On Saturday I’d enjoyed listening to the Back Chat Brass guys at the Jazz Festival in Albert Square. They had a CD on sale at the mechanising stand. You could pay anything you wanted one of the guys told us. Even 1p! I paid considerably more and then wandered back to the stage where the guys were chilling in the sun. I fell into conversation with one of them. I wanted to know if they were doing any more gigs in the city. Andy would have loved to have seen these guys. They are doing one on New Year’s Eve at Matt & Phred’s Jazz Club in the N4. I’ll have to think about that one. I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve anyway and spending it in a city centre full of drunken revellers doesn’t add to the appeal. He did tell me they were doing another set in the square at 4pm. I said I’d come back to watch.

I went off to amuse myself for a hour or so and ended up wandering through Piccadilly Gardens. It’s not my favourite part of the city. It does seem to attract the rougher element of my fellow citizens and, at the moment, has a problem with Spice. Spice being some derivative of cannabis that has a devastating effect on its users. It’s cheap and easily obtainable (I’m told) and is bought by people who are having troubles in their life and use it to seek a few moments relief and transient pleasure. It can knock people out and the local paramedics complain that they are virtually on a loop ferrying victims from the gardens to the hospital where they cure the symptoms but can’t even begin to deal with the disease. As I got to the Market Street tram stop a paramedic was dealing with a comatose guy lying in the street while people passed by on their way to the busy stores in the area, barely giving the guy a glance so used are we to seeing it. It’s a sad situation and it’s difficult to work out what we can do about it.

In the gardens themselves I found The Piccadilly Rats. I’ve been meaning to do a post about them for a while. We have a lot of street entertainers of varying standards to entertain us on the streets. Most are excellent. The Piccadilly Rats are in a league of their own! A bunch of older guys, who, maybe, ought to know better, have a pitch by some boards surrounding a building site. They decorate it with flags, set up their instruments and entertain the passing crowds. They may not be as musically accomplished as the Back Chat boys and they are certainly not as easy on the eye. But no one can doubt their dedication and entertainment value.

Here’s some videos of them in action. Here in Piccadilly Gardens…

Sometimes they move up the street to near M&S and Selfridges. I wonder what those stores think about it…

And here’s a video when they had a dispute about a mankini and ended up on the Judge Rinder Show (UK version of Judge Judy). Watch at your peril. Viewers discretion advised…

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