#28: Busk/sing in public

This was one of the more dreaded of my challenges, so praise the Lord for good friends to snatch banter from the jaws of a potentially humiliating shocker!

I cannot sing in tune, nor play any instrument. So it was hard to see how this would pan out well for me. But then, inspiration struck. I was to lunch with my 3 ex-housemates for birthday celebrations this weekend, and what if we could make an amusing event of it? An image presented in my brain. The 4 of us, each in comedy wig, brandishing a pink ukulele… and belting out tunes in the middle of London… How could that fail to be Utterly Hilarious???!!!

Once the image was lodged, it was impossible to shift. I broached the idea with them. And bless them all, not one dissenting voice! Hooray for chums who can be persuaded into these ridiculous escapades.

As the birthday lunch concluded, I presented my props. I piled the wigs onto the table. And the ukuleles. And the busking hat, for the public’s contributions. And the cardboard sign upon which we could explain our feat.

And oddly, as I went on, I noticed a hint of doubt appearing on the faces. Surely they weren’t going to bail on me now!!! The sunny day had brought people out in droves, and South Bank seemed a popular choice. Punters were thronging past like the M25 in rush hour. Oof.

In the end, the birthday girl took on a filming role, and the other 2 dug deep to join me. We positioned our sign. We donned our wigs. We discussed our play list.


And then there was nothing for it but to launch in. With woeful disregard for tune, harmony, correct lyrics or synchronised timing, we burst into a truly appalling rendition of ‘Jerusalem’. The crowds slowed. Brows furrowed. Some tourists took photographs. We sang louder. We strummed badly.

One song down, we were gaining confidence. We offered a rousing rendition of happy birthday. Em hid behind the camera and captured it as best she could.

We moved on to Band Aid,’ Do they Know it’s Christmas’. Perfect choice for a sunny day in March. The punters loved it! The contributions began to flood in! (well ok, perhaps that is stretching it, but some people really did give us money!)

We were loving it by now! We had only intended a song or two, but here we were, with (in our minds) the crowd clearly wanting more! We murdered Yellow Submarine. (I should stress that none of us had rehearsed, nor troubled to learn any lyrics, so song choices were a little limited). And still we weren’t done! We gave it large. We hit them with an exuberant ‘Living on a Prayer’. We threw out a horrifying ballad, Elaine Paige and Barbara Streisand’s ‘I know him so well’. Passers-by were open-mouthed. But the donations kept coming! We had reached £8! Surely we could get to £10! We figured by now we had a new crowd and could get away with another rendition of Band Aid, that had been by far the biggest crowd pleaser. And before we even got to the chorus, we made our £10, and only our extreme professionalism kept us going to finish the tune, rather than rush to the pub with our winnings half way through!

No doubt we should have given it all to charity, but I am afraid the only beneficiary was the nearest pub on South Bank. And of course the happy crowds.

So. A triumph! We put a smile on the faces of countless Londoners, had a massive laugh ourselves, earned £10, and ticked another one off the list, conquering to some degree my fear of performing in public and general social embarrassment. As well as creating an amusing memory and bonding experience for all concerned. Hurrah!

Probably my best one to date, that one! Who’s up for karaoke??!

3 thoughts on “#28: Busk/sing in public

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