After a relaxing morning – Tom and Darius going to an early morning meditation in the local church and Nathan having an extra couple of hours sleep – we spent Monday enjoying a day off from performing and cycling, just doing a few bits and bobs around the camp. It was definitely needed!
On Tuesday, we awoke refreshed and raring to go (for the most part) and thought it would be worth cycling into Bath a few hours earlier than our performance, to utilise the crowds of people about on the streets, waiting for the turning on of the Christmas lights being broadcast live on The One Show. Again we had great success busking, with the public swapping batteries, sausage rolls and fruit salad to name but a few. We had a little trouble with the events management as they believed our ‘No Money’ meant we were begging, but after explaining our project and how we definitely weren’t after money, they seemed happy for us to continue.
High on the energy of our afternoon success we headed to what could potentially be a tricky gig at The Huntsman on North Parade. We were worried that if the pub was packed and noisy we would be lost and wouldn’t be able to capture their attention, either with our music or theatre. When we were there, tucking into delicious burgers and chips, we were debating how best to work the space, as its shape and layout were problematic. We eventually settled on a spot and set about trying to grab the interest of a slightly noisy crowd with a few of our songs. Plenty of people seemed interested, however there was a group of men next to where we were performing who were very loud and completely uninterested, drowning out some of what we were singing. This continued when we started The Wife of Bath, but after about 5 minutes they thankfully decided we were far too irritating and left. The rest of the show went really well, with a great cameo from Sir Andy, although playing all the crowd in a space separated by a partition was a challenge. In spite of this, there were people behind us who heard and enjoyed everything we did, so we must have been doing something right!
One of these people was a man named Adrian a.k.a. “Bruce”. Over a couple of pints he very generously bought for us, we had some great conversation, and he offered really good insights into the problems in the world, the justification of what we are doing and even told the brilliant story of “The Day Bill Died”. The most poignant thing he addressed within our project was how our theatre was not only entertaining people, but teaching them how to let go and express themselves, particularly with our upcoming work with local schools, as teaching kids these lessons early in life will help them develop and enjoy life. Adrian said this justifies our use of tax-funded services – such as if one of us were to break a leg and had to go to hospital. He believes we contributed to society through our theatre, helping to answer one of the biggest questions we wanted to address in our project: is theatre a valued trade in modern society?
The cycle home was a slightly wobbly one, but we were never defeated by those bastard hills!!
Yesterday, as further research into the reality and practicality of moneyless living, we accepted an offer to volunteer at the Heartwood Project (http://www.heartwoodproject.co.uk/), who are restoring overstood coppice in an ancient woodland within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and their work is helping to revive and share traditional crafts and skills in our communities. They combine and promote woodland heritage wisdom with the need for contemporary rural economic diversity, and promote these as a bridge to sustainable woodland futures and livelihoods. Central to the objectives at Heartwood is the facilitation of improved access, inclusion and positive experiences for all within the woodland environment; they believe everyone needs to be welcomed in to the woods and supported in establishing themselves; their skills, understanding and engagement with that space.
The people who run the project live within the woodland in yurts, sustaining themselves through growing their own vegetables, using solar energy, building using materials sourced in the forest around them and sourcing fresh water from a nearby stream. They do not live moneylessly, but the way in which they do live gives a good indication as to what it would take to live without money for an extended period of time.
It was a great day and it felt really good to do something positive for the woodland, clearing overgrown clematus and coppicing trees to allow more sunlight to reach the woodland floor, enabling more biodiversity…it was also great fun chopping down trees by hand!!!
Today was spent working on Janet and Erica’s land, clearing more weeds and brambles, allowing the apple trees in the orchard to thrive. Again it felt rewarding to be doing something positive for the natural environment…even makes the scratches and stings we have acquired over the last few days worthwhile!
Tomorrow we look forward to some more busking and a performance in The Hobgoblin in the evening. Darius is also very excited to be seeing his lovely girlfriend Beth (gotta keep her sweet, she’s promised pasties if the performance is good!!).
We will update you all in a few day’s time.
All the best, the BardsBarter boys.