It’s been a totally crazy week this week, and nothing beats when one of your musical and political heroes offers to take you out busking for an afternoon. I lost my voice on Sunday – still don’t have it back – but there was no way I was going to let that stop me. Slight mortification about having to bellow/holler instead of actually sing, was completely cancelled out by the fact it’s BILLY BRAGG and we got to sing A New England – a few times – outside Camden Tube station on Friday afternoon.

Between us, and four songs (Oh My Sweet Carolina, I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, The Times They Are A-Changing and A New England), we made just over £38, enough for a pint or two in the pub afterwards! I’ve sung in bands for years, and had a piano and two guitars before I sold all my stuff in August 2012 to try to catch up with rent arrears and get back on my feet – and I haven’t really sung since. And definitely not in public for about four or five years. So politics and music to one side, I just want to thank Billy for restoring my confidence – even if we couldn’t do much about my voice. Now, to pick up my guitar and actually learn the thing, if I can find a spare hour in my week…

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Categories: Blog


  1. Oh Jack, lucky you.
    Billy Bragg’s ‘A New England’ was my selection for Radcliffe and Maconie’s ‘The Chain’ on 6 Music. I got to talk to Mark, Stuart was off that week.
    My son teaches guitar but we are too far away for you. Lots of good resources on the Net.
    There was a John Peel quote about nothing can restore the soul or affect the emotions like music, can’t remember it exactly, but as with most things, he was right.
    My copy of your book is pre-ordered and will be arriving on Thursday. :0)

  2. Jack,

    I remember picking up my first, of several, Billy Bragg vinyl records back in Syracuse, NY., in the very early 80s.

    Wow!, fond memories…

    Be well,


  3. I am so jealous, been an avid BB fan since mid 80’s and put my career in the voluntary sector and left wing views largely down to Red Wedge. It occurs to me that you weren’t even a twinkle in someone’s eye then, and makes me feel soooo old at 45! The fight still goes on though, the names have changed but the politics are still the same!

  4. Blimey, what a multi talented person you are. I went to group singing lessons for a while, but then the teacher moved away and haven’t really found a group to join after that. I love to sing, but probably wouldn’t want to hear me 😉
    At the last mini talk I did, there was a minister there who busks as the Born Again Busker, he plays the trumpet and was really good

  5. Wow, lucky you. What a lovely guy to help boost your confidence like that and such a great songwriter too. I have several of his records.

  6. Lucky you, my hubby is a big fan of Billy Bragg, we saw him in Glasgow a few years ago, he is a great songwriter, can’t believe you only got £38!

  7. Time spent pretending to be Kirsty McColl is never time wasted. Now there was a wonderful lady. In fact, just one wonderful lady singing in place of another x

  8. That is one of the happiest pictures I have seen in a long time, and no wonder – Billy Bragg! Totally jealous, and really amazed you made only £38, shame on the British public!

  9. Jack, I heard you on Jo’s show on Radio London today. But at breakfast time because we live in Seattle….by way of Brighton and Glastonbury. Loved your take on food and budget. And of course you busked with the wonderful Mr. Bragg. We saw him in Seattle recently, by coincidence. I will buy your book on Thursday. Did you know it was available here?? Peace!!

  10. How surreal, If someone had told you, years ago when you were struggling, that you’d be busking with Billy, doing tv etc etc……
    I’m soo happy for you, enjoy XX

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