Open Letter to Oxford’s ruling Labour Group against their coercive busking policy

Open Letter to Oxford’s ruling Labour Group against their coercive busking policy
Keep Streets Live is Campaigning Against Oxford Council’s plans to make ‘noncompliant busking’ a criminal offence 
Join our all day protest against Oxford’s coercive Public Space Protection Order tomorrow from 12pm outside Pret a Manger on Cornmarket:
https://www.facebook.com/events/749538838499756/752236524896654/
Sign our petition calling on Oxford to abandon its plans to criminalise buskers:
https://www.change.org/p/oxford-city-council-stop-attacking-our-freedoms-support-a-vibrant-street-culture-in-oxford
The following is an open letter to Oxford’s political leaders responding to their justification of the coercive busking policy:
 
Dear Oxford Councillors,
I have sent this message to Councillor Sinclair but feel its contents are very important and relevant to the political and cultural life of Oxford as a whole and deserve to be read by all the elected representatives at the Council
I had a useful and productive meeting with several Oxford Council Officers in April facilitated by Councillor David Thomas of the Green group at which I was able to clearly explain our position as a campaign group and why Oxford’s proposed course of action to target a Public Space Protection Order against ‘noncompliant’ buskers is so problematic. I had hoped that this meeting would help Oxford understand why the course of action they had proposed was disproportionate and contentious and that it would be quietly dropped as the plans to criminalise rough sleeping and feeding pigeons have already been put aside. We have also demonstrated a clear and workable alternative approach, a guide to busking in York drawn up by buskers, businesses and the local authority working together and targeting enforcement action against the small minority of buskers who cause genuine issues. I am attaching two PDFs of York’s policy, one aimed specially at businesses who might have issues with buskers, and one aimed more generally at buskers and others who use public space. I hope you all get the chance to scrutinise these documents carefully.
May I firstly say that I am willing to accept that the PSPO proposal although clearly misguided, is at least well-intentioned. Oxford is a wonderful city in which to busk and some form of oversight is clearly necessary. It is also clear that enforcement powers are needed as a last resort for nuisance caused by busking.
However, the proposals to make ‘noncompliant’ busking a criminal offence by implementing a PSPO go way beyond what is necessary and proportionate for the oversight of busking and , ironically, represent a real threat to the cultural and civic life of Oxford’s public spaces.
That is why, tomorrow, I will be helping to lead a day long multi-location protest busk against Oxford’s PSPO proposals to invite the Labour group and the responsible officers to rethink these damaging proposals. We will be on Cornmarket from 12pm onwards and if any elected members wish to come and speak to us we would be very happy to explain our position. Here is the Facebook event to the protest:
https://www.facebook.com/events/749538838499756/752236524896654/
Quite simply, the proposed PSPO has the effect of turning an already restrictive busking code of conduct into criminal law and will thereby create a catalogue of entirely arbitrary new ‘criminal’ offences.
Oxford’s claims that existing powers are inadequate are misleading and inaccurate.
Oxford City Council already has legal powers to take action against buskers who are causing a noise nuisance and obstruction. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 it is a criminal offence to cause noise nuisance and the local authority can issue noise abatement notices against buskers and even confiscate musical instruments.
Likewise, under the Highways Act 1980 it is an offence to cause an obstruction on the highway, and any busker who does so can face enforcement action and punitive fines
Oxford’s existing code of conduct for busking is already highly restrictive and the proposal to introduce PSPO powers to underpin it will lead to arbitrary outcomes.
Oxford only ‘allow’ busking in eight official locations. Under the PSPO it will be a criminal offence to busk anywhere else, even if no obstruction is being caused. This creates an arbitrary criminal offence. In reality there are many more than eight places in the city where busking could be carried out without causing an issue.
Oxford only allow people to busk for one hour in one place and say no return is allowed to that spot within two hours. This treats a grassroots cultural activity which brings life and colour to the city centre as if it were car parking. A busker with a large repertoire of songs, played at a responsible and reasonable level can busk for longer than one hour without causing any issues whatsoever. Under Oxford’s PSPO proposal it will be a criminal offence to busk for 65 minutes, even if no nuisance has been caused, no complaints have been received and no one is waiting for a busking pitch. Once again this is in an entirely arbitrary outcome which undermines respect for the rule of law and is completely disproportionate.
‘A Guide to Busking in York’ is a collaborative document agreed between the busking community, Musician’s Union, Keep Streets Live Campaign, local authority and local businesses in that historic city over a period of 6 months of discussions. It is a clear alternative approach to the course of action Oxford propose. It has also been presented to Oxford’s ruling Labour group and senior officers within the council. It is designed to build good relationships between people who use the streets and provides a dispute resolution mechanism for people who have complaints about buskers. Importantly, enforcement action will only be taken as a last resort against buskers who are causing a specific issue such as noise nuisance or obstruction and who have refused reasonable requests to amend their performances. Unlike Oxford’s PSPO proposal a busker would not face a criminal record just because they had played in the wrong spot or for longer than one hour. There would have to be a justified reason for taking enforcement action. This has the advantage of being both fair and sensible in light of the costs of taking enforcement action and the relatively scarce resources available to the council. You can see York’s busking guidance at this link: http://keepstreetslive.com/articles/2015/05/1301
including a special four page document aimed at city centre businesses. It is a clear alternative to the proposals Oxford Council have put forward.
Oxford make the spurious claim that they need to introduce a PSPO because they have no existing powers of enforcement. I have already shown that this is demonstrably untrue and that the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Highways Act 1980 give scope for enforcement against noise nuisance and obstruction. Additionally, since October 2014 under the Antisocial Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 (The same act that contains PSPOs) the council now have the power to issue Community Protection Notices (CPNs) against any individual whose behaviour is a) unreasonable and b) having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the vicinity. The breach of a CPN is a criminal offence and can lead to the seizure of musical instruments and punitive fines. CPNs could be issued to any busker whose conduct was deemed to be unreasonable and having an adverse affect on the quality of life of those within the vicinity. It is impossible to imagine a situation arising from busking where a CPN or the other pieces of legislation already mentioned would be inadequate. The advantage of a CPN over the PSPO is firstly that is targeted against individuals rather than buskers as a group, and secondly that it is more difficult to issue arbitrarily. A busker could not get given a CPN just for busking in the wrong spot for the wrong length of time unless they were actually causing a significant issue. Under the PSPO legislation a busker could be fined and criminalised even if they were causing no issue to any person. This is an arbitrary outcome that undermines respect for the rule of law and will create an unnecessary relationship of antagonism between Oxford’s civic officers and the busking community. It will also out many buskers and musicians off from travelling to Oxford in the first place and create a more routinised, sanitised and duller public realm which cannot be good for the city.
In short, there are many good alternatives to the PSPO approach, and many good reasons why the PSPO should not be adopted. The only remaining reason why Oxford might consider adopting the PSPO are because a) It creates a summary power to use against buskers which appears to be administratively convenient to do b) There is no requirement to produce evidence that a busker has caused an issue, buskers can be given a £100 fine just for playing in the wrong spot or for longer than 60 minutes which is less difficult than proving that a busker has been unreasonable and is causing a genuine issue.
The PSPO is a disproportionate and unjustified response to the issue of busking. We call upon Oxford City Council to drop these contentious proposals and to open a genuine dialogue with the busking community, local businesses, Musician’s Union and the Keep Streets Live Campaign and to introduce guidance promotes harmony and good will and does not create arbitrary criminal offences to the great detriment of the civic and cultural life of the city of Oxford.
Kind regards,
Jonny Walker
Founding Director of Keep Streets Live Campaign
http://keepstreetslive.com
http://jonnywalker.co.uk
http://facebook.com/jonnysongs

This was Oxford City Council's official response to our petition:

Oxford City Council encourages busking in the city centre. It adds a great deal to the vibrant and exciting city centre experience that we all know and love.

For the last decade, the City Council has had a Code of Practice that buskers are asked to agree to observe when they obtain a busking permit from the Council. to observe when they obtain a busking permit from the Council.

The Code includes:

– Not busking for more than 60 minutes in one place
– Not obstructing the highway
– Using amplification responsibly and maintaining a reasonable volume

The aim of the Code has always been to create a level playing field for all buskers and to stop any nuisance to everyone else who uses the city centre

– traders, local residents and visitors.
We currently have no legal power to enforce this Code of Practice and have received complaints from traders, in particular, about buskers playing loudly and for long periods of time outside their shops, which is not fair to them.

The Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) has been proposed in order to provide a legal power to take action against busking which leads to complaints from the public. In all cases, buskers will be asked to conform to the Code before any enforcement measures are used.

The PSPO will allow the Police or designated Council officers to issue a £100 fine or, in the most extreme of cases, to take the person to court, which could result in a maximum fine of £1,000.

But the Order will also remove the current requirement to obtain a permit before busking. After the PSPO has been introduced, people wishing to busk will be able to do so without contacting us in any way. All they will need to do is adhere to the existing Code of Practice.

The measures proposed will therefore have no impact on the vast majority of buskers and will in fact make it easier for musicians to busk in Oxford city centre. We think the measures will help to improve the liveliness of the city centre.


Posted on May 20, 2015
This post was written by
Singer-Songwriter/Professional Street Performer/Campaigner/Wandering Minstrel

112 Comments on "Open Letter to Oxford’s ruling Labour Group against their coercive busking policy"

  • The Tory Anti Social Behaviour And Policing Bill 2015 was created by David Cameron & his pals as an ‘advancement’ on the pre-existing ASBO. Quite clearly & basically its a political tool readily available to Local Authorities so to control a ‘growing’ ( some would say ‘manufactured’ by ‘new’ Welfare Policy eg. Benefits Sanctions ) Underclass.

    Of course it could be argued that this legislation also provides the ‘opportunity’ for further ‘cynical’ exploitation & the creation of public ‘Cash Cows’ ( see above ) eg by making it easier for councils to create ‘petty’ offences & rake money in from ‘on-the-spot’ fines for ‘minor’ misdemeanours eg. the dog messing on the grass etc, ‘genuine’ Buskers straying into ‘no-go’ areas etc.

    In Labour boroughs like Camden the problem is complicated further when local authorities for ‘various’ political reasons eg. big ‘property’ interests, wish to get rid of ‘established’ cultural practises like Street Performing & Street Art.

    My message to Oxford Council is that in the interests of ‘civic’ justice please stop behaving like a Chicago politicing local borough & instead reach out to wider ‘newer’ legitemate interests. Remember that these are culturally ‘transformative’ times in the case of Street Performers too, a wide array of performers from ‘different’ backgrounds, go out busking today ( despite no doubt you having experienced some pretty ‘bad’ individual cases, very few ‘outdoors’ performers these days represent an ‘itinerant’ threat ) .

    In fact an important ‘significant’ recent trend has been towards the appearance of ‘tax-paying’ professional-like, Public Musicians who provide both ‘great’ entertainment in our town centres & can be/are a ‘positive’ influence on other town players. The key value here is to be ‘proportionate’ ( remaining positively liberally ‘tolerant’ with an eye to finding ‘creative’ solutions ) in handling busking matters, bearing in mind the changing socio/economic climate

    At a time of ‘economic’ liberalisation with regards shops & ‘shopping’ eg, Sunday ‘opening’s, 24hr day Supermarkets etc, I find it grossly unjust ( a blatant ‘hypocrisy’! ) that whilst shopkeepers & ‘retailors’ on the High Street are ‘recognised’ & allowed to have their ‘business’ opening hrs extended, some local ‘authorities’ like Oxford wish to ‘over’ control & restrict the playing times & ‘commercial’ activities of ‘working’ Street Performers & Artists.

    There needs to be ‘pause’ for thought here, the situation re-considered’. Buskers, Street Performers, & ‘Public Musicians’ must be treated fairly & in line with ‘all’ sectors of the business community. We all have a right to the pursuit of happiness & we all know that in this ‘consumer’ age this includes the ‘freedom’ to make money, in ‘our’ case through ‘valid’ High Street public entertainment.

  • At the end of the day, it will be good old-fashioned human communication ( & ‘negotiation’ ) involving ‘all’ parties ( including hobbyists, enthusiasts, ‘serious’/not so serious ‘creative’ amateurs ), & including a lot of ‘local’ goodwill, that will be the truly successful ( ‘peaceful’ ) harbinger of Culture, Politics & The Public Space.

    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.

    What we end up with is not ‘civil justice’ but the ‘public abuse’ of a whole creative ‘section’ of the city-centre ‘working’ community. Plus we get the violent dismisal ( believe me this is a kind of ‘psychic’ state violence ), an ‘aggresive’ sweeping aside, of the ‘liberal’ democratic solutions that already exist, & importantly ( to a large extent ) work! ( morally/ ‘emotionally’ as much as rational-legally ).

    For me PSPO solutions are basically town-planning mis-applied & city ‘security’ gone mad; a post-enlightenment, social hygenists nightmare. The only ‘true’ political powers you need are to identify, aprehend & justly deal with individual malpractors. Current ‘control’ orders are a ‘poor’ substitute for good policing on the ground & their ‘prospective’ use is already having oppressive ‘ill’ socio/psychological effects.

    I can see it all around me in the ‘demotivated’ broken wills that litter the ‘fringes’ of a city like Birmingham. Its like taking a sledgehammer to crack a ‘legal’ walnut, these kinds of ‘control’ order; so energy sapping, so ‘anti’ the true ‘liberal’ character of our country, of England, of the UK. This place is becoming like a third world country, like the USA.

    Our city-centres don’t have to be ‘perfect’ designer Archictectural
    Texas shopping mall ‘consumer’ heavens & they don’t have to be puritanically cleansed centres of church spire, college & tradition.
    On the other hand we understandably don’t want to be deluged by what Russian Literary critics call the ‘poshlost’.

    * Ok, there is naturally something a bit adolescent & immature in the ‘romanticism’, expressed by many ‘Buskers’, Street Performers & Artists, but then again there can be something rather heartless, cold & dogmantic in many aspects of city council ‘modernity’.

    Oxford Council I hope this is’nt the end of the story, in ‘the future’ I hope together we can learn to soften the worse sides of modernity through the best sides of romanticism, in order to create a more ‘evolved’ alternative , what one might term, ‘ An Age of Maturity ‘.
    ( * Paraphrased from Romanticism – The School of Life; YouTube )

    • * Note

      One worrying ( very annoying ) ‘social’ trend at present that you very much see in ‘busking’ as elsewhere & not ‘surprising’ given the level of ‘anomie’ & uncertaintly many ‘folk’ suffer today in our ‘status’ anxiety ridden society, involves the pretty ‘wierd’ spectacle of all sorts of ‘cultural’ formations, on-line gps etc seemingly wanting to quite ‘spuriously’ attach themselves to eg. Street Art & Street Performing. Not simply to positively support ‘street’ culture but to in some ‘wierd’ way extrapolate for ‘themselves’ some kind of ‘social’ significance.

      You know I’ve come across all sorts of such ‘wierd’ group phenomenon from ‘photography’ groups seeking what it seems to be a kind of ‘world’ domination via busking e.g shooting ( taking pics ) of Buskers on sight, right across the globe & every culture. Not as ‘anthropologists’ tho’ but seemingly ( & presenting themselves ! ) as some kind of cultural ‘guardian’ of street art. Yes a ‘wierd’ sort of control freakery this & gives ‘me’ the heeby geebies !.

      There are already ‘fan’ gps that exist in London, well ‘single’person created networks by folk who sadly have nothing else to do but hang around eg. the SouthBank watching Buskers, taking pics, creating Facebook gps around it & in some cases taking things to ‘extremes’ ( See. London ‘Liberty’ Blog comment on ‘stalking’ ). Its as tho’ these guys or at least one Facebook organiser ‘
      / Follower, Pal & Brother want to ‘project’ their own ‘pop’ culture fantasy’s onto Buskers & to follow ‘performers’ everywhere, idolize them, put them on ‘false’ pedastals etc.

      They’re making a big ‘mistake’ projecting ‘pop’ values onto Buskers in many ways, but for someone like ‘me’ who does’nt want to be ‘hero’ worshipped but simply be acknowledged ( if deserved ! ) for ‘creating’ &/ or interpreting ‘real’ musical art on the streets, these kinds of ‘people’ represent a ‘real’ nuisance & of the most ‘shallow’ sort.

      They’d better realise that, if as one London fan site creator has indicated he intends to do i.e. travel round other parts of the country taking ‘pics’ of Buskers, this is my ‘take’ on them & should ‘avoid’ me ( unless of course they ‘approach’ me first, & in the right spirit of proper consultation or at least initial ‘conversation’, Then I’ll make my ‘choice’s ! ) Good manners demands this.

      Finally the ‘worse’ kind of gp or should I say ‘individual’ to crop up in the busking world ( online at least ) & as ever too late, is the ‘fringe’ academic. I say this being aware of one such guy, a Geographer ( from Canturbury ? ) I think, who contributed a ‘thesis’ on the ‘internal’ politics ( pretty dodgy or at least ‘iffy’ policy ‘decsison’ wise ) ) leading up to Camden Councils decision to introduce a ‘busking ‘licence’ scheme the other year eg. November 2016.

      Problem is it was ‘too’ late ( his ‘thesis’ contribution ! ), or at least too late from preventing streetslive.org from ploughing forward with a ‘court’ case they cd ‘never’ win & instead trying another ‘strategy eg. raising public awareness & support over the unfair ‘tactics’ Council Officials used to legitemate the ‘new’ scheme in the first place.

      No I don’t like this seemingly ‘scientific’ Geographers ‘faith’ credentials ( or should I say ‘murmurings’ on his Twitter site ) either. All too ‘crony’ in another sense for me, all too ‘academically’ shifty & essentially wrong-footed ( * & I tell you this kind of ‘figure’ for me, as a Busker with my ‘own’ opinion on matters indeed world view on issues, has himself ‘zero’ significance !. )

      • ( Nb. These sorts of ‘gps’, individuals should’nt be getting themselves involved with busking, no its the wrong kind of ‘area’ if not culture for them altogether. May I make a suggestion ? How about joining the ‘Scientologists’ = as in Bham, I’m sure theres a ‘branch’ near you who’ll be happy to accept you ! ) .

        • ( Nb. Also note that I’m responding here in part to a ‘poem’ featured on this Geographers Blog about ‘feeling’ insignificant & powerless. Let me tell you & if you’re ‘projecting’ here in any way ‘warn’ you, alongside all crap ‘polticians’ & petty officals. That ‘power’ – & of the most ‘vociferous’ kind – can spring up anytime, in any place & when least expected, don’t take ‘people’ for granted nor for ‘fools’ ! )

          • ( Nb. Personally I don’t care for ‘politics’ in any shape or form along with it ‘fake’ collaboration nor false ‘union’, at the end of the day the only thing I care a hoot for is ‘reason’. A very ‘common’ everyday kind of ‘rationality’ & not necessarily guaranteed by the ‘demos’, certainly not ‘self-interested’ politicians but not entirely impossible to attain ! )

          • As for the ‘insignficant’ ones or those who try to gain a ‘sense’ of self worth from ‘easy’ participation in ‘grass’ roots poltics & cultural life, I for one see you tho’ perhaps not in the kind of ‘light’ you’d like. Now these type of people ( See. above ), all they will ever bring to the table is their own ‘brand’ of further pain, misery & ‘irrationality’. Tho’ again not to worry cos fortunately this ‘pack’ in ‘reality’ can too be superceded. You see ultimately & in many ways their kind of endeavour is meaningless )

          • As ‘meaningless’ as today’s Mercury Prize, an ‘institution’ alongside all ‘annual’ public honours & awards ceremonies ‘tainted’ with ‘hollow’ politics. Its public ‘gifts’ & acknowledgements ‘sadly’ not to be taken too seriously whether its ‘Dylan’ winning the ‘Nobel’ Prize for Literature or ‘Obamba’ recieving its award for ‘Peace’.

          • Now both Dylan ( a legendary ‘lyric’ poet & a ‘good’ general writer, I like his ‘self’ penned autobiography ‘ Chronicles ‘ ) & Obama ( first ‘black’ President ) have their ‘merits’ but one of the most ‘ridiculous’ ( & ‘political’ ) public appointments recently is in the form of Comedian Lenny Henry being made Chancellor of Birmingham City University ( I still really dislike this ‘new’ name for the ‘ex’ Bham Poly/ UCE ! ).

            Henry an OU graduate ( not a ‘natural’ academic nor ‘intellectual’ it took him a ‘few years to pass through i.e. him apparantly embarking on the lg ‘study’ journey to please his Mother ! ) I mainly remember as that ‘iconic’ black comic figure from Dudley who emerged out of the TV ‘talent’ show circuit during the 1970’s e.g ITV’s New Faces.

            Not so ‘honoury’ at the time was Henry’s frequent appearances on the then racially controversial ‘Black & White Minstrel Show’. Criticised for the role at the time Henry defended himself on a recent BBC2 Xmas commemoration TV ‘special’ 2016 ( the ‘white’ establishment seem to really want to ‘hype’ this guy up ! ) claiming he ‘feared’ he’d lose his ‘career’ back then if he did’nt take part.

            ” Oh yes rise Sir Lenny ” I say ” you brave errant Knight ! ”.

          • On an even more ‘serious’ note….

  • Of course we must not overlook the fact that there are very ‘real’ pressing social problems facing our towns & cities. We seem to be living in ‘2 Worlds’ 1. A world of ‘privelage’ where you set yourself ‘clear’ goals, play to your strengths, do what you enjoy & then go on to live a meaninful, purposeful career and ‘rich’ life. 2. A world of ‘welfare’ where you’re told what to do & where under threat of heavy ‘sanction’ you’re expected to take whatever job is on offer regardless of ‘real’ suitablility or ‘fit’. Wheres the ‘justice’ in that?.

    I watched an early evening TV ‘local’ news programme ( ‘Nationwide’ style ) and the issue of ‘skill’ training came up. Whilst the one interviewee called for a ‘serious’ drive to increase ‘skills’ levels across the board to meet with ‘future’ growth, his opposite, a local Business Woman, insisted on a ‘safer’ form of investment, as all she & her company required were young people who could basically answer the telephone and speak politely to incoming callers.

    The latter statement could be used as part of a persuasive argument critiquing Schools inadequacy for not even being up to the job of producing kids who can answer the phone properly. However from the larger perspective I cite this kind of ‘utilitarian’ ( business pragmatic view ) as evidence of how human-beings with no doubt much ‘latent’ talent & ability are upon order, reduced to mere ‘little’ objects, with their possible human potentials re-directed, shaped & molded to fit the profit-making agendas of the local Bourgeiosie ( Business Class ).

    I popped into Birmingham city centre most recently to get my hair cut. It had been a while so one could’nt help but be overwhelmed by all the un-earthing and digging going on, wires, cable everywhere.You also could’nt also fail to notice the contrasting sight to all these buildings going up, tram-lines going down, like some Italian ‘Futurist’ heaven. That was the ‘social’ fact that there were so many human-figures, in sleeping bags, begging everywhere, on every street & every corner eg. Corporation Street, New Street, Hill Street, On the way from Moor Street Station & on the way to it!.

    The whole urban scene these days seems to be taking on a ‘Third World Character’, a clear picture representing ‘extremes’ between rich and poor ( essentially a ‘surplus’ working class ). For me Birmingham today, London Banking headquarters are now relocating here, is a rapidly manifest ‘new’ Capitalist hierarchy of Investors & ‘super’ Rich at the top and people of sheer poverty at the bottom, that together with quite a ‘blurred’ middle ground.

    Its also noticeable how any notion of ‘popular’ capitalism amongst these todays ‘masses’ have seemingly vanished. The middle appear to be just existing, homogenising and surviving not popularly ‘speculating’, saving & investing. One sight that did stand out for me though & represented the kind of business future activity we might expect to see ‘emerging’ from some of the less fortunate amongst the herd, was by New Street Station.

    That of 2 guys both with ‘ Abbey ‘ Road style beard,s one with an ‘acoustic’ guitar & about to ‘strum’, the other with a similar guitar but in his instance placed in its case & strapped rather ‘cooly’ ( ‘Bandito Style’ ) across his back.

    I’m noticing this ‘trend’ elsewhere, its catching on, especially amongst Street People. In fact a guy drew up on his ‘mountain’ bike the other day in stratford upon Avon, whipped out a sleeping bag, sat down opposite where I was playing & began begging. He was moved on by PCSO’s ( thats when I first noticed him actually sat there! ), but he returned soon later, this time set up ‘behind me’, with an empty ‘money’ case placed in front of him & a ‘landscape’ art painting placed beside him, with a ‘notice’ attached on it – For Sale!‘.

    A few days later I saw the same guy again but this time with an ‘acoustic’ guitar, & as you guessed carried in its case & ‘strapped’ rather ‘cooly’ ( Bandito Style ) across his back. He sat around again, I intermittantly took a quick look at him from the corner of my eye. No sign of ‘him’ actually playing. PCPOs turned up again this time they just walked on by!.

    • Notes ( On ‘Consciousness’ Raising ! )

      On top of the open ‘letters’ sent to Oxford Council critical of ‘coercive’ busking policy, there has to be an ‘effort’ to consciousness raisng in general, thru’-out the UK !.

      I’ve experience more than once, the ‘negative’ scenario of being passed by ‘certain’ individuals ( ‘uncultured’ to say the least! ) who on passing have ‘aside’ made the ‘snide’ remark that I’m playing ” aggh Gypo Music ! ” when I am in fact performing Brazilian Choro ( ‘aesthetically’ it works well on ‘nylon’ string guitar as a kind of ‘folkey’ rhythmic romantic cafe music ! ).

      Misunderstanding the ‘different’ coupled with ‘irrational’, underlying fear of ‘ the Other ‘ has got to be legitemately ‘challenged’ & as an ‘attitude’ ‘progressively’ changed, preferably in the classroom, if not in Civic Society, if the country is to not just return to, but ‘optimally’ achieve its ‘good’ health. ( Nb not sure if the possible ‘ascendant’ politcal class can help here tho, judging by Boris Johnsons recent ‘euro’ debate comments about USA President Obama i.e him somehow being ‘anti’ English cos’ of his Kenyan ancestry ! ) .

      • Agggh ‘self’ confidence & the ‘inferiority’ of others, I wonder if this is what they teach at Eaton ? .

        • Or is it just a byproduct ? .

          • Unfair ‘psychologically’ displaced anger & hatred, this too, has got to be contended ? .

          • But traveling down the ‘ladder’ of the English Class System, yes way down to the very ‘bottom’ eg. the streets. Whats needed here are the kinds of ‘social’ measures necessary to tackle ‘poverty’ ( yes ‘fairly’ ! ) combined with ‘policy’ that actually encourages the ‘flowering’ of culture along with the creative ‘conditions’ that lead to the positive development of that type of ‘consciousness’ at ‘the individual level.

            Q Is all of this really too much to ask of our ‘politicians’ & local councillors, in todays society ( i.e. this kind of ‘political’ will guiding the ‘decisions’ of ‘policy’ makers & those who ‘run’ & manage our country’s town/city centres ? )

            A. This is not a ‘rhetorical’ question, see below to get an ‘appreciation’ of the ‘grass’ roots situation that now pertains in eg. Coventry ( arguably once the most beautiful city in England ! )

  • * Sent To Coventry ( or Goodbye To All That )

    A parting ‘comment’ or perhaps impt warning on what happens when public defenders such as ‘Liberty’, Buskers incl ‘activists’, cyclists, skateboarders, the ‘poor’ incl those begging in public, ordinary ‘members’ of the public, all & all everyone who believes in ‘freedom’, justice, & preserving ‘reasonable’ open access ‘public’ space for all for all, do not ‘stick’ ( rally ) together to ‘challenge’ Local Authorities on their ‘bad’ ‘management’ of ‘public’ space.

    ( Nb. Impt ‘issue’ this what with ‘some’ councils becoming more & more ‘draconian’ with regards blatant’ control’ of otherwise ‘free’ city/town space eg. ‘Camden’ London, Oxford & now ‘today’ of course ‘Labour’ controlled Coventry See. below )

    Yes, I restate Birmingham & its ‘new’ code for eg. Street performing still falls way short of very ‘doable’ higher standards ( ie. ethically ‘fairer’ ) nevermind the ‘ideal’ ( See. comment & suggested ‘links’ above eg. ” ATTENTION ALL BLOG READERS ” ). But having said that to be fair ( myself ) with regards ‘busking’ & the situation ‘nationwide’, as ever, relatively speaking there ‘is’ always worse.

    For example Coventry City Council ( again Labour ‘controlled’ i.e. like Oxford, Camden etc ) has today 7 March 2017 introduced a PSPO ( Public Space Protection Order ) for the city-centre. Noticeably with apparant ‘feeble’ opposition too ( Nb. I don’t busk in Coventry but know ‘others’ who do & they simply seem either unconcerned, perhaps complacent, & to tell you the truth ‘never’ raised the #issue with me ! ).

    Anway from today ‘strict’ new rules have been agreed so as to crack down on city-centre Charity Chuggers, beggars, buskers, skateboarders, & cyclists ( * this ‘active’ civil gp apparantly being the most ‘vocal’ critics of council ‘chamber’ proposals now ‘legally’ enforcable policy ).

    Supposedly ‘designed’ to halt so called ‘anti-social’ behaviour ( & following ‘claimed’ complaints from ‘members’ of the public ) there are now the ‘threats’ of on-the-spot ‘fines’ & criminal ‘records’ for offenders. Yes a person already ‘homeless’, trapped on the streets, more than a ‘few’ no doubt victims of Society’s very own form of ‘strutcural’ violence ( See. Johan Galtung Peace Studies Founder ) are likely to be further ‘victimised’.

    Ordinary people not ‘all’ drug addicts ( some perhaps yesteryears rightful ‘welfare’ claimants ) are now subject to ‘jurisdiction’ by not the police but Council ‘Neighbourhood’ Officers ( now empowered to issue monetary civic ‘penalties ).

    Eg. From today they find themselves caught up in a pretty harsh ‘process’ ( or ‘ black magic roundabout ‘ ! ) that cd finally ‘demoralise’ them, see them spiral downwards psychologically ( & ‘economically’ ) & ultimately into prison. In reality these ‘fines’ etc being no ‘real’ deterrent just serving to ‘isolate’ the society’s vulnerable more, in this case simply sweep them under the ‘proverbial’ carpet.

    Q. For what ? A. Just ‘pressurising’ folk for a little change, just a little to ‘survive’, & oh how ‘inconvenient’, cor blimey governer what a nuisance, off course in the wider ‘scheme’ of things i.e. ‘poltical’ affairs I am here being a tad sarcastic !. Coventry ‘city’ of culture, lady Godiva, the Cathedral, of the you should be ashamed of such blatant legal maneuvre & poltically ‘cynical’ display.

    Well the ‘local’ Labour Party & its supporters should be at least anyway, thats right heads bowed down in shame, certainly not looking forwards into the future anyway, not with this ‘dross’ legislation & ‘naked’ Act of ‘civic’ cruelty dressed up as ( politically window dressed ! ) as ‘progress’ & passed by the ‘council’ today ! ).

    Its seems the ‘spirit’ of David Cameron lives on, despite ‘Brexit’, depite his timely ‘Leadership’ downfall, his more ‘subterranean’ legislation persists, its slitthers away like a ‘toxic’ snake, a black adder thats what I call him, thats what I’ll remember him by ( & no doubt many Buskers, street performers, ‘poor’ folk, true ‘freedom’ lovers also, cos’ they’re the ‘real’ victims here, caught up in the general public haze, petty ‘council’ beauracratic maze & ‘money’ raise too ! )

    • ( *See. Coventry Telegraph ” New Powers To Crack Down On Beggars, Charity Chuggers & Buskers In Coventry City Centre ”, 7 March 2017 )

      • [ Please note as from today possible ‘£100′ fines for those who fall foul of ‘council’ rules in Coventry city-centre incl. Buskers who ‘perform’ over the 1hr time limits set on all 5 of the ‘designated’ busking spots ] .

        • In Coventry to do what I generally do for a ‘living’ eg. play classical cafe guitar for 2 or 3 hrs in a public ‘area’ of a town or city is now a ‘criminal’ offence !. ( * Ex Tory PM David Cameron has effectively given ‘councils’ like this the powers to turn genuine ‘entertainers’ like me into criminals & yes these ‘authorities’ are willing to use it ! )

          • Speaking from ‘subjective’ experience when out busking I’ve had for example yg ‘skateboarders’ turn up & start messing about behind me & yes I’ve thought I wish they’d ‘pi.s’ off & leave me alone, clanking about & ‘wheeling’ around on those boards.

            However even the most ‘annoying’ ones ( many are ‘polite’ & friendly ! ) are ‘not’ criminals guilty of anti-social behaviour & deserved of a fixed penalty of £100. Yes some can be ‘selfish’ yg so & so’s but in all truth they’re just ‘teenagers’ at leisure & ironically trying to be in their own way ‘creative’.

            They should be ‘tolerated’ as such & simply ( & ‘politiely’ ) told to ‘move’ on if they become a ‘real’ pest & nuisance. You don’t want to be unnecessarily ‘criminalising’ such youth!.

          • As for Bhams ‘new’ Busking Scheme ‘resistance’ beckons,steadily grows tho’ not always quietly, against the new ‘relatively’ oppressive & poorly written ( nevermind conceived ) as they wd have it busking policy ( incl. empty ‘platitudes, unnecessariy paternal attitude & paltry advice )

            The shape & form of this rootsy ‘protest’ takes is not necessarily directly ‘agressive’ nor verbal too but very much ‘public’ & ‘cultural so to speak & in the form of what you might call ‘cross’ European solo guitar.

            ‘Regular’ Bham Buskers like myself ‘excluded’ from busking talks plus the today ‘less’ decieved are certainly rallying against the ‘self’ defeating absurdity’ of only a few years back being able to book 2 weeks ahead ‘spots’ across the city-centre & then play all day to be told today that yes we have ‘open’ access to space but under a more ‘regulated’ 2hr ‘guideline’ & all this being described by parties involved as ‘progress’ !.

            The 2nd city can do better than this with regards busking, you know its not a small tourist town like Stratford upon Avon & ‘outdoors’ performance policy ought to get in more line with the ‘reality’ & organic ‘street’ culture of the city.

            The ‘tradition’ here certainly lends itself to playing ‘mornings’ & ‘afternoons’ in some spaces coupled with ‘reasonable’ noise levels & playing ability with the ‘choice’ to play other ( perhaps less ) hours in ‘spots’ elsewhere.

            Time to create & work within ‘codes” that serve the needs of ‘actual’ Buskers who perform in the city not the naieve, ignorant, nor self serving interests of those who ‘travel’ in to either play or make policy or simply hold office, attend meetings, & serve on committees.

            There was a point ( if indeed a ‘hypocritical’ one ) about the ‘red’ tape eg. audtions etc connected to the old scheme but those who made that ‘criticism’ have certainly got it wrong about ‘playing’ times. To jump from its ok ‘formally’ to play all day to todays’ narrow 2 hr ‘guidelines’ policy is not only absurd its ‘unfair’ for many ‘good’ performers.

            Viva la Revolution ( i.e. the practical, commonsense, ever so ‘cultural’ one incl. intrumental solo ‘ street ‘ guitar playing ! )

          • The truth is the ‘new’ Bham Busking policy despite a successful petition against ‘amp’ bans etc represents the ‘degradation’ of Buskers in the city & ironically increased ‘council/’Bid powers over performers & the crazy thing is its been agreed by those who took part in policy ‘meetings’.

  • A Letter To Birmingham (or ” Busking Can Be ‘Seriously’ Bad For Your Health ” )

    You know busking can be seriously bad for your health. Both literally that is I’m out busking in Bham ‘autumn’ last year & experience eg. Sept 2016 a visual disturbance & ‘suspect’ TIA on New St & indirectly eg. Feb 14 2017 ‘Valentines’ Day Busking & ‘problems’ with a supposed ‘complaint’ & responding ‘official’/ ‘city’ centre controller. Interestingly ( ironically ) this ‘unfamiliar’ busking experience taking place ‘post’ intro of Bhams ‘new’ busking code.

    Here an ‘extract’ on how Birmingham from ‘experience’ once a ‘relative’ free & open city-centre to busk in, is today with the introduction of its ‘new’ busking code ( involving an illusory ‘consultation’ that bypassed most Buskers who actually ‘regularly’ perform in the city ! ) one of the most ‘oppressive’ places to street perform in in the country, with relatively ‘good’ ( generally well behaved ! ) Buskers incl myself, unfairly targeted in a manner that I state & will ‘argue’, is both ‘discriminatory’ & racist.

    Yeah I’m picking up not only ‘bias’ ( i.e. against ‘non’ members & towards ‘members’ of so called street ‘activist’ gps like eg. Streetslive.org. See. the YouTube Video ” Police Confront Busker On German Xmas Market ” ) but also ‘undercurrents’ of a kind of irrational ‘insitutional’ form of ‘race’ bias clearly manifestingly itself eg. ‘white’ guys who bully & threaten yg ‘female’ Buskers, even given ‘suspended’ jail sentences in Magistrates Court, are simply told by ‘officals’ & Police to turn ‘volume’ down when such issues arise. Whereas the likes of me, genuinely out ‘performing’ on eg. Valentines Day are threatened ( unfairly pressured ! ) with future City Council ‘investigation’ even when ‘their’ official(s) eg. ‘new’ city-centre controller turn up on the ‘complaints’ scene ( an ‘erroneous’ one ! ) & validate my ‘volume’ as being to ‘his’/ their mind at a reasonable acceptable level.

    Its clear something else is going on here & he/they just want me off that particular ‘prominant’ spot.. In fact referring back to Valentines day, the city-centre controller did ask me, in a rather in ‘menacing’ tone & putting me further on the spot! ) if I’d played in the same ‘space’ the day before i.e. Mon 13th Feb. I said ( ‘confidently’ ) ” yes ! ”, stating that ” busking in this country is ‘legal’ you know ”, I then put this question to him ” Did you have any complaints ? ”, his answer ” No ! ”.

    ( Nb. This part of the city-centre eg. New Street is an ‘established’ busking area, & yes very much ‘valuable’ & highly prized public place & street ‘performance’ space & includes cafes, shops, hotels etc. There are some city-centre developments or ‘apartments’ in the vicinity eg. above Tescos New St Supermarket & a few city-centre ‘offices’. But unlike many ‘Buskers’ & today ‘street’ people incl not just beggars but penny whistlers, I don’t play ‘outside’ or ‘close’ to these places, I through conscious ‘taste’ & choice perform my ‘romantic’ cafe guitar’ further up the New St ‘boulevard’ by the Parisian like advertising point opposite The Burlington Hotel & up until now with zero ‘complaint’ ! ).

    The ‘truth’ here is that the ‘old’ management is still in place at Bham Retail BID incl.. a ‘manager’ who believes busking with ‘amplification’ at ‘high’ volume is per se ‘anti-social’ behaviour ( i.e. not a ‘temporal’ ego problem, gross selfishness or even ‘naievity’ or ignorance of the particular ‘individual’ ! ) & supported its ‘total’ city-centre ban. Calls for a ‘ban’ on amps & the intro of PSPO’s to enforce it recently failed following much ‘criticism’, a petition. & other public ‘outcry. He ( BID Manager ), ‘interested’ parties & ‘others’ ( i.e. the ‘odd’ irate complainer ! ) are now’ quite clearly looking for ‘scapegoats’ this post ‘amp’ reprieve )

    Scrutinising ‘details’ i.e. judging by ‘experience’ & going beyond mere ‘appearances’, the so called ‘new’ Birmingham Busking ‘Code’, containing much ‘patronising’ nonsense as it does, is one of the most misleading & actively ‘divisive’ schemes I’ve yet to come across.

    • * Note

      My actual ‘physical’ as opposed to ‘political’ health problem I briefly refer to above eg. the ‘visual’ disburbance & ‘suspect’ TIA ( as diagnosed by ‘consultants’ at the Bham eye hostpital ‘outpatients’ clinic the ‘following day & luckily referred there by my local GP ) occured in the ‘context’ of even more bizzarre ‘health’ circumstances.

      I’d been busking continously for 3 days when late this one weekday afternoon in Bham New St I suffered slight sight loss in the ‘left’ eye when speaking to 2 ‘enthusiastic’ members of the public, who’d stopped to appreciate the classical guitar ‘cafe’ music.

      I finished the conversation & cd of easily shrugged it off as a ‘migraine’ ( ie. the ‘symptoms’ were similar to one – the ‘only’ one – I’d experienced 15 or 20 years back in a lecture theatre ironically when a first year undergraduate ‘student’ at Coventry University eg. blurred vision combined with ‘nausea’ !. See comment under London ‘Liberty’ Blog ).

      However since Sept 2016, having picked up a ‘seemingly’ potent tropical like ‘virus’ on the Bancroft Gardens ‘Ampitheatre’ spot, during the now ‘annual’ weekend food festival in Stratford upon Avon, & been suffering from a ‘serious’ ear infection ( hitting the ‘sinus’, audio perception etc ) I was due an appt with my doctor. It was following on from this ‘timely’ ( fortunate ! ) visit that I was referred to the ‘eye’ hostpital.

      In turn having been referred to an ‘excellent’ stroke consultant at Sandwell Hostpital ( see ‘comment’ elswhere on my first day off busking 3 or 4 years & Sunday Trip to the black country for an ‘MiA’ scan ). I’ve been put through ‘all’ the tests incl. several blood tests, MiA scans, heart ‘cardoid’ scans etc. I currently on the ‘medication’ Clopidogrel as a ‘precautionary’ measure, so as to prevent the likelihood ( TIA’s can be a biological warning ‘sign’ ) or possibility of a ‘full’ stroke, which of course wd be devestating.

      ( Nb. as someone like myself, who has ‘exprienced’ work in the Care Sector eg. OAP homes in the past knows too well eg. ‘elderly’ residents/ patients lying in bed, in a ‘single’ room all day, paralysed down one side ).

      I now do busking differently of course, yes I’m back out, I have to pay the rent * this is how I ‘seriously’ earn my living. I can play 6 or 7 hrs at a time, conscientously of course, with the ‘right’ music, level of volume & without complaint. However sitting down continuously ( even in ‘proper’ classicla position ) can be dangerous i.e. like long haul aeroplane flights you must be wary of ‘blood’ pooling in the legs, it forming into clots ( even ‘small’ ones ) & blocking vital oxygen to the brain eg. a TIA.

      These days, depending where I am ( town or city ), I still don’t necessarily move ‘spot’ ( esp. in these ‘competitive’ times ) but I do stop every 1hr. Not for a ‘break’ ( contrary to some busking ‘advice’ I like to keep my playing ‘momentum’ ) but to ‘stretch’ the tendons & circulate the blood flow in both ‘arms’ & legs. Doing this ( making it a ‘habit’ ) has not only transformed my ‘health’, but my playing ‘experience’ too, totally upping the ‘feel’ good effect.

      • ( * See. Chester KSL Blog [ bottom of page ), London ‘Liberty’ Blog [ all ] for related ‘comments’ )

        • ( * See York ‘Minster’ Blog for ‘comments’ on ‘religion’, death & all forms of ‘false’ idol worship )

  • Stratford upon Avon ( or A ‘Midsummers’ Night Dream ! )

    I keep hearing everywhere ‘references’ to London when it comes to ‘new’ busking ‘schemes’/codes being proposed these days. For example on Midlands Today ( Bham ‘local’ nationwide programme ) only the other ‘early’ evening, in a ‘comment’ about Coventry a ‘caller’ argued that since the ‘capital’ had introduced ‘licensing’ busking has never been better in the city.

    All very misleading of course cos’ since the introduction of such a scheme in Camden ( Nov 2015 ) ‘busking’ in reality has gone down the plug hole. Truth is ‘good’ musicians incl. no one can get a ‘licence’, even if indeed they want one, which of course on ‘principle’ many don’t, believing rather in ‘free’ open access to public space for street performance.

    Anyway so called ‘private’ busking schemes such as the one run by ‘The SouthBank Centre’ nevermind ‘audtions’, ‘licences, etc in ‘reality’ do not ensure ‘standards’ at all & for me are to be pro rata ‘avoided’. In ‘truth’ its ‘1’hr pitches simply encourage relative ‘mediocrity’, & act as a ‘deterence’ for truly ‘good’ ( hard practiced ) musicians, esp intrumentalists & particularly over the lg-term. You know those growing & ‘highly’ skilled street ‘performers’ capable of ‘entertaining’ passersbye & creating ‘truly’ beautiful ‘atmosphere’ for 120mins, 180 mins plus at a time ( See. London ‘Liberty’ Blog for further comment )

    As for ‘Stratford upon Avon only a few years back I spent one of my ‘best’ Summers there. Memories of playing ‘ The Dolphin’ by Nino Josele on the Bancroft one ‘hot’ Saturday night & a ‘beautiful’ season climaxing in being invited to see the Russian Chekov Theatres world premiere of Shakespeares classic comedy romance ” A Midsummers Nights Dream ” by a Russian Actress who had sat watching me perform in the park for at least an hour or so.

    By ‘contrast’ the prospects for this year, as a ‘Busker’ in Stratford upon Avon are frankly dire by comparison. I’m not a ‘depressive’ type albeit of ‘poetic’ temperament but not generally unhopeful however the BIDs tampering with the existing ‘workable’ scheme ( eg. 2hr ‘revolving’ spots balanced in favour of ‘all’ ) threatens to ruin things or at least ‘create’ unnecessessary conflict ( Nb. without ‘consultation’ the previous Manager altered or ‘reduced’ busk times to 1hr on their website, ‘we’ still abide by the 2hr rule but ‘problems’ & confusion may ensue in the future over this issue ).

    Yes both ‘joy’ & trepidation await this Summer cos’ at present ( judging by ‘last’ year ) the ‘cultural’ direction even in ‘Shakespeareland’ ( amongst not just the the ‘shop’keepers & the businessmen but also the ‘culturatti’, & the theatre ) is stark. Yes i.e. more & more ‘fake’ & where ‘folk’ are getting together ‘creatively’, such ‘projects’ simply palls in the spirit of ‘collaborative’ pretension. Even the independent ‘Little’ Attic Theatre situated by the River Avon bridge & ‘ampitheatre’ on the Bancroft Gardens seemed to be ‘focused’ on producing pretty drab ( & uninventive ) ‘commercia’l stuff last Summer ( tho’ this cd be corrected by their own production of Henry V this year ! )

    Despite this. you may ask ‘me’ why its ‘not’ such a ‘relief’ ( for me & my ‘tastes’ buds at least ) to hear that Birmingham Conservatoire ‘Graduate’ & chart topping Pop Songster/ ‘Choral’ Arranger ( Soweto Style ! ) Laura Mvula’s in town this Spring. What with her latest ‘musical’ project & role as not only Music Director but even more dramatically, more ambitiously, Stage-Play Music ‘Composer for the Shakespeare Theatre. Well its simply that, its not to my ‘tastes’ ( nor cultural ‘politics’ ) her artistic presence this year 2017 on the stage.

    To give the ‘theatre’ credit they do ‘reach’ out & do ‘inner-city’ projects with for example schools in Bham, & nothing for me can beat work like ‘Macbeth On The Estate’ for example. But Laura Mvula, I knew somehow she’d crop up on the ‘list’, they’d be at some point calling her in to do something, but for me ‘she’ no.

    Its not gonna work out, too 6th form ‘Grammar’ School Girl for me, too Florence & the Machine type ‘hype, yes better ( more intelligent, more ‘thru’ arranged ! ) than the Californian Beach Boys ( yuk ! ) but for me no!. Theresa May may love her or should I say ‘the’ idea of her, some of ‘todays’ kids may like her, she may even be the darling of the contemporary ‘record’ industry, the Brits etc but for me no, no chance, no way !.

    • ( See. London ‘Liberty’ Blog eg. ” The Rosie & Rosa Tour 2017 ” for an alternative take on the 6th form grammar school girl or in this case ‘supra’ smart women )

      • ( Nb. As for me as a ‘Busker’, Street Performer, or indeed Public Musician I am moving away from Pop, pop culture altogether. In fact I’m developing a kind of ’emotional’ revulsion for the ‘craft’. My heart, my soul, my own personal ‘truth’ just longs for something else )

        • Plus I speak as a strong advocate of ‘home’ learning ( the ‘Comprehensive system from my ‘experience’ is terrible ! ) & the ‘exploration’ ( & support ) of all forms of ‘alternative’ education. ).

          • Genuine ‘learning’ environments out of which will ’emerge’ true creativity ( & not facile ‘conformity’ ! ).

            You know those ‘false’ ( & ‘cowardly’ ) relations leading to the ‘fake artistic ‘pop” community of the sort ( See. London ) we see pervading ‘society’s mainstream & i.e. producing a ‘vapid, seemingly neverending ‘stream’ of ‘junk’ culture’.

            Busking for ‘me’ at the end of the day is ‘not’ about ‘friendships’ etc essentially, but about ‘the individual’ finding public space in which to express themselves ( in this sense I’m against all ‘artificial’ cultural formations, busking ‘competitions’ in the main, any kind of ‘beauracratic’ process informing ‘practice’ etc )

            I speak from a ‘western’ Artistic perspective & whilst recognising that ‘interesting’ ( & organic’ ) street cultures can & ‘do’ emerge ( See. Gypsies Below ) ‘my’ sentiments are essentially ‘romantic’ & despite the real politik, ‘individual’ ( tho’ not selfish ! ).

          • Oh & ‘Laura’ just for your performance at this years 2017 Cheltenahm Jazz Festival you’re forgiven ( or at least almost ! ). You know I loved your ‘first’ single, quite innovative & fresh for a Pop song ( yeah bizarrely excitingly ‘crossover’ ) luved you until the ‘industry’ makeover or shd I say darling ‘takeover’, & inevitably I guess given these days of easy ‘social’ media, the ‘surface’ formality’s & plastic culture.

          • [ * A Dramatic Aside – ” Arise ‘Aristophones’ back from the dead, I implore you with a sound of trumpet call arise ! ” Q. Why is British Comedy these days so depressing ? Q. The comic club circuit such a ‘damp’ squib ? Even todays more daring & ‘wilder’ comics merely a shadow of Dorian Grey ? ]

          • A brief if not theatrical ‘aside’ on the possible ‘benefits’ of a classical education ]

          • i.e providing the ability for some ‘depth’ in the thinking, some ‘feeling’ if not indeed ‘real’ comic sentiment in the script ‘, or better still some ‘sure’- fire political attack ?.

            Come on ‘Emily Lee’ ( p’t London Busker currently in pschotherapeutic counselling following an a ‘affair’ with an HIV infected I ‘presume’ drug addict ), yes you can do it if you try, compose a ‘corker’ song for the comic ‘sex’ scene you’ve recently been contracted to write

            See Twitter 27/07/2017 Emily Lee Eg. ” Profound wisdom here ” Lara Elliot ( or was it ‘idiot’ ? ) Eg. ” People really need to chill with so much racism, sexism & discrimination in general. Take a pill, enjoy life. You’re getting wrinkles. ”

            Well come on ‘baby’ I say, I’m lying on the couch n’ feet up & with the rest of the UK, no ‘light’ entertainment in at least 24 hrs. Cum on babe give us a laugh, cheer us up will yer !. ]

          • In fact come on, the ‘both’ of you give us an ‘evening’ chuckle in front of the TV. Yes you say……oh dear then its round to the neighbours cos’ I have’nt got one ! ]

          • Yeah the both of ’em like ‘moths’ to the flame !.

          • More the sickening them being of the ‘English’ Summer variety i.e. pretty ‘coloured’ ones !.

          • ( See. Emily Lees various ‘pics’ tho’ on her own ‘social’ media, many of them very good, hinting ( ‘winking’ ! ) as they do towards a kind of ‘expressive’ nostalgia – & a ‘fanciful’ imagination – which I like lots. I really don’t want to be too ‘mean’ spirited towards her, she’s a good sport, & can take a ‘jibe’. Plus she really does have that ‘old’ time’ star quality, not just runaway London English ‘circus’ cabaret but of eg. an ‘Actress’ ( ‘yg’ starlet ) of the late 19th century Belle Epoque, Paris ! )

          • Check her out singing on the SouthBank Ben E Kings classic ” Stand By Me ” on YouTube. Emily’s Gypsy English look very beautiful !. )

          • Look I know, after all I’ve said, but I do feel that I have to say at least a few nice’ things, afterall ( even if deserved ! ) spite never got a man anywhere.

          • What with her ‘heady’ Singer/ Songwriter mix of folk, rock, ‘n’ Blues, you know before the ‘advent’ of Birminghams ‘property’ development age & the closure of ‘key’ 2nd city music spots, she wd have gone down a storm in a venue like ‘ The Fiddle & Bone ‘.

          • ).

          • A ‘favourite’ spot for many ‘excellent’ musicians I’ve known Including ‘classically’ trained ones travelling up from London ( & who in some instances I’ve been ‘inspired’ by ).

          • Tho it was generally ( or should I say more regularly ) an ‘evening’ haunt for ‘folkies’, rock fans & ‘local’ musicians. Nb. The ‘owner’ was a standing member of the CBSO. )

  • * The Cheltenham Races ( or the best written busking ‘code’ in England ! )

    Which finally brings me finally to my ‘favourite’ written busking code i.e. for ‘plain’ written English & without the office ‘dense’ beauracratese & ‘paltry’ advice you ‘find’ in other ‘official’ schemes anyways & thats the one that pertains for Cheltenham.

    Its sets a ‘nice’ n’ simple framework & without any ‘tone’ of prigishness which for me is a great advantage & ‘refreshing’ relief. The only ‘problem’ is the 1hr spot rule but if that was ‘looked’ at again I’d be recommending this example as nr ‘perfect’ for eg. Birmingham if not elsewhere in the country.

    I love the ‘picture’ [inset] of the ‘Gypsy’ musician too featured on the code, more than a touch of ‘reality’ painted here, & yeah a nice ‘human’ touch. You know the people ( men & women ) of this culture have been performing & earning their living on the streets of Europe ( incl some branches here in England ) for centuries.

    Suffering horrendous discrimination ( & abuse ) in certain European quarters incl Hungary & Romania this very much ‘excluded’ community has nevertheless managed to create ( & evolve ) some of the ‘worlds’ most expressive & in some examples sophisticated ‘genres’ of music ( * tho’ the empasis is always on ‘folk’ romance & simplicity which makes the characteristic sound so ‘naturally’ attractive & beautiful ). Yes there’s more to life than ‘pop’ music tho’ again latin pop ballads do feature a part of typical ‘street’ Gypsy repertoire tho’ again worked ‘arranged’ with that effervescent verve & ‘Romane’ spirit. Long may it live on !.

    • ( * See. Chester’ Park Bench’ Blog [ bottom page ] for further related comment )

      • ( * See. London ‘Portobello Rd’ Blog for ‘comment’ on both the ‘friendship’ & conflict I’ve had with Gypsies )

        • * Note

          You’ll see lots of ‘comment’s across this website by me, but all echoing the same attitude again & again. That much of the ‘power’ you see around you is in actual fact a ‘set’ up, & in that sense all it represents is an ‘illusion’.

          As a Busker, Street Performer, potential Public Musician, in the spirit of the Gypsies, no matter what happens, & with no desire to play ‘games’, I’ll always be following the ‘trail’ of ‘true’ freedom, wherever it leads, wherever it goes, not all places are the same, neither are all councils.

          But no matter what, no matter where you are, & not taking affairs for granted, afterall I’m a ‘minoirity’ often ‘edged’ out of things, & thru’ working hard to ‘maintain’ existing ‘good’ relations, I’ve found theres always some place to go & as if by ‘miracle’ this is where ‘true’ power lies. Praise thanks for that i.e. the ever present good will of folk ( in certain places where elsewhere its lacking ) & above all else their sense of fairness & reason !.

          • [ * A Dramatic Aside – I repeat ” Arise ‘Aristophones’ back from the dead, I implore you with a sound of trumpet call arise ! ” Q. Why is British Comedy these days so depressing ? Q. The comic club circuit such a ‘damp’ squib ? Even todays more daring & ‘wilder’ comics merely a shadow of Dorian Grey ? ]

          • ” The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame ” Oscar Wilde ] .

          • Recommended ‘Film’ Viewing
            See. ‘ Carry On Up The Khyber ‘ starring Sidney James, Kenneth Williams, Roy Castle, Joan Simms, & Terry Scott. ]

          • A ‘prelude’ to UK Top Brass reacting to Trump & USA ‘domestic’ policy, in turn following suit & banning all ‘transexuals’ from ‘active’ frontline duty in the British Army ]

          • Plus once more a brief if not classic aside on the possible benefits of a modern English ‘Comic’ Film Education ]

          • From Book #The Art Of Modern Warfare ‘New’ Strategies & Tactics Chapter 8 ‘ Fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan ‘ ]

          • Quote ” Its guaranteed those mountain Bosch’ will turn & run in ‘fear’ on ‘first’ sight…..! ]

          • In fact I’ve got a ‘new’ name for this contemporary Brigade e.g. ‘ The Band of Thebes ‘. Bytheway my friends call me Napoleon i.e. after one of my many possible ‘alter’ ego’s ].

          • On Exortium: This comment is written in memory of & triibute to ‘ The Sacred Band Of Thebes’ i.e. Thebes not ‘Thieves’ ! ].

          • A classic ‘celebration’ of not ‘greatness’ no too many so called ‘great’ people in the world ( See.The President of the USA ) but of ancient ‘excellence’, ‘real’ art & ‘true’ human beauty ! ]

  • Spring Weekend Busking In Stratford upon Avon ( or one Sunday Morning A Punch Up On The Banccroft Gardens or Waking Up Out of The ‘Fictive’ Dream )

    Prolgue

    No never a dull moment busking I’ve spent the last week speaking to Jounalists, Stratford upon Avons BID Manager, & Other ‘interested’ parties following a ‘punch-up’ ( scuffle ) on by the ‘fountain’ spot on the Bancroft Gardnes the other week.

    Present in the ‘vicinity’ myself that ‘Sunday’ Morning, I’ve been certainly awoken out of the ‘fictive’ dream ( i.e. busking peace ! ) that generally permeates the place, & found myself arguing against calls for greater control of Buskers in the town following ( or more accurately ‘contained’ in ) a ‘press’ news story on the incident.

    The likes of myself via Journalists, BID Managers, Other Interested Parties calling for more ‘reasonable’ eg minor ‘ammendments’ in the code to suffice to tackle the problem, Certainly not CPO’s which have been banded around by the BID Manager as a ‘solution’ to ‘struggles’ such as this & what are on analytical ‘probing’ not only generally ‘unfair’ but wd’nt necessarily ‘directly’ address incidents that are partly the result of a very ‘solvable’ underlying busking issue ( some might say midemenours ! ) in the town.

    No ones ‘responsible’ ( other street performers certainly are’nt ) for the ‘characters’ that turn up & the ‘capers’ that go on the ‘performing’ streets from time to time but certain ‘code’ issues do crop up & I’ve been recommending the ‘right’ kind of amendments eg. ones to do with avoiding ‘misdemeanours’ like ‘hogging’ spots for self advantage & causing the likelihood of conflict.

    In Stratford upon Avon theres often ‘competition’ ( mild ! ) for the ‘first’ morning spots eg. yger players arriving at 10am Sat to grab a ‘space’ & countering that out of town Buskers arriving even ‘earlier’ for that spot. No problem with this its ‘natural’ ( with other ‘spaces’ to go to if the 1st one is not gotten ) but an issue as arisen with one ‘performer’ ( multi-instrumentalist singer ) accused of ‘holding’ space for himself beyond the reasonable point of ‘crowds’ arriving into town eg. beyond 11am & up until 12 miday, which is causing cries of foul play, holding up busking ‘flow’, & generally affecting negatively the ‘morale’ of other Buskers esp. yg ones.

    Action

    The ‘minor’ fight that took place on the Bancroft the other Sunday began after the wife of one longstanding ‘Magician’ town performer left her equipment on the spot unattended having got there ‘first’ ( causing ‘security’ problems according to the Stratforward BID Manager ) for a ‘newcomer’ to the town to arrive & take it unawares.

    Argument ensued on her return, the newcomer refusing to move, the ‘husband’ was called in on the scene, attempted to blog him ( the newcomer ) setting up on the ‘mic’ himself, further conflict occured & the “Magician’ Husband ‘hit’ him. Police got involved & since then theres’ been calls for greater controls on buskers & busking i.e. totally blowing the ‘conflict’ out of proportion & ignoring the fact that the ‘code’ that does exist eg. 2hr revolving spots is abided to happily by most Buskers.

    The BID Manager ‘commented’ in the ‘local’ press story account that whilst no PSPO solutions are being considered at present a more ‘targeted’ approach is. On pressing him for ‘clarity’ over the phone he ‘angrily’ stated his intention to call on the Town Council for greater ‘teeth’ in enforcing the current ‘code’ in the form of CPO’s ( individual Community Protection Orders ) for certain badly behaved persons.

    I cited the ridiculousness of imposing say a ‘ban’ for going over say a ‘proposed’ 1hr spot limit

    ( Nb. An earlier BID Manager changed without ‘notice’ the original 2hr code to 1hr on the Stratforward Website a year or so back, its currently being ignored & with ‘no’ issue up until now ! )

    & seeking to protect the ‘community’ from eg. a violinist playing for 2hrs on the Park on a Sunday afternoon.

    Epilogue

    The reasonable alternative I’ve argued is to lessen the risk of ‘conflict’ due to spot hoarding by an ‘amendment’ that requests Buskers to start playing by 11am say on Henley St ( a ‘popular’ spot but ‘not’ the only one ! ) eg. you arrive at 10.30am, 8.80am but get started by 11 in the morning. All Buskers of course need to be made aware of this ‘issue’ & the unfariness it causes & the ‘reasonable’ solution it calls for ( certainly not ‘enforced’ CPO’s ).

    The justification for the 2hr spot code rather than 1hr is that 1hr unfairly ‘discriminates’ against ‘Walkbye’ Buskers incl. instrumentalists, cafe acts etc responsible for ‘atmoshpere’ in the town ( see definition Wikepedia ). ‘Display’ Artists eg. magicians, acrobats, 45min acoustic ‘op’ strummers etc can get by with 1hr playing time but the ‘other’ category certainly can’t ( or at least not so easily ). Therefore the 2hr revolving spot ‘practice’ shd in the name of basic justice be maintained & re-written into the website ‘code’ infomation to be fair.

    Issues such as ‘booking’ spot arrangements have been raised eg. by the Journalist I spoke to rcently, him relaying the ‘suggestion’s by one pair of yg Buskers. Speaking against this solution I talked of comparitive schemes eg. London SouthBank ( private scheme ), Solihull etc & their unsuitabiliy for Stratford upon Avon. I also spoke of the ‘cronysim’, favourtism & other ‘foul’ play that took place during the early morning 9am ‘tel’ calls to Birmingham Retail Management when I ‘used’ call to make ‘spot’ bookings when the ‘old’ Bham busking scheme was around.

    No I stated the only ‘fair’ & practical solution to issues raised here are 1, Awareness 2. minor ‘ammendments’ 3 Non uneccessary draconian action & 4. A ‘return’ to ‘offical’ recognition of the 2hr spot rule ( currently practiced & workably! ).

    In truth adopting a 1hr rule wd not even ‘free’ up space in the town during ‘peak’ months, it wd only make ‘congestion’ worse. When the ‘towns’ full its full ( tho’ from experience I state here it ‘never’ is theres always somewhere to go ! ) & one day if so, then the ‘solution’ is jump on the train & take the ‘short’ trip to Birmingham or even Leamingon Spa ( tho’ more ‘realistically’ the 2nd city ! ), You’ll certainly find ‘alternative’ playing space there & even possibly ‘bigger’ crowds !.

    Byetheway I’m currently in ‘talks’ with the Birmingham MU ( currently I’m not a ‘formal’ member ) on this issue & proposed ‘solutions’, amendments, ‘improvements’ are already under way, being ‘productively’ discussed.

    • Notes

      See. News Story In the Stratford Upon Avon Herald ” Buskers Turf War Row Turns Nasty ” 20th April 2017. Please note I’m currently writing an ‘informative’ Letter on this issue to the newspaper on the invitation of the Journalist.

      • Further Notes

        Other Issues to do with ‘booking’ schemes I’ve experienced are eg 1. ‘cronyism’ 2, inefficent management of space or ‘waste’ i.e. Bham you’d ‘often’ arrive in the city centre to find supposed ‘booked’ spaces empty 3. promotes ‘laziness’ i.e. this kind of arrangement suits the ‘lazy’ more than the ‘naturally’ & ‘healthily’competitive I find.

        Buskings about getting out into the ‘field’ of play ( work ! ) & as spontaneously as reasonably ‘possible’ getting a spot. Like ‘life’ itself this involves ‘effort’ but also some good luck & fortune ( tho’ I find mainly effort ! ). For me tho’ & altho’ sometimes ‘open’ competition can be frustrating its ‘generally’ all part of the fun & of being ‘humanly’ alive. So lets keep busking ‘natural’ too ! .

        ( Nb. Mommy coddling Buskers past a certain age-limit is certainly not the answer, time to ‘grow’ up & get real. Busking ‘mirrors’ the real world of ‘natural’ affairs, so yeah great training for ‘real’ life in general ! )

        • More Notes

          Bytheway I think the SouthBank ( in its ‘current’ guise ) has a ‘case’ for ‘booking’s but I’d like to see the Thames strip opened up for 2hr ‘instrumental’/Walkbye playing spots i.e. Agustin Barrios wd sound beautiful, au Paris Sunday afternoons alongside the ‘boulevards’ of the River Thames. ( Bham before the ‘office’ cronyism took root felt not too bad either i.e. ‘bookings’ for certain ‘spots yes’, but this being ‘balanced’ by access to other ‘good’ off-pieste public space.Its all a matter of ‘moral’ instinct here, & fairness & ‘balance’ . This kind of ‘arrangement’ wd’nt work in Stratford upon Avon I stress, too much ‘red-tape’, & open to ‘abuse’, for me it does’nt work in Solihull either !.)

          • Additional Notes

            Nostalgia beckons & once more I’m recalling back in the day & busking in Bham under the then ‘booking’ scheme. It had its ‘advantages’ i.e. security of tenure when booking a week or so ahead, not a ‘bad’ thing for a jobbing Street Musician,

            There was even a taste of ‘civilisation’ back then & a return to the ways & ‘mores’ of everyday manners & poltite society, yes in its own way very nice, very ‘comforting’.

            But you know ‘busking’ by its very nature is not a ‘normal’ job, its ‘not’ a ‘career’, its ‘a way of life’, please remember that & yes this is very much a time for thinking outside the ‘bubble’, So yeah everyone ‘roll’ on I say, roll on !.

          • Quit searching for the ‘easy’ life I say & bask in your ‘solitude’. To others I say its simply a matter of finding a way to successfully straddle that rather ‘ambigious’ world between that of a ‘pop’ star & an Artist !.

          • Perhaps at some point ‘follow’ me, on a journey of discovery. Come join, ‘link’ up, spend a little time with that roving, loving ‘community’ in the wilderness !.

          • No ‘bookings’ here just cultural ‘connection’, instinctive understanding & most importantly warmth ( & not just from the warming of the sun ! ). No like the latest bottle of Silvikrin ‘shampoo’ just set up & go.. Authentic bonding & camraderie too ( no fake hugs & a kiss on the cheek, this is a kiss on the lips, french tongues even ! ) & the ‘prospects’ are good, great for an ‘authentic’ spin off ‘gig’ network, music subculture & ‘homegrown’ fashion.

          • Further Addenda

            One more thing before I forget the issue of the 35 metre rule has ‘cropped’ up with regards ‘revising’ the current busking code in Stratford upon Avon.

            Its to do with ‘policing’ noise levels & ‘volumes’ etc, ‘rational’ on the surface but quite an ‘unreasonable’ policy when you probe further & I’m surprised its even brought up cos’ since the ‘towns’ BBC1 ‘Tom
            Jones ‘ TV Voice candidate & Popular ‘Opera’ Singer Karl Loxley has been on the scene the ‘rule’ has been ‘dropped’ ( i.e. unenforced ) & ‘he’ ( Karl ) can seemingly do no wrong in the ‘eyes’ of the ‘authorities’, Press & the like.

            Of course Karl is a ‘good’ example of how to sing ‘n very loudly ‘without’ complaint. HIs cultivated ‘art-music’ voice is ‘aesthetically’ pleasing to many incl. shopkeepers, public despite its ‘natural’ ( nevermind ‘amplified’ ) volume.

            3 problems do remain with regards busking ‘distances’ & volume levels in the town according to my 4 or 5 yrs ‘experience’ performing there & impt there are ‘decent’ & effective remedies i.e. avoiding ‘draconian’ ( overkill ) measures such as CPO’s ( community protection orders etc ) which in the context are very ‘unfair’ solutions.

            1. Some ‘pop’ acts ( i.e. using larger ‘amp’ systems ) cd well do with ‘lowering’ the ‘reverb’ cos its the ‘boom’ effect of this that seems to get up many ‘folks’ noses.

            2. Either this or yes , yes ‘learning’ to sing properly ( or at least acquiring the very ‘theatrical’ skill of ‘throwing’/projecting the voice more naturally )

            3. Louder ‘singing’ acts/duos who busk on the ‘fountain’ spot ( see above ) on the Bancroft Gardens cd well consider ‘lowering’ volumes after 6pm when elderly/ ‘working’ residents return home or are at least ‘settling’ down for their ‘own’ evening leisure. If entertaining the ‘early’ evening ‘theatre’ crowd try ‘facing’ your eg.’Bose ‘antennae’ speakers in that direction or ‘locate’ closer to the theatre or go elswhere.

            A Further ‘Noise’ Volume Conflict

            ( Nb. last year a ‘conflict’ occured in the ‘vicintiy’ between 2 ‘new’ Bath Buskers one accusing the other of ‘drowning’ him out & inadvertantly ‘hitting’ ( punching ) him. Yes I was in the ‘vicinity’ & witnessed this event too ! )

          • Byetheway not all ‘pop’ singers are that bad or too ‘voluminous’ either to be fair. E.g. one of my favourite acts ( i.e. even I wd sit around & listen to her ) is a yg ‘female’ folk/pop singer fairly new to the town. Shes got it all eg. great ‘busking’ song choice, nice tone & ‘little’ reverb !.

          • My policy ‘conclusion’s are that the ‘old’ code 35 metre rule be ‘contextually’ reconsidered & the once ‘singers’ amp ban be ‘formally’ dropped from the code as the ‘did’ discriminate against ‘singers’.

            More ‘reasonable’ ‘remedies’ can & should be put in place alongside the ‘just’ restitition of the 2hr revolving spot busking framework so that ‘cafe’ / instrumental are properly regarded as well. Its a matter of ‘busking’ jusitice, ‘good’ management & ‘decent’ public entertainment.

          • * Edit ( Revisions )

            ‘it’ for ‘the’ as in eg. ” ..the once singers amp ban be ‘formally’ dropped from the code as [‘it’] did discriminate against ‘singers’.

  • A Travellers Journal ( & journeys ‘plans’ )

    An English Romantic at heart ( See Romford Blog comment ” Summer Adventure & Romance ” ) I’m practicing my ‘journal’ ( i.e. ‘prospective’ travellers one ) for the ‘trip’ to Spain & have to say my journeys’ plans are already underway. Mapping the ‘route’, colleague/ ‘initiations’ ( insights ! ) & ‘book’ advice, documents, various ‘practical’ skills & know-how to learn, ‘money’ raised ( ‘debts’ accounted for ! ) all carefully prepared in lieu of the ‘route’ ahead.

    Importantly getting myself ‘psyched’ up to for my future ‘trip’ despite some I guess ‘inevitable’ recent ‘set-backs’ ( or should lI say ‘discouragement’s i.e. ‘demoralisers’ ). Only last ‘weekend’ I was out ‘busking’ on the Saturday in Bham & I was set upon ( ‘pestered’ ! ) by 2 sets of ‘dickhead’ in the city-centre. Truthfully I’ve not had this ‘happen’ for a while i.e. since at least last November ( yes, thats ‘good’ going for the streets ! ).

    On Cherry St a ‘street ‘guy on ‘passing’ ( Nb. I wish he did i.e. just pass by innocuously ! ) insisted on ‘pressing’ me with a ‘promise’ to give me his contact ‘details’ for ‘gigs’ etc. I retorted I did’nt need any ‘gigs’ , he shouted back ” You think you’re clever ? ”, I replied ” No, its just that I’m travelling ”, he said ” Where, England or Europe ? ”, I again replied ” England ! ”, he retorted ” thats where the gigs are going to be ! ” & then went off. He returned 20 mins later with a ‘girl’ who was ‘mildly’ mocking him ( neigh ‘flirtatiously’ pulling his leg ! ) as they passed I said to her ” He’s a character is’nt he ? ”, he on passing shouted back aggressively ” No, you’re the ‘character’ ” & in the distance turning his head back at me muttered once more ( tho this time more to himself & perhaps a little more uncertainly ) ” Hes the character ! ”. Then went off rather menacingly in the ‘opposite’ direction.

    On New St 5pmish a gp of ‘guys’ gathered behind me nr the Tesco’s busking spot. Whilst playing my ‘sound’ suddenly went off, after ‘brief’ ( tho frustrating ! ) investigation I ‘noticed’ my ‘master’ volume button had been turned off. A few minutes later after my ‘adjusting’ it back to ‘normal’ I caught a glance in the ‘front’ shop window of the ‘image’ of one of these ‘guy’s creeping up behind me to ‘switch’ the volume off again. I leapt up of my seat ( guitar ‘stool’ ), aggressively & warned him to leave it alone. He denied any wrongdoing & I got into an atypical male ‘tete-a-tete’ with him.

    The situation reminded me tho’ ( pulling me back pscychologically a litte ) that in these days of high ‘security’ risk & ‘terror’ alert in the city centre, its not the fact that I might be ‘drawn’ ( ‘seriously’ provoked ) into ‘killing’ this guy I might be killed in the process, not by ‘him’ or his mates ( tho’ a gang of ’em may in truth do me harm or ‘serous’ damage & so might ‘he’ alone in possibility ) but by the ‘police’ some of them now ‘armed’ to the teeth with ‘automatic’ rifles & ‘handguns’.

    I ‘imagined’ them rushing to the scene, not knowing what was going on, seeing a ‘white’ guy getting pulverised to ‘human’ smithereens on the street, seeing me, thinking, indeed ‘imagining’ Terrorist, Jihadee or whatever & ‘shooting’ me on the spot, them ( armed ‘police’ constables ) on fairly ‘typical’ ( well ‘not’ untypical when you think of the Londons Met record etc ) police ‘terror’ watch ‘auto-pilot’ . I have to say this ‘imagined’ terror scenario helped stop me in ‘my’ tracks, to quell my ‘ferocious’, livid emotion & ‘think’ again.

    Its a ‘week’ or so later now since these 2 ‘events’ on the street & of course I’ve ‘reflected’ deeply on both ‘episodes’, both ‘threatening’ in their own ways & both very intimidating. You know you’ve got to be careful when responding to ‘external’ threats ( provocations ! ) on the ‘street’, out of not just ‘obvious’ injustice but out of wittingly or unwittingly slipping into ‘ego’ & of course ‘fear’ in turn these ‘impulses’ pushing you into either ‘alpha’ male ‘dominant’ aggression or pleasing ‘passivity’ so as to ‘control’ the situation.

    On ‘reflection’ the best response being not ‘cow’ yourself out of the problem nor indeed straigtaway fight thru’ it but instead ‘patience’, silence, ‘fearless’ assertiveness eg ‘rational’ honest reply ” I’m not being clever but can I be intelligent & honest with you, I don’t want any ‘gigs’ I’ve got a different ‘agenda’ at present ! ” & if ‘pressed’ call the police ( or possibly’ notify them in this ‘first’ type of case ! ).

    Of course you’ve got to a adopt a refusal to be fobbed off by 999 emergency mentality ” I’ve got a gang of ‘guys’ behind me , possibly football hooligans ( Nb. tho to be fair in this case ‘cricket’ fans, since it was cricket Championships going on in Bham that weekend ! ) the ‘one’ bent on causing trouble, ‘provoking’ me, harrassing me ‘switching’ my volume off, please send an ‘officer’ to the scene straight away as I think I may well be ‘attacked’ ” you must ‘assert’ over the telephone. One reason why ‘conflict’ like this can break out into ‘civil’ disturbance, affray etc is because its so easy to lose your ‘trust’ in civil authorities, 999, the police to do their ‘job’ properly & actually turn up to quell the situation. If they ‘don’t turn up in time it can pay to have some ‘real’ self-defence strategies ( & manouvres in mind ! ) which can reduce risk knowing that at least what is happening is ‘now’ on record, & you at least tried to call the police beforehand ( Nb. useful if the case goes to ‘court’ ).

    Yeah, in hindsight ‘travel’ security is to an issue these days, tho’ with this kind of ‘wisdom’ in mind I have to say the ‘omens’ are good. Yes very ‘good’ in fact, I woke up early this ‘morning’ & after todays dawn ‘callisthenics’ excercise routine opened up the ‘kitchen’ door, for some ‘sun’ & fresh air to see a ‘Magpie’ tottering about in the back yard, having ‘spontaneously’ flown down from a neighbouring ‘tree’. Yeah always a ‘good’ sign ( & great start to the day too ) whoopee !.

    • * Notes

      As for Politics, culture & society in England at present, all I’ve got to say on the matter, for now anyways i.e. ‘today’ ( eg. UK election day ! ) is one line & one line only. You know that now century’s old & rapidly becoming eternal maxim esp. for a Public Musician, a Busker such as mysefl, I repeat ” a No Vote is a Vote ! ”.

  • Birmingham City Centre Police & Summer Time Busking ( A Racial Discrimination Complaint )

    Its the first time but I guess it inevitably had to happen, I’ve just put in a complaint over the tel of ‘racial’ disrimination by Police in relation to their ‘handling’ of an ‘incident’ that took place today ( Mon 12/6.17 ) in Bham city centre whilst I was busking.

    Yeah, its the ‘final’ straw for me as a ‘male’ Busker of Uk ‘duel’ heritage Eg.

    1. Just before Xmas 2016 I’m spat upon by a youngster in the town when busking, totally ‘unprovoked’ See. London Liberty Blog, I call the ‘police’ only to have my ‘assault’ dismissed upon waking up to an ‘early’ morning call on New Years Day 2017 from the Desk Seargant of Perry Barr Police Station.

    2. Only last weekend ( See. Above ) I experience 2 ‘Dickhead’ incidents in one Saturday. The latter involving some ‘twat’ turning my ‘volume’ off, behind me, me unawares. Both incidents involved ‘psychological’ aggression & intimidation, the city-centre is full of police, quite a few ‘armed’ & loaded. & walking around, yet for a ‘common’ on the ground situation like this they do nothing, can’t be relied upon to do anything.

    3. Today ( Mon ) I’m set up busking on New St again this afternoon, when only after 30 mins, a band of Street Preachers turn up eg. 6 or 7 of them, armied with placards & ‘scripture’ scribbled boards & start ‘preaching ( bellowing ) only 30 or so metres away from me through ‘amped’ up loudhalers.

    The ‘game’ ensues as I ‘confront’ them asking them to ‘turn’ down, they say they will oblige but the ‘volume’ goes up ( yes very Christian ! ). After a few ‘repeated’ tete-a-tetes esp. with this one American ( or was he Canadian ) guy, on his soapbox ( I cd have swung for him & knocked him flying of it ! ) the first set of ‘security’ turned up. Basically they were left to carry on ( unfarily validating their ‘rude’ actions ) so I aggressively ‘confronted’ them again i.e. stood in front of the one Preacher & refused to move, a crowd ( ‘curious’ onlookers ) gathering.

    Two other ‘officers’ ( male & ‘female’ ) this time turned up, me ‘standing’ in front of the Loudhaler Speaker with my ‘hands’ up in front of his mouth ( ie. human ‘veil’ fashion ) so as to shut him up. The ‘male’ officer rather than ‘pressing’ them ( the Christians ) for harrassment ( I was ‘first’ in the vicinity & they simply turned up without introduction, selfishly set up themselves & ‘drowned’ me out ) turned on me, the one officer threatening to arrest ‘me’ for ‘public order offences’. I told him on the spot ” Arrest me then, I’m not moving, I was here first ”.

    The officer then stated ( biasly ) that they ( the ‘street’ Preachers ) were not that loud & that ‘I’ should leave them alone ( I tell you honestly, they ‘were’ extremely loud, nothing ‘new’ either, common place in the city-centre, witnesses said they cd hear them way up the street, & I say they’re not lying, you cd & most definitely 30 or so metres away ! ). Anyway I ended up ‘moving’ further up the street & I tell you truthfull was ‘furious’ about this. I had more than a ‘few’ street guys back me on this & offer support, the one ‘homeless’ Guy stating ( & from today on I’m a believer ) that the ‘police’ are ‘Demons’ who simply pick on who they want.

    I went back to the ‘spot’ on New St 2 hours later, the Preachers still in their ‘space’ & making even more of a ‘crazy’ racket, the self serving ‘vain’ & hypocritical egotists. This time tho’ I played them out, them leaving an hour or so later eg. 6pm/7pmish ( I can’t quite remember ). I shouted at one that ” Allah will cut off the head of the serpant son of God ” & he replied ” Allah does’nt exist ! ).

    As they ‘disappeared’ into the early evening ‘commuter’ belt twilight, I vowed that was going to make a ‘formal’ complaint to the police, which just nows I did. I’m not bothering with Bham City Council, nor Birmingham Retail BID, the ‘rumour’ that a ‘code’ devised specifically for ‘street’ Preachers has been running for some time now, & in the ‘context’ of today & from a ‘regular’ Buskers perspective is not only nonsense but ‘further ‘discriminatory’

    ( Nb. ‘We’ as ‘Street’ Performers are expected to abide by a ‘civic’ code ‘neigh’ guide in Bham but the killjoy Preachers at present are not. In fact I ‘argue’ that its time to ‘re-adress’ archaic law with regards ‘religious’ freedoms in this country & either end the privelage or ‘establish’ ours, Buskers that is ).

    • * Notes ( On ‘Self’ Reliance )

      Like many ‘interested’ parties I’ve dipped into the American Classid Essay ‘ On Self Reliance ‘ by Ralph Waldo Emerson once or twice ( & thensoon put it down or should I say to ‘rest’ again ).

      Now whilst I ‘don’t like the ‘pre-cursory’ USA ‘dream’ philosophy ( neigh ‘ideology’ ) contained within this ‘pamlet’, i.e. from a ‘black’ mans point of view it completey ignores the impt if not ‘key’ concept of ‘structural’ violence ( See. J. Galtung ‘founder’ of Peace Studies ) , the essay still has something pertinent to say & ‘wisdom’ like ” if you want something doing do it yourself ” ( * Quote taken from Emily Lee Music ‘Twitter’ site 13/6/17 ).

      You know the ‘revolution’ that was the ‘internet’ was for many exactly about this i.e. individual ‘creative’ empowerment, artistic DIY. As it turns out tho’, you still have many so called Independant Artists ( ‘self’ named ) running to ‘periphery’ industry ‘services’ for ‘aid’ & help, at a ‘price’ of course when things don’t quite work out as ‘anticipated’.

      Despite the technolgical socio/ cultural ‘information’ transformation thats taken place these past decades, even ‘elite’ musicians ( eg. those with the ‘capital’ resources laid on eg. Music Students at your Colleges, Guildhalls, neigh Conservatoires & publicly, parentally ‘financed music studio’s at hand, who despite ‘enthusiastic’ starts tend to give up on projects ( or ‘water’ them down, the workload that is ) half way thru’.

      One such ‘musician’, a classical violinist, form Eastern Europe, her ‘ambition’ to play ‘backing’ strings for pop gps like Coldplay, & who I ‘mention’ elsewhere on this Blog forms one ‘duo’ part of this type of student example.

      On a recent Twitter post ‘she’ alongside ‘her’ musical partner ‘fellow’ violin ‘male’ student/ singer ( & ‘home’ recording enthusiast ! ) the two of them on abandoning their ‘multi’ EP project for a more simple ‘single’ recoriding after 3 months ‘struggling’ in the studio ( in ‘truth’ him struggling ! ) advises that at the end of the day ‘ we all have to ‘work’ with ‘others’ ‘. Meaning the ‘next’ time ( Q. to ‘finish’ their current ‘project’ ? ) no doubt they’ll be using a ‘local’ studio, perhaps approaching the College ( ‘professional’ ) Engineers.

      As for her ‘advice’ ( recommendations ) & I’ve long reflected upon it, ”wrong-headed” I retort. You know if the ‘recording’ problem is ( I think this is what their ‘problem’ was ) Q. to sort out ‘several’ recorded instruments ( file ‘filters ) into a ‘balanced’ recording then this can be ‘learned’ too. Ok on your ‘first’ outing you find doing this on one ‘sample’ takes longer than ‘anticipated’, but then that does’nt mean you can’t ‘improve’ on your ‘recording’ technique & ‘process’ know how & aim to successfully ‘complet’ a larger no’ of ‘mult-layerd’ tracks within the designated time period at a later point.

      The point here being ( i.e. The ‘lesson’ ? ) no don’t give up, yes ‘fools rush in’ ( particular ‘vain’ ones ) but the ‘wise’ plough on, learn what they need to learn, apply it, & yes in the long-term more ‘efficiently’ ! ( got it ? ).

      .

      • * Further Notes ( On The ‘Amateur’ Generalist )

        Self-sufficiency is very ‘desirable’ & so is its corrollory ‘generalism’ ( Ironically I must get my ‘own’ website & blog together esp. for routine ‘grammatical’ corrections such as ‘Classic’ for ‘Classid’ & ‘pamphlet’ for ‘pamlet’ See. Above ).

        Even in our Society with its complex ‘divison of labour’ & tendency towards ‘micro’ specialisation the Amateur ‘Generalist’ is making a come back ( in fact he’s never gone away ). Truth is for ‘some’ it is ‘multi -skilling’ that is the #key source of ‘achievment’ & of course human satisfaction.

        So don’t be fooled ( or discouraged ) by the ‘big’ boys ( Producers etc ) in the Pop Industry, it really is possible for a hobbyist ( ‘enthusiast’ ) to record a Radio 1 quality master CD or at least get very close to it ( incl. ‘volume’ levels ) at home in their own ‘Amateur’ pro studio.

        • * Even More Notes ( On The ‘Amateur’ Professional Musician )

          As for one of the best in English ‘cottage’ Industry ( musical ), a true ‘songbird’ if for some ‘still’ a little shrouded in mystery & well worth ( if still in truth ‘theoretically’ for me ) checking out, then you could do no better than going to see ‘live’ Folk Musician & songwriter Hattie Briggs at The Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey 10th July.

          No, I’m not a ‘plugger’ just enthusastic about the notion, indeed ‘reality’ of a ‘Young’ Folk International Arts Festival which is this & in which Hattie is taking to the stage. Woooh the Summer madness if not ‘truly’ begins at least follows on !.

          • Ok in her case & upon closer ‘analysis’ what we’re talking about here is perhaps relatively speaking a more ‘collaborative’ effort i.e. a little ‘Pop’ philosophy ( some might say ‘enlightenment’, I don’t ! ) does creep in.

          • Anway do pop along the whole event is ‘hosted’ by ‘Coco’ the dog, her pet black Labrador. So yes you’re sure to have an enjoyable evening & oh you ‘ole’ Folkies don’t forget your pipe & slippers if you want to make it a hearty if not ‘cosey’ one.

          • Folk Night-Out that is, checking out her growing SongBook incl. ‘limited’ edition Xmas CD. Not bad as truly ‘authentic’ Xmas CDs go, you know in the Accrington Stanley Town Brass Band ilk. Yes successfully emmanting both musical ‘nostalgia’ & charm. even on a ‘warm’ & sultry English Summers night.

          • ( See. Shroud ‘Folk’ Songbird Hattie Briggs July 10 at the Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey )

  • Glastonbury 2017, The Somerset Years & ‘Martian’ Poetry

    Its official the last 48 hrs have been the hottest June days since 1976. Its blisteringly sunny & swelteringly humid outside & as you’ve no doubt guessed I’m ‘not’ out busking, not even, as is customary this time of year. in the park ( for some the ‘mythic’ wheatfields or should I say golden fields of corn ) ‘romancing’, but in my case now at home ( ‘indoors’ ) sorting ‘things’ out. Books that is, ‘new’ diets & excercise routines, ‘old’ clothes & other forms of ‘clutter’ & ‘lifestyle’ disorder.

    I was out last weekend of course, busking in Stratford upon Avon both Sat & Sun very warm, indeed hot ( it can be as weatherly ‘oppressive’ & close as the Sahara or ‘Ghobi’ Desert busking in the ‘open’ on the ‘ampitheatre’ Bancroft Gardens, during the day this time of year ). On Sunday ‘I’ found myself, unusual for me, first thing, performing closer to town on the ‘Midas’ Medditerranean Cafe spot opposite the Town Hall on the corner of Sheep Street.

    An ‘hour’ or so into my set & surprisingly Birminghams No 1 Busker & Wedding Violinist Pete Hartley passed by in his car as I was playing ie ‘solo’ guitar. He shouted ‘Nigel’, as he drove by, I gave him a ‘polite’ wave in response. I noticed a ‘suit’ ( Dinner Suit ) hanging above the car ‘rear’ seat plus ‘white’ dress shirt & was that a ‘dickey- bow’ ?. ” He must have a ‘function’ on” I thought to myself, shouting across the street loudly ” you working ? ”, him ‘retorting’ while smiling ” Yes ! ”.

    I was at this point also reminded it was the Glastonbury festival weekend ( up & coming ! ) by the now ‘annual’ Stratford upon Avon ‘River’ Festival poster ads being attached to street ‘lamposts’ & public billboards by Town Hosts. Whilst I still give a ‘nod’ of acquaintance to his ‘female’ colleague also on duty today, I’ve recently stopped speaking to this particular guy i.e. Terry ( the ex John Peel favourite band member ). I beiieve, he has the ‘negative’ habit of playing Buskers off of each other, spreading rumours about ‘immanent’ formal 1hr playing times & without any Buskers support or ‘protest’ himself, not even ‘slight’ casual criticism of such ‘draconian’ control measures. This is why I ‘don’t like him, I used too, but now confirming my ‘suspicions’ I’ve gone off him

    Later Sunday afternoon I inevitably ended up on my ‘favoritite’ spot on the Bancroft Gardens. However 30mins into busking, an ‘odd’ looking middle-aged guy unexpectedly turned up on the scene. ‘Acoustic’ guitar in hand he ‘stated’ that he’d been given a ‘permit’ & had been directed here. I explained the ‘truth’ to him that no permit was ‘legally’ required to busk in the town & that I’d be here for another 1hr & a half. I then ‘re-directed’ him to an alt. ‘good’ spot ( for him ! ) situated the ‘other’ side of Henley St. He went off with what I then ‘noticed’ were 2 yg girls ( one appearing ‘mixed’ race ! ).

    The scenario ( & ‘potential’ conflict ) did pass relatively peaceably ( tho’ him going off in a little bit of a huff, me feeling ‘slightly’ harrassed or at least unexpectedly put upon ), yeah ” divide & rule ” I thought to myself & I then carried on playing in the blistering heat undisturbed i.e. no one else around or ‘prepared’ enough, or crazy enought to play on this spot in these conditions.

    Inevitably I began to think ‘politics’ whilst ‘fingerstyling’ the guitar towards the now ‘gathering’ ( relaxed sitting ) crowd & already ‘established’ family of sunbathers on the ‘tree’ lined green area in front. I reflected on whats to be done about the ‘issue’ of possible ‘tighter’ regulation of busking in the ‘tourist’ town, of ‘Baconnets’ harsh rule ( ‘new’ BID Manager ) & by association of Hartley ( the violinst See. above ), the fact thats he’s a longstanding MU Rep, tho’ you wd’nt think so, he never mentions the fact in passing conversation or chatting, & how even tho’ he took ‘prominant’ part in ( if ‘not’ the formal ‘organisation’ of ) recent Busking agenda’s & meetings ‘talks’ in Birmingham, he never mentioned anything about them to me.

    By him ( Pete Hartley ) I was ‘not’ invited to anything, questioned for POV or ‘personal’ consultation or anything else. I was just simply ‘bypassed’, ignored, cast aside as personally irrelevant. ( Nb. At this ‘stage’ I also noted how the one Town Host, despite his own brand of ‘oddness’ – I find all Warden types odd ! – I get on with, have made ‘plans’ to drink with, i.e. Spence the ‘black’ guy ( & Artist & Musician himself ) was not around. Apparantly he gets ‘side’ brushed form issues too & ‘he’s on the ‘inside’ so to speak.

    Its midweek now, a few days have passed since my last ‘busking’ outing & I’m in the ‘living’ room ‘re-sorting’ novels, short stories, essays’ & most importantly my sources of ‘self-study’ liberal arts education eg. various ‘textbooks’, course books etc. Despite my now sitting on the sofa, out of the sun, I get the sudden urge to check the ‘weather’ on my computer ( a ‘buskers’ habit ! ). Glastonbury soon springs back to mind again & I chuckle to myself glancing at the latest ‘weather’ reports, noting that the ‘heatwave’ is to be soon over & by Thurs its’ back to the more ‘normal’ 16 degrees. Plus ‘grey’ cloudy sky’s & off course in tune with this time of year possible ‘thunderstorms’ & torrential downpours. These ‘weather’ details making me think once more of The ‘Avalon’ Festival ( I won’t dwell on the mental associatons of mud, wellingtons & soaked ‘outer’ clothing ).

    Then a ‘further’ impulse grabs me & I rather capricously decide to take a peek at London Southbank Busker Charlotte Campbells Twitter Site. I regret it already as a Q. Anybody going to Glastonbury ? social media pamplet calls out to you immediately via her ‘feed’. Its seems ‘she’s’ back at the Festival this year, her ‘function’ performing a couple of hrs a day ( 4 days overall) in a few ‘cafe’ tents. I also see she has ‘published’ a new ‘original’ song on YouTube called ”Nothing”.

    Of course theres nothing ‘original’ about it i.e. her ‘song’, save the blandish’ churned’ out ‘acoustic’ melody, in fact characterstically ‘derivative’ I think to myself. In all ‘truth’ its this quality ( or ‘vice’ ) that I most of all ‘don’t like about Charlotte & her art ( or is it ‘novice’ songwriting craft ? ). Original ( fresh ? ) you must be joking instead tired ‘echoes’ here of the classic Essay by GK Chesterton ” Idling In Bed ”. In this case an ‘insightuful’, & truly witty take on the pleasures of laziness ie. simply just lying around & doing nothing.

    In Charlottes ‘song’ case its rather ‘cliched’ pop references to lazily hangin’ out with ‘friends’ or perhaps a lover ( Nb. Or should I say a yg female – normally Teenager – ‘fantasy’ of this ). Truth is it seems Campbell’s taking her Mother with her to Glastonbury this year, no yg buck on her arms nor enthusiastically in sight eg. them happily together dancing till dusk on the ‘greenfields’ & then back to the tent for an ‘early’ morning ‘dawn’ romp ! ).

    For more ‘insights’ into the character that is Charlotte Campbell simply make a quck comparison of her ‘other’ songs Eg. ” Streets Of London ”, ” Songbird ” etc. You then soon realise that Artists like Don Mclean or Eva Cassidy RIP ( God bless her ‘soul’ & preserve her artistic integrity ! ) are not mere ‘influences’ as Cambell claims them to be ( See. her reply to ‘comments’ on her YouTube Channel ) but ‘objexts’ of worship more akin to the ‘psychology’ ( ‘ma’l mindset ? ) of the ‘obssesive’ pop fan.

    More adored ‘love’ objects ( human ‘treasures’ ) to be absorbed wholesale( not partially ! ) & not simply ( & healthily ) admired, their ‘finer’ atistic characteristics identifeid, carefully analysed & then drawn upon. Its one thing to be ‘stylistically’ influenced but another to want to ‘take’ everything you like about ‘great’ songwriters incl their song ‘titles’ & unashamedly use them – a kind of ‘adherant’ envy ( in her mind & fanciful imagination this stuff is so ‘good’, so fine, so great its the kind of thing I would, could, & then all of a sudden, did ‘do’ myself ! )

    This kind of ‘practice’ ( or is it a kind of ‘plagiarism’ ) for me is akin to ‘cultural’ cleptomania & I know. I really can see that Chalrotte just can’t help it, once she ‘loves’, once’ she adores, she simply ‘has’ to take & take & take again & she won’t let go. Yes Ms Campbell there is very ‘much’ I do like about you ( your ‘total’ committement, your ‘passionate’ spirit n’ all – Mmmmm! ) but theres still much room for you to ‘grow’ ! ( See. Chester KSL Blog comment ” Buskings Ugly Sisters ” about Bham / London Busker Esther Turner & the ‘authentic’ psycho -dynamic sources of ‘creativity’ ).

    Anyway after perusing the ‘weather’, & Charlotte Campbells Twitter site, I decide to put my ‘books’ down ( not get straight back to them & give them a ‘rest’ ) & go into the ‘kitchen to make a ‘cup’ of tea. I switch on the ‘radio’ eg. Radio 2 ( I really can’t take Radio 1 for longer than 5 or 6 mins these days ! ). I’m totally surprised to hear the voice of Ed Milliband, not as interview ‘guest’ either, but stand in DJ, yes hosting his own Radio show ( or ‘radio’ hour or two ).

    Interesting ‘programme’ ( entertaining ‘listening’ ! ) his show too, One of his ‘guests’ being the ‘lead singe’r of Birmingham grunge metal band ‘Napalm Death’ ( * I know the ex -bassist well, went to school with him & have ‘reflected’ that this is who SouthBank Busker Emily Lee wd be ‘going’ with or should I say ‘sleeping’ with See. York Minster Blog, if she were a ‘Brummie’ or indeed ‘resided’ in Birmingham, Ironically the ‘girl’ he’s currently with I ‘know’ well too, & is the ‘archetypal’ similar to Emily, they even ‘look’ alike See Fyodor Dostoevsky ” The Double ” ).

    A ‘great’ Radio interview by Ed Milliband, Napalm Deaths ‘front man’ as it turns out a very ‘intelligent’ & articulate man. He explains how contrary to ‘popular’ myth ( & prejudice ) unlike much ‘Heavy Metal’ with its ‘throw-away’ lyrics & ‘prioritising’ of the guitar riff & ‘loud’ music, Death metal is an ‘art -form’ ( if you will ! ) that gives equal creedance to both ‘lyric’ & music. He stated that whilst on the ‘surface’ their ( the bands ) music its true ‘i’s sonically ‘violent’, the underlying ‘kudos’ of the band ( & genre ) is like that of Glastonbury Festival i.e. underneath it all ‘subtextully’ really about ‘good’ values like ‘peace’, love, togetherness & openness etc,

    And emotional ‘cartharsis’ me thinks, like ‘tragic’ drama, music working to healthily ‘rebalance’ the psyches of folk susceptibe to powerful feeling & extremes of emotion. ( Nb. Jo Wileys later ‘evening’ Radio Show’s playlist confirmed this ‘idea’ or Radio Theme eg.”Bridge Over Troubled Water” & similar ‘song’ classics repeatedly played on her show esp. so during this time of national ‘terror’ See. Manchester & the more recent ‘home’ catastrophe of Grenfell Tower in London ).

    Back to Ed Milliband & I note his extended ‘playlist’ is pretty interesting too e.g ‘Movin On Up’ by Primal Scream is on the ‘turntables’ next ( Nb. a band I also know well eg. esp the Keyboardist ‘Duffy’ again from Bham & pt of a cliche of friends I used to ‘hang’ around with In Moseley – they ‘trendy’ w/c types from Northfield etc South Birmingham ). Reminding me of not just the ‘psychological’ ( carthartic ) effects of music but also cultural/ racial ones. Much ‘pop’ whether ‘rock’ or soul orientated in essence a ‘homogenisation’ of folk esp USA ‘black’ sounds. Eg. ‘Gospel’, ‘Blues’ etc is ‘whitened’ into ‘white’ blues rock, popular ‘youth’ culture & the ‘game’ of being in a band i.e. hero, centre of attention etc.

    At this point I switch off Radio 2 & The Ed Milliband Summer Radio Show & the ‘Glastonbury’ theme returns to my consciousness, plus the Q. posed by Charlotte Campbell Q. Anyone going…….?. I nostalgically recall how 10 or 15 years ago that this time of the year, during my Mosely days, & on the dole, ‘I’ myself might be found lazing in the park eg. CannonHill or Mosely ‘private’ park, with ‘friends’ & possibly girlfriend.

    If ‘not’ – even then I was ‘never’ what you’d call a ‘Lotus’ Eater,
    more like a ‘lost’ soul or should I say ‘submerged’ personality i.e. lost ‘true’ connect with Who I Am & psychically drifting, I wd feel ‘guilty’ sitting around doing nothing all day – ‘I’ ( we! ) wd certainly be ‘excitedly’ anticipating not only going to ‘Glastonbury’ but also WOMAD Festival in Reading ( ‘world’ music ironically closer to my current ‘street’ performing genre ) & wd be conversing merrily about the ‘fun’ already had at Cropredy in Warickshire ( a ‘popular’ folk festival I never did like but then ‘girlfriend’ & friends did & with whom II went along with for the ‘outdoors’ life & real ale ).

    Today tho Summer 2017 & mid Summer solstice approaching & me now sitting at home, back to my ‘books’ soriting, I don’t even consider going to Glastonbury. The last time I went was 2000 ie. the very year the BBC started filming there & the whole Glastonbury Industry finally ‘kicked’. Involving the ‘final’ statges of the huge ( ‘gargantuan’ ) cultural transformation from ‘authentic’ 1960’s Counterculture incl ‘new’ age travellors, people ‘freewheelers’ jumping over the fence, to what it is ‘today”. Yes a more ‘civilised’ in certain respects & ‘secure’ public event but also really an ‘official’ extension of the ‘pop’ music industry. Yes as the ‘convoy’ wd say ( & a ‘Bath’ Busker I know despite still frequnting there ) ” mammon is born ! ”

    In fact after ‘viewing’ Jo Wiley for the first time earlier that week on Channel 4, 2000 ( gosh 15 or 16 years ago to this day ), the Fri or was it Sat ?, I decided to go & spontaneously ‘hitched’ it there alone ( Nb. the first time I went to Glastonbury in the 80’s I ‘hitched’ it with there with a girlfrend eg. down the M6/ 5. it turned out to be one of the ‘wettests’ days on record ).

    Back in 2000 on arrival I got into the site for ‘free’ or relatively cut price & spent 2 days the ‘festival’ flaneur walking around in ‘solitude’. I never felt so out of place, the ’emotional’ tenor of the place completely changed, BBC TV lorries everywhere, it felt like going to Wembley or should I say another ‘great’ sporting event like Wimbledon. Its ‘true’ some festival folk these ‘new’ days, helipcoptering in & no doubt via Ascot. For me thats sad & I’ve ‘never’ been back since.

    If I did go back just one more time, I reflect to myself, me still at home ( indoors ) & back in the ‘living’ room & now reaching the stage of sorting out my ‘various’ collections of English lyric poetry incl. those of Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, it wd have to be as a cultural ‘alien’. Yes from the ‘poetic’ perspective of an ‘alien’ from out of space, freshly arrived on this planet & out of sheer ‘curiosity’ deciding for the first time to visit the Glasonbury Festival.

    To ‘research’ & peruse once & for all what is this ‘event’ now really all about ? And who are these ‘colourful’, far out & crazy human beings who today frequent it ?, Plus rather nostaglically, Proustian memory close to mind, how far have things really changed ? Who knows I might even find time to ‘play’, enjoy a little music, just lazilly sit around for part of the day, There again I have my ‘thesis’ & with very little to prove, trusting both my ‘up to date’ ‘experience’ & present instincts, have in all ‘truth’ & reality very little need to go, & every reason to stick with my current ‘conclusions’. Plus its the usual Radio Head this year as ‘headliners’ & I note FooFighters too. As for Ed Sheeran, I’m an ‘open’ minded guy, I might have once at least given him ‘passing’ acknowledgement for what ‘he’ does, but in my ‘present’ state I have to say I loathe his guts ( I cd be wrong here, very wrong I admit & my ‘mind’ & judgement may change here ! ).

    But my present ‘feelings’ are honest ones & therefore mind made up, this year 2017, I’m ‘not going Glastonbury Festival once again. I’m gonna go ‘busking’ this weekend instead whilst carrying on ‘sorting’ & preparing for my ‘other’ prospective journey ( See. Above ). One more akin to the ‘romantic’ outsider ( sociopath misanthrope naaahh! ) I possibly am, & seriously bearing in mind this is a ‘label’ ( I do like it ! ) used by other people of me, not mine.

    • * Notes

      I have a serious ‘plan’ of intention ie .to rewrite passage(s) of brainstorm & ‘comment’ such as this & turn it ( them ) into colourful ‘scenes’ & a more ‘literary’ form. Whilst taking a fine eye & ‘pen’ to the rules of English ‘Grammar’.

      • * Further Notes

        Select References

        1. Ed Milliband Show Radio 2 ( an interview with the lead singer of Napalm Death ) 21/6/2017

        2. ” Nothing ” a ‘new’ song by Charlotte Campbell

        3. ” On Lying Idle In Bed ” by GK Chesterton

        4. ” The Double ” by Fyodor Dostoevsky

        5. Glastonbury Festival ‘headliners’ 2017

        • * Even More Notes

          Select References

          6. The Times Newspapers House Style Guide

          7. ” The Elements of Style ” by Strunk & White

          • * More & More & More Notes

            Select References

            8. Rogers Thesauraus of Synonyms

            9. Cassells Concise Dictionary

  • * On A Lovely English Summers ‘Monday’ Morning in June ( Post Glastonbury 2017 )

    I’m now here back at ‘home’ in Birmingham its a ‘fresh’ & lovely Mon morning in June & post Glastonbury 2017. I’ve just finished an ‘enjoyable’ weekend busking in Shakespeare Land ( on Sun the only Busker in town ) & I’m now having already physically ‘excercised’ plus eaten a ‘good’ healthy breakfast of oats, ‘organic’ whole milk, blueberries & ‘poached’ eggs, out in the back yard chopping down trees ( i.e. rotting wood ) & ‘digging’ up weeds whist (re) ‘reading’ Walden by David Henry Thoreau.

    Having a had a very satisfying morning I decided to nip up to Bham city-centre to get some ‘toiletries’ that I’d run out of. Noticed a really good yg ‘sax’ player on the corner of Bull Street, & followed his sound & beyond to just up the road from Boots & over main Corporation Street & busy ‘tram’line to one of my ‘favourite’ busking spots eg. Cherry Street adjacent to the cafe’s, photography shop, pallasade, pidgeon park & church. I’ve got a feeling the authorities, BID, police have definitely got it in for me ( if not ‘other’ Buskers too ), since I noticed one of those ‘new’ fangled portable advertising boards with ‘poster’ ( Gym ? ) to match had been ‘planted’ inconveniently right on the ‘spot’.

    Yes, the Devils work this ( not ‘literally’ I’m not a believer in necessarily supernatural evil ! ) & with ‘eyes’ peeled to the back of my head ( or should I say the sides ) I further caught eye of a ‘police’ car pulling up behind me at the ‘stop’ as I left town via bus. Posing the question Q. an intimdating coincidence ? Wish I had my ‘mobile’ phone on me to capture all this but left it at home today ‘recharging’.

    On the bus back home ” Interesting ‘graphics’ used in the ad ” I recall, mmmm! the creative work of ‘special’ effects photographers ( & yeah ‘true’ Artists in every sense of the word ! ). Ironically cd have ‘captured’ the particular brand & marketing ‘image’ on camera plus their fabulous ( if now out of date ) subject & what I’m deeming more & more these days quite ‘disgusting’ design eg. human ‘machine’ keep fit ( Nb. I’m into more ‘natural’ body weight programmes such as ‘callisthenics’ & movement HIIT ).

    • * Notes

      On Fri bytheway I managed to capture some ‘snippets’ of Glatonbury on a ‘friends’ ( neighbours TV ! ) of course ‘mediated’ by the BBC i.e commercial Radio Presenters now a ‘regular’ sight popping up, bobbing & weaving about like poppinjay’s everywhere on the ‘festivals’ Greenfields. Radiohead were ‘definitely’, even if these days an ‘obvious’ if not cliched headline ‘choice,’ I have to say at their ‘shamanic’ indie rock best. I loved what I saw of the ‘evening’ set, numbers like eg. Wierd Fishes/ Arpeggi & their ‘fantastically’ improvised, jazz-like, primitive art like, heady ( well thought out not ‘trippy’ ) psychedelics ‘stage’ sounds if not ‘pop.

      I bypassed the ‘Foo-Fighters’ ( Jo Wileys’ favourites ) on Sat & tho’ did decide ( again ‘watching’ at the ‘neighbours’ house/ flat ) to give Ed Sheeran a go & check out for the first time in this case a Sunday ‘evening’ Ed Sheeran concert. Sheeran apparantly ( well according to Wiley ! ) publicly stated that he was going to be playing all his favourite ‘sing-along material no doubt to satisfy the ‘ole’ stalwarts ( a legion of yg fans eg. 10, 11. 12, 13, 14 year olds in the crowd ) but also announced he was also looking for ‘new’ fans.

      I have to say, after watching the Sun night concert that I’m ‘not’ a convert. Ok I don’t hate him so much ( I’m pulling yer leg never did really, in fact ‘I’ don’t even think about him at all ) after ‘viewing’ this particular show. He does’ write ‘catchy’ pop songs ( Nb.albeit of the ‘vapid’, twee Crag David sort with the ‘teen’ sentiment lyrics to match & where not only ‘Mom’ but Dad types can join in on the couch or in the ‘field’, him been given the ‘choice’ job of not only picking the kids up with mom after the concert but also taking ’em all there & staying on himself, such are the unforseen ‘long-term’ nevermind short-term effects of this, the age of ‘terror’ ! ).

      However despite the ‘pop’ charm ( & light ) attractions, his ( i.e. Sheerans ) kind of ‘act’ has no future appeal for me at all. On ‘myself’ watching from afar like a ‘martian’ from Mars on the sette in Bham, at his ‘antics’ & the introduction of the Irish ‘pipe’ band ( great ‘backing’ players ) for his 4th or was it 5th sing-along, I was back once more in the day at Cropredy ( see Above ).

      Yeah ’emotionally’ & imaginatively ‘transported’, back in the company of Fairport Convention ( a ‘folk’ band, or more correctly ‘folk’ rock outfit, I have also never liked much ! ). Musically’ I hasten to add, no hard feelings Ed, & crying out ( yep ‘real’ tears not crocodile ! ) for the ‘real’ thing eg. Bert Jansch, Jon Renbourn, Sally Mcfie, the whole damned lot of ’em, Pentangle for ‘ f..ks sak ! ‘ ( Oh & a ‘nice’ glass of if not true ‘malt’ beer, of ‘cool’ English vintage ).

      • * Further Notes

        Oh & if this placing ‘mobile’ ( Gym ) ads on busking spots ( blocking out the public space ! ) has got anything to do with Esther Turner ( i.e. the BIDs, Police ‘favourite’ Busker ) her ‘recent’ Birmingham busking ‘vlog’, or ‘real’ ( more reprentative ) pics of me taken recently of me on Bham New St 2017, then I raise the issue.

        Eg. Q. If it were put to the ‘full’ public vote, ‘fairly that is & devoid of ‘social media’ spin, Both of us at our best, & the ‘conflict’ ( unspoken ‘competition’ ) between us reaching its ‘natural’ climax, Who ‘democratically’ ( & honestly ) wd they ( the Bham public ) in ‘fact’m rather see busking in the city centre i.e Me or Esther Turner?.

        I tell you if the ‘truth’ were out, & I mean really out, & thats despite the ‘economic’ fact of consumer globalisation & ‘mass’ media’ penetration into the public psyche, you may be surprised, very surprised at the ‘real’ answer !.

        • * Even More Notes

          Its Tues 27/6/2017 & its ‘2’ days past ‘solstice’ already. I’m now consciously ‘immersed’ in it, an emerging sea of memory & imagination, its sounds & ‘textures’ the only ‘real’ backdrop to ‘my’ life.

          Yet 10.45 am & contrary to ‘habit’ ( I need to ‘calm’ down the chattering voices in my head ) I get the ‘bizzare’ yet strong impulse to switch on once more Radio 2. Its just after the ‘morning’ pop quiz & Bobby Goldsboros’ playing. Strangely I remember him pretty well ( ok vaguely ) he had 2 ‘dance’ hits in the Northern Soul scene back in the 70’s.

          This morning tho’ its his greatest hit thats penetrating the ‘airwaves’. You know I had a dream once that he ‘headlined’ Glastonbury ( ok not really thats a ‘lie’ ! ). Anyway check it out ‘pop’ pickers & croon, no swoon ( i.e. to the ‘lyrics’ ! ).

          Eg. ” Summer The First Time ” ( 1976 ) by Bobby Goldboro.

  • * Further Notes

    Oh & if this placing ‘mobile’ ( Gym ) ads on busking spots ( blocking out the public space ! ) has got anything to do with Esther Turner ( i.e. the BIDs, Police ‘favourite’ Busker ) her ‘recent’ Birmingham busking ‘vlog’, or ‘real’ ( more reprentative ) pics of me taken recently of me on Bham New St 2017, then I raise the issue.

    Eg. Q. If it were put to the ‘full’ public vote, ‘fairly that is & devoid of ‘social media’ spin, Both of us at our best, & the ‘conflict’ ( unspoken ‘competition’ ) between us reaching its ‘natural’ climax, Who ‘democratically’ ( & honestly ) wd they ( the Bham public ) in ‘fact’m rather see busking in the city centre i.e Me or Esther Turner?.

    I tell you if the ‘truth’ were out, & I mean really out, & thats despite the ‘economic’ fact of consumer globalisation & ‘mass’ media’ penetration into the public psyche, you may be surprised, very surprised at the ‘real’ answer !.

    • Nb. Please Edit this ‘comment’ ( delete it ) its a ‘flyaway’ loose end !.

      • [ * A Desparate Note Attached

        Its now a few weeks hence eg. Mon 24th July 2017 & I’m writing my most recent ‘entry’ into my busking journal.

        ‘I’m’ just back home from my now ( again ! ) ‘habitual’ long run around Cannonhill Park, Its been 2 or is it 3 or 4 or 5 years now since my ‘marathon’ ( in fact longer than a marathon ) around Bhams No 11 bus route. ( See. ‘opening’ Romford Blog ‘comments’ )’. Oh sorry a slight correction, I refer here to my run was ‘last’ ( Sun ) night.

        Anyway today ( this ‘Mon’ morning ) it was HIIT Burpee Training incl. ‘primal’ home fitness, So just before my ‘cool’ down stretches or should I say special ‘post’ excercise ‘muscle’ loosner workout ( i.e. I do a ‘special’ routine for ‘stretching’ eg. yoga separately in the ‘evenings’ ) its time to tighten those ‘butt’ muscles with a few further ‘sets’ of excercise eg. the ‘glute’ bridge ( Nb. highly recommended for ‘female’ buskers out there not just the guys ! ).

        I’m knackered, in much pain i.e. muscle burn & ‘lactic’ acid build up but I intend to carry on & completely ‘finish’ the routine. In fact I don’t usually do this i.e. excercise to ‘music’ or use any other ‘props’ save my own will & motivation but I’ve just switched on the ‘radio’ ( not the BBC this time but ‘commercial’ pop radio, no not classic FM ) & wow I’m genuinley ‘afloat’ & without too much ‘sugar’ or carbohydrate flowing thru’ my veins either.

        Its 7 am & I start hip/’butt’ pumping to ‘Japanese Breakfasts’ single ” Machinist ” rhythmically pulsating in the backround, followed by the ‘stations’ single of the week i.e. the bands latest release ” Road Ahead ”.

        But then as I ‘force’ my last drop of energy into the final fitness manouvre the ‘music’ disappears, as if a childs freshly blown & playful bubble rising freely & confidently, on a waft of warm air in the gentle breezy blue sky suddenly burst.

        This sudden ‘event’ rather like the ‘hazy’ fleeting patterns & sensations of the Sunday night before where I remember stopping to try a ‘Muscle’ Up on the ‘parks’ playground bars ( Nb. 8 year old kids on YouTube can do this easily, yet I can’t yet do one. I don’t feel less esteemed tho since as an ‘adult’ or indeed noble ‘Oak’ I know all ‘skill’ is filtered thru’ ‘higher’ consciousness & with ‘kids’ they’re just ‘acting’ out & it really except for all he attention they get does’nt mean a thing ). Me normally running by, but in not doing so on this occasion, ^ by ‘sheer’ chance talking to Q. was it a ‘stranger’ ? Q. or someone I know ? I just simply don’t know, its all too blurred.

        Any perchance of an actual ‘encounter’ in the Park is lost on me but I know nothing ‘concretely’ untoward happened, plus honesly & on my life certainly nothing ‘criminal’, But something did occur, its just, that I just can’t make it out, i,e. quite what it was that did happen. It was if I had been ‘temporarily’ taken over by a ‘demon’, it was as if i’d awoken thru a dream, not necessarily a ‘nightmare’, I’m not quaking in fear, but of the kind I cannot quite bring myself to openly say or vividly ‘describe’ here.

        Just as ‘mysteriously’ as the music just now ‘faded’ on the Radio, the experience happened & then it was over, one of those unexplainable ‘transitory’ moments ( ‘one of those’ I say, this doe’snt happen everyday, not to ‘me’ anyways ). Its got me thinking tho’, ‘seriously’ reflecting on life, self & meaning, & perhaps at the end the end of the day & in all ‘truth’ the notion that I’m not meant for this current ‘journey’ I’m on.

        Perhaps, what if, other than being a ‘submerged’ individual’ up until now forever floating & forever ‘wandering’ thru’ life, maybe I was always ‘only’ cut out to be a ‘Primary’ School Teacher or worst still Graphic Artist. But then ‘no’ thats not it, thats not me either, somethings wrong here, somethings confused & spiritually so, perhaps supernaturally so, who knows ?.

        Somethings merged with me, I think again, a proposeous notion I know, but some ‘spirit’ or other. some strange entitiy has got to me, got right under my skin, Q. A Triffid ? The thought terrifies me for a moment but no not necessarily, not so ‘malign’ but what I still do not know, I cannot fathom.

        Yes I guess I am a ‘teacherly’ type but later this afternoon I intend to carry on with the Summer ( late Spring ) ‘clear-out’ phase. All the ‘useless” ( & impractical ) books I’ve collected, I’ve already set upon my ‘imagination’ ( Nb. with the ‘right’ techniques & excercises its this much underused ‘human’ faculty has already began to generally open it up ) & eg. ‘ Learning To Philosphise ‘ by ER Emmet & Andrew Marrs ” My Trade ” A Short History Of British Journalism ” could both go. Well they stand to since my imagined ‘future’ career ( of course all things being equal ! ) neither calls for ‘media’ writing nor philosophy.

        ( See. Chapter 10. A Buskers Journal eg. Notes from A Music, Culture & ‘Fitness’ Freak ) ]

        • * Some Additionally ‘Weighted’ Opinion

          Quote ” All things are possible for him that believes ”. Well not quite but there again life can work in ‘mysterious’ ways, & I conclude thus there lies the ‘consolation’ !.

  • The Song Of The Guitar ( or I’m A Street Performer At Heart ! )

    Andre Segovia famously ( or ‘infamously’ ) succeeded overhelmingly in his mission to take the ‘guitar’ out of the ‘cafe’ & put it on the ‘concert’ stage. He also came a long way to establishing the ‘ultimate’ perfect ‘classical’ guitar repertoire.

    I say ‘almost’ because with Art as with Life or YouTube or enthusiastically collecting & Listening pleasurably to ‘records’ you even as an ‘amateur’ listern. a fan nevermind ‘Composer’, arranger. ‘virtuoso’ performer, ‘cafe’ performer with ‘amazement’ always ‘discover’, stumble upon a ‘different’ shaping idea of set & ‘genre’ that is, not just more obviously ‘style’ or form,

    Thats why i’ve personally spent literally the last 2 years ‘researching’ & trial & erroring everthing, coming up with ‘different’ set combinations, ‘street’ location’ combinations, genre combinations in what turns out to be. what I now realise is an ‘artistic’ experiment in approach & ‘perspective’ nevermind ‘artistic’ creation & composition.

    Rich pickings to be had here tho’, with ‘all’ this mainly ‘headwork’ as relentless & ‘straining’ as it may in ‘reality’ be. Also stops you in your ‘tracks’, with regards merely ‘copying’ stuff out there. which is so ‘easy’ to do these days what with the ‘internet’ & social media. Yes you can ‘escape’ the ‘copy’ trap even if you are mainly an interpretative ‘performer’ ( Nb. Remembering its still very much an art ‘musical’ interperetation, if you’re ‘kinda’ professional about it & take it to the ‘hightest’ style levels which I ‘aim’ to do, as I do ‘Art’ with a capital ‘A’ in itself ! ).

    I know I’m a ‘street’ performer at heart, an ‘identity’ thats a ‘blessing’ to discover esp. when you in your ‘research’ come across other eg. ‘guitar’ lovers, some Artists who have ‘developed’ music close to your aesthetic ‘taste’. I realise now that if there ‘are’ pieces that I’d like to incl. in my ‘set’ but I’ve not known about before that I can do just that ie. ‘include’ them on the ‘grounds’ that in ‘discovering’ people with ‘tastes’ like yourself you are again doing just that in a very ‘real’ sense further discovering your literal Self.

    Its great having a ‘clear’ artistic Identiy cos’ you can ‘shape’ & develop yourself in the ‘overlap’ of others similar ‘taste’ existences but who in themselves are ‘geared’ more towards the standard performance ‘stage’ rather than the street. The ‘subtle’ undercurrents of ‘shapes’ & nuances play out ‘excellently’ & very often beatifully in these ‘differences’. Gosh there are so many ways to ‘play’ eg. Agustin Barrios Mangore to the extent he & his works can ‘literally’ sound as tho’ they’re imagined & worked by a totally different Composer. Such is the ‘magic’ of music & say the ‘classical’ art guitar ‘tradition’.

    My shaping idea therefore in Art as in Life is ‘myself’ & my unique tastes. aesthetic standpoints & ‘judjements’ as a ‘street’ orientated performer, AS filtered thru’ the social structure, culture, ‘circumstance’ or whatever. Follow this ‘authentic’ line & once more the ‘results’ are outstanding, the ‘effects’ beautiful. The final ‘marvelous’ thing is that all this ‘expression’ of Self, Art, Life & circumsance can be captured on CD. This I’m currently discovering !.

    Byetheway in my artistic ‘endeavours’ I’m not seeking to ‘subvert’ say Segovias mission in anyway. In fact I now after much ‘research’ & ‘active’ listening appreciate his ‘legacy’ ( repertoire & all ) & in a very ‘deep’ way ( eg. my ‘prejucices’ that he was a Bougeiousie have subsided, & I revise my position stating he was ‘not’ & was most defintiely a Romantic ). Of course as it turns out thats the crux of the matter & ‘he’ as a performance Artist was always doomed in a way to be ironically ‘not’ the ‘last’ word on Guitar Art History. The seeming evolution of an instrument turning out to be but a ‘shaping’ idea, a very good one, an excellent & in many senses definitive one. yes a highly recognisable one but in the end only according to its own ‘rationale’ & internal logic i.e. not ‘objectively’ in any ‘real’ way absolute..

    So no ( Segovia’s ) ‘ouvre’ like Guilianni, Sor or Tarrega et al before him ( their work all included by ‘him’ ) are not the last word on ‘guitar’ repertoire & performance as the also the likes of the guitar ‘genius’ Agustin Barrios Mangore proved it to be.

    I certainly ‘don’t’ identify much these days, of the ‘post’ millennia. 21st Century, with Paraguayan Barrios’ spiritual or indeed Christian sentiments much ( tho’ his beliefs in all truth I can see or they ‘appear’ to be somewhat tempered by a more Bohemian society & ‘world’ vew despite the ’emotional’ proclivity of his ‘final’ piece ” Una Limosna Por Amor de Dios ” – An Alm For the love Of God which I as a ‘non’ theist ‘ironically’ do not disagree with i.e. I as a ‘humanist’ can be generous to another human being to See his Biography for the full ‘story’ behind the piece. ! ).

    But I do ( in this ‘latter’ sense ) acknowledge him as a ‘serious’ Artist ( tho not the the kind ‘I’ necessarily want to be ) & yes again because of his essentially Bohemian character. As such both from him as an ‘individuall’ & ‘historical’ personage ( Nb. I ‘often’ quote myself as a Romantic but in actual fact I’m more a Moderne & he Barrios really is a ‘late’ Romantic in musical style & the forms he uses ‘stylistically’ expressively hint at the Modern Age ) I ‘note’ a lot to ‘learn’ & much which if ‘i’ can successfully absorb it ( technically, artistically ) to set me ‘free’ both creatively imaginatively & as ‘general’ living human being.

    Everything I do tho’ these days, ‘my’ musical choices ( with both its pro’s & cons i.e. a lot of advanced ‘stage’ stuff doe’snt work on the streets ), my developing playing style, my future to be all things being equal ‘compositional’ & arranging bent is ‘filtered’ thru my ‘single’ minded identity as a Street Musicain, a Gypsy fo sorts, yes a contemporary Gypsy. Thats why no matter ‘who’ I meet, whom I in a way ‘borrow’ from, whom I’m directly or ‘indirectly’ influenced by no I’m definitely not & will never will be a ‘thief’. You see with this kind of ‘personal’ clarity & ‘focus’ genuine attitude its virtually impossible.

    Bytheway sorry to bore you so much with such a longish ‘comment’ or hint at my ‘own’ musical tastes & hopefully growing Artists pre-occupations & proclivities.

  • 2. Song Of The Guitar ( or The Streets, The Streets, The Streets – The Stage of Life )

    Finally I’ve been ‘reflecting’ much recently ( even more intensely ) on Francisco Tarrega who deserves a ‘special’ comment as an ‘ouvre’ Classical Guitar Composer. By ouvre I mean like Barrios you can put together a ‘complete’ set out of his works alone, which contains most of the impt ‘romantic’ muscial forms.

    As mentioned above & as a development & ‘improvement’ on my current street ‘popular’ romantic cafe guitar sound ( a good ‘mood’ sound & above ‘average’ technically ) I’m working on a ‘distinct’ Gypsy Bohemian type ‘street’ set at present ( Nb. a ‘complex’ study in its own right including eg. flamenco tho’ also ‘extended’ to include ‘type’ pieces making my more ‘ felt ! street ‘repertoire’ ironically neither merely ethnically ‘Gypsy’ in content nor conversely ‘populare’ but yet still ‘gypsy’ in flavour ) Of course all Guitar ‘Art’ Music with the exception of a relatively ‘few’ avante-garde Composers & their works is popular in the broadest sense of the term. ).

    One of the ‘disadvantages’ here ( ‘my’ new Gypsy Set ) being that as a more ‘cafe’/ street corner sound you have to ‘sacrifice’ playing in the larger public spaces with this guitar ‘style’ ( & music ) as a matter of ‘authentic’ suit. Currently less & less am I ‘busking’ in the larger ‘spots’/ locations of the last few years.

    However back to Tarrega & Barrios both ‘ouvres’ can work as good city-centre ‘boulevard’ & therefore ‘busking’ music ( ‘good’ practice too ). Agustin Barrios pieces ‘cut’ thru better in the city, whereas Tarrega’s ‘softer’ Spanish pieces work well in ‘smaller’ provincial towns ( or at least the 1 or 2 mid-shire town centres I’ve street performed in ! ).

    Regardless of ‘sound’ projection differences what unites both Composers ‘works’ is the Paris Academy i.e. Paris being the ‘artistic’/ & European classical music centre during the ‘romantic’ period. All of Europes best ‘guitar’ Composers ‘gravitated’ there during the 19th Century incl Tarrega ( indirectly Barrios ) & Chopins French ‘Salon’ influence therefore runs through both kinds of works(s) or set or ‘repertoire’.

    Even the great ‘Spanish’ transcriptions ( for ‘solo’ Classical guitarists Piano Transribing is a useful skill ) of say Albeniz or Grandados eg. ‘Mallorca’ or ‘Spanish Dance No 5′ have a ‘distinct’ Chopin flavour about them if in not the music ‘content’ the classical guitar ‘arrangement’. So yes both F. Tarrega & Agustin Barrios as ‘guitar’ Composers I have in the recent past ( still do ) give ( & pay ) a lot of attention to ).

    More to be written & said by [me] on this ‘topic’ & my ‘authentic’ journey here elsewhere.

    • * Notes

      Am I some kind of ‘contemporary’ Beat in my artistic attitude & ‘free’ approach to life here. I say that whilst there ‘is’ some overlap between what a ‘person’ like me in my kind of life ‘predicament’ is doing ( trying to do ! ) & the ‘existential’ situation of the 1950’s/60’s Beat Generation, in many ways I don’t share their particular philosphy at all.

      I intend to write on this ‘topic’ too elsewhere, elaborating on ‘conceived’ themes but what I do have to say at present is that I’m really ‘enjoying’ the ‘intellectual’ side of my journey at the moment eg. the ‘learning’, discovering new subjects of interest & ‘passions’ etc however the more I ‘meditate’ on life & its conditions the more I realise the ‘benefits’ of knowing less, of being completely aware of nothing !.

      • * [ Edit ] ” …whilst there ‘is’ some overlap between what a person like me in my kind of life predicament is doing ( trying to do ) & the ‘existential’ situation of [ say ] the 1950s/60’s Beat Generation in many [ ‘key’ ] ways I don’t share their [ cut ] philosophy [ ‘ or lines of enquiry ] at all. [ Nor their lines of enquiry, or their particular ‘brand(s) of Art. In fact in their final message(s) theres nothing much at all that I’d like to personally take away; artistically ‘adapt’ even, for my ‘work’ ” ].

        • * 2. [ Edit ] ” …whilst there ‘is’ some overlap between what a person like me in my kind of life predicament is doing ( trying to do ) & the ‘existential’ situation of [ say ] the 1950s/60’s Beat Generation [ , ] in many [ ‘key’ ] ways I don’t share their [ cut ] philosophy at all. [ Nor their lines of enquiry, or their particular ‘brand(s) of Art. In fact in their final message(s) theres nothing much at all that I’d like to personally take away; artistically ‘adapt’ even, for [ ‘my’ ] work ” ].

          • * 3. [ Edit ] ” …whilst there ‘is’ some overlap between what a person like me in my kind of life predicament is doing ( trying to do ) & the ‘existential’ situation of [ say ] the 1950s/60’s Beat Generation, in many ‘key’ ways I don’t share their philosophy at all. Nor their lines of enquiry, or their particular ‘brand(s) of Art. In fact in their final message(s) theres nothing much at all that I’d like to personally take away; artistically ‘adapt’ even, for ‘my’ work. [ If I ‘do’ I will out of proper courtesy & ‘true’ acknowledgement give the deserved ‘credits’ ” [.] ]

          • ( * See. Exeter KSL Official Blog for further comments )

  • ‘Buskers’, The Arts & ‘Formal’ Higher Education

    One of the ‘worst’ things I ever did tantamount to nearly destroying my life was going to University or at least as it turns out having a ‘brief’ experiencial stint at it, which ironically in its ‘own’ way ‘was’ ‘personally’ beneficial ( See. London ‘Liberty’ Blog ‘Archives’ for a fuller explanation & telling ‘anecdote’ )

    Drawing upon this ‘experience’ I’d argue that unless its somewhere like Oxford, or Cambridge or some beautiful place or ‘pedagogic’ institution of similar charm & architectural sublimity don’t go to University, its just ‘wise’ not to go. Yes get or ‘achieve’ a higher ‘education’ by any ( or ‘all’ other ) means, so necessary & ‘desireable’ as an Artist it is & yes in the Arts, but not via the ‘formal’ campus – outside Oxbridge anyways.

    Who gets into Oxbridge these days ? Well from what I can gather a few actually very ‘clever’ ( & motiviated ) people e.g yg ‘maths’ prodigies from say India, the usual public school ‘ivy’ league n’ silver spooners eg. ‘future’ Prime Ministers, one or two of the ‘miraculous’ ( in later life this cd have been me ! ) eg. w/c types ( the odd ‘black’ man even ! ) who does particularly well at FE college & ‘evening’ classes & then finally the ‘Grammar’ School lot ( Incl. some ‘academy’ type comp top streamers eg Dianne Abbot type ‘offspring’ say from the East of London but actually ‘schooled’ in the leafy West London suburbs or say East Sussex or Hampshire or similar constituency, you get what I mean! ).

    [ * Nb. Grammar Schools are getting interesting these days, tho’ a devilish & ‘mean’ spirited competition awaits those eager to get there kids into one eg. King Edwards VI in Birmingham. Beware of those ‘fame’ academy types who ‘fancy’ their son or daughters in one as well, they’ll stop at nothing, a ruthless to the point of blood ‘murder’ they will see thru, when it comes to the tricky, ‘thorny’ issue of ‘social’ advancement. See. Torville & Dean & the American Skating Community, Russian or ‘Bulgarian’ Athletics & the ladder to the top.

    The type of family ‘I’ have in mind here i.e. the ‘aristocratic’ w/c family, believe me have their successes & are known to breed winners whether in eg. ‘dog’ ( greyhound racing ) or eg. football incl. plenty of lower league players if not the odd ‘premier’ football player. I’ve known such ‘folk’ & been friends with the family ‘star’. I remember one such guy as a youth growing up in Runcorn, Cheshire, a ‘fine’ footie guy who was to die tragically a few years later in a ‘fire’ back in his home city of Liverpool.

    King Edwards in Birmingham I note – well I think it was this particular ‘Grammar’ tho I cd be wrong – was featured on the BBC ‘news’ recently ( I was round my ‘neighbours’ watching TV ) with an ‘article’ on the type of ‘pedagogy’ going on today n this type of ‘high’ status learning environment. I was struck by an ‘image’ of a ‘female’ teacher overseeing a classroom of mainly ‘male’ Asian school kids doing maths ‘frenetically’ ( at ‘super’ speed’ ) on their calculators. I guessed this is the ‘future’ i.e. no more counting by no’s, or with the great calculator in the head i.e. the brain, but via sophisticated yet ‘hand-held’ electronic devices worked at high ‘human’ velocity, the human equivalent to the ‘speed of light’.

    And afterall why not, I thought ( seriously reflected ! ) Society is not in the business of producing Victorian Isambard Kingdom Brunels anymore ( so passe ! ), but rather an ‘elite’ class of post-modern Technocrats, Technical Administrators & other sorts of literally ‘painting by no’ ( Nb. guided by at least the British Standards Manual or ‘Technical’ Book ) type Project Engineers. Yes future employes of not British Steel, nor Gas, but say Shell Oil or BP. ]

    As for the likes of ‘me’ I further reflected after the News was over & I returned home for my ‘evening’ Tea ( neigh Dinner ! ) well I just rested content to at least ‘romance’ the passing of true ‘civil’ greats ( * no drop that word ‘great’ ! ) of the past like Brunel. I love what he did, what he was about, what he achieved, combining the ‘technical’ with both ‘wisdom’, design & imagination. I also still ‘appreciate’ the great ( gosh I can’t help it i.e. using that dreaded word ! ) self learners like Faraday & from his like, draw much present day ‘inspiration’. You know I love these people & I hope I can be as ‘rigorous’, disciplined & systematic in ‘educating’ myself today in the Arts & as a Busker.

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