The Underground Busker

Life is certainly fast paced in London. Of course, I knew this already.

The first time that I travelled on the Underground after relocating-I discount all other times because on those occasions I was not a ‘Londoner’ but merely a visitor-the first time I travelled on the Underground as a fully fledged, real ‘Londoner’, I was calmly walking along, keeping to the same pace as the throng around me, when suddenly huge sections of that throng broke into a run, surging forward and down the escalators as if their lives depended on it.

Well, in a sense their lives probably really did depend on it because I presume they were all rushing to work and needed to be there on time, and missing the train that they could hear pulling onto the platform could be the difference between them being delayed on their journey for five more minutes or not.

“These people are crazy!” I thought, and I stuck to my pace. I hadn’t started my job yet and I made a mental note to try not to become like these Londoners in this fashion.

The Underground can be a dreary place. A kind of latent smog hangs in the air in the tunnels, and every time I hit upon a really crowded station or train carriage, I recall the horror of that day when I heard on the news about the London tube bombings. What carnage is possible in such crowded quarters!

Still for all that, there’s a kind of excitement in my heart when I contemplate the dreams I still hope of achieving during my sojourn in this big city.

Now that I’ve started my job, I travel on the tube three days per week, and yesterday, I came across a busker in one of the passageways. I was rushing home from work, with a plan of getting back onto the tube to visit a friend across the city, just because I had an all-day rail ticket. [You know the old saying: ‘where freeness is bliss, it’s folly to resist’]

I don’t remember what this busker was singing and playing but I did remember my late sister, Pat. She was a musician. She wasn’t a busker but she did play the piano in some of the most prestigious hotels in Jamaica.

She always used to say that we should remember to tip the musicians at the piano bar whenever we came across them. And shortly after her death I took to doing this in her honour. On this occasion though, it would have been somewhat of a sacrifice because I had not yet been paid since starting work, and it’s fairly easy to be broke in this crazy and expensive city. But because of my sister and because there will always be a reason not to, I made myself seize the moment.

The buskers on London Underground actually make the place less dreary and less stressful too, so yesterday when I passed this one creating his happy sounds amidst the clattering feet and train engine rumblings, it was further reason to make myself slow down-in fact, I actually turned back because I had already passed him-and put a coin into his guitar case.

The busker gave me a bright smile, which I returned. “That’s in honour of my sister,” I told him. “She was a musician too.”

I hurried off again and his sweet melody trailed after me. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, as I remembered my sister, I was reminded of one thing: no matter what we are working to achieve in life, we must make time for family and friends and to do good deeds, and we must make time to stop and smell the roses, because tomorrow is not promised to us, and the person we have the opportunity to bless or express gratitutude to today may not be around for us to make that expression towards tomorrow.



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