IN Camden Town, they pedestrianised the area outside the HSBC bank and the tube station and lo and behold – who’d have thunk it? – buskers thought: Thanks for the free stage.
Busking levels went up, residents living nearby could not sleep and the council felt it needed to intervene against amplified performances stretching a new licence policy across the whole borough.
Tomorrow, Bill Bailey and Mark Thomas are due in town for another round of kazoo protests at the new rules and the issue is tetchy one. The bundle of documents in response to Camden’s consultation is thick; it has to be said for and against the new rules. Some of the responses are off the scale livid, some are sarcastic.
Here are 15 of the more eye-catching – all genuine – in the box:
* Would you refuse a licence to Pavarotti because he sings too loud?’
* If people move into Camden then have a sook about its vibrancy, they should be forcibly relocated to Sussex.
* If it’s art you should accept it for the future citizen
* Why is a drum set worse than a piano? Who are you to decide what’s art or not. I honestly think that you should review your extreme right wing thinking.
* Drumming is an ancient art – it appeals to us on a very basic level. You cannot legislate a beat!
* Public freedom. You’ll be charging buskers per note next! That’s not an idea by the way!
* Working-class musicians have overwhelmingly been either brass players or have used amplification. It would be expected that a Labour council would be aware of this. If you were not, however, then please understand that you are directly discriminating against working-class musicians and favouring violinists and opera singers.
* I find carol singing far more annoying.
* Curious though how when busking is perceived to be a threat to public order and safety that maypole dancing and morris dancing are to be unrestricted. Can you imagine the disruption that would be caused if maypole dancing was set up on a busy hgh street? And don’t get me started on maypole dancing – marvellous people though they are – they do take up a bit more space than your average busker.
* Camden is in the middle of an urban center. You may as well set maximum hours for buses, trains, planes, groups of wandering carousers.
* I would support inclusion of all musical instruments – for example, we have had many evenings of torment by a solo violin player (with a limited repertoire of uniformly sad and mournful music).
* By banning amplification Camden would be in danger of becoming the world’s most popular venue for the ‘Shouting Wonderwall Brigade!’
* A whole troupe of morris dancers can perform with accordions, drums, trumpets, bells, and banging sticks, but James Galway can’t come along and play a flute.
* This is abslutely disgraceful. As a country I am becoming ashamed to call myself British.
* With this proposal, a penny whistle is outlawed. Yet an opera singer is legal. Do the math.