I wish people didn’t visit Oxford Street, for there is little to see that inspires and only stress to be felt under your skin. It is hard to really see any thing when you walk along the pavements because all things that could be seen are blurred by herds of people walking around aimlessly and stubbornly, smudging themselves and all surrounding elements into unnecessary chaos.
It is hard to see Paul at the bottom of the stairs at Bond Street Tube Station, around 17:15 on Friday. He is one tiny, unassuming pebble in the vicious current of rush hour and London shopping mania, easily brushed away and avoided, easily dodged. I walked past him and felt a click in my moral resources* that halted me before I touched in with my Oyster. I wanted to give him some change but I had none on me at the time. Then I remembered that I had organic cookies and chocolate and decided there could be worser alternatives to sweet treats.
“Hello, I’m sorry I don’t have any change on me, but would you like some chocolate?”
“What type of chocolate?” he smiled.
“Fruit and nut?” I began to fumble around in my tiny bag which was filled with the papery litter from the week. Five seconds passed, which in London rush hour figures is about 5 minutes.
“Ah don’t worry darlin’, that’s very kind of you!” he urged as he saw me struggling.
No, I told myself, this is awful, I feel like I am wasting time that he could have devoted to selling his magazines and I really want to give him something.
“But are you sure?!”
“Yes, seriously it’s very kind but don’ worry darlin’!”
I felt defeated and sad about my incompetency to provide a simple token of kindness. You could be a better human…
As I turned around, saying my goodbyes and preparing to submit myself to the currents, he asked me what instrument I played, gesticulating to the violin on my back.
“Have you heard of Jean-Luc Ponty?” he asked. (Wait, tell me more that I don’t know.) “Amazing jazz-rock violinist, you gotta listen to him.”
“Will you be coming back again? If you pass by, tell me what you think!”
A list of exotic names and sounds I had never heard in my life. Paul gave me a gift of new music and I cannot wait to listen to it all. I made a final attempt with the chocolate – politely rejected – and told him I’d be playing a concert on August 7th which would be on the radio. It is the only gift I could think of which would be sufficient to reciprocate his.
I am extremely motivated to buy him a ticket, despite the cost (£30), but I must act quickly otherwise they will all be gone…
Should I? What is stopping me? My gut says yes…
I will keep you updated.
*Currently reading the darkest accounts of violence and evil in Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century (J. Glover). More on this later.