While I twiddle, passers-by jangle: An unemployed graduate offers some thoughts on his new career as a busker

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Rich people don't give you money. Poor people can't give you money. Men on their own don't give you money. Men in groups don't give you money. Yet on my second day I managed to raise pounds 5.58 (it is worth mentioning that Her Majesty's Government gives me pounds 5.15 to live on for a day). Here's how.

The flute is better for busking than pan pipes, because it is easier to look like you are trying hard. The pan pipes are difficult to play, but sound as if they are easy.

Ignore rich-looking people, tourists and teenagers, who never give you money. Men are less likely to than women, which seems strange since men generally have more money than women. They often have tins full of change which they don't know what to do with, and carry coins in their pockets (quite often jangling them as they walk past).

Women, however, who tend to have less money, will go to the trouble of taking a purse out of their handbag and looking through it, just to find some coins for my hat. Of course, it could be the haunting flute and my wide-eyed waifish looks tugging a few maternal heartstrings.

Clothing: leave them guessing; warm and clean, yet slightly torn and faded. Are you a student, homeless, unemployed? Answer: whichever they want you to be.

Fingers: twiddle, twiddle, twiddle, twiddle, it looks and sounds worth 20p of anyone's money. (Hooray for small 5p and 20p pieces - people just want to be rid of them.)

Face and posture: look competent and comfortable while playing. Try a slight rocking motion and friendly smile (not easy while playing the flute). But raise those eyebrows a fraction too much and, wallop, the Nigel Kennedy factor kicks in. Nobody likes a smug, snotty, music student pretending to rough it before slipping back into a blazer and tie and heading back to the conservatoire.

Of course, there are many more secrets that I cannot divulge, but my last tip is what I call the 'hat trick'.

Yesterday, when I was just starting, someone kicked my hat over (I use my Moroccan prayer hat as it makes a nice bowl shape when placed upside-down). They were so apologetic that they felt compelled to give me 30p. Realising that a need existed in the market-place for 'guilt relief by financial unburdening', I moved my hat a further six inches into the busy thoroughfare and today was rewarded for my foresight by being given 50p by a man who nearly kicked it.

I know it seems a strange service to supply, but if there are people willing to pay, then there should be someone ready to provide. 25,000 years of Conservative government has taught me that much at least.

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