Posted by: Gary Klaukka | November 21, 2008

Accordionists on the underground

A month or so, while going from Bethnal Green to Holborn on the Central line, I was reading my paper and behaving normally when I heard the sound of an accordion. Two children, probably seven and eleven years old, were making their way through the train. The older one was playing a ditty on his plastic accordion and the younger one was carrying a cup, trying to get people to give him money. My instant instict was to hold on to my wallet. Other passengers were quite surprised, too.

There is licensed music on the underground. The Transport for London busking scheme provides a regulated means of licensing buskers and making sure that they play good-quality music in places where they don’t obstruct the masses. These kids were clearly unfamiliar with the scheme.

Almost the same thing happened today while travelling from Acton Town to Holborn this morning on the Piccadilly line. I was reading my Russian politics book as I heard the sound of an accordion at the end of the car. This time around the composition was different. The person playing the accordion was about 16 or 17, and the kid with the cup was 10 or so. The music was slightly better, but the whole thing felt very much out of place.



  1. How’s Russia speaking to you? Or you speaking to it?

  2. Russia is proving to be one of those experiences where I feel like I’m learning a lot of new things! It’s a complicated and puzzling society, and despite having grown up in a country next to it, I know very little about it.


  3. […] Following up on my previous writings on buskers on the underground, I witnessed something new on the Piccadilly line last weekend. I was coming […]

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