Tuesday, 3 January 2017

From Versailles to Bank - 6th - 18th June 2016


Outside Abbesses Métro station, Montmartre.
rue du Mont-Cenis, Paris - 6th June 2016
The sun was shining for the first time in days, heating up the dog shit nearby, but I was so pleased at its appearance that I didn't care if my shoulders got burnt.
I was missing my Polish concert pianist friend, Nuna, who makes me feel not so alone as an artist, but was elated when she agreed to meet me for coffee one more time before I had to go back to England.
Who I took to be a grandfather cradling his baby grandson, stepped around to my Irish fiddling as if it was a lullaby, and I found it wierd that I couldn't hear the voice of a tour guide feeding information into his gaggle of tourists' earphones, though I could see his lips move. A couple of the white-haired members of this party tipped me, and with her donation, a petite, middle aged woman with Caramac-tinted hair and dark eyes told me that my playing was "Très jolie!"
My presence also attracted lots of smiles and contributions from young people who'd migrated here to admire the city view.
Square Jehan-Rictus, Place des Abbesses, Paris - 6th June 2016
It was busy this early evening. I set up on a shady spot where two boys were running around in front of me (at least they weren't kicking a football).
A lad aged about three wearing a stripy navy and white coat that could've passed for a pyjama top came up and said, "Bonjour!" Me: "Bonjour! Ça va?" Him: "Oui." He stared at me penetratingly for ages, then lifted the two euros 50 that I'd collected from the small to the large compartments of my case. I let him touch my violin before he left, then a while later he returned and declared, "Maintenant...." Again he was mesmerized by my folk fiddling to the extent that his mum had to gently coax him away.
French student, Paul, asked if he could record me performing from 10 metres away so's to capture the ambience of the setting for a podcast he was making about different peoples' experiences of Paris. I agreed, and in exchange he took a few (awful) pictures of me and gave me change.
The 'orchid' perfume Elizabeth (the generous shop assistant at L'Occitane) had just sprayed all around my head, really stank, so in-between tunes I attempted to wash it off with the warming water I had left in my bottle. A balding Frenchman wanted to know if it was English music I was playing. "It's Irish," I replied. He then told me that as he was passing Place des Abbessess, my music had sounded "very pretty."
A small olive-skinned girl with long café au lait curls danced jigs along to my fiddling, and the elderly local lady who's part of the furniture here, emerged from the square dressed in navy for a change. 
"Bravo!" shouted both a tiny black lass and a young girl with a freckled face attached to her mother, as another Japanese bride showed up with her groom whose rolls of fat heaved beneath his white shirt and black braces.



Busker, 'Jimmy Hendrix', who talks gibberish to the stallholders and shopkeepers of Montmartre while a backing track blasts out from his amp he often leans his electric guitar against.
La Vannerie, Versailles, France - 7th June 2016
My friend, Nuna, had been sceptical I'd make much money busking in Versailles (where she lives): Before I got off the bus we'd caught together from Versaiilles-Rive-Droite station, she whispered in my ear that she wished me good money.
The story she'd just told me she'd written about a golden violin that a lion (her late partner and my friend, Peter) had found in a forest, enriched my relaxed folk fiddle performance beneath a covered walkway of quaint shops.



Pleasantly surprised to hear my music, plenty of debonair locals tipped me well, and a shopkeeper of tea-related products seemed happy to have me there. Two mature Frenchman who'd been listening to me from inside this shop asked me to confirm that it was Irish music I was playing, then one of them handed me a 10-euro note!
The woman working in the boucherie opposite, however, kept giving me beady-eyed daggers and closed the shop door - so eventually I moved along the wall bit and finished up when I was ready.
Square Jehan-Rictus, Place des Abbesses, Paris - 8th June 2016
A black guy and a boy were playing footy, but fortunately the ball didn't roll in my direction, and a glamorous gran and her husband gave me two euros for playing folk fiddle to their pushchair-bound grandson.
Eventually I ended up shifting from my bosky position to the side of the square into my usual spot before a gang of men on scooters could've easily mowed me down.

I loved this accordionist's performance on a Métro train into central Paris.
Bank #2 - The London Underground - 18th June 2016
It was a miserable, grey day, and I was thinking about how my neck had become more scraggy since I last played here.
The upbeat station supervisor reasoned that I'd remember that the station evacuation point was 81 Cannon Street, because the same number had been assigned to my visitor's sticker.
It was buzzing, and commuters were receptive to my latest Paris trip-infused folk fiddling: A young woman with her trombone in a light green case; an old man in tartan dress (I especially liked his bobble hat), and hipster guys in shades wearing headphones, all made donations, plus a ginger-haired, together with other approximately 10-year-old boys gave me a round of applause.
In applying what I'd learnt doing standing yoga poses to my stance (tailbone tucked under and hips tipping forward), I was able to put less pressure on my knees and back, I clocked a scooter with disco lights, and thought I heard a svelte bastard comment, "That's terrible!"

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