I approached the bus stop and the first thing I saw was the double-bass. I'll never moan again about taking my trombone on the bus. He had it strapped to one of those folding suitcase trolleys and he pulled it along by the neck. The guy next to him had a piano accordeon. Oh, and that guy over there had a guitar strapped to his back. Another piano accordeon. One younger, better-looking chap just had a rucksack. I assumed he wasn't with the others.
You're together ?
Yes, we're musicians.
Really ? What kind of music ?
Hungarian gipsy. At this point I was glad I didn't have any money on me or I'd have bought a CD of Hungarian gipsy jazz. Ah, there's my bus. They all got on. We carried on talking.
They are genuine hungarian gipsy jazzmen and they live about 300 yards from us. They play in the squares near the cafés of Bordeaux. The young chap had a clarinet in his rucksack. His good looks won't last, not if his uncles are anything to go by. Today they're playing at Chartrons. Yesterday Saint-Pierre. They're all crammed into a little house at Pessac Alouette. I hope they don't practice at home.
Do you have any rooms free at your house or at the church ?
We don't even have any sinks at the church, I said...
They hope to go to England because there's more street music there. It's true. There's hardly any street music in Bordeaux, except for 21 June when EVERYONE plays music in the street and you can't move for crazy bandas, wailing Portuguese waiters and troupes of salsa dancers...
However accommodation is expensive in England. I told them to head north, to Chester or Manchester or York.
It's a bit cheaper further north.
Yes, but it rains all the time.
Not more than here.
Oh yes, that's true..
Ah, here's the stop. Off we get.
How will we find each other? I am reluctant to give my address.
When I hear the gipsy jazz I'll come looking for you.