Saturday, May 29, 2004

The solitary busker

Buskers are rare in Rockhampton. There seem to be no local ones, only the occasional backpacker; & always fiddlers in that "Irish" tradition that is as phony as the "Irish" pubs that prevail here.

They are something I miss. Sydney was full of them, the entire gamut of buskers, from the nasal pseudo-Dylans echoing in the pedestrian tunnel running to the main railway station, the didgeridoo blowers, old men with their performing dogs which wheezed in harmony with the harmonica, the accordion players – whenever I came near them I would make one of those signs to ward off the devil & avert the evil eye – Mozart down by the Opera House, Chinese students or refugees with their strange stringed instruments in Parramatta & the accompanying amplifier making it even stranger, through to those who pretended not to be beggars by beating a cardboard carton out of time & out of step with the universe. I hated them all, but oh how I miss them.

The solitary busker is usually on the other side of what passes as the main street here. Seemingly only on Fridays. I hear them, see them standing unmoving in the distance, am unmoved by them & their mechanical bog music.

But today, when I came into the street, the busker was between me & the discount cigarette shop I was heading for, & they were actually moving, sort of dancing between the shopfront & the roadway. Playing in tune & with some rhythm in their playing. I passed by, bought my cigarettes, came back. Thought what the hell, it's a bit of brightness in the drab, added a $2 coin to what was in the violin case & said something along the lines of I'd have given you more if you'd been playing Bach.

At which point they paused in their playing. The pause could have been because they were turning over what I had said to make sure they had heard me correctly or it might have been one of those pauses that come after you've put the money in the jukebox & the arm is going along the stack to pick out the record you've requested (& yes, I know I've been around for a while). Maybe a bit of both.

Suddenly the jigs were no more, & a reasonable rendition of Air on the G String was resonating in the air of East Street & stopping the pedestrians in their tracks.

The busker ended up with a few more of my dollars in their violin case. I was happy for the rest of the day. Still faint resonations inside me as I write this, as the gibbous orange moon glowers through the trees just before it falls away behind the hills, hanging there like those last few notes of Bach that followed me up to the carpark.

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