Since I’m not in the UK and I’m lugging my guitar about with me, I think it’s about time I tried to make some money with it. I’ve tried busking once before, after a particularly (and usual) bad fight with my ex, I thought the fear of it would take my mind of things. I made about eleven quid in an hour. Probably because I was crap.
Abroad however in non-English speaking countries I can get away with it. Also I’m not subjected to constant requests for Wonderwall. Everyone is a musician in Glasgow, and if you’re not a musician then you know and appreciate good music. Basically it’s a town of critics, and you’ll get lynched if you make ears bleed. Don’t play anything people don’t know. Don’t murder Pink Floyd. Don’t play near a load of Buckfast swilling chavs. The last one is pretty much impossible.
So there I was wandering around the quaint town of Maribor looking for a suitable spot. Lets see now. You’ve got your decent flamenco songster who has a mike and amp set up, so we’ll not be playing near him. There’s an old creepy looking guy in the best spot with a load of worn out dancing puppets. He looks like a worn out dancing puppet himself. I’m guessing his wife left him years ago after she told him to get rid of the damn puppets. Either the puppets go or she goes. He chose the puppets. He plays odd Slovenian ditties on a CD player and dangles about what looks like Eeyore dipped in acid. Kids love it. I’m saying it’s a red flag. Alarm bells are ringing. The only thing he’s missing is a bottle of chloroform and the ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ badge he paid thousands for on eBay.
Further down the street there’s a woman who sways and sings really badly. She’s quite famous apparently, and people give her lots of money because of something bad that happened to her. Regardless, she sounds like Sloth from the Goonies cheese-grating a cat. I move on.
In the main square there’s a Jimi Hendrix type cranking out lazy afternoon riffs on a big-ass amp. He’s part of some kind of event happening, so this is a no fly zone. I’ve got one option left, which actually was my top pick due to the acoustic use of the walls. I don’t have an amplifier, so I’d be lost on a busy street. You have to either play opposite a good wall, or find an archway or underpass. I make my way to such an environment. As I approach…is that… …yes…yes…that’s it, the unmistakable sound of a generic Native American Indian playing those fucking pipes.
He’s not actually doing anything, standing arms folded, bored out of his mind, blasting out lift music and selling dream catchers. I think twice about an icy glare for fear of the hatchet. I honestly hate these guys. They’re everywhere, convincing naive folk that it’s a good idea to swap hard earned money for CD’s with endless cover versions of dire songs. I can’t think of anything worse than a pan pipe rendition of ‘my heart will go on.’ I’d rather stab my ears with knitting needles while chewing styrofoam and urinating into one hand.
I opt for a spot between flamenco fingers and the puppet master. At least neither of them are singing, so I might win the variety vote. Starting is always the hard part. I play safe with Tom Petty’s ‘free-fallin’, and the euros start to roll in. I’m actually pulling this off. The Great British busking scam. In two hours I’ve rattled through everything I know, including a couple of my own crap songs in a bid to convince people they’re actually covers. By the time I’m cashing up at the local coffee shop, I’m staggered to discover I’ve made 52 sheets. 52 smackers. 52 big ones. 52 reasons to go and get smashed. I awake in a field wearing my kilt with dogs licking my face and kids laughing at me. Job done.