”I saw your Eric several times last year when I was making the circuit alone.”
“What I call it. It works this way: in winter, when you are going crazy studying for exams and wondering if the sun will ever shine again, you plan your summer holiday. You know you can go on the cheap, but even if you hitchhike and sleep out, it still takes a bit of money. Not much, but a bit. So you see who you can put the bite on, or what you can do to earn your way. If you play and sing, all’s well. You take your guitar, or bagpipes, or whatever, and set out to earn your way through your holiday. But its not an easy life. Half the holiday makers you see won’t give you the time of day; even if they sit for an hour listening, they only drop shillings. Cheap bastards, most of them.
“This year, its different. Kris and I are in love, and that helps; but what we really found was that if we let it show, people pay better. It’s like they’re buying a part of our happiness. We are living well this year, where last year I nearly starved, and my guitar playing hasn’t improved that much.”
“Image,” I said.
“Exactly. Image. Like Colin and his bagpipes. He doesn’t rake it in like we do, but he does all right. But if he didn’t wear the kilt and all that other shit, and march around like he was going off to fight the Boers, he wouldn’t make a penny.”
“I saw a girl playing flute in Lausanne,” I said. “She was good, but she wasn’t making any money.”
“I saw her. Pretty girl; pretty sound; no gimmick. She doesn’t stand a chance. In two or three weeks, she’ll go home beaten. Or some guy on the circuit will pick her up and teach her the ropes. The latter, I’d say, considering how good she looked.”
Kristin clouted him in the head, knocking him off balance. He said, “Hey!” and she said, “Don’t you go noticing so many good lookers, Davy, or you’ll lose your gimmick.” He grinned back at her, unperturbed.
Colin said, “Eric’s gimmick is his fiddle. It catches the tourists’ attention because it is exotic, and then he has the skill to hold them. I saw him once at L’orient, playing on the fringes of the international Celtic festival. I didn’t remember him before, because you asked about this year. I saw him two, maybe three years ago.”
“Can your Raven sing?” David wanted to know. I said I had no idea. “If she can, it would be a great draw. She looks great, and she is exotic.”
“Exotic?” Raven’s beauty was like a thousand other Hispanic girls I had seen. It was not unique, except in its perfection. Then I shifted mental gears. Hispanic features – that particular blend of Spanish caballero and Indio – were not to be found in Europe. To these people, Raven would be as exotic as a devadasi in Cleveland. more tomorrow