Learning to live with Hank Marvin and Simon & Garfunkel

Oct 20, 2014
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From Hank to hippies, our fraught relationship with the Sauchiehall Street songbirds

From no human or animal comes the wail, but the Whitewall team knows what’s about to happen. Anxious glances are exchanged in the office high above Sauchiehall Street, beads of sweat appear on the creative team’s foreheads…we all hope that it’s just two seagulls having a square go over a discarded chip roll, but know that to be wishful thinking.

The bagpipes start and the office groans in kind. Earphones in; this is going to be one long afternoon. Thus begins our weekly battle with the buskers.

Well really, it’s a battle with ourselves; an almost Buddhist effort to disengage with the cacophony outside. ‘It can’t be that bad’, I hear you say, naively rolling your eyes. But what you don’t realise is that the bagpipes are just the start of a very real and very lengthy concert for which we didn’t buy tickets.

Hank Marvin

So who’s in the line up? First up is Hank Marvin, or his enthusiastic second cousin once-removed. Half of us know his most famous tune from childhood, half from a recent sausage advert. But where we are in total accord is that the song, played for the thousandth time, will never be played willingly by anyone in this office. You know the one, and I daren’t speak its name – what I will say is that it’s not A-pache on his others.

Providing warm-up support for Mr Marvin are a group of Native American pan-pipers. There they stand, outside HMV, dressed fully in Native American garb, playing Simon and Garfunkel. As you do. The sound of silence it ain’t, but for me personally, the lesser of 666 evils to serenade us weekly.

Early to rise is the Brown Note Guy – I won’t bother going into a definition of the ‘Brown Note’ here because it’s rude, just Google it. Let’s just say his music could inspire all kinds of crazy, involuntary moves, so low are those notes. He has a 5-song set with which he delights us all day. All. Day.
Irregular in her appearances and somewhat hit or miss, our next contestant has her Amy Winehouse act down. She’s not too bad but again, there are only so many times you can listen to Valerie. Which wasn’t even a Winehouse song, by the way. The Zutons got totally shafted there.

Anyway, back to the point. Don’t get me wrong. It sounds like I’m complaining, and I am. But this hasn’t arisen from irritation for the individuals themselves, merely a general dislike for enforced tinnitus. Someone needs to manage the performers, lest it gets all Woodstock ‘99.

Yes, I forgot to mention that part. You see, a good day is when they play individually, but a ‘special’ day is when they all play together. Can you imagine? Bagpipes, Hank Marvin, Brown Note, Amy and various other Ed Sheeran wannabes all playing at once. A jam-balaya of Glasgow’s finest talent, and the thin end of the Valium wedge.

Yet who knows, maybe our battle with the buskers is what drives office creativity. Maybe if it weren’t for the buskers some of the magic would be lost. Maybe we’re ying and they’re yang; ‘cogito ergo sum’ – ‘they busk therefore we are’. Maybe…*bagpipes start droning*… not.

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