Here is an extract from our upcoming book about our travels “Itchy Feet, Smelly Socks”
Rarely do you meet someone who makes you smile so wide your face aches.
It was a warm afternoon in the Spanish town of Cordoba. We had arrived late due to a false start in another town and were eager to get busking. Making our way through the city crowds with all our busking cargo on a hot day like this one meant by the time we were set up we were very, very hot and bothered. We fought past the gypsies that were “selling” flowers (shoving them in people’s hands then demanding money). We found a bridge across the river that was teeming with tourists. There was a fantastic hammer dulcimer player on one end of it, but luckily it was big enough for us to pitch on the other end. Excited and optimistic, we began.
I’m not sure if it was the heat or the mass of people but we seemed to be rather invisible. Our only way to make any sort of cash was to make sure we were playing a Beatles song whenever a busload of Asian tourists came by-it’s a (slightly racist but true) fact known by many a busker that Asians love the Beatles.
After a few hours we had made barely enough money to see us through the day, been scowled at by numerous gypsies with eyes that said “you’re on our turf” and received a free psychic reading from a drunken English woman in an OTT white fur coat. To be honest we were pretty pissed off.
Throughout the trip I was making a video for my Granddad’s birthday of me playing his favourite song, Danny Boy, in various cool locations. After resigning ourselves to making very little money, I sent Creag back to the van to get the video camera so that we could get something useful out of the last half hour.
He set up the camera and began to run the film. I started playing, and after a few seconds noticed that Creag was going a bit red and looked as if he was choking. I assumed he was just suppressing a sneeze so it didn’t interfere with the recording, so I continued. However his symptoms did not subside-they got worse.
Eventually I felt that to continue would be too cruel so I stopped playing and asked Creag if he was OK. His eyes were watering, his face was red, he was shaking and his breathing was shallow. I was really quite worried. In response to my enquiries, he just pointed at the camera screen.
Suddenly I could see what he could see. He had gotten a little distracted and hadn’t actually been filming me at all. His symptoms, which I mistook for choking, were actually all due to him trying his darndest not to laugh at the hilarious antics of a nearby retiree. There on the bridge, just 20 metres from where we had been playing, an elderly man had tied a wallet to fishing twine and was periodically throwing it into the tourists’ pathway. He would then wait for a juicy one. Once a tourist bent over to pick up the wallet he would pull the twine and pull a face at them or blow a raspberry. It was hilarious. We watched him for a while, talking about what a great way it was to spend retirement.
As we left we gave him a copy of our CD with a note saying “it’s people like you who make the world a better place” in Spanish.
Apologies for the shakey camerawork