Chapter 25

Xero and the Law (part four)

It was Christmas Eve and threatening to be a seriously depressing non-festive season. Xero did not have two brass farthings to rub together so he decided to try his luck busking in Sheffield. Even though his fingers turned blue and he felt like frostbite was setting in after only half an hour, Xero kept on playing. He didn't really have a choice.

He had set up in the circular underground shopping mall in the centre of the city - the bull ring. The crowds were as big as any he had ever drawn, anywhere. What's more, everyone was being exceedingly generous, it being the season of good cheer and there being so few buskers who were similarly inclined to risk hypothermia.

He really hammed it up, giving Silent Night and Good King Wencelaslas the Xero Slingsby Treatment. Old and young alike seemed to appreciate his efforts - so much so that very soon his saxophone case was brimming over with small change. In between numbers, Xero managed to stuff handfuls of coins into his jeans and overcoat pockets to make some room.

"Then this spotty young copper sidles up to me and tells me I'm causing an obstruction, and that several complaints have been received from nearby shopkeepers. It was true! With so many people stopping to listen, none of the shoppers could get past. It was gridlock!

I just ignored him until he started to get really stroppy. I made a meal of my disappointment at having to pack up, shrugging apologetically to the crowd and giving him the evil eye. Anyway, they started to give the policeman a hard time for spoiling their entertainment.

'Can't you see he's just trying to cheer the place up you daft bastard?'

'Leave him alone!'

'Why don't you pick on someone your own size?'

'Haven't you ever heard of Christmas Spirit you miserable git?'

More and more of them were throwing coins into my case. There were a few calls for me to ignore him and carry on playing.

Eventually the copper got angry and said 'Right sonny, you're nicked' and started to manhandle me away. The saxophone case was once more brimming with money and impossible to pack away in a hurry. With the crowd becoming increasingly hostile to him and with me struggling to grab all of my belongings and takings together, the dickhead made a big mistake. He announced that if anyone else tried to chuck money in my case, they'd be nicked too!

Both of us were deluged with coins. With the situation getting rapidly out of hand, he radioed for back up. After a few more minutes of total mayhem, a van full of his mates turned up. It took four of them to lift me into the back of the van. My pockets, hat, sax case, arms, even the bell of my saxophone were all chock a block with change. It was amazing! Luckily the desk sergeant at Sheffield nick had a sense of humour and I reckon the young PC would have been the butt of all the station jokes for a while."

Xero went back on the train to Leeds three hundred and twenty six pounds and 93 pence, one US dollar and ten Indian Rupees richer, just in time for Christmas.

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