Transports of delight (3): Music while you work

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The Independent Culture
'You have a bit of a wait for your train; wouldn't you be pleased to while away the time watching jugglers? You have a tiring time shopping; won't the string quartet playing in the Underground station soothe your jangling nerves? Many buskers perform at an extremely high standard. It is a pity that such excellent artists are hounded rather than encouraged. My main proposal is the setting up of a new Transport Busking Agency. A system of licensing is proposed, together with a booking system for pitches. There will be safeguards to prevent annoyance to travellers, and to protect public safety. The buskers themselves will be invited to join a voluntary crimewatch network.'

(From Francis Roads'

proposal to license buskers)

Francis Roads, a music teacher from London, won Third Prize for a reader entry.

He wins a trip to the Paris Metro system for his eloquent argument for welcoming buskers on the London Underground. A teacher of music, Roads is a keen champion of live music. 'I hate piped music. If this scheme were put into operation, the travelling public would be entertained, and shown the delights of live performance. And artists would have opportunities to perform. A busker in Amsterdam who played me Bach's D minor Chaconne superbly from memory on his violin told me that he busked from choice rather than need.' Roads proposes that buskers of all types - 'musicians, actors, story-tellers, poets, jugglers and acrobats' - should be encouraged to perform on British transport property. A new 'Transport Busking Agency' would be established and, although sponsorship money might be required to set it up, Roads believes that it could become self-financing. It would persuade authorities that buskers should be encouraged on to their premises. 'Transport staff and buskers would become allies rather than enemies.' The situation on the Continent is somewhat different, according to Roads: 'Continental countries do not usually persecute buskers as we do in Britain, at least as far as the transport system is concerned. Their reward is music and other entertainment in public places that is sometimes of an amazingly high standard.'

(Photograph omitted)