Turnham Green to Zurich
Venice to Rome via Stockholm
Kampala, the Tender Talents Magnet school
Australia to Hong Kong
Taipei to China
Japan to Hong Kong (again)
Buenos Aires to Miami
Venice to Rome
I’ve arrived back in London and have a few days to recharge before heading south to Kampala. I have had a great time even though it’s been really hard work and I’ve had my ego dented so many times I’ve almost stopped noticing.
Last time I wrote I was on my way to Venice. Since then I’ve been to Milan where, on arrival, I was ripped off at the public phones. It was also raining and I found Milan’s entire police force sheltering in the Galeria, which was where I wanted to busk (ahem, without a licence). Met a local violinist Angelo who hung around with me. I don’t speak Italian and he, very little English, but we had a great time. I thought he had an unusually dismal sense of direction until I noticed a pattern. Every 100 metres he would stop to ask any pretty girl for directions.
My mobile phone, my lifeline back to London had nearly given up the ghost at this point, with a screen that had stopped working. However, Toshiba offered to give me one of their new Smartphones with email, and pay for my calls. Absolutely brilliant, particularly as I’ve done quite a few live radio slots, which involve being put on hold for up to ten minutes before the interview. Not sure I’ve made enough to cover my phone bills yet!
Caught a night train to Berlin, which was shocking – the city, not the train. Got back to my digs with €9 and blisters. Less said the better. At least I slept in a proper bed.
Leipzig. Absolutely great, Met the wonderful Scheterlich family, found a great pitch with a very appreciative audience on their way to the final concert of the Bach Fest, and came away with €289.
Stockholm. Nearly ideal city for a busker. Resorted to some table to restaurant-table selling of CDs as I really needed to improve my cash flow. 1667 Swedish Krona = about £120. Night train to Malmo.
CBS get in touch. They want to do an interview in Rome on Thursday. I had planned to go to Madrid instead -just manageable on the train – but we feel that the CBS interview will help raise the profile of the project so it’s worth the extra expense.
Very early morning busk in the centre of Malmo before moving on to Copenhagen, a very busy city. Quite difficult to find a really good spot here. While I was doing an interview with Mark Lawson on Radio 4 Front Row, a lady came over and dropped a few Kroner in my case. I guess she was thankful I’d stopped playing for a bit! The Toshiba phone arrives – it’s great. I can receive and send emails and Jane can actually get through to me now.
Overnight again to Amsterdam, where I stay with Geerte Wachter, Harro Maas and their children. Lovely, interesting people and it’s great to have another night in a proper home. A bit of busking outside the Concertgebouw was hard work, but I found a good spot by the flower market - €81.30. Best of all – I got to do my laundry!!! Things were getting a bit tight.
Disaster! I manage to tread on my new phone, cracking the screen. Walk around for the rest of the day with two broken mobiles in my pocket, feeling just a bit stupid.
Early start to check in for the flight to Rome via Prague. Automated machines won’t allow me to check right through, and I am told to check in again at Prague. I check in my bags, saying that I’m going through to Rome. They’re slightly overweight, but. as the girl at the counter starts to print out an invoice that I have to take to the excess baggage counter, her computer crashes, and I have the opportunity of ‘repacking’ my bags, before moving to the counter next door. I escape the excess baggage charge and, as an added bonus, I make it to the gate before the weight of my carry on bag dislocates my shoulder.
Big panic in Prague when I can’t find a check-in counter. I run around the terminal and eventually find someone who books me onto my flight, ten minutes before it’s about to go. My trump card is that my luggage has been checked through to Rome and would have to be taken off the plane if I wasn’t aboard.
If only I’d known. Get to Rome. No luggage. Go to enquiries counter – only two people in the queue. One hour later, still only two people in the queue (excluding me). My luggage is in … Prague.
Nearly an hour late for the CBS interview. Ripped off in taxi in to Rome, and eventually get to my hotel in a very bad mood. The manager of the Relais Fontana Di Trevi Hotel, John Rossi, is waiting for me. He’s offered me a free room for the night.
Now, I’m going to do some unashamed advertorial here. It’s a lovely little hotel with a terrace overlooking the fountains, where you can have your breakfast. Sadly I wasn’t able to, because I was off at 5.15am in the morning, but next time I go to Rome, this is where I will stay.
After that, Rome was great. I did my usual hour and a half recce, finishing up at the new concert hall, where I stood under a motorway serenading the audience as they arrived before strolling through town, trying to find a half-reasonable spot. Tried a few places, but there are too many buskers there to make a reasonable living.
All the same, any excuse for a day in Rome. Too bad my luggage never got to see it! Can’t say I missed carrying my banner around with me - it’s started to feel horribly like a cross – but it is very useful for letting people know why on earth I’m doing this. Am expecting to be re-united with it any week now, in any case.
So. Have I learned anything in the last fortnight? When people walk past me, I’ve now got a hide like a rhinoceros and I even manage to retain some dignity when I have to move on completely ignored. Even so, when someone does stop to listen, whether they give money or not, that really lightens up the day.
It has, to be honest, been tougher than I expected. It would have been nice to set out on the next leg with a little more money banked. Having said that, I’m really pleased with the way it’s gone and I feel I’ve gained far more insight by doing it the hard way.
I’m really looking forward to the next leg, particularly meeting the team in Kampala and the concert in Cape Town on 8 June with the Hout Bay Music Project.
Could I say a huge thank you to everyone that’s given so generously. We’ve had a great response.
If you know anyone that might wish to donate, I have set up a page at http://www.justgiving.com/roundtheworldandbach. Please forward this email and link to anyone you think may be interested.
Off again on Thursday or Friday this week. Will be in touch soon,
The Musequality trustees are;
Sir Humphrey Maud, KCMG, who, when not playing the cello, was British Ambassador in Argentina and, later, a Deputy-Secretary General of the Commonwealth. Sir Humphrey is now Chairman of the Commonwealth Disaster Management Agency.
Maureen Howley, MBE, recently retired after a distinguished career at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Jeremy Bradshaw who currently holds the position of Compliance Director, with responsibility for embedding BP's Code of Conduct and compliance & ethics programme in the Group's global Exploration and Production business. His work takes him to a range of countries with special economic and social challenges, including Russian, Azerbaijan, Angola, and South Africa.
Jeremy is a keen amateur violinist. He plays regularly with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and is an active member of its management team.
David Juritz (That’s me)
Lots of supportive emails are coming in with some really great ideas. I'm still looking for a way in to China and Japan where busking is illegal. Am thinking of trying some shopping malls as possible venues. All suggestions gratefully received!
David next to Elle Macpherson
Well ... next to a picture of her on the pages of So London magazine.