I started busking when I was fourteen, taking a melodeon onto the streets of Gloucester, and picking up small change. I did pretty well, when I could afford the time to go. These days I either take the bouzouki or the violin. (anyone curious about what I do, have a look at www.youtube.com/mistressnimue for more insight).
Sometimes I make fairly good money busking, but usually it doesn’t amount to much. I do it because I love to play, especially when the weather is good. If I can make someone smile, or get a child to dance, then it’s worth it. I play folk music, so this is a way of sharing my traditions with people who might not otherwise encounter them, and it’s also a form of bardic expression, and service. So for me, busking is a manifestation of my paganism. Children today don’t hear much live music, especially not in a place like Redditch. If I can convey to anyone at all that there is more to music than The X Factor and rubbish of that ilk, then I’ve done something worthwhile.
Quite a lot of my busking experience made it into my recent short story – Dreams Come True. I thought it was about time I put it on paper. I frequently draw on personal experience for stories. I also do a fair amount of playing with people, which was something I wanted to capture with this one. Here’s a snippet…
“That’s it. Don’t think about everyone else, just focus on me.”
Maddie made eye contact, and was rewarded with a devastating smile. Her companion began to sing, and this time Maddie kept watching her face. That changed things. Instead of it feeling like they were two people playing separately, now it was one thing, made between them. One sound. Her fingers flew over the strings, and the notes came fast and true, weaving around the tune. It felt like magic, and she had no idea how it had happened.
Joy swept through her, and she could see similar delight reflected in the other’s face. Maddie forgot about the shoppers and tourists. Green eyes flecked with gold filled her awareness. Tiny shifts of expression told her where the melody would go, when to stop and where to pause. Electrified, she became confident, giving herself entirely to the music. Maddie felt a similar openness in her companion, and a sense of connection, wholly new and vivid with possibility. Nothing in her life had ever seemed as bright as this.
They played for nearly two hours, before the bells at the cathedral reminded her of the time.