My London Odyssey (continued)

One of the big attractions of London for me is the performing arts, and I don't just mean the West End shows and the like. As I've said in previous blogs, as a former professional musician myself, it's not just live music that turns me on, although that's my first love. You can see almost every type of street performer imaginable if you know where to look.

On the middle of bridges over the Thames, in road junction underpasses; buskers favour these as the acoustics in there enhance the sound of their music, at the entrance to tube stations, or anywhere there is a large number of potential punters passing by, who just might throw a coin or two in their guitar case or upturned hat.

Whoever or whatever they are I can't help but admire them for having the courage to stand up and give it a go, some are rubbish, some are ok, but many are brilliant. So whatever category they fall into, at least they're trying to improve their lives, whether that's just to make a few quid to see them through the next 24 hours, or whether they're also trying to get noticed in the belief that a big-time music producer will notice them on their way to catch the tube, these things do happen!

However many of those street performers live life on the edge, as the authorities often harass them and move them on from their preferred stances. But for me they all play a big part of my London experience and I spend a lot of time listening to and watching them, and yes, I do drop them a few quid, especially if they impress me. As well as the hundreds of so called “illegal” performers there’s also a large number of “licenced” performers, and one of the best places to see some of them is Covent Garden, which is one of my favourite places.

I love to stop there for a glass of wine and watch some of the performances at the end of my day’s sightseeing. Some of the streets leading to CG have some amazing and bizarre acts, such as celebrity impersonators, human statues, jugglers, illusionists and magicians, all of which I find fascinating.

  • The Classical Quintet, Covent Garden

    The Classical Quintet, Covent Gardenl

  • Mr Bean Impersonator, Covent Garden Tube Station

    Mr Bean Impersonator, Covent Garden Tube Station

Once I eventually make my way into the central Piazza of Covent Garden itself, it’s time to order that well-earned glass of red wine and settle down for an hour to listen to live classical music, provided usually by young, up and coming student musicians. It’s a time to relax, enjoy, and reflect on my day and think about what to do tomorrow, although I still have the evening ahead to look forward too.

After Covent Garden I’ll often make my way back to Camden as it’s close to Primrose Hill, where I stay with my friends John & Caroline. My favourite live music venue in Camden is the Monarch Bar – it’s big, dark, loud and very busy. I was at first a wee bit apprehensive going in there being a woman on my own. However the draw of live rock music is irresistible to me.

Nevertheless, the first time I went in I was slightly on my guard, as there were a lot of lads all knocking back strong lager and head banging to the heavy rock music. The next thing I know is, I feel a hand grab my arm and I’m thinking, fuck, what the hell is this? I turn round and this guy says to me, Hi Julie, I didn’t expect to see you here. I immediately recognised him as one of the staff of Hard Rock Café, who had served me my lunch 3 days earlier, and who had got to know me over the last couple of years since I started going there. What are the chances of that? Two venues at opposite sides of a city of 8 million people, and I bump into someone I met 3 days earlier, who recognized me in a crowd, in the haze of dim light, loud rock music, and more than a few drinks, I’m sure.

Next time I'll continue talking about my aspirations as an author and about my book, Becoming Julie

Speak soon!

  • Human Statue, Covent Garden

    Human Statue, Covent Garden

  • 'Tiny Dragons' Live At The Monarch (Camden)

    "Tiny Dragons" Live At The Monarch (Camden)