As I arrived in Newton Abbot, it was sleeting and bitterly cold, but a beautiful crisp winters day. The weather forecast said it would be fine by 10 so it was just a matter of waiting. I chatted to some locals and facetimed my husband who was busking in Exeter. Not only was it cold in Exeter, it was so windy his mic stand and trumpet case were being blown around. The only place it wasn’t windy was the Tea On The Green and there’s so much noise with the construction of the Clarence Hotel that was no good: I was the lucky one!
True enough it was fine by 10 and I started at 10:15, not because there were many people around but more because I thought if I waited any longer I would be too cold to play! I love playing in Newton Abbot, the acoustics are lovely as are the people. I started playing the guitar. It hurt to press the strings down and I was reminded of when, years ago, I crewed for some big yachts in the aptly named ‘Icicle Series’ in Plymouth Sound. My hands would be so cold I was practically incapable of tying any knots, or in fact doing anything other than act as ballast, sliding from port to starboard… for the first hour any way. Then somehow my hands would get used to being so cold and that’s how it was today. After about an hour I had fingertips again!
Until then I was taking it song by song. Thinking I might have to pack up at any moment. But that focus held me in the moment; concentrating on each note, each nuance just to avoid thinking about how cold I was. Every now and then I would think ‘Blimey! Is that me?’ As my voice rang out and sounded rather lovely (like I said, Newton Abbot has marvellous acoustics!). I sang all my favourite songs, it’s a difficult choice because if I’m going to spend my time coming up with an arrangement, it’s got to be a song I don’t just like, I have to love it! I had a lovely time, I really enjoyed playing. By the time I got to ‘Love of My Life’ my fingers were starting to get cold and slow, and the damp air was deadening the guitar a little but I love playing it. It still saddens me that Freddie is no longer with us.
I love playing on the street. The moment before I play and the street is awash with it’s own sounds it I wonder if I can play that first chord, I love watching people as I play. Seeing them sing quietly to themselves as they walk past, and then that last note of the last song and it’s almost as if you were never there at all. Busking is so immediate and so temporary. I love it.