Monday, 14 February 2011

Bowled over by brass

It was a typical Monday morning as I emerged from the train station and started my 10-minute walk to the office.

The start of another working week in Athens: "another day, another drachma", as I used to say in the days before the Euro swept away one of the world's longest-lasting currencies and brought a tsunami of price increases with it.

The Monday Morning Blues were threatening to bite. Despite the mild weather and blue skies, these days most folk in Greece are walking around with a little black cloud of anxiety floating above their heads - money's too tight to mention, and all the signs are that it is just going to get tighter.

But moments after stomping out of Piraeus station, my worry cloud was blown away by a blast of high-energy music from street corner that usually only plays host to abandoned store fronts and the occasional beggar waving their misery in your face in the hope of a handful of spare change.

I heard them before I saw them. But the Balkan brass version of Bizet's Carmen made me look up to see where the up-beat blast through the morning commute was coming from.

Then I spotted them - five musicians giving it their all on a hand drum, saxophone, accordion (normally a pet hate of mine) and two cornets, to the delight of the morning crowd of shoppers and wage-slaves.

They were almost certainly immigrants - a favourite group for many Greeks to revile in these days of unprecendented illegal migration into a country that is barely equipped to care for its own growing army of the needy.
But where their Greek may have been limited, at best, they were fluent in the international language of music.

They made my day, and I told them so as they cheerfully posed for a photo.

I gave them what loose change I had, but I felt it was mean and stingy compared to the lift they gave me on a gloomy Monday morning.

Hopefully, my big grin (and inner resolution to find some bigger value coins next time I see them) will encourage them to make a repeat performance later in the week.


  1. I hope everyone feels the way you do!

  2. Glad they've lifted your spirits sweetie xx

  3. Nice surprise to stumble upon :-)