Every lively atmosphere has one


Street performers I call them. Not until I actually met a friend’s flatmate was I introduced to the term ‘busker.’ There’s something about an individual’s gumption to share a certain talent (from distasteful to mediocre to sublime but hey! to each their own) and make people STOP, gather, look, listen if even for an arbitrary moment. It’s like that feeling you get singing the national anthem or going to a concert: united with the people next to you for that juncture. At minimum, the distasteful buskers provide that community service. But those sublime buskers, you’ll know because you walked away mesmerised and think damn, I love this city.

So this week’s book is by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: Tabby McTat. The busker, Fred, takes a backseat to the protagonist of the story, Tabby, his cat. Together, they sing a little ditty and earn gratuities from the gathering public. Tabby took a wander after one session and engaged in a “cat-to-cat-chat” with a white-socked cat. During this chat, someone snatched Fred’s hat of gratuities and as Fred tried to stop him, Fred broke his leg. Whilst Fred recovered in the hospital, Tabby made a home with the white-socked cat. Three kittens (Soames, Susan and Samuel Sprat) later, Tabby was missing his busking friend and went out to find him. Reunited, the ditty was once again sung but this time Samuel Sprat joined in. Donaldson always narrates a rhythmic tale whilst Scheffler illustrates the dynamic energy of busking crowds.

Ankle biter 1 enjoys this book. Having yet to request the responsibility of animal caring, he found the life of cats fascinating. It also helps that I sing the busking tunes in the most outrageous manner possible. I enjoyed the book because it highlights the beauty of busking as well as the inherent risks involved with public audiences. Buskers, for better or worse contribute to the liveliness of the urban atmosphere. My earliest busking interaction was with the great Harry Perry of Venice Beach. Tell me dear readers, which busker impressed you?


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Vivian Romero

I want to activate the urban imagined: stimulating, healthy and sustainable spaces for all (especially the young and young at heart).

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