After the first two days

The first two days had convinced me that this what I had been looking for, it ticked all the boxes.

If you have never stood alone in the middle of an empty space attempting to draw a crowd that doesn’t exist you cannot imagine the fear, insecurity and vulnerability you experience and by the same token you cannot imagine the sheer joy and exhilaration when you succeed.

As you can imagine, I was filled with these mixed emotions as I embarked on my quest for Street Performing glory.

My first task was to be accepted by the existing street performers who were very suspicious of anyone new.  It was hard to make money mid-week in April and they didn’t want to share it, so I thought.  As I got to know the other performers I realised that they were very much a community and looked out for one another in a way that I hadn’t come across before.  They were genuinely pleased for anyone who got a good hat (received a decent amount of money in their hat) and were very giving with advice about how to deal with any situations that arose.

In those early days of Covent Garden what we were doing was still illegal and we could be arrested, so, at the first sign of a policeman we would jump back under the portico of the church.  The portico of St. Paul’s was a place of sanctuary and we could not be arrested as long as were under the portico on church land.  The church itself is very historic, it is known as the Actor’s Church and dates back to 1631 - many famous actors have been married and buried there (the two events are not necessarily dependant on each other).   The police, it must be said, were very good and didn’t get involved unless asked to by the local council.  The council would send inspectors every so often but they were easy to spot with their clipboards and officialdom jobs-worth air about them, but it was fun spotting them.

The political climate at that time was very important to the growth of Covent Garden as a street performance area.  The majority of young people were dissatisfied with the government and were, in effect, disenfranchised and as result were very rebellious. It was a time of Punk Rock and politically astute stand up comics looking to give a voice to people marginalised by government cuts and policies. What we were doing tapped into that idealism and we were seen as sticking it to authority.

With that backdrop it was no surprise to find a diverse group of individuals, there was a nuclear physicist, a doctor (a GP), a university lecturer, a plumber, an electrician, a merchant seaman and a lot of people straight out of drama school.

I fitted in simply because I wanted to be there and that was enough for most other performers, how I arrived at that decision or what my background was didn't matter.

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