leaving them a little dumbfounded & bemused, the stupid ‘b…..s’! ).

    They too then walked off, attempted to hand out leaflets to members of the public by the bridge at the side of the ‘official’ busking spot where I was situated however as I began playing, & them getting little positive response from harrassed passersbye they eventually cleared out of the area altogether!.

    • * Analysis

      So what ‘motivates’ people to become Street Preachers? Where does the urge to go out into our town/city centres and shout ‘fire & brimstone’ into the passing ears of the general public ‘truly’ spring from?

      Well I think Writer and American civil rights activist James Baldwin provides ‘the key’ explanation ( & its not the ‘gospels’! ). Check it out, because eloquently expressed it is, in his classic ‘autobiographical’ novel, ‘ Go Tell It To The Mountain ‘.

      Basically all this aggressive posturing & ‘megaphoning’ religous sermons out loud in our public spaces is really just a relatively simple form of psychological ‘projection’, or in other words, these ‘raging’ individuals are really just ‘angry’ with ‘themselves’!.

      Baldwin should know because his book is based on his real life experience of being raised the step-son of a Baptist Preacher, including his own actual ‘active’ participation as a boy ‘genius’ church sermoniser during his early teens.

      James himself came to view Christianity as ‘falsely’ premised, reflecting that ” being in the pulpit was like being in the theatre; I was behind the scenes and I knew how the illusion worked ”. His step-father however remained an ‘abusive’ & hypocritical parental figure.

      In the individual of case his Preacher step-father, here was a guy wracked by the personal guilt of his own ‘adulturerous’ affairs, a ‘negative’ emotion that came out in church and was very much the psychic undercurrent to many of his extremely ‘violent’ sermons.

      The lesson here? No doubt if you were to examine the life backgrounds of many of the Street Preachers you see parading up & down our city/town streets you would find a very similar story! Rage on the streets being really a rage at themselves, a very ‘real’ anger at their ‘own’ pathetic lives & weaknesses.

  • * Public Ear Test

    Went out on a little ‘walk’ around Birmingham the other day, conducted my own little ‘ear test’ to see if indeed there was what could be called a busking ‘noise’ nuisance going on that particular day.

    The truth is ( similar to other recent ‘occasional’ visits to the city-centre ) I personally witnessed ( other than one Street Preacher! ) only 2 sources of very loud sound.

    1. A loud Trumpeter sound coming from the vicinity of the top of New Street ( Victoria Square nr The Lord Mayors Office/Council House). This puts pay to the idea ( the myth! ) that ‘amplifcation’ is a ‘key’ busking problem. No its ‘irresponsible’ individual volume levels that are the issue. The ‘acoustic’ Trumpet is much more voluminous than say an ‘amplified’ Classical Guitar ( a delicate instrument that needs a ‘touch’ of sound reinforcement to be heard above the city din! ). Its also much more of an ‘irritating’ sound when out of control, & used in such a way that it ends up ‘dominating’ the surroundings.

    2. A ‘Sky’ TV Promotions Van on the High Street. By far the loudest ‘amplified’ sound I’ve heard in public to date. Even louder than the Andean Pipes Players big PA Set-Up, louder than Pop acoustic ‘duo’s singers etc. Approaching this acoustically mega-boosted ‘marketing’ mix reminded me of whats is like when you finally enter the ‘gates’ at Glastonbury and come face to face with the ‘Pyramid’ Stage ( I speaking here of back in the day of course, back in the day!, you don’t find peoplel like me in this kind of ‘cultural’ festival arena anymore ).

    • * On Confidence Trickery & The Streets

      Of course, what really annoys people ( the public! ), really gets to them ( I’ve spoken to several on this issue ) is loudness plus ‘incompentence’ when it comes to judging ( positively or negatively ) Buskers. High volume in itself is often not the problem in many folks eyes, only when its combined with ‘arrogance’ ( or at times a kind of con ‘criminality’ ).

      Its when the performer stands there ‘ heh look at me! ‘ or blindly attempts ( wilfully so! ) to force upon others their sound yet they’re clearly crap, that gets the passersbye agitated!. People detest this, hate it even, you see, know one wants to be taken for a sucker!. Somebody doodling on a Trumpet yet expecting money from others is viewed as an annoying Hustler, someone trashing away at an acoustic guitar through a 25watt amp is simple seen as a ‘Dickhead’ to be ‘booed’. ( *Nb. Nobody minds the honest tryer, or the tongue in cheek entertainer, they can be a laugh & everyone has to start from somewhere & that in ‘reality is often, below average! )

      Thats why many peoples pet hate is for ‘door- to-door’ Evangelist, religous groups, like the Jehovahs Witnesses. Its their ‘feigned’ superiority they so dislike. It really gets up peoples noses when clearly percieved ‘street’ religious crazies, dressed up in their Sunday Best try to use ( manipulate! ) there squeaky cleanness as a ‘rhetorical’ weapon . The ‘People’ are not stupid, they are well aware that you may look smart, but your arguments certainly are’nt; Donny Osmond may look as though butter would’nt melt in his mouth but he’s not the best, nor most ‘talented’ Popster on the block, no Michael Jackson is.

      Speaking of Snake Oil salesmen, Medicine Shows & all things street ‘stage’ chicanery, I know theres some ‘confidence’ Trickster out there somewhere, busy writing ‘a blog’ right now, titled, ‘The Will and The Way: How to Magically turn a Penny into a Pound, a Pound into Ten Pounds, Ten Into One Hundred'( plus tips for Buskers on how to turn water into wine, advice on how to break bread on the hoof! ). Who knows it may get turned into a book, it may become a ‘bestseller’!, someones going to buy it, whats that old adage again? Oh yeah!, theres a Sucker born every minute!.

      • * On Human Love

        I guess the grossest ‘conceit’ concerning so-called Street Preachers of the kind you find in city-centres like Birmingham, the greatest ‘irony’ if the ‘Gospels’ as we know them are indeed a message of ‘Love’, is that those who claim to be out in our public spaces spreading it , are in fact those very kind of person least capable of it ie. the very type of ‘neurotic’ indvidual who is quite unable to feel the deep kind of empathetic ‘goodwill’, necessary for such beneficient emotion, to flower amongst us as humans.

        In fact, most people know that theres no need to publicly preach love in the first place, its already out there, if only you would search, remain open to & recieve it. Look around you, and you see it & feel its ‘human’ presence everywhere albeit interestly ‘one-way’ & by that I mean from the general public towards the Preachers ( not the other way around! ), in the form of deep tolerance ( & much understanding! ) of some quite bizarre, annoying, crazily ignorant & at times malicously ‘interfering’ & ill-mannered behaviour.

        • I have seen the glory of & I stand in witness to the power of the ‘Public’ Love!.

          • Please try not ‘exploit’ it. If you do , ultimately you maybe doing so, at your own peril!.

          • The ‘higher’ truth is its better ‘earned’ ( not manipulated! ) & certainly not taken for granted!.

  • *On The Preachers of the Apocalypse ( The ‘nicest’ guys in town! )

    Its funny but true, the nicest Street Preachers in town, the most ‘civil’, well-mannered & importantly ‘busking’ friendly evangelist group, operating in the New Street ( Cafe area! ) of Birmingham city-centre ( *Nb also the haunt of the Scientologists ) are the ones carrying the most destructive, apocalyptic, doom-laden, Christian ‘eschatalogical’ message.

    Led by a German Guy ( I forget his name which I aplogise for cos’ he’s the most pleasant of persons ), I think associated with Birmingham Mission ( thou’ don’t quote me here his could be an ‘independant’ sect ), their ” end of the world ” mission statement, is clothed in the most delicate garment of pleasantries.

    As a Busker in this area of the city ( critical of many Street Preachers who can ‘destructively’ turn up in the vicinity ), I actually enjoy working alongside these particular folk, & I find they’re fine with me!. Its their ‘old-school’ Hyde Park style preaching methods that fascinate me & which I very much like & I indeed embrace with open arms! ( I think many members of the public do too, because when they finally switch from ‘nice-guy’ to ‘preaching mode’, they go onto publicly speak naturally & ‘acoustically’, with a small crowd of followers gathered in front, which means from a ‘pragmatic’ public/passerbye point of view they’re easy to ‘navigate’ around.

    Sadly, as a result of the ‘poor’ council decision to locate the ‘new’ ( newly designed & built! ) Public Library ( a ‘development’ costing millions & already faced with staff redundancies & reduced ‘opening’ hours’! ) at the Broad Street/Night Club Entertainment side of town, rather than adjacent to Aston University/The Think Tank Museum/& the new New York style ‘landscaped’ Park on the South/East side, Birmingham has missed the opportunity of having its own London style Hyde Park Corner, & ‘democratically’ thinking ( in the interests of ‘free’ speech etc) what a missed opportunity that was. I personally would have loved to have got involved , grabbed the chance to get on ‘my’ own soapbox, & eagerly taken part in debates myself.

    • * The Spiritual Truth

      City centre ‘evangelists’ providing a message of ‘peace’ & ‘love’ – ha! ha! ha!. Truth is Street Preachers and the like bring their own particular brand of civic ‘chaos’ to our public spaces.

      The public are not deceived either, knowing that these strong, capable & driven souls ( I laugh! ), are in reality like many of the attendess of todays typical ‘business’ seminar, i.e. a group of ‘needy’ & gullible people simply gotten ‘high’ on what is below the surface ’empty’ motivational hype!”.

      The solution ( the best public response ) again remains a classic ‘liberal’ one i.e. ‘tolerance’ ( in the interests of wider social ‘function’! ) combined with a curbing of ‘dangerous’ excesses, if & when they arise. This of course can be achieved through a form of good ‘social’ refereeing – now that is the ‘ideal’ liberal state!.

      • Obviously the other ‘key’ solution to resolving much of the ‘petty’ civil strife that does beset our towns & city centres is simply to become ( put more individual effort into & make great strides to becoming ) more ‘reasonable’ humanbeings!.

  • * The First Busking Martyr

    I note Birmingham Busker Tony Scott has stated that he’s willing to go to prision if the Council go ahead with Environmental Officer Simon Coopers reccommendations & introduce PSPOs ( Public Space Protecton Orders ) & ban the use of ‘amplificaton’ in the city centre.

    As a Busker myself ( playing a set of ‘authentic’ cafe guitar on Classical Guitar ) I’m very concerned about the ‘serious’ long-term social/cultural damage such a ‘draconian’ measure will cause. Not only will 100’s lose their jobs, the ‘over-restrictive’ proposal is an affront to ‘justice i.e. quite un-necessary & unfair to the more ‘concientious’ professional-like Street Performers who actually do ‘good’ work genuinely ‘entertaining’ shoppers & ‘today’ Tourists in Birmingham city-centre.

    Interesting that its Tony Scott who is talking about making the ultimate sacrifice & becoming perhaps the countrys first ‘Busking Martyr’ by ‘defying’ authorities & willing to be ‘jailed’ if the council do go the way of ‘new’ anti-social behaviour orders to control nuisance busking. What stands out here concerning Scotts position on this issue is that it is also ‘morally’ absurd ( & quite hypocritial ) given that he is one of the few Buskers regulary cited as being a key source of ‘busking’ noise nuisance in Birmingham eg. always playing at excessively high volume levels in certain ‘sensitive’ areas ).

    In fairly recent meeting with Police, The Environmental Officer, buskers & other ‘interested’ parties this issue was raised & supposedly ‘honourably’ resolved yet the problem in the area in question ( many ‘complaints’ about Scott coming from a Hotel nearby ) seemingly rather arrogantly, dismissed & brashly carries on.

    Of course all this plays into the game ( & ‘hidden’ agenda ) of ‘new’ organisations like Streetslive.org founded by Liverpools very own Street Evangilist Jonny Walker. I’ve been following the ‘antics’ of this organisation for a while now & observing how the ‘ambitions’ of this group led by this Church of Englands Vicars son Englands Vicars Son & long-time ‘Street Entertainer’ actually do un-ravel.

    Jonny you claim you’re building a ‘national’ movement, but what I’ve witnessed in reality is how your strategy is not to ‘truly’ link with the wider populaton of Street Performers & Artists and work around relatively successful ‘existing’ schemes , but to more to forge relations with the likes of Tony Scott ( the most complained about Buskers in towns ), support them, provoke a ‘backlash’ from authorities ( certainly getting a response from the ‘puritianical ‘extreme who would like to see all ‘city-centre’ entertainment activity banned!) & then take advantage of the ensuing chaos, claiming to have a more ‘superior’ brand of scheme ready at hand, to save the day eg your Liverpool, York good practice guide ( a set of busking platitudes taken from elsewhere & ‘blatantly’ stitched together )

    Yes its an interesting but ‘cynical’ game played by you Jonny & the likes of Tony Scott & the more ‘medieval’ reactonary type of ‘civic’ authority we still have in key positions of power & influence in this country. I particulary don’t like the vicious & spiteful methods you employ in underminding dissent too. You’ve been associated with campaigns to blatantly throw dirt on ‘other’ peoples character, here I’m thinking of the case of Jes Broun of Bath Buskers & in a particulary malicious & spiteful way the way ‘you’ve’ dissed myself too.

    Ok like a notorious band of thieves you stand to get a lot of public attention from this & your names are guaranteed to get in the papers. But Its also a very ‘risky’ & dangerous set of ‘manouvres’ that one day may well back-fire, especially if some of these kinds of ‘control order ‘were to go through & those 100s I talk of above do actually end up losing their jobs.

    • * On BIDS ( Business Improvement Districts )

      As far as City Centre Retailors ( & Property Devolopers ) go, though very important ‘voices’ in issues such as this, I don’t think they should be the main forces determining the ‘popular’ use of Public Space in our towns/city centres.

      No ‘The General Public’ have a stake here too as ‘consumers’ and enjoyers of Street Entertainment etc when they go out shopping. The danger here is that this part of ‘the democratic equation’ is getting all too often overlooked in civic management affairs & this is in part to do with a built-in ‘bias’ in relation to how BID Structures work with regards ‘special’ interests & town/city management.

      What most people ( ordinary folk ) don’t realise is that the council do not ‘directly’ control or generally ‘license’ busking this is left to so called BID organisations who are funded not by the taxpayer but by a special ‘levy’ on Shopkeepers & retailers. As such what happens in ‘reality’, & the key problem with this kind of ‘civic’ arrangement, is that when it comes to dealing with the ‘issues’ of the street ( incl. Busking, Street Art etc ) these ‘interested’ parties end up with a disproportionate amount of say ( i.e. of power ).

      Of course established city/town centre business power can/ may be ‘benevolant’ ( echoes of the benevolant ‘dictatorships’ of the Roman Empire here! ) however as I’ve personally experienced they may also give birth to a ‘bastard’ son & produce their very own ‘tyrant’ Caligula. Not a good state of affairs & the very kind of nasty, unjust political situation ( public tyranny ) that ‘constitutional’ philosophies like Democracy were invented, socially ‘designed’, to avoid ( & importantly get ‘rid of’ without ‘bloodshed’, or not much of it anyhows! ).

      In this context, & to avoid the obvious inherant created unfairnesses here, its very important that ‘consultations’ such as the one proposed to ‘ban’ amplification in Birmingham city-centre, to be seen as valid, are very much ‘public’ ones & under the full ‘scrutiny’ of the good press ( & media ). Only then can all the ‘subtleties’ ( moral! ) come out & the future genuine public good be achieved.

      Theres one such subtlety I’d like to raise here. For example, I strongly believe that when Property Developers decide to build in ‘city-centres’ like Birmingham eg Luxury Flats etc, that the onus is very much put on them to ‘work-around’ existing establised Public Culture eg. Street Art & Entertainment & not the other way round. So when it comes to managing eg. noise nuisance etc, while ‘egotistical’ busking justifiably should be ‘challenged’ especially when excessively loud noise levels effect shops & trade in the vicinity, actual ‘new’ city-centre apartments ought to be protected & fitted out with the latest ‘sound-proofing’ technology, too!. This is a very ‘reasonable’ responsibilty for Property Developers, Landlords & Estate Agents to take on board given the ‘reality’ of life in our busy & yes ‘noisy’ city-centres

      In other words the hugely ‘profit’ making building companies & developers should do their bit to regarding improving Public Space & quality of life. Also remember that whilst I have ‘witnessed’ the existence of ‘unnecessary’ loud Buskers eg in the Tesco area of New Street & ‘residential’ flats above, I’ve also experienced ‘loud’ dance music, rock music etc, projected from record/Cd/Mp3 players coming from the flats ( apartment living rooms ) above.

  • * Easy Targets ( Moslem Brothers )

    I’ve heard it again & again, & I believe it to be true that Buskers are basically ‘easy’ targets politically, particularly the few ‘good’ ones out there, & even more so the ‘conscientious’ ones.

    I used to play ‘regularly’ in Birmingham ( though not so much, if at all today ), not just the Cafe areas but the ‘larger’ spaces such as the High Street ( by the Bull Ring ). Despite being on the ‘bigger’ spot usually occupied by the larger, ‘louder’ Street Performing outfits eg Andean Pan Pipe Players etc, surprisingly I did very well, extraordinarily so!.

    Performing a set of ‘popular’ Classical Guitar did wonders, it was amazing how many passersbye, members of the public would come up to me & mention the ‘beautiful’ music, the nice sound & what a pleasant change from the usual ‘loud’ pop rubbish etc.

    Despite all this praise, one person though took an ‘instant’ dislike to me on seeing the attention I was getting from various ‘sections’ of the public. That was the obviously ‘envious’ Manager from the mega-computer store ‘Blacks’ situated on the same stretch of street. Within a ‘few’ weeks of seeing my ‘busking’ success he took to placing ‘mini’ ( but loud! ) speakers outside the shop doors so as to ‘drown’ me out with ‘dance’ music ( or should I say dance ‘musak’! ).

    I’ve since stopped playing in that area, the High Street & what I clearly see now is that The Manager at Blacks, was not only envious of me, but is clearly a ‘coward’ ( evidently so! ) . I say this noticing that he does not place ‘speakers’ outside his shop to disturb the ‘Moslem Activists’ who now frequent the area, playing Islamic tapes through a larger PA, a few doors down opposite Marks & Spencers.

    I really like seeing the Moslem brothers on the streets in town, to me they offer a ‘refreshing’ antidote to the Christian crazies who tend to ‘dominate’ the place with their ‘street’ rants, & loudspeakers. Ok I do question the use of ‘pre-recorded’ tapes on the street since they do run counter to the public spirit of supporting ‘live’ entertaiment in the public space ( eg. ‘live’ musicians are better than DJs ), however what the ‘brothers’ do is no different from the practice by shopping/civic ‘managers’ of blurting out ‘outdoors’ musak, through ‘positioned’ speakers, in the ‘smaller’ shopping squares like the City Plaza.

    Now again I feel compelled to ‘openly’ state here where I differ with Jonny Walker with respect to Islam & various issues concerning moslem/arabic/national culture & for example the Middle East Question. For example, I note during Israels most recent foray ( ‘war’! ) into the Gaza Strip last year ( Aug/Sept 2014 ) Walker described Hamas as ‘enemies of peace’ & the creation of Israel ‘a moral imperative’ on his Twitter page. Frankly I was shocked by such an ignorant outburst, such ‘bias’, & downright ‘nonsense’ with regards this crisis & his attitude towards Palestine & Palestinians.

    Noam Chomsky ( Linguist & Public Intellectual ) & importantly himself a Jew, points more accurately toward the truth, by stating how ‘Zionism’ as an ‘ideology’ existed well before the 2nd world war ( & Hitler & Nazisim ) representing a particular ‘religous’ ‘nationalist’ ideology held by a ‘significant’ many but not by any means all Jews,included himself. The truth is theres nothing ‘imperative’ about the creation of the Jewish State of Israel, to believe so would be to be mis-led. For Jews ( secular ) like Chomsky the ‘just’ answer always lay in the existence of a ‘Bi-National’ State called Palestine where Arab & Jew could live happily together.

    Christopher Hitchens writer & critic ( again himself of ‘Jewish’ origin ) & another well known commentator on the Middle East Question, goes further by stating that Zionism is in fact ” an ethno-nationalist, quasi-religious ideology….. an appallingly ‘racist’ and messianic delusion ”. This completely calls to question Rabbi Andrew Sachs recent statement that as process solution Moslems ought to see the situation of Israel through Jewish eyes. The truth is they don’t need to see it throught there ‘eyes’ at all, all ‘reason’ requires is that the common-sense individual realise that the justification of Israel based on Biblical Authority is by ‘modern’ ( up to date ) historical & scientific evidence not just ‘suspect’ but utter nonsense.

    What really surprised me thugh about Jonny was not only his ( your! ) exremely ‘prejudical’ views on this subject but ‘excuses’ ( after being challenged by other Twitter writers ) for them eg. ” What do you expect from a guy who was educated at an American right-wing religious School? etc ” ( para-phrase ).

    Well that explains it then Jonny, your prejudices towards Moslems & Palestinians, your quite outragous views on police ‘paedophile’ investigations eg. on Cliff Richards ‘abuse’ investigation, calling it a ‘moral-panic’ against Christians & that the police should forget the past & focus on the present – a shameful response I say ( an act of Catholic Church type ‘cronyism’ !) ), especially given the ‘reality’ of the Rotherham Case that arose a few weeks later eg. where it turns out that 1000’s of sex abuse cases had gone un-investigated by Police.

    It also explains your ‘Fabian’ Socialist ‘Eugenics’ style language in describing Liverpool as ” a city of mongrels! ”. All these ‘knee-jerk’ viewpoints are explained by the fact that you yourself attended, was educated at, & no doubt Jesus Cult ‘programmed’ by the Western American ‘Christian’ equivalent of a Pakistani Madrassa.

    • * ‘Live’ Sutras!

      On the subject of ‘live’ preaching v ‘pre-recorded’ tapes in the city-centre , I think I’d prefer to hear the Islamic ‘Sutras’ for example, recited ‘live’, that would be much more religously ‘authentic’ for people & of course more spiritually entertaining.

  • PSPO’s ( a gross injustice )

    The use of ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ ( PSPO’s ) involving general ban’s on ‘amplification’ for busking in the city-centre is the ‘worst’ measure Council Authorites ( i.e.Simon Cooper Environmental Health Officer ) could introduce to control noise nuisance, if for no other reason than it would create the grossest kind of ‘social injustice’. Why should relatively good, more ‘conscientious’ Street Performers pay a penalty ( lose their jobs! ) because of the bad behaviour of a small minority.

    The only fair way to control problems such as unreasonable excessively loud volume in certain areas is through means that emphasise individual responsibility & accountabily. The ‘new’ Anti-Social Behaviour & Policing Bill provides those ‘tool’s in the form of CPOs wherebye the ‘few’ persistant ‘noise’ offenders that ‘do’ exist could be targeted by control orders not the ‘innocent’ many.

    I call on Simon Cooper to not be lazy nor play politics with this issue, livelihoods are at stake, do the ‘right thing’, & make the culpible responsible not the honest StreetPerformer who is genuinely out there to ‘entertain’ the many!.

    • * Future Protests ( Join in & blow your Trumpet!)

      If the worst does come to the worst and Simon Cooper gets to introduce his proposed ‘bans’ ( *I know thats his express intention, this ‘consulation’ business is a bit of a ‘front’, a sham, because I’ve been informed through the grapevine that he’s been visiting Police Stations drumming up support for his proposal, which ‘tellingly’ many individual Police, I’ve spoken too don’t back ) then any ‘future’ organised protests against such a measure would be a great opportunity to highlight the ‘absurdity’ ( & plain untruth! myth!) that ‘amplifcation’ in itself is the problem.

      I suggest that ‘protest’ groups instead of using the ‘kazoo’ as the main protest instrument ( See Camden Protests ), that everyone takes up & learns to blow ‘a trumpet’ & then actively uses this naturally ‘acousticly’ most powerful of instruments on the actual day of protest. I think this would be a great, most effective way to get ‘the protest message’ over to the public ‘ loud & clear’!.

      • * Stipulation

        Of course one important ‘stipulation’ ( or condition ) before targeting & ‘banning’ anyone, is that the supposed ‘noise’ nuisance is accurately established first ( i.e. no ‘scapegoating’ should go on here! )

        You see sometimes the problem is’nt just loudness, it can be other ‘annoying’ things such as the supposed Street Musican having over time finally ‘driven’ an otherwise ‘tolerant’ city-centre quarter mad with the same ‘tune’ he’s being playing the last 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, no 15 years.

        Note, this is no exaggeration, one ‘regular’ Street Performer is accused of actually doing this, driving the local vicinity to ‘distraction’ with his ‘repertoire’ of ‘4’ tunes plus gimmik ‘nodding dog’ ( or is it a toy drummer? )

  • * Busking Tragedies

    The great tragedy about the Street Performer who stands accused of driving city-centre locals mad by playing the ‘same tune’ for the last 10 or so years, is that ‘I know’ he is an ‘intelligent’ guy, he went to Trinity Music College & therefore is most definitely potentially a ‘good’ ( perhaps excellent ) musician, he could have been Birminghams John Coltrane ( still could be! ).

    What went wrong I don’t know, why he consistenly behaves like some kind of ‘juvenile’ street Gangster, aggressively protecting what is a ‘public’ space, like his own ‘corner’ I don’t know. I’ve turned up on the space eg. Tescos/Cafe Nero New Street & despite being there first, had to face this guys ‘unreasonable’ tantrums, as he jumps out of a ‘taxi’ ( ‘late’ in the morning ) shouting & bawling thats this is ‘his’ space, & threatening all & sundry.

    He loses in the end, cos’ when Police turn up , he ends up ‘moved on’, having had ‘several’ previous warnings it seems. I end up ‘rationally’ tackling the issue by offering to pass the spot on later that afternoon, which he accepts. Why not behave ‘civilly’ like this in the first place ie. by learning to ‘share’ the public space, out of ‘common’ interests, out of ‘reason’, & therefore creating a ‘win-win’ situation!.

    Its the same with Tony Scott, if only he could learn to ‘control’ his ego, not take things so defensively, smooth out his ‘strumming’ style, turn down a little, & use his ‘natural’ personality to project himself, he could be one of Birminghams ‘Great’ Busking Characters, not the busking asshole he comes across to me & many other people.

    His linking up with ‘others’ to ‘control’ & dominate public space, practicing a cynical busking ‘cronyism’ by mobile telephone, certainly does’nt score any ‘personal’ points & neither does turning up in other towns, flouting the ‘reasonable’ existing codes ( involving rationally & ‘civilly’ sharing spots ), & when challenged by authorities eg. Town Hosts, Police ( as they ‘inevitably’ turn up on the scene ) begin infantiley ‘hysterically’ acting out, accusing them of ‘favouring’ me, viciously stating that ‘everyone’ hates me in Birmingham & then later to spitefully ( & hypocritically !) begin an ‘online’ smear campaign,malicously accusing ‘me’ of being a bully!. Yes, displaying a particularly nasty form of psychological projection/violence!. The ‘reality’? Hes the bully not me!.

    The truth is in the ‘long-term’, rather than helping themselves in any way, these 2 ‘regular’ Birmingham Buskers ‘destructive’ behaviour ends up only hurting themselves ( & other innocents too ) , playing into the hands of ‘authorities’ like Simon Copper, who can use their ‘negative’ busking antics as an excuse to shut down Street Performing altogether. ( Ever thought why the Trumpeter who regularly ‘doodles’ by the Council House under the City Mayors office is’nt dealt with? A. He helps build ‘resentment’ amongst the Public which then can be used against Buskers in general. A common ‘cynical’ political ploy! )

    Its the same with you Walker at Streetslive, your ‘strategy’ of supporting such Buskers ( ‘un-critically’ ) does’nt help in any way , it just brings ‘you’ ( your judgement ) & your organisation into ‘disrepute’, leaving ‘you’ open to ‘ridicule’ by the many victims ( ‘just’ complainers ) of these other twos’, ‘negative’ busking behaviour.

    I say its time to stop this, its time to reflect, face-up to & simply ‘grow-up’. The time is now to move on & forward & genuinely ( ‘seriously’ ) develop artistically, busking-wise, to become true Public Musicians ( & Entertainers )!. Please be confident, you’ve truly got what it takes, so realise it!.

    • * On Busking Fairplay

      Talking about busking ‘fairplay’!, I recall how last Xmas on Birminghams German Market – which this year had an ‘open’ policy towards buskers which I’m very grateful for – I had to be up ‘extra’ early & securing a spot at 6am in the morning only to find myself ‘pincered’ by late arriving Romanian Performers & deliberately ‘drowned-out’ by Trumpet & Sax & Accordian etc.

      In this kind of cirmumsatance ( & ‘competitive’ condition ) it was only fair that I as a ‘solo’ guitarist using nylon string Classical Guitar to play ‘traditional’ Xmas Tunes had the right to use an ‘amp’ to boost my sound ( without which there is no way I could have been heard ! ).

      It was this ‘touch of’ sound reinforcement that provided me with the only chance to compete with the ‘ultra’ loud 10-piece Romanian Brass Band ( 4 Trumpets ) that had ‘travelled’ in to perform on the market every day.

      • * On Busking & Begging

        Again, again & again I’ve seen ‘busking’ used as ‘a front’ for begging. Q.The ‘solution’ ? A. Either do the hard work ‘practice’ & become a proper Public Musician, Get a job, or simply just ‘Beg’ ( without causing a nuisance! ).

        Note there may have to be an ‘educated’ shift in attitudes & a ‘higer’ level of public consciousness for this solution to work. And most importantly for all our ‘quality of life’ in the public space ( urban town & city-centre ) to be preserved ( or better still improved! ).

        • An existing & ‘growing’ culture of ‘mediocrity’ ( social, artistic ) on our streets has also got to be bravely confronted & ‘actively’ challenged.

          Wherebye Performers are ‘truly’ encouraged to start believing in themselves & the public space ( together with public backing ) seen as a ‘real’ opportunity for personal, artistic & ‘social’ growth ( emphasis on ‘moral’ responsibility not merely making friends! )

          • * A Case Study ( Cry for help? )

            Consider the case of the ‘lone’ Trumpeter ( ‘extended’ family adrift ) who regularly performs ( ‘busks’ ) in Birminghams Victoria Square, adjacent to the Council House, directly under the Lord Mayors Office window.

            Now this guy gets a fair amount of ‘public’ criticism what with his ‘erratic’ instrumental doodling, an ‘irritating’ sound that ‘loudly’ carries & for many annoyingly ‘dominates’ the otherwise pleasant ‘civic’ surroundings & public square setting.

            Now, I’ve met ( & referred to ) this guy before, he’s the one who tried to ‘drown’ me out with his Trumpet very last Xmas, on the German Market. ( * I cite him as another example of a Busker who has ‘wrongly’ come to believe, that the public ‘spot’ he likes to perform in, is in fact a space he ‘owns’!. )

            I don’t allow myself to get too upset by such ‘rapaciousness’ though. In fact, after a little ‘reflecton, I begin to feel quite sorry for this ‘middle-aged’ rogue & interpret his ‘antic’s for what they pitifully really are i.e. ‘ a cry for help! ‘.

            What this blessed unfortunate really needs ( & I would argue is ‘deserved’ of! ) are benefits, ‘support’, training & a job!. I’ve heard the nearbye Macdonalds are looking for someone right now eg. a Janitor.

            Good money too!, a basic pay of £6.50 hr ( min wage ) , plus a ‘bonus’ of £1.00 making it £7.50hr, if you wipe the tables & clean the toilet floors while ‘whistling a tune’!.

          • Of course in this context no need to throw away what ‘expressive’ powers you do have. Surely this is a human right!.

            So why not then earn some ‘extra’ cash by doing some actual ‘busking’ in the ‘evening’ ( on days off! ) when your presence would be a little less unwelcome & for many ( Public & Council ) a lot more entertaining.

          • And why not ‘us’ ( English Society ) generously allow him to do so!.

  • * Shelley & Byron In Venice

    ‘ Shelly joined Byron in Venice, the 2 poets walk together, ride together, talk together. One evening seated in a Gondola, Shelley & Byron pass in front of a lunatic asylum just as a bell is calling the inmates to prayer.

    The one says to the other,

    ” Does’nt this seem to you that this is the spectacle of our life, conscience is the bell calling us to virtue, like these madmen we obey without knowing why. Then the sun sets, the bell stops and death comes……..” ‘.
    ( from the Romantic Spirit,1982 TV Series )

    • I’m reminded of these lines as I watch the YouTube Video ‘ Florence – lovely Classical Guitar ‘ & lovely it is too!. In fact a ‘continental’ model I would say, this ‘street’ rendition.

      A fine example of what this beautiful instrument can ‘do’, in terms of ‘enhancing’ the most beautiful of city architectural spaces, & all just with the little help of ‘ an amp ‘!.
      ( See ‘Florence – lovely classical guitar’, YouTube )

  • * Rousseau ( & the price of freedom )

    It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau who famously said ” Man is Born Free But Everywhere He Is In Chains ”. I’ve been thinking about this historically important statement on ‘natural’ Human Freedom in conjunction with that other wise adage pertaining to how some folk ‘ know the price of everything but the value of nothing’.

    Inevitabley ( magically! ) imagination & ‘genius’ combined to shed its own light on these 2 provocative ( & challenging ) ‘moral’ perspectives, begging the more ‘practical’ question Q Is there a price to ‘freedom’? & If so what is that price?.The answer that emerged was just as telling ( again in the very human sense! ) i.e. even if the ‘individual’ were to have ‘insight’ on this matter, once illuminated with the ‘hard’ truth, would they indeed be able or more importantly ‘willing’, to carry it out?.

    In other words some ‘individuals’ appear to know the value of some things eg freedom, but not its price, or at least if in all honesty they are aware of ‘the cost’, they’re certainly not compelled to act it out i.e. ‘to pay’ that price!.

    • * Streetslive.org ( & The price of Street Campaigning )

      Concerning Jonny Walker ( Streetslive.org ) etc there are many things with which I disagree with eg. the ‘casuistry’ by which he dismisses the issue of ‘noise’ nuisance as merely ‘subjective’.

      One commentator ( ‘friend’ ) on his Twitter/’face-book’ page rather cleverly illuminates the ‘absurdity’ of this kind of position ( sophistry!) by asking, ‘ well then Jonny if ‘noise’ interference is merely subjective then how come the other day busking in Sheffield you had to move to a ‘pitch’ 300metres away from the Andean Pipe Players ( & 250 watts PA system ) who had arrived earlier & taken your ‘favourite’ spot .

      However there are things for which I respect Jonny, ‘Streetslive’ ( & its board, the Walker Family!) i.e. the willingness to pay the price, do the work, & ‘self’ finance their social activism by setting up websites/blogs such as this one & ‘actively’ leading/supporting what could turn out to be some ‘priceless’ public protest.

      I only wished they’d use their ‘substantial’ resources more ‘democratically’ & nobley ie. transcending what clearly is an individual/family centred, ‘evangelist’ Christian sub/’hidden’ agenda. Which they claim they do, ( citing 2 organisations at play here eg Streetslive.org plus the ASAP ).

      In all truth though, what I rather ‘sadly’ see is happening here, is StreetPerforming constantly ( cleverly ) being used as ‘ a ‘front’ to ‘smuggle’ in a ‘fundamentalist’ Christian agenda ( See Board Advisor Dr Haydon Rodger Mitchell on ‘Kenarchy’ ). You know I’d have a lot more respect for your endeavor if you just ‘came-out’ & re-named yourselves the Christian Association of Street Artists & Performers ( CASAP ).

      Having said that where our interests ‘overlap’ they overlap, for me thats the ‘pragmatic’ political reality & its in that spirit that I am willing on some issues to protest alongside you ( or if & when necessary, at least, ‘parallel’ to you! ). Bon Viveur!.

      • * Fellow Sympathies ( ‘concrete’ differences )

        In Birmingham you’d have to ‘pitch’ up the other side of town to avoid a ‘high’ volume ( stadium level! ) ‘drowning’ by the Sky TV ‘Promo’ Van situated by the Bull Ring!.

        • * Reasonable Human Beings ( & Authority )

          One things for sure in our 21st Century ‘Modern’ Society, having Dr Haydon Rodger Mitchell or for that matter your ‘father’ Rev John H Walker on your wings, gives you neither legitemacy nor ‘authority’. It takes a broad collection of ‘reasonable’ ( thoughtful ) human beings for that & most importantly it takes men & women of ‘experience’.

          • And when it comes to achieving status ( & respect ) with regards ‘steet’ style negotiation(s) you could do with a few natural born ‘diplomats’ on the team too!.

          • * The Liberal Minority

            And don’t forget the ‘liberal’ minority – whatever ‘organised’ centre there is out there, remember that in any ‘serious’ ( i.e. credible! ) democracy, ‘minorities’ matter too.

            I for one will not heed any decisions made, concerning Busking & the streets, that don’t take this important principle into account, especially so in my home town!.

          • Any ‘formal’ decision process that has clearly not taken ‘minority’ opinion into proper consideration, especially when significant issues have been raised, deserves to be in ‘principle’ completely disregarded!.

          • I am also 100% against organisations ( including Streetslive ) that back, support or even ‘elect’ as representatives individuals who seek to maliciously bully, undermine or ‘malign’ minorities ( such as my good self! ). Examples of which I have alluded to on this website & have ‘proportionately’ ( justly! ) responded to!.

          • *
            However from another ‘perspective’ if the ‘evil’ thing were to happen, which is quite possible in our rapidly ‘growing’ politically careless & decadent society whereby for example Birminghams key ‘noise’ nuisances were to ‘hypocritically’ come up with ( or ‘front’ ) a ‘new’ busking code with the support of their busking ‘tribe’ (eg Streetslive ) & it was ‘backed’ by the Council ( BID organisations ) or Simon Cooper the Environment Officer then the ‘good’ outcome would be that at least this kind of ‘lowlife’ Guttersnipe would be ‘seriously’ compelled to follow such a ‘scheme’ ( including in ‘sensitive’ areas keeping down the volume levels eg. at ‘notch’ 4 or 5 rather than 9 or 10 & perhaps tone down the ‘reverb’ a little & at times seemingly distortion, or is that simply the playing, the ‘clanking’ of the strumming? )

          • Just make sure its not a ’16-page’ booklet like the one they’ve got in Liverpool i.e. the work of a busking Casuist ( or Casuists! ).

          • Yes! can only be the work of a casuist ( ‘casusts’!) this!, this little tomb of ‘busking’ commandments! – ha! ha! ha!

          • And oh! if you’ve got any ‘problems’ what do you do, get on the ‘mobile’ & speak to a Town Manager? No, save the concern for the ‘monthly’ Streetslive meeting so that it can then be passed on to the Council! Yes thats right the politics of of committee style ‘Maoism’!

          • With Jonny Walker ( not Liverpool Lord Mayor ) as Chairman Mao!

          • Somebody asked me if Tony Scott ( Birmingham ‘friend’ of Streetslive ), was an ‘Anarchist’ following his recent ‘foray’ into Solihull, & confronted by Wardens/Town Hosts, stating he does’nt believe in Busking Schemes.

            My reply ” What an Anarchist? Only in the ‘pejorative’ sense, not the Noam Chomskian sense i.e. a ‘true’ believer in communal ‘sharing’ , mutual ‘reciprocity’ etc!.

          • *Danger! Beware of the Snake-Charmer(s)!.

  • * Busker on Busker Violence

    Yeah, Jonny , time to truly expose the ‘hyporicsy’ of BuskerTony Scott ‘.your friend from Birmingham’ who has just failed to turn up at Magistrates Court for ‘ threatening to cut of the fingers of another Busker, 18 year old ‘female’ music student , Demi Marinder ‘. He’s wanted for harrassment, & causing fear of violence!.

    Lets hope they catch the ‘b—–‘ eh Jonny ?
    ( Birmingham Mail, 15 Oct 2015 Birmingham Buskers Threat to Chop off Fingers of Teenage Rival )

    • Of course in some ‘quarters’ I understand the ‘guy’ ( 45years old! ) is being ‘touted’ as a Birmingham Hero ( See ‘Save Anthony Scott’ Facebook Page, found on his Twitter Site via Jonny Walker/Buskers Unregulated.

      Hero indeed!, as reported in the ‘local’ press, the ‘brute’ stormed over to the young ‘womans’ pitch, & even tho’ she was willing to ‘negotiate’, in front of his ‘friends’, not only aggressed her, but ‘spat’ on her case!. Er nasty!.

  • * ‘Serious’ Conclusions ( Summary )

    1. Smear Campaigns

    I remember going out of my way, a few years back to attend a meeting in Liverpool ( my first & last attendance at a so-called Streetslive meeting! ) specifically to warn you about this guy, you deliberately ‘ignored’ me & what I said ( ie. simply ‘drowning’ me out of the discussion ) preferring instead ( I guess for ‘political’ reasons ) to adopt ‘him’ as ‘ a friend’ & support him against ‘just’ accusations that he was guilty of causing ‘noise’ nuisance ( ie. playing with excessive ‘volume’ levels ) in Birmingham city centre.

    You also played ‘flying’ monkey in his campaign to ‘smear’ me for supposedly bullying other buskers in Stratford upon Avon. I remind ‘you’ ( & others ) that Stratford upon Avon has a well ‘developed’ busking scheme ( incl 2hr revolving spot sharing ! ) yet Scott decided to ‘waltz’ into town on a ‘flying’ visit, ignore the existing code ( agreed! ), & selfishly take up a key town centre spot all afternoon for himself & ‘female’ partner he was travelling with.

    Town Hosts & Police were called ( as part of the civil code! ) partly due to reports of ‘excessive’ noise levels etc, he was reprimanded. It was in this context that he then embarked on a ‘malicious’ campaign to scapegoat me eg. ‘smear’ me for bullying. I know he was ‘key’ in your attempting to label me as an ‘aggressor’ ( bully ) amongst your ‘streetslive’ circles.

    Furthermore there were ‘racist’ implications here as it came across as ‘him’ trying to bracket me as the ‘archetypal’ aggressive Nigger!. A totally unfounded lie & distortion of the ‘facts’, i.e. because I’m in ‘general’ a busking supporter of & consciously work within the working ‘civil’ busking scheme devised &’set-up’ by ‘experienced’ local professional Folk Musician Marion Morgan ( in ‘consultation’ with others! ). To my knowledge other ‘local’ Buskers in the main support the scheme ( once they fully understand it’s rationale! ) too!.

    2. Public Warning

    Trial over, publicly ( & justly! ) convicted upon evidence, I understand Scott is now back on the streets, tho’ for his own protection I understand he is now going out under an ‘assumed’ identity. So watch out for Mad Tony, Tony Layotta, Tony Morganello & his most recent ‘front ‘, a man, a Busker turning up in small town boroughs, & going by the name of Jonny Johnson!’ ( ha! ha! ha! ).

    3. Codes of ‘Good’ Busking Behaviour ( a ‘personal’ response! )

    On a more ‘serious’ note, given this ‘context’ & as for an ‘Walker’ or yer ‘friends’ at Streetslive.org, I tell you now, I for one won’t be taking any one of them ‘seriously’, whether devised in conjunction with Councils & Local Authorities or not.

    So keep your ‘laminated’ book of busking rules for yourself & don’t even think of passing one onto me, cos’ if one lands on my lap, I’m either going to tear it up on the spot or burn it!. I don’t want anything at all to do with your ‘vile’ schemes or ‘you’ & your sort, ( vile ‘hypocrites’ ), nor organisations like the Music Union ( cosy n’ middle-class ).

    As for Birmingham City Council this particular authority make me sick ( literally ‘nauseates’ me ), their record speaks for itself, the worst ‘social’ services in the country & a pretty nasty reputation for social exclusion when it comes to ‘political’ process & ‘local’ decisions. So no, I don’t care ‘who’ or what you are, ‘involved’ Buskers or Council Officials stay away from me, I’m not interested in your ‘false’ morality, nor ‘vain’ rules!.

    On the question of your ‘right-hand’ men ( & women ) i.e. ‘campaigners’ in arms, that ”actually frequent places that I tend to busk in such as eg. Stratford upon Avon, I state ‘now’ loud & clear, don’t ever speak to me, don’t come near me unless its to ‘swap’ over spots in line with the ‘genuine’ rational busking practices to be found in that town.

    Bytheway if you do not like the code in places like this, I personally don’t give a damn, do as you will, have it out with the ‘local’ Buskers & authorities but I tell you this what goes around, comes around!

    And finally if any one of you ever think of ‘troubling’ me, intimidating me etc then my ‘response’ will be to further teach you a lesson, yeah teach you a ‘serious’ lesson about bullying you’ll never forget. The bottom line is, somebody like your ‘friend’ Scott, will be going to prison!.

    • * Further Notes ( The ‘Ideal’ Busking Constitution! )

      The ‘conditions’ have changed in Birmingham over the last few years, where there were perhaps 2 or 3 Buskers once performing in an ‘area’ like New Street, today there can be several ( many more! ). I last counted 4 Statutes & 8 Acts as I strolled through this zone, not including the 3 Brass Bands that ‘crop’ up intermittantly in that part of town.

      This is the ‘new’ cultural milieu, the that ‘truly’ reflects the Street Performing heart & soul of the city ( not Walker & his tribe! ) & yes performance ‘standards’ are seriously improved. Wonderfully everyone gets on too, ( the likes of me, ‘new’ Romanian Gypsies, some old school Black Buskers, a ‘few’ acoustic singers ) busy & successfully sorting themselves out without the ‘help’ of the local Council nor ‘interference’ of self-proclaimed street Messiah Jonny Walker.

      Yes relations at present are fruitful ( largely due to the ‘prescence’ & inclusion of the ‘right’ kind of personalities! ), & long may they be so, & dare I say it long-lasting – especially now ‘some’ have managed to bring to the surface, identify, bring to account & ‘tame’ one or two of the rogues of the street!.

      As we now enter a very interesting ‘future’ phase (given the ‘reality’ of much current affairs, a ‘parallel’ universe! ) the signs are promising, indeed good, the ‘conditons’ now ripe for the ‘ideal’ political constitution i.e. ‘benevolant’ anarchism ( spontaneously created! )

      • * Further Notes 2

        You know what we need is a whole ‘new’ way of doing politics!.

        • Bytheway anyone is ‘free’ to join the ‘new’ busking cultural formation that I ‘link’ with in Birmingham. To get on with everyone its just a matter of common-sense.

          Be open to space, try not to drown other buskers nevermind the town ‘out’ esp. if you can’t play ( Nb. Genuine Beginners ‘are’ welcome! ) & do be a creative ‘positive’ entertaining influence in the city-centre.

          This won’t go un-noticed & the public will love you! ( tho’ a word of warning, don’t bank on ‘the authorities’ affection & goodwill on this matter! ).

          • With regards ‘extraneous’ issues such as the ‘teazing’ question of a ‘precise’ definition as to what amounts to ‘noise’ ( high volume level! ) nuisance we leave that to Jonny Walker & his pals to work out with the Council. As for us, once more, we just use our common-sense!.

          • Yes theres an exciting ‘new’ busking cultural formation happening in Birmingham, long live ‘the common sense’ revolution!.

          • And despite all ‘obstacles’ ( & interferances ) it can. Of course the Birmingham local authority does’nt like to work with Black people, Gypsy’s etc in ‘direct’ policy. They like to think they can/have come up with all the bright ideas themselves. ( in ‘reality’ of course usually ‘pillaged’ from somewhere else, & significantly not ‘credited’! ). They also like to think of themselves ( really out of vested ‘self’ interest they try to kid us, deceive us! ) as indispensable.

            But, remember, any use of council resources they may propose as available to ourselves eg. Gypsy’s, Black people, as part of any ‘new’ so called busking schemes they attempt to introduce are ours by right anyway.

            The police, Wardens ( any left! ) ‘we’ have a ‘democratic’ right to them all. If anyone harrasses you on the street with ‘noise’ volume levels etc, you can call the police, if they don’t act they can be sued for ‘racial’ discrimination’ etc.

            Generally many of these officials, self proclaimed ‘activists’, have a ‘neurotic’ need to feel superior, classwise, racial wise, whatever!.

            Importantly, ‘we’ in any case don’t need their ‘validation’ nor willful support as Buskers. Its the ‘law’ that grants us the right to protection from any form of ‘criminality’!

          • Bytheway why do so many people target their ‘complaints’ at Muslim Street Preachers for using ‘Loudspeakers’ on the Streets.

            Eg. in one of your streetlive.org ‘right’ hand mans ( Jack Morgan’s ) words with regards your first meeting with Birmingham Council officials, the question of whether Muslims selling the Quran, tapes etc had been raised on the agenda.

            You replied on your Facebook page it had been discussed. I say what ‘behind closed doors in smoke filled room’?, thats ‘open’ & fair democracy is’nt it! ( this is a ‘rhetorical’ question! )

            Plus I know for one it was the ‘Christian Street’ Preachers who first started using ‘amplified’ megaphones in the city centre!. Anybody going to respond to that little fact?.

          • On Progress ( Busking & the streets of Bham )

            Yes the problem of ‘Christian’ Preachers is one that seems to be often ( discriminatory ) overlooked. Its certainly ‘real’ concern for me, only last week ( Sun Jan 2016 ) I had to call police out ‘twice’ to sort out one such ‘holy’ fellow who had ‘targeted’ me for harrassment i.e loudly preaching over me from only 20 or so metres away.

            Finally tho’ in finding ‘creative’ solutions for such problems let us not return to the ‘regressive’ kind of management Mahendra Chaughan represented at Birmingham Retail BID – it was not only a ‘controlling’ style of management ( ie. Old School eg. ‘ I am the Boss therefore do as I say! ), I’d say it was ‘abusive’ towards Buskers in the city. For 3 main reasons;

            1. Over ‘micro-management’ of spots
            eg. trying to casuistically dictate the ‘exact’ position where performers busked on the High Street – rather than thinking in terms of ‘zones’ ( See. Stratford upon Avon ) . Very, ( quite unreasonably restricting ), & when you’re put on the spot in public ‘humiliating’

            2. Manipulatively using ‘auditions’ as a form of beauracratic control ( yes there was an ‘issue’ of ‘ostensible’ homelessness threatening to plague the city-centre & ‘hustler’ type begging, however Mahendras used his style of busking ‘gatekeeping’ in a manner that led to ‘artificial’ backlogs of ‘legitemate’ street performers getting in on the ‘booking’ scheme i.e. totally unfair civic ‘policing’ )

            3. Cronyism – ‘favouritism’ & cheating ( discriminatory ) when it came to booking spots eg. ‘favourites’ ( some obviously political! ) being booked in before the 9am booking time ( busking spot ‘watershed’! ) & sometimes for weeks at a time!.

            No whatever happens to the future of busking in Bham we can’t return to this ‘draconian’ ( unjust ) style of management!

          • Free Busking in Bham ( Natural & Spontaneous! )

            Bytheway no need for ‘guides’ from Bham City Council or the likes of you Walker ( nor your supposed ‘organisations’ members! ) ‘free’ busking is already in full practice in Bham, & generally everyone gets on fine & theres relatively little trouble.

            The amazing & wonderful thing is that since ( & before! ) the ‘formal’ demise of the last ‘official’ scheme ‘free’ busking in the city-centre has emerged & taken ‘root’ quite naturally & spontaneously & is working very well without the ‘interference’ from officials & ‘outside’ activists.

            The current proposals for a city guide based on busking ‘principles’ supposedly established elsewhere is a pretentious sham, the whole process in itself no more than a shallow ‘local’ council establisment PR act!.

          • * Stratford upon Avon

            Talking about ‘bad’ PR I’ve noticed that Stratforward BID have changed the ‘wording’ of the pretty good code established a few years back by folk musician Marian Morgan ( now of the Shakepeare Trust ).

            A pretty silly move since ‘officially’ the code is now more ‘unnecessarily’ restrictive eg. 2hr playing times have been reduced to 1hr & there is ‘nonsense’ talk about Buskers altho’ welcome in the town requiring a ‘permit’.

            All this has been done without any ‘due’ consultation with most of the ‘regular’ Buskers in the town which is a shame because ‘relations’ eg with ‘new’ Town Hosts etc ( themselves musicians & artists – one Hosts Band a fave of John Peels! ) are good, quite wholesome indeed.

            The general scheme eg. revolving spots periodically works fine I wd argue officially needs to be returned to 2hrs. The offical notice of Buskers new to the town needing a ‘permit’ also needs to be dropped as it is publicly ‘misleading’ & busking-wise neither functional nor necessary.

          • Karen Harding bytheway is the name of the ‘new’ Manager ( ok relatively new i.e. she’s a year or so into the position! ) at Stratford upon Avon BID otherwise known as ‘Stratforward’!.

          • Busking schemes, street-performing codes & ‘groundbreaking’ good practice guides. You now what really wd be unique here, prove a ‘real’ breakthrough? , yes you’ve got it, democracy in ‘action’, yes some actual frickin’ ‘democracy’!.

          • ( That plus some ‘objective’ common-sense! )

    • * Solutions

      For the ‘serious’ public musicians of Stratford upon Avon only a ‘sensible’ working code will do. A ‘code’ ( basic ‘general’ rules. principles etc ‘ – long established principles of ‘civic’ freedom, despite some individual buskers claiming to have ‘uniquely’ invented them on ‘our’ behalf! ) that stick to the point & offer a basic ‘just’ framework for street performers.

      Again it already exists in Stratford ( may need to be more considered – ‘re-considered & fleshed out in that other Warwickshire town ‘Solihull’, since its my belief that the bourough does now need to be more ‘open’ with its busking approach! )

      However a ‘good’ code for Stratford upon Avon already does exist in the ‘original’ Marion Morgan form. Just a few ‘new’ stipulations needed – i.e an ‘updating’ of! – the code eg. an ‘added’ statement to the introductory wording on ‘Stratforwards’ website stating the town now welcomes ‘singers’ et al ( previously ‘formally’ not allowed to use ‘amps’ on Henley St – tho’ of course they ‘did’ & still do! ), whilst keeping the ‘existing’ – ‘pre-existing?’ ( Morgan ) – 2hr ‘revolving’ spot format in general.

      I know the town well, play there all the time, considering ‘all’ the options ( I’ve street-performed under all of them, all the ‘main’ sorts ‘of’ busking codes, schemes etc ) & strongly believe its the ‘workable’, fair solution for this particular place ( busy Tourist town at the heart of England!)

      • Yes, for Stratford upon Avon I’m a supporter of the ‘Morgan’ Plan ( with added stipulations, udates etc )
        I’ve ‘experienced’ it & for this ‘particular’ town it works ( & ‘fairly’ for everyone! )

        • Marion Morgan is a ‘respected’ local Folk Musician from the town, ex MU rep, ‘worked’ with Stratforward ( organising the ‘Riverside’ Festival’ ) , the Shakespeare trust, & is now back a ‘gigging’ professional musician.

          As a town ‘insider’ I’vd had my differences with here in the past, but in her favour I say she’s an ‘insider’ with an outside conscience i.e. an ‘insider’/outsider if you will ( well enough of one to ‘satisfy’ my & other Buskers interests & concerns anyway! )

          • See. Marian Fleetwood.co.uk ( & Twitter etc )

          • marionfleetwood.co.uk ( marionfleetwood @ marionfiddler Twitter )

          • So yeah, ‘Back the ‘Morgan’ Plan!’ ( with added stipulations & adjustments of course! )

          • * A Message to you Jonny!

            Jonny I thinks its time to ‘think out the box!’ your seemingly ‘messianic’ mission to spread Liverpools, Yorks so called ‘ Good Practice Guide’ ( I really don’t like that title! ) everywhere in the UK tho’ maybe having ‘some’ merits in those towns I believe just won’t work everywhere eg. Stratford upon Avon ( & some similar towns ) where I think other ‘tried’ & tested ‘codes’ may suffice.

            Its both ‘unrealistic’ ( & dogmatic! ) to simply work with a ‘template’ & expect it to fit everywhere. No, I thinks it time that you work with other people perhaps ‘outside’ your immediate ‘tribe’, your organisation & agree some ‘truly’ flexible, fair & ‘workable’ solutions fitting places simply unlike York or indeed Liverpool! ( Or simply just learn to support, ‘present’ & argue for schemes & ‘alternative’ plans perhaps quite ‘alien’ to your own – above all be ‘objective’! ).

          • If this is ‘possible’ we cd then join ‘forces’ & if necessary work together on other projects ( * Of course only if ‘necessary’ I don’t want to ‘interrupt’ your flow & I don’t want you to unnecessarily ‘interfere’ with mine! )

            As far as ‘Good Practice Guides’ go for Birmingham for one I just don’t like the title, sounds to ‘consumerist’, CAB, too ‘patronising!’. Basically I’d like to see Bham free of any ‘external’ guidance & left to ‘spontaneously’ order itself, its doing a pretty good job at the present ok with some ‘teething’ problems.

            At a ‘push’ tho’ I myslef wd go along with a loose ‘code’ but no such ‘erroneous’ stuff as advising people when & where to eat their ‘sandwhiches’ which you kinda do in the York Busking Guide i/e you don’t want a ‘total’ takeover of the individual here just a basic working framework or ‘code’!.

            As far as the ‘council’ goes I am tempted to say ‘ to hell with them, they & their ‘officals’ have just attempted to destroy us with their proposed ‘amp’ bans, they cd have killed all our livelihoods if it was’nt for the ‘good’ support & wisdom of many other people.

            Its time to ‘focus’ on the real ‘street’ problems of the Bham city-centre & stop ‘ scapegoating ‘ Buskers. Street Performing should have been ‘last’ on the list of priorities for the council to deal with.

            For example the problem of ‘religious’ preaching ( all faiths! ) on the streets what with PA’s & ‘ microphones’ poses just as difficulty a problem as busking, if anything more difficult given that religion is an ‘ideological’ belief system & not an entertainment ( not seen as such by many that is! ) therefore problematic with many members of the public!. )

            Having said this all these issues are ‘resolvable’ as long as folk involved are sensible about this & ‘willing’. Again my main concern is the ‘council’ I don’t trust them an inch & find their approach very destructive, undemocratic & potentially dangerously ‘alienating’!

          • Of course there is also the ‘outstanding’ issue of some of your ‘affiliates’ you know who I mean, the ‘bad’ apples!. This is got to be sorted out if any kind of honest ‘real’ progress is to happen!

          • The ‘Best’ Proposal

            The best proposal for ‘all’ Buskers that actually ‘perform’ in Bham of course is that if ‘you’ & your ‘tribe’ ( Streetslive.org ) desire a ‘ Good Practice Guide ‘ ( along with the Council ) then yes ‘you’ have it. Let a Guide be devised but only for specifically you & your members.

            As for the rest of us leave us alone to work along the existing lines of the ‘spontaneous’ order & more ‘naturally’ (organically ) workout ( spontaneously negotiated even! ) a simple arrangement of busking ‘code’ relations.

            I’m happy to work with the Council ( & ‘others’ ) on this if necessary ( tho I much prefer not to! ) i.e. basic busking values suitable for the ‘rest’ of us & importantly much more authentically ‘self’ ( internally ) generated!.

          • A ‘superannuated’ state where ‘good’ habit, unconscious ‘drives’ & human ‘free-will’ converge with ‘Super-ego’ & external material ‘reality!!

          • * Q. The Ninja Strategy ?

            Is it time to get ” a little more Ninja, a bit more ‘underground’, a little less nice? ( Master ‘celebrity’ Chef’s Jaimie Olivers words not mine on his ‘possible’ new approach to pressing the government on the issue of ‘obesity’! See the Andrew Marr Show ).

            Well unlike Jaimie Oliver I don’t like the idea of using ‘Tax’ as a stick so as to coerce the ‘poor’ into avoiding ‘sugary’ ( toxic! ) foods, starved ‘cash’ beating them into eating more healthily ( who knows at one of his ‘new’ health food restaurants? Tho I suspect that won’t work either, check the ‘prices’ at his current on eg. See The Bull Ring & the nutrition idex of the food it serves! ).

            I also think that ‘tax’ as a form of behavioural control as particulary ‘Stalinist’ in its political ethos, an ‘outdated’ corollary of the old left!.So no i don’t know about getting less nice!

            But the Ninja ‘strategy’ & going ‘underground’ about this whole Bham busking issue? Well that does have its attractions ‘cos I’m pro-‘education’ when it comes to bringing about socioCultural change & that may take a little bit of black ‘pamphleteering’ plus i think I may know just the right kind of ‘Ninja’ to help out!

          • Given ‘current’ conditions I’m beginning to think that only by calling on the forces of the ‘dark’ arts ( some kind of wizardry, some kind of witchery! ) can we even begin to ‘hope’ to win out us the moderately well off ( not me ‘quite’ yet! ) n’ ‘sensible’ folk!.

            Take the average w/c couple today perhaps earning between them £20,000 – £25,000 per year. If they ‘were’ to somehow work harder, increase their combined ‘assets’ just a little & achieve £30,000 ( £15,000 each – by ‘todays’ standards not much! )

            Then according to the current ‘policy’ being proposed by Cameron & his Tory Government they may now be able to eat at a Jaimie Oliver ‘Celebrity’ Restaurant ( a ‘high’ st one that is! ) just about, but they will ‘lose’ their ‘council’ house.

            Its now ‘incredibly’ being proposed that any family that earns over £30,000 per year will be ‘obliged’ to give up their ‘social’ housing & try their luck in the ‘private’ housing market ( yes, that artificially ‘rigged’ economic arrangment, pretty big ‘bonded’ pond, for property developers, ‘estate’ agents & sharks!. ).

            No its not just ‘sensible’ Buskers who are being ‘ruthlessly’ squeezed by current affairs, its all ‘reasonable’ yes sensible people!.

          • Of course there are always ‘exceptions’ to the rule, there are times in life when you don’t actually mind being ‘taken for a ride!’ ( yes in those ‘rare’ circumstances an absolute pleasure, yes it really is!. )

          • Booyakayaka!

          • or Social ‘re-engineering’ without anyone really knowing a ‘jot’ about it! ( or indeed whats hit ’em! ) – Hai kazaam!.

          • of course there is a ‘truer’, more genuine, compassionate, ‘enlightened’ path!.

          • & more civilised, Q Dinner?

          • ( See. Third World Philosopher ‘Franz Fanon’ – on how the ‘language’ of the white man stereotypes & ‘belittles’ the Black man. It seeks ” to primitivize him, essentialize him, infantilize him & ‘de-civilize’ him”. Quote taken from the book ‘Fanon for Beginners’ )

  • ATTENTION ALL BLOG ( ‘COMMENT’ ) READERS ‘!

    You may now disregard entirely ( well almost ) everthing written above ( i.e comments ) since speaking as a Street Performer who ‘regularly’ busks in the town ( i.e. the ‘marginalised’ & now very much oppressed ) the ‘worst’ has now happened in the city.

    For the truth ( or at least an ‘honest’ alternative busking perspective ) on the ‘new’ code now introduced by Birmingham City Council See. Newcastle Blog on this ‘streetslive.org’ website eg. ‘KSL Response To Newcastle PSPO Proposal ‘ ( & please read the ‘comments’ & about already taken ‘actions’ below ! ). Check out suggested ‘links’ also eg. London @Liberty Blog, Portobello Rd Blog(s) etc.

    Bytheway ‘Keep Right On’ ( even you Erdington, Kingstanding Lads ! ) cos the struggle has now truly begun !.

    • Nb. Don’t worry I’ve already begun to ‘collect’ my thoughts & organise my notes & am readying myself to ‘fight’ against the bullying that already has begun.

      I personally have already been ‘targeted’ by Birmingham Retail BID & the new ‘city’ centre security control eg. on Valentines Day ( yes valentines day ! ) when busking on New St where I’ve ‘never’ had a problem. In fact the ‘Shop’ Manager to my rear came out onto the street to ‘praise’ my ‘playing’ & dropped some change in my guitar case, & regular ‘guests’ at the Burlingon Hotel also ‘comparitively’ praised my ‘romantic’ cafe classical guitar that day.

      Its seems the ‘Authorites ‘ ( incl the ‘still’ Manager at Bham Retail Bid who wanted to indiscriminately ‘close’ down busking in the city with ‘amps’ cos of ‘anti’ social behaviour ) want to use me as some form of ‘Scapegoat’ ( involving a pretty nasty & ‘falacious’ 2 handed game to put me on the spot & ‘victimise’ me whilst playing in that area! ).

      They’re basically using this ‘new’ code ( & its ‘collaboraters’ ) & as a kind of ‘cover-up’ for the ‘poor’ street management & gross busker bullying that was going on ( in this ‘particular’ city centre area ) not long back eg. See. Bham Mail Oct 2017 ” Busker Threatens To Cut Off Teenage Rivals Fingers …”.

      I for one am against the ‘new’ code, looking at the ‘details’, viewing it as one of the most ‘misleading’ & cunningly divisive schemes I’ve yet to come across ( & I speak from much personal ‘experience’ here ! ).

      • In fact I’m just about to go on my first ‘protest’ busk right now, yes right in the middle of Birmingham City Centre on a ‘weekend’ Saturday !

        • ( See. Blog ” KSL Response To Newcastle PSPO Proposals ” for further relevant ‘comment’ & then suggested links to ‘cited’ eg. London Blog Posts )

          • ( My ‘protest’ is against social ‘exclusion’ & institutional discrimination. Plus I’m against the ‘takeover’ & domination by bullying ‘authorities’, alien ‘activist’ gps & their Bandwagon, & local regular ‘street’ gangsters !. )

          • ( & a ‘code’ that essentially works against just ‘free’ busking in the city ! )

          • I might have tried more to ‘work’ with ‘activists’ ( no matter where they came from ! ) if they were’nt so unreasonably self-centred ( i.e. niche ! ) & campaigned for the interests of us all !. )

          • But at the end of the day, what have we got here, petty politics dressed up as just another ’empty’ High St Brand. I for one say ‘despite’ the times, this is not what its all about !.

          • The future requires an ‘alternative’ to the usual Party Politics & its dogma’s. ‘Proper’ communication, ‘open’ dialogue, & organic social involvment. Above all ‘flexible’ human rationality thats whats ‘truly’ needed here.

            Not old style ‘personality’ politics, & without ‘sacrificing’ individuality & unique personality, not the religion of Sun Myung Moon !.

            Plus Property developers who do insist on building in our ‘city’ centres need to install the ‘right’ sound insulation, so as to ‘protect’ both the ‘high’ rent paying resident & the pre-existing ( & ‘valuable’ ) culture of the street !. )

          • ( *See. Full version of ‘An Artists Manifesto For Bham’, to be printed soon ! ).

  • For ‘further’ relevant comment See. 1. Chester ‘Park Bench’ Blog i.e. ‘bottom’ on good ‘codes’, 2. Newcastle Blog i.e. ‘first’ one, all responses ‘general’ points, 3. London Blogs eg. ‘Liberty’ – all, & ‘Portobello Rd’ – ‘latter’ pieces ).

    • Finally I make a few further ‘relevant’ points eg. the 2 or 3 latter ‘comments’ under the 4. York Blog ‘ York Minster’. Check these out too ! ).

      • See. also the ‘comment’ ” Sent To Coventry or Goodbye To All That ! ” under the 5. Oxford ‘Open Letter’ Blog. Yes worth a search on this streetslive .org website ! ).

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