Overheard #7: The Busker 

This for Cake.shortandsweet Wednesday Write-in.

Yeah, so actually I’m a busker. That’s what I do. Do you like the outfit? Helps pull the punters; you know, draws their attention. Gotta have their attention even if it’s just long enough to throw the pennies into the box. Got the shirt in Arizona. The genuine article. Bought it off a rodeo rider. Twenty five bucks. Cheap at the price. And the hat is a genuine Texan Stetson. Belt given me by a roadie working on that last Billy Joel concert. Isn’t that a great buckle? Crossed six-shooters against a coiled lariat. Boots are Marks & Sparks. Can’t wear guns, even toy ones. Against the law. It’ll have armed response units on the streets in no time at all. Probably nuke me with a drone.

Have you heard of Roy Rogers or Gene Autry? Singing cowboys. I sort of do their stuff but also more modern. Whatever. Maybe Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette. Some older Dylan. Bob, not the other one.

I learnt the tunes and words off the radio and from old vinyl – usually find some good stuff in charity shops. I don’t always get the lyrics right or I forget so some wah-wah-wahs or doo-dee-doo-doos are needed, but nobody worries about those too much. That’s if they even notice; too busy with finding the next bargain or keeping the kiddies from being run over. Still, some people like my stuff. Mainly the oldies and the student types. Who between them don’t have all that much money. So when they do give, I appreciate it.

I’d like to have a horse as part of the act; it could do foot-stamping and mane shaking and the occasional neighing. But the shopping centre manager says no, can’t have that. I say, but it’s showbiz! He says, this isn’t a music hall, this is shops. No imagination, no sense of the commercial opportunities that a performing cowboy/horse duet could bring to his mangy little business.

The thing about show business is that you don’t have to have a formal education. Me, I attended the School of Slack. And nearly got thrown out of that. So no qualifications, no certificatations, (hey, there’s a rhyme; perhaps I’ll write a song) but I got to listen to a lot of music and watch a load of telly and I have to say that’s probably a lot more useful than being in the system. I mean, I can read and write no worse than the average school-leaver, and my arithmetic is pretty good. Has to be to budget on what I earn. And you read about how many graduates can’t get jobs and are on benefits. Well, not me. I make my own way. Self-made, that’s me; the self-made cowboy. I’m sort of proud of that.

Of course life’s not a bed of roses. There’s a lot of abuse sometimes, especially late afternoons when all the yobbos are pissed. Times when I’d like to have a real gun and do a Clint Eastwood revenge shooting. No less than they deserve.

My one concern is the future. How about an aging singing cowboy? Not much hope there. Maybe some impresario will hear me and take me on. Buy me a rhinestone shirt. Put me on at the Apollo. Make a big star out of me.

Best you have my autograph in case I’m famous one day.

That’ll be five quid, darlin’.

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14 Responses to Overheard #7: The Busker 

  1. How about ending up here, cowboy?

    Rhinestone shirt,
    I’ve got that now.
    A horse to follow
    Then a cow.
    A thousand head
    Is what I’ll breed
    I’ve heard that’s what
    All cowboys need.
    Maybe some sheep
    To rear and shear,
    I’ll be a western
    Pioneer
    With spurs and buckles
    Shining bright,
    I’ll sing my tunes
    While in the night
    I guard my flock,
    My herd, my men,
    Holstered gun
    For if or when
    Some pesky varmint
    Comes along.
    I’ll scare them off
    With just a song.

    Couldn’t resist it! :)x

  2. Elaine McKay says:

    Lovely characterisation. I like that he thinks big wanting the horse. Social commentary throughout is thought provoking. Although I do hope he’s not destined for the X factor!

  3. SJ O'Hart says:

    ‘I attended the School of Slack. And nearly got thrown out of that.’ What a brilliant pair of lines. 😀 I really enjoyed the mental images you create here, and I loved the optimism of the ending.

  4. Godefroy D. says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w8SY_9yO8k this is about a ghost busker btw 😉

  5. Godefroy D. says:

    I didn’t even notice the prompts. Very different, very concise. Would have preferred a prog rock busker, but that’s just me being silly 😉

  6. Elaine Peters says:

    Enterprising guy – he’ll do OK. All he’s gotta do is act naturally. And sadly he’s right about the graduates and the qualifications! (Welcome back.)

  7. Tessa Sheppard says:

    You can really picture the man, talking a mile a minute, and all of the stuff that he has collected over the years. Interesting guy with an interesting past. 🙂

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