Wednesday, June 18, 2008



I pick my way through the late Saturday afternoon shoppers crawling around the centre of Leeds, none of whom seem to sense that some - those of us who have just worked a full day and need to be home in time for Doctor Who - might want to get there quicker than at the pace of a tortoise. As I head towards Albion Street, twisting between a pushchair and a man carrying an unnecessary amount of bags, over the chatter I hear a solitary voice.

"Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions"

I wonder if it will be Cute Busker. Cute Busker appeared last year and fell into my favour whilst standing outside Harvey Nichols singing 'Good Riddance'. Whilst being cute. I actually put money in his guitar case. Twice. Suddenly, venturing into Leeds on a Saturday may not entirely have been a mistake.

I peek around the two girls in front of me and am immediately disappointed. It is not Cute Busker. It is Blonde Busker. And, as a rule, blondes have never been my thing.

"Nobody said it was easy - "

I realise as I get closer to Blonde Busker that there is a group of four teenage girls just to his left who seem to have their arms around each other. A second later I realise that they are swaying in time to the music.

"Take me back to the start".

They are younger than I first thought, their limbs displaying the kind of fragility that gets lost somewhere in your mid-teens. One of them seems to have made the rather odd style choice of wearing her black bra on top of her white t-shirt. I do not know whether to be horrified or bewildered. I settle for somewhere in between, wondering in the process if she is going to whip it off towards the end of the song and throw it at Blonde Busker. I would have to applaud her if only for the irony.

"Questions of science, science and progress".

Blonde Busker, undoubtedly surprised by the turn of events at 4.00pm on a Saturday, is playing to the girls, inclining his head in their direction, addressing his - or rather Chris Martin's - words to them.

The possibility that they are drunk occurs. I banish it, unwilling to tarnish the scene in front of me.

And then, I hear them, out of tune, voices raised, singing.

"So tell me you love me, come back and haunt me".

I pass directly behind the group, they are almost shouting, their vocal chords rasping for the notes. One thing is clear: it is an utterly terrible rendering of such a butterfly song.

Equally, it is also rather magical.

As my feet hit Albion Street their voices recede. Soon all I can hear is the vague noise of Blonde Busker's guitar, the song, unfinished to my ears, hangs in the air.

"I'm going back to the start".

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