It’s been a busy few days. And I feel a bit of a twat for not keeping up with it because this is going to take a while to write about!
I had a slightly unusual introduction to busking, as has been previously covered. But I did continue doing it, without a band and – for a year between college and uni – as my only source of income.
Now, some of you at this point may be asking “Why the hell did you do it? Why on earth didn’t you just get a job in a shop like a normal person?!” I can hear anyone reading this shouting such things with perfect clarity, partly because, when I look back at that (admittedly) pretty hectic and confusing part of my life, I ask myself the same question. But mostly because it was questions like that which I had shouted at me almost everyday by my mum’s boyfriend before they broke up. In fact, I think that might have had something to do with why I continued to busk as much as possible: I was so fed up of people being certain I would fail; I was out to make a point. And to an extent I did. Okay, so I didn’t make a phenomenal amount of money but I made enough to give my mum money when she asked for it, put electricity on the metre every so often and pay for most everything except food. I call that a result for a 19 year old.
I often got bored of busking on my own, and so formed a band with my two best friends so that maybe we could busk and play some gigs. Then it was back to college and busking was restricted to after lectures had ended. This was how I met the Red-Haired Boy.
I played for Folked Up for the rest of the summer. As I did so it became inescapably clear that I wasn’t entirely wanted in the band. Though The Tall One was always reassuring me that he would fight to keep me, the others, and Kernow Boy especially, saw me as just “boosting the sound that one time in Fowey” and so no longer useful to them. I wondered partly whether it was because I was a girl: the Folked Up ‘image’ was pretty rough and ready (or something similar) and I felt like Kernow Boy thought I was going to dilute it. Though I still played for them gladly whenever I was asked and went to all the gigs they played armed with my flute just in case, I began to feel a bit disheartened by it and in a fit of independence, started busking all on my own.
I started busking, and playing in general, because I fell over. Until that point I was jaded and bitter about playing music as a whole. I had wanted to play the flute when I was little after watching Matt Molloy playing ‘The Mason’s Apron’ on television when I was seven (this is the link so you can see it too!) but I had ended up about as far as it is possible to get from that kind of music, with a silver flute and classical lessons which I really wasn’t keen on. I stuck it out long enough to get my grade one but then it was found that I couldn’t read music to save my life (and I still can’t) so I was told I couldn’t take lessons any more. I welcomed the news with open arms because I was playing music I didn’t want to play (now, on the other hand, I am much more open to learning classical stuff). I put my flute under my bed and didn’t touch it again.
There is always, in my dealings with the people around me, the inevitable point where said people find out that I used to be a busker…. and still am part time. The reaction this news is given will, generally speaking, go one of two ways. The first is the reaction given by 15 year old boys who think they’re going to be rockstars and art students who now know they’re not going to be rock stars, which goes something like this: “Wow! Really? That’s so cool! Can anyone do it? Do you need a license? What’s the most you’ve made in a day?” and so on. The second one is more often given to me by people over 50 and occasional members of extended family, which is to look at me as if I’ve just announced I’ve been a whore since I was 17.