A few weeks ago, as I was walking back from the Eurostar station towards Waterloo, the wind was cold and while the days were beautifully sunny, the evenings were already quite chilly especially for those unfortunates who live it rough. As I walked into the station from the overpass west of the station, I saw a young man, sat in the drafty tunnel finishing a sandwich, with a his didgeridoo on his lap. It was so cold the chattering of his teeth was probably doing a good job chomping through it to be honest.
As you do when you’re on a mission to get somewhere your mind wonder what caused him to be there and if you should stop do give him some change or at least have a chat but then your legs keep moving and then it’s just too late to do anything about your thoughts…you’re now 20 feet away so what’s the point. All I had managed was a smile and a nod as I walked by, I had been travelling back from Lille and just wanted to get home, having another hour and forty minutes on the train. I’d check the timetable and see what time my next train was and see, maybe I’ll have time to spare. I did…4 minutes…or 34 minutes. Technically I had nothing better to do once at home other than sit my ass in front of the TV with my warm socks on and munching through my own dinner, so I went to the shops, got a couple of bottle of juice and water, a scratch card and walked back against the flow of people.
His sandwich finished, didgeri-man looked up and smiled through chattering teeth, he was probably in his late 20s early 30s, travelled, blond with a beard and ponytail (who doesn’t these days…the beard is back people!).
A few weeks ago I had bought this beautiful 6ft+ long woolly scarf at M&S…I could wrap it around me mummy style.
I said Hi and asked if he wanted a scarf cos mine was just too long, I kept tripping over it, he was more than happy to help so I wrapped him in and sat down…handing out the bottles “to wash down that sandwich” and the scratch card. He laughed and got scratching but no win on that front.
“- ‘mind if I sit with you ’til my train arrive?
– No that’s cool. Thanks for the drinks.
– No worries…so how come you sit in the draftier part of the station?
– it’s for the acoustic, you see anywhere else people can’t really hear me play but it’s best I stay here for a couple of hours rather than in a warmer place cos when I play it sounds good here so there is a better chance to get some change.
– ooh I see…would you play for me then…show me the acoustic, I said with an encouraging smile.
And so he got on with it and started playing til I almost killed him by asking “are you didgeridave?” …that’s a real artist by the way, he does similar beatboxing/didgeridoo style than my new friend was doing and while I’ve heard him before I had never seen his face, so it could have been, but instead my didgeri-man just burst out laughing and got into a coughing fit…he explained he’s had a chest infection that was just not going anywhere. Looks like my scarf and the fluids I had bought him were probably gonna be welcome if he was going to get that fixed, though not by staying in a drafty tunnel, but there is no messing with the acoustic, and he was right, it sounded pretty good.
We stayed chatting another 5 min and I made a move to go catch my train, as I said goodbye and wished him good luck, he said thanks for the company!…not the scratch card, not the scarf…but the most important thing to anyone, off the street or rich, the company. The interaction that makes you real in the eye of the world.
It wasn’t much and it wasn’t fancy and I did manage to get on the wrong train going nowhere while mine was leaving the station 3 ft away…(what a donut!) but all in all I hope it was something to him, if anything it was something to me.