Leaving Lily’s violin was very very difficult for me. In fact, I dallied at her place just playing it all morning and afternoon such that I was late arriving at Rosie’s for the night. Rosie and I cooked up a beautiful mushroom risotto with beetroot and rainbow chard for sides – for some reason most of my hosts in Australia have been vegetarians or vegans. Before I left for busking I showed her various footwork and training techniques for climbing on furniture around her house – heelhooks/toehooks on her windowsill, crimps vs open-hand training on her doorframes, edging and ninja feet on her baseboards…
I didn’t expect much after the slow night at Fitzroy the other night, and took my time setting up and choosing a spot. Again I chose one in front of a nice boutique window with colourful dresses. My voice was in massive fail mode (the chlorinated water no doubt) and I predicted a short, un lucrative pitch. Just as I finished warming up and began to mentally select a first song, however, two families emerged from the nearby restaurant and on reading my sign asked for my request list. They crowded around excited, then even more astonished when I sang them a passable rendition of Operator. So friendly and happy they’d clearly had great dinners, telling me “I bet this is the best five minutes you’ve ever had.” And, “See, it’s all about timing, isn’t it.” I sang Winter for one of the children who liked the look of it on my sheet, and then Hotel California before seeing them off with a Hallelujah. All the other passersby stopped to look, bewildered at my large crowd, but to shy to break in and tip. That last song transitioned well into their absence and people continued to take note of me.
After a petering off and a drought following the last note of the song, where a mean woman waved her hand in my face with sarcastic “Sorry,” and passersby turned suspicious, a man with a young boy in a stroller stopped on his child’s “Stop, stop stop!” I spoke with the son for a while, and he wanted to choose a song but couldn’t read the list – so I played them the ever appropriate I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends made more appropriate by the turn of Autumn. Impressed, his father looked quietly and then requested a song of his own, tipping me a ten dollar note for which I pressed him a CD. Asians passing this whole while in young non-English speaking groups looked at me absolutely flummoxed, wide eyed and disbelieving – to which I smiled all the broader. Only one set – of elderly Asians, just over the young/old line unique to Asians regarded me kindly, the man in front beaming widely at me each of the three times he passed.
A little later two girls sat down to smoke from the bench across the way and watch me from afar. They smiled back at me when I acknowledged them. After a few songs, they came up to tip and head off, likely, but on seeing my sign and then list then stayed for four more songs, requesting Flume which I followed with Skinny Love, Hey Ya and Kids. They offered companionship and rolled eyes when assholes beeped from the street or blared music from cars or passed with muttered abuses. Other young women didn’t warm to well to me with weird expressions. In general I found my pitch quite strange – glowing warmth and requests and smiles dotted amongst suspicion and disdain. Strange area, must be a rich one.
After a time, the group of guys who’d passed many times tipped silently, and then the jolly man tipped by way of his children before getting up from the same bench previously occupied by the young women. His boys seemed flustered by my thanks, responding with a shy “No worries” and downcast eyes. Around this time I needed desperately to find myself a toilet. This is an occupational hazard I haven’t quite put many words to – to keep ones voice going one must drink continually and this makes the need to relieve oneself rather… imminent after the first, tiny warning. It’s something quite hilarious.
Earnings: 51.10 AUD, 1.2 hours
Song of the Day: I Can Tell That We Are Gonna Be Friends – The White Stripes