I've been out busking a couple of times this week. First, I went out to see George and Diane by the taxi stand on the London Road. I went out really to see if I could talk with some of the men and women who live in homeless accommodation in Brighton. A local reporter wants me to put him in touch with some people who live in homeless accommodation because a certain local newspaper would like to run an investigation into the homeless system in Brighton. Unfortuntately, when I managed to get a man called Peter to talk on the phone the local reporter was away from his desk, but he did have a lot of interesting things to say.
Because I was going to see George, I took my guitar. It turned out Peter played guitar too and really rather well. He did an excellent version of 'The Needle and the Damage Done' by Neil Young and 'Comfortably Numb' by Pink Floyd. There was a nice vibe among a small group of people singing along to some classic songs. George was half way through an impressive rendition of 'Massacheusetts' by The Bee Gees when, unfortunately, the sound of music was enough to attract a couple of local Police Community Support Officers. The group were accused of drinking by association and we were forced to disperse. It was true that one or two of the group had a can in their hands, but I felt the local PCSOs were a little heavy handed. People were having fun - there was no agro.
A couple of days later I went out busking on the London Road with Jason. We managed to get him a small drum, so I played outside the co-op some songs from my song folder. We didn't really make any money but we were having a nice time. Two PCSOs stopped on the other side of the road and stared at us for about 10 minutes. Sure enough, a while later they arrived where Jason and I were playing and told us we had to stop busking. Apparently the drum was too loud and Jason was too loud. The police had received a 'complaint'. From whom we were not told. I was handed a small laminated card laying out in black and white the local bye-laws on busking. No amplification. No drumming. I guess what Jason and I were doing amounted to 'anti-social behaviour'. Jason was upset that he couldn't play his drum having been told by the PCSOs that this was the case. Jason and I both accused the local PCSOs of operating double standards. There are lots of buskers in Brighton, especially at Pavillion Gardens, around New Road near the Theatre Royal and all around town. Brighton's a musical town - there are lots of budding musicians here.
As we walked down London Road a police van pulled around the corner. A policeman called out to Jason from the window: "I hope you're not thinking of playing with that, are you?" as if Jason had in his hands sawn-off shotgun or something. Poor guy, he'd had his eye on that drum for weeks and we'd wanted to form a small busking band. Looks like the PCSOs have put paid to a little venture Jason and I had wanted to get off the ground. The idea was Jason on drums, George on guitar and vocals, me on guitar/vocals. It could have been sweet...Within 5 years, me, George, Diane and Jason could have been supping champagne on our yacht. As the Beastie Boys once sang, unless you have a certain social status, it looks like in this town you really have to fight for your right to party. Poor man. In Brighton, the authorities have a habit of treating him like an animal. I don't know. The authorities seem to clamp down on the homeless in Brighton and 'move them along' because they are worried what tourists and locals will think. Why can't they just let people think for themselves?