The first ray of summer sunshine in the parks of Sofia and out come the bikinis, beer bellies and buskers.
Some of these amateur street performers are cheerful music students enjoying their salad days; a time of youthful enthusiasm, idealism and indiscretion. Other more tuneless wonders in the capital face endless salad days of a more literal kind though; an eternal diet of rotten tomatoes, cucumbers and spuds.
These are the unwashed, unlucky ones with empty tins and no meat on the bone, let alone some EU gravy on their plates. You will have spotted them around town. The doleful souls whose pitch is all wrong, musically and location-wise.
Some of the poor tinklers don’t have a clue where the right key is. Even the one for their apartment door. The only precise notes they will ever create, unfortunately, are those on a shrink’s prescription pad. But there again, as the same can no doubt be said of a fair number of pop stars further up the music industry food chain, one just presumes this is part and parcel of rock n’ roll. Like getting divorced or dying young.
Indeed as one drops a couple of stotinka into mouldy rasta hats it is difficult not to believe your cash donation won’t go on anything beginning with a ‘d’ harder than a doughnut. But at least these erstwhile few are brave enough to actually do something for their daily bread even if it can be harmful to any windows in the vicinity. It is far, far better than merely begging.
Like any major city across the globe, Sofia has its fair share of musically challenged buskers of such ilk. Happily, it also has some cracking good ones too, however.
Top of the charts by my reckoning are the trio of grandpas who often play in the park by the National Theatre. Even though well past their sell by date physically, these old boys are truly the U2 of the local busking scene. The three of them have really got the beat. Not only do the legends concentrate on playing foot-tappin’, crowd-pleasin’, heart-liftin’ tunes, the jovial gents also dance a little jig as they do so. And all this without a snifter in sight. Of any variety. Clean livers, they know their game and do what it says on their tin.
The boys entertain. And long may they and other buskers continue to hoot, toot and parp away in the city centre too. It would be a crying shame if any silly by-laws were ever to stop them. For whether they are old comrades boosting their pensions, pretty conservatory cellists playing airs in a g-string or tuneless hairy hobos playing without care in string vests, they each at least all try to bring music to our ears and lighten our step as we walk on by.
Even the bad ones. But as Elvis himself once said "I don’t know anything about music. In my line you don’t need to". So why on earth should they either? Accordingly, have a heart and tip them well!
So what if recent comical rumours in the media that various Bulgarian MP’s prefer spending more time in cafes rather than the seat of government are true? What jot of difference can this make to the debate? Aren’t the same old arguments always trotted out regardless?
According to a recent report in Bulgarian-language daily Monitor, an alleged "SMS mania" was responsible for the inability of the average Bulgarian teenager to write to standards of grammatical correctness in their native language.
We have finally learned about the activities of Ahmed Dogan, the almighty and long-standing leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) party, during all the years he failed to appear in Parliament.
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