Neil is a busker that I met in Newcastle’s Central Arcade where he was playing the Irish Pipes. I walked past Neil once because another man had just interrupted his playing to speak to him. After a few minutes though I went back and he was alone – as I approached I could see that he was texting on his mobile so I walked up to him but waited until he looked up. I then asked to take his photograph and he said no problem but could I wait a minute. “No problem” and whilst he finished what he was doing I switched lenses on my camera and checked a couple of things. Once he’d finished I explained about the project and again confirmed that this was OK now that he knew what I intended to do with the photograph.
Neil has been playing the Irish Pipes for 20 years and he also likes to make them and made this one that he is playing. He reports that they are very difficult to play and if I heard the quote correctly they are the “opposite of a piano, a bit like a guitar” – by which he apparently meant that some notes don’t come out when you want them to and others do when you don’t!!!
Neil seemed to me to have quite a strong Irish accent when I spoke to him but apparently he is from Edinburgh originally but has spent time in Cork as well as Newcastle – the Cork influence was by far the most prominent to my ear.
In a way I’m a bit disappointed with this encounter – I found it quite difficult and a little bit awkward as the conversation didn’t really flow. Neil went back to his mobile a couple of times during our meeting and I got the impression that I was interrupting something. I suspect that I chose a bad moment and then didn’t take the hint.
I also had a couple of quid in my pocket that I had intended to chuck in his case as I left – unfortunately I forgot to do this. Obviously from a project perspective buskers are no different from anyone else that is working but I felt it was the least I could do given I was disturbing him at work.
Thanks for taking part Neil – I hope I wasn’t too much of a pain!
This picture is #8 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the 100 Strangers Flickr Group page