I’m sorry, but I hadda!
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Jeffrey Campbell hybrid boot shoes for $29. I was back up for another meeting near the UO surplus store and brought my own argyle socks. Love. Online they were on sale for $108 on Free People and Urban Outfitters were still over $100, too.
 
Ah, the shoes spark off the love for the Scots!
 
“You take the high road…
 
I’ll take the low road”
 
That was the first song I taught myself on the recorder. I’d lived and gone to school in London the year before, so I knew and loved the town. Then, my parents, brother and I were on a family trip to Europe and London. I refused to come home with them, announcing only the day before they were leaving, that I was not coming home with them just yet. Shocked and scared for me, they paid for one night in the hotel. That’s love and support.
 
I couldn’t carry a piano with me, so I had brought a beautiful recorder I had bought in Burlington, Vermont at a small music store. For some reason, maybe having subconsciously planned this, I had packed mostly costumes, a fire-engine satin and netting slip and a sparkly t-shirt with the leaning Tower of Pisa on it. 
 
That night in the hotel room, I rehearsed every song I could think of. The next day I went out to my new life: a busker. I was going to ply my living as a street performer, with the quietest instrument known to man!
 
I spent the day looking for spots. I’d put my hat down, feel the traffic and set out with my hit tune: “The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond.” My soulful rendering was going to harken the hearts back to a simpler time, I believed. All my love of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth were all going to come back to the simple melody of the bloody Scots, fighting fiercely for their freedom against the Brits.
 
Piccadilly Circus, with its tourist traffic appeared at first to be the best place. But, I quickly found out, I wasn’t alone in thinking so. It was so loud, with competing saxaphone players and their amps, a lowly recorder had no chance. I hopped back on the Tube.
 
I tried Trafalgar Square, picturing Mary Poppins and pigeons, but it, too, was too bustling and lacked any acoustics to make an impact.
 
I decided to take a break and hit a museum and the Victoria and Albert was one I hadn’t yet seen. And on my way, I found my sweet spot: the tunnel between the V & A and the Tube. No one was there, the empty cavernous sewer-like cave was perfect. I threw down my hat, launched into my song and the pounds started rolling in.
 
I was so excited! The foot traffic kept changing and sped by in both directions, so much so that I could repeat my five or so song repertoire. Maybe they felt sorry for me, or maybe they were moved on their way to the museum, but that first day I made 60 pounds in a little over an hour. Now that was a good living! Enough to 1/2 price ticket to The Royal Shakespeare Company that night and feast on a Cornish pasty. I was in Highland heather heaven.
 
I would have played all day, but I was kicked out by a sax player who quickly chided me for horning in on his gig, so to speak. In a thick accent, he slapped down the rules to me as he quickly set up his amp and took over my spot, “Move. See, there’s system. Rules, you see?” He pointed to a taped schedule on the wall of the tunnel. Buskers had come early in the morning to sign up for slots. His Tube was late that day, but don’t try barging in the next, he warned me. “Got to sign up.” He tuned me out and launched into a song you could hear all the way to Tottenham Court.
 
Well, ok then. I left, but came the next day and the next. The day before, I had met a lively Irish bloke the dear J.J. Casey from County Cork, with a thick lisp and an Irish accent that sounded German. He had a wild, raging sense of humor and cocky attitude I found hilarious. His parents had actually sent him to therapy to cure his over-confidence. It was remarkable. We became fast friends and he let me crash on his couch. I was too innocent at the time, but I discovered thereafter, he had a mad crush on me, but that’s another story. (One in Wales and concerning an oversized black overcoat and a rucksack.)
 
But now, I woke up every day to sign up early. If J.J. wasn’t busy, he’d take me places all over London, crashing happy hours and art exhibits to eat and pooling our money to see theater at night. I was making a fine living as a busker, and gotten frugal down to a science.
 
He even accompanied me to Scotland, when I went up to work at a job I’d secured at the Edinburgh Festival. He was terrified of my plan to hitchhike up there, so after assuring my parents he’d watch out for me, he hitchhiked up north with me. Wales is another story, but I’ll say that J.J. had to get back to London for work, but made sure I got that last and safe truck ride up to Edinburgh.
 
Forty-three plays later, and now having made friends from all over Scotland, I went to Glasgow with a friend to recover from all the parties and whirlwind. And, I brought my recorder, busking in every square I could find.. From Glasgow, by myself, I hitchhiked nearly every inch of the east, north and south of the country, up to Ballycastle where it was so cold and windy on the shores of the North Sea in the winter, they had to cancel the school buses for fear they’d go over the edge. 
 
`Twas the edge of the world. And I’ll kick up my Jeffrey Campbell’s and play a jig!
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