London: Part 1
My time in London came and went so quickly. It was a wonderful few days. I met up with a couple friends from NY – Roxie, who’s English and a fellow Esper grad, and Inessa, a fellow BeachBody coach/enthusiast who just moved to London a couple months ago. It was great to reconnect with these wonderful ladies.
Yesterday I went to church, to the Victoria and Albert Museum, played with a baby whose parents just moved to Europe from Brooklyn,
took a nap in the sun on the gardens of the V&A, learned some chords & songs on the ukulele in Hyde Park – what better location?
And spent time in Upton Park with my lovely host, Pat, who taught me a little Cockney. Well, that was actually last trip, but we’ll say it counts for now. 😉
It’s been great. I will be back.
Friday I caught up with sleep after a long week of preparations and an overnight flight. Before heading out for the night, I went singing outside the tube station at Upton Park. There must not be many street performers in Zone 3 of East London – people seemed surprised, and many pleasantly so. I handed out several cards and just enjoyed interacting with people, making them smile, seeing them feel something. These are the people I’m here for.
Later on I met up with my dear friend Inessa for an evening at the Tall Ships Festival – dozens of old-school frigates along the Thames! What a thrill! It sort of felt like I was watching Horatio Hornblower for a hot second. We got lost on the DLR and shared a good laugh about it.
We pulled each other through the crowds gathered for the firework show. I spotted a few naval officers making their way over to a dock, so I grabbed Inna and we followed in their wake. Those New York crowd navigation skills sure came in handy! We ended the night enjoying dessert & tea on a balcony of a lovely little restaurant in Greenwich Village, only a few stones’ throw away from the Greenwich Mean Time marker.
Saturday, I finally worked out! It’s been a few months, so I’m working it back into my life. Yea, PiYo! After a breakfast of muesli and eggs, I set out to wander around the city with the intent to find a spot to sing. I started at Piccadilly Circus, then made my way to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery – there was some kind of NHS (National Health Service) protest going on, so it was kind of crazy. What was even crazier – to me – was this totally random, enormous bright blue statue of a rooster! What the . . .?? A friend told me that an artist came to Trafalgar Square and was struck by the abundance of male statues in virile poses. She decided the only thing missing was a “cock” (in Queen’s English this word actually means “rooster.”) So she made this massive statue of a rooster, painted the thing blue, and put it up on a pedestal with all the other boys at Trafalgar Square.
So, it turns out there are only a few spots in London friendly to buskers, where they are allowed to do their thing without being run out by authorities. Most places, like along the South Bank or at Covent Garden, require a permit, granted by audition. I met a really lovely off-duty busker in front of the National Gallery – one of these few busker-friendly spots – he was super helpful & filled me in on a couple locations that might be good to go. I took a train down to Waterloo, wandered around the station for a moment with ABBA’s song of the same name blasting through my mental sound system, and meandered along the South Bank – what a lovely walk! There’s the National Gallery, Blackfriars, the Tate Modern, the Thames, several bridges.
I saw three buskers outside the Tate, all wearing Yoda masks and robes, all levitated about a foot or so off the ground, holding nothing but a staff – it is one of those “Wait, how do they even DO that” acts. Apparently there’s a harness they get into that’s attached to the staff. It sure made my head turn.
I tried out a couple spots, but was either shooed away or there was a very weak response. So, feeling a little down, I walked down the Millennial Bridge, got some amazing chocolate ice cream, and tried again. I finally found the perfect place on the North bank near St. Paul’s Cathedral, and made a go of it for about 30 minutes, plus breaks.
I’m finding that while singing for people in a public place, nothing catches attention better than when you really jump in and put your all into it. There are a few songs on my “playlist” that I like, but don’t always feel super connected to, and they felt a little flat – fortunately I have the tools now to re-work these songs, thanks to my training at the Esper Studio. But when I pulled out the glorious Puccini arias, and the Menotti aria I love so dearly, threw myself into them, and really played, and sang for the love of it, there was a great response. I pulled out that inner diva and gave a show from my guts, and I owned that space. Moral of the story: chocolate ice cream is great therapy. And going “all in” WORKS.
This is London part 1. In part 2 I’ll be writing about my personal history with London, why it is such an important place in my life’s story, and why I feel I will be coming back again and again.
All my best,