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  • Writer's pictureBen Westwood

A poem about the buskers struggle against privatisation

(Hi folks, I've been busking a few times lately which has done absolute wonders for my mental health, sadly, despite some wonderful times we're just not welcome everywhere. So here's a poem about it. Peace)

Hello there, yes you, you watching me from the other side of the lens,

I know, I know, to you that I’m just some bloke on a screen,

But please can I take the chance to remind you, that I am actually a real life living 100% genuine made-on-earth human being.



 The people of this town, they’re a lovely bunch ya know,

They encourage me to keep on doing the thing that I so love,

I know you’ve moved me on a few times and stuff,

You might see me as a vagrant, an instant inconvenience,

But ya know, it’s a shame when that is someone’s perception of my own personal living experience.


You see, when I’m me and singing, with my heart into my song,

If you think it’s all about the money, let me tell you that you’re wrong,

Sure I need to feed the cat sometimes, or get myself some things,

But my mind is always on the way the vibes that this stuff brings.


The joy, the smiles, the nodding heads,

People stood listening, young children dancing,

And a guy that is singing with all of his heart.


But, perhaps the human disconnection can be evident in this land,

You see, many of us didn’t grow up in this ever-growing privatised world,

And some simply won’t understand,

What it’s like to be pushed around from pillar to post by those who claim you’re in the way,

Crikeys, things were never this f***ing boring back in the day.



It’s nothing personal, it’s just the way this world’s going,

And perhaps it’s really not your fault for not knowing that in some towns, what is outside of what is now privatised can for much part seem a lonely place, for the busker like myself.


And I’d love nothing more than to defend my point that there is no link between my busking and homelessness, but no matter how much I try, with a childhood story like mine, I guess I’m not that guy.

I know we’re all deemed as beggars by some, a lack of understanding, communication and connection,

And look what happens because of that, people like myself that genuinely love what we do with respect,  facing such instant and automatic rejection, from what has now become a national systemic situation.


Let me please quickly point out that the only time out there busking that you’ll ever see a beer with me, is if someone has dropped me one after a merry night out, and I haven’t yet put it inside of my case,

Heck, I’m not even a drinker, just a musician with a bit of a life history and a deep thinker.


But what I’m saying is this, look, can you imagine living in a world in which day by day you get treated like a vagrant because, well, people say that it’s just the way it is?

The truth is, I’m not sure you can, not unless you take the time to or have experienced that way to exist.


Perhaps this nation needs more inspiration.

A realisation that privatisation with rules that have no obligation of flexibility and that are merely automatic and sanitary,

Can be so completely rigid, and black and white, are actually s**te for a country that we all know is going down the pan and needs to get things right, and maybe, could do with being a little more bright….authentically.


Maybe though, just a quick point to say, I’ve been singing all my life,

It’s something I need to do to find my zen, and if I don’t, I go f***ing nuts,

Some people seem to like my music, few seem bothered, please let me be me.



But back to where I was, about the future of our country,

See, fair enough if I was starting to cause a scene, make a mess,  or make people feel uneasy,

But for all of the perceptions that you might have when you look at me,

Perhaps if you knew, like the people around me do, then you too would see that it was never what I was trying to be.


And yes, after all these years I’ve finally realised that for all of the fantastic people and love I’ve found through my busking,

That sometimes, I’ve also been in the middle of wars where I never even wanted to be,

For just being me.


A reggae criminal, a lyrical offender,

A musical felon, a melodic outlaw,

Not to all, but to enough that can affect it.


“Sorry mate, it’s just the rules”

Goodbye buskers, this corporate system says no.

There is no longer any so-called great British dream,

Just the same old bland and dead, in-out drone of the corporate machine,

And I ask this question,

At what cost is a bit of soul, in return for total control?



How corporations with millions of pounds flowing through them can somehow feel threatened by a busker making a pittance is actually way beyond me.

I just can’t understand how they fail to see, the benefits and positivity,

Of people enjoying something different,

Even if for a few seconds it might take them outside of the corporate machine.

In and out, like a mcdonalds fast-food restaurant,

Take your money, see you later,

Is this what the world has become?



So you know what, for what I’m about to say people might think I’m selling out,

But wait, hear me out, the inclusion of getting the message to all sorts of folk is what I’m about,

For sure I wanna see people supporting their local shops and businesses, but there’s no escaping the fact that these big corporations are here.

But all these business people and top level management folk, I think they need to hear that there really isn’t any need to fear, those like me that just try to be.


Perhaps a little more flexibility can sometimes be the key, to fulfilling your commitment to adding something to the community, which despite whatever is your own personal impression, yes does actually include people like me.


We don’t drive around in big cars, and we don’t have very much, but still we are an equal valid part of this experience as such,

And if you found yourself in my world, how would you feel if we pushed you out?

But chill, you’re alright here mate, that’s not what we’re about.


If I’ve been a genuine inconvenience, I’ll hear what you’ve got to say,

I’m not here to annoy, disrupt or overtake,

But it’s hard when people tell you that you simply have to go,

Because the rules instruct them not to think, instead simply say no.


And that is to no disrespect, to the folk out there who do security,

Big respect for looking out, for all the people’s safety,

But I’m just one of many a million living in this country,

Baffled at how super-controlled and soulless, this place has become lately.


But something that I’m not sure you see, through that camera lens,

Is the spirit of connection from the people of this town,

People around, it’s nice I’ve met them,

So what if they’re not just passing through?

Do you really have to stop this sense of community?

Do you?



Again, not having a go,

You likely know by now I try not to be trouble,

But all my life I’ve seen this country turn from a place that once had much magic,

To just a drone of pass-and-go, computer says no,

And it’s a drag,

I know it all is what it is, and we all have a job to do,

But can we have our country back?

A place where I exist.



Or do I remain in prison? Told always where to go, in the way of the flow, of a set and rigid system,

How can I not think in my mind that in some it feels that you’re saying that you own this world now, and I’m not welcome here.


People like myself, we need to be ourselves to thrive without being treated like a criminal, without being seen needlessly as a threat when others are clearly enjoying the good vibes a busker like myself can many-a-time bring.


That is all.

Thanks for reading.


From your local neighbourhood vocal vagrant.


The busker.


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