So Long and Thanks for all The Fish

It’s been almost two years now since my blogging about the life of a street performer suddenly stopped. To tell you the truth things were changing. The work was getting harder and the income less. I’ve since moved on and I’m glad I got out when I did. It means that I can hold on to the many good memories I have as a jobbing street entertainer. After all it made me the performer that I am today.

You are reading this it’s probably because you are interested in my other artistic plans. ‘Brain Rinse’, my one man show that now tours regularly, or ‘Cabaret Rinse‘ my once a month cabaret show. It’s different now that I run my own comedy/theatre production company. Nowadays I draw a crowd by spending hours at my computer marketing… instead of just shouting. But the performing is remarkably similar. Easier yes, but I still like to think it has the same spirit. The spirit of when I was hitting the cobbles to earn my daily bread.

I still ‘hit the cobbles’ every now and then, and that suits me fine. It’s once again a joy.

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Traumatising Germans and Other Artistic Pursuits

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I am aware that, for most people, the idea of being dragged up in front of hundreds of people in some idiots street show is perhaps less appealing than a mini break in Guantanamo Bay

Most street shows have a gimmick, it’s true. If it’s not juggling dangerous objects, it’s juggling dangerous objects that are on fire, and if it’s not juggling dangerous objects that are on fire, it’s juggling dangerous objects that are on fire balanced ten feet in the air on a pole, and if it’s not all of this, it’s all of this wearing only a yellow spandex mankini, and if it’s not even all of this… well you get my drift. For many years I  considered that I was above the use of these cheap tricks, but the truth is I’m not. I was reminded of this when something very strange happened the other day during a show. Something that I can honestly say has never happened, in almost three decades of street performing. Continue reading Traumatising Germans and Other Artistic Pursuits

No Questions About Justin Beiber Please

I’ve managed to buy 75 xbox 360 video games, a console, a large box of packing noodles and 100 jiffy bags and I’ve now got to “shift them” because they’re taking up too much space in the living room. It’s all a bit ‘Only Fools and Horses’ but I confess I quite enjoy it.

For what seems like days now, possibly weeks I’ve been meaning to write in my blog. Now that I get down to it again I’m shocked to discover that actually a whole month has passed since I last shared tit bits of info about my sometimes mundane, sometimes colourful life as a street entertainer. I’m wondering why this is?

You see I started 2015 in a state of mild panic about my future. I mean my life is far from perfect and not at all text book. There are no children, dogs, mortgages, and to my knowledge no Nobel prizes that I’ve won. I’m not a millionaire, and I’m certainly not famous, but I don’t think I need to tell you that seeing as you probably just randomly discovered this blog on stumble upon, or something similar. But I think I have a good life, and on the whole, I’m content so, as the old joke goes when the horse walked into the bar, “Why the long face?

Continue reading No Questions About Justin Beiber Please

We’re More Than Just a Sideshow

You may think we’re mad, but it does strike me as arrogance when these media types can’t even comprehend that a performer wouldn’t necessarily want to appear on their show.

Street performers don’t like being taken advantage of, and it happens all the time. The spectacle of Juggling, Uni-cycling and slack rope is not the only circus that you can witness on the streets of London on any given day. Every now and then the media circus rolls into town. It’s always interesting, and usually very annoying when their world and ours collide. Here is a typical conversation with a runner of a film crew that I’ve had so many times over the years. Continue reading We’re More Than Just a Sideshow

Talkin’ Bout My Generation

When I started we used to rally together and raise money for some worthy charity, now we rally together to raise money for yet another street performer’s knee operation.

Pete Townsend of The Who very famously sang in the 1965, “Hope I die before I get old”. It’s a bold claim, but the truth is, he didn’t and these days he is. He illustrates perfectly a phenomenon that has crept into our consciousness over the last decades… the OAP rock star. Believe it or not, it’s the same for the London street performing scene as every year the average age of the London street entertainer rises just a little. There was an explosion of street theatre in London in the mid eighties as the then newly refurbished Covent Garden market opened it’s doors to shopping, and also to street art. When I first started working there in the late eighties as a young man, it was all a bit rock and roll. Now as many of us are still there, it’s less like rock and roll and more like easy listening. Sportsmen and women seem to hang up there boots or running shoes at the age of about thirty five. Make no mistake about it street performing is physically and mentally very challenging so I wonder why we don’ do the same? Maybe it’s because we all genuinely are addicted to the buzz of entertaining large crowds, or maybe it’s just that, well…. we can’t do anything else. Either way some of us are stuck with it. Continue reading Talkin’ Bout My Generation

My Christmas Throwback Wednesday

A Merry Christmas to you all. Like you I’m on holiday this week, stuffing my face with food and avoiding work for yuletide, so here’s a blog post from a few years ago about this very subject. Not Christmas, but avoiding work, it’s called:

It’s Exhausting Avoiding Work

I’m in a right tizz as my dear old mum would say. It’s Thursday and here’s my Wednesday blog. Most of yesterday was spent hurtling down a motorway in the company of radio four and when I got home, quite frankly I was too knackered. I’d driven up to Wales to help my mum move house. She had asked me to lend a hand but when I got there I could see there wasn’t a lot for me to do. Apart from the removals men, two friends of mum had dropped in. Cynthia buzzed around the kitchen unpacking while Malcolm made sure all the appliances worked and the removals people were doing all of the heavy lifting. As for me, I just swanned around looking busy in a sort of self appointed head managerial role when actually I was doing sod all. I’m good at that. Making a great display of looking like I’m doing stuff, when I’m not. Yes, I’ve always been great at being actively lazy. When I watch daytime TV I call it research, hours spent chatting to friends on Facebook is deamed social media advertising, and when I go shopping for hi fi I call it ‘research for sound equipment’. I sometimes think that my headstone should read, “Here rests Mike Raffone, no change there then.”

It all started with my school boy attempts to avoid PE classes. I must have been a bit of a geek. Most skivers in our school avoided history, I avoided football. This arrangement worked well for me until the head of the PE department became my form tutor. No only did this put an end to me sneaking out of PE to loiter in the library with The Telegraph Cryptic Crossword (what a sad upbringing, I didn’t even attempt The Times), but to make matters worse he decided to make sure that I attended PE classes by putting me in his class. This was very unfortunate because he took the top class which made me look even worst. Forced out onto the soccer field in such a demeaning way I quickly developed a smoke screen that made me look like I was playing the stupid game, when, in fact, I wasn’t. This brilliant ruse consisted of running to the opposite end of the pitch to where the ball was, but at the same time madly gesticulating and shouting “to me, to me”. Of course if it looked like the ball was going to come near to me I would dart off in another direction repeating the phrase as I went.

This all worked very well until the arrival of Nigel Williams, or Nidge as he was affectionately known. He was not the best academically , but was naturally charming and popular with all the girls. He was also brilliant at football, and was rumored to be trying out professionally for Wrexham FC. One day I ended up on his side, and as usual was doing my usual avoidance trick. I had managed to run and place myself half a pitch’s length from the ball so I was safe… or so I thought. “Nidge, to me!” I shouted, and he obliged with a perfect pass that landed right at my feet. What the hell was I to do? There was only one thing for it, I had to just get rid of it. I closed my eyes and whacked the ball as hard as I could. I opened my eyes to see the ball curve towards the goal, beat the keeper and slam into the back of the net. I tell you, Nidge scored many memorable goals, but none were talked about as much as that one.

I’ve just noticed that there is a bulb of garlic next to Grisel’s workstation. Very strange. What’s all that about? Maybe it’s there to stop vampires looking over her shoulder when she’s working. More likely it’s there to stop me looking over her shoulder when she’s working. She hates that. Who knows? Anyway, it’s just reminded me that I’ve got to sort out the veg tray in the fridge. Anything but work.

The Old Busker’s Time Travel Paradox

I’ve just come to the conclusion that, where time travel is concerned, it pays to have a pessimistic outlook.

I’ve taken some time off work this week due to a nasty cough and a really bad sore throat. With time on my hands I’ve become hooked on a documentary series on the telly about the history of science fiction. I particularly liked the episode on time travel and it got me thinking. What if I traveled back in time to 1988 and saw the first street show I ever did? What would I say? The way I’m feeling at the moment I’d probably say, “Don’t do it! Quit while you’re ahead. You’ll get trapped. You’ll still be doing it in 25 years time and it will be oh so much harder. You’ll feel twenty one, when you’re doing your show, and ninety one when you come off. The physio bills will go up and the projected income will go down. Every day will usher forth a completely new ache or pain, and the day that you will have to enter the retirement home for knackered old street performers that doesn’t even exist will come ever closer.” Or some such rambling drivel. But the real question is, would I listen? Continue reading The Old Busker’s Time Travel Paradox

Diary of a Street Entertainer

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