Friday, August 25, 2006

Buskers and Beggars

Buskers (street musicians) are one of the things that add life to any street scene. Which is why Dubai doesn't allow them. Valencia has a fair collection of buskers, most of them not very good. The preferred instrument of torture is the accordion, followed by guitar and voice. One guy caught our attention as being particularly bad - he could barely play his guitar, and his singing voice was just awful. He always tried to play Beatles songs, but I don't think he knew any English so he was just approximating the sounds of the words. One day he turned up at the beach, accompanied by a fiddle player. The fiddler was pretty good and we were contemplating throwing some money at them. But then matey-boy launched into his Beatles repertoire and we quickly changed our minds.

Beggars are always a pest in any city. Valencia has some interesting ones. There's the well-dressed guy who kneels on a little cushion all day long, head bowed in prayer and cup held out. There's a fair number of old gypsy ladies who tell you sob stories that you can't understand of course because you don't spikka da Valenciana, and finish up by going into whiny mode. I should tell you that if I was ever going to beat someone up it would be because they whined at me. One day a troupe of three young gypsy girls emerged from their stretch limo and began their shift. The one that reached our table first was immaculately dressed and had a cream leather handbag with matching shoes. When she spoke you were dazzled by the solid gold teeth. She quickly got into whiny mode and so she was sent on her way. Half an hour later she was back and I explained that I gave already.

One strange character that we saw around town most days or nights was a middle-aged woman. She wore a smart sleeveless black dress that got more dusty and shapeless as the days went on. When we first saw her we thought she was just drunk and trying to find her way home. Later it seemed that maybe she had no home any more. But she was still drunk. She never asked anyone for money, but she did like to have a good old shout at no one in particular. Most odd.

There were also two or three guys who would patrol the town centre trying to sell assorted trinkets - bangles, silly hats, furry dice etc. I've never wanted furry dice in my car, so of course BetterArf bought me some. They look very nice dangling from the rear-view mirror of my Beemer. Tasteful, like.

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