“Respectable types were the tightest of all”

“It was not a good thing … to let the hat fill up with money–the sight could discourage the patron; nor was it wise to empty it completely, which could also confuse him, giving him no hint as to where to drop his money. Placing a couple of pennies in the hat to start the thing going soon became an unvarying ritual; making sure, between tunes, to take off the cream, but always leaving two pennies behind. Slow melodies were best, encouraging people to dawdle …; but it also seemed wise to play as well as one was able rather than to ape the dirge of the professional waif. To arouse pity or guilt was always good for a penny, but that was as far as it got you … .” I’ve often wondered how many others walked out one midsummer (or midwinter) morning on the basis of Laurie Lee’s excellent advice.

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