- What is your favourite word? Love.
- What’s your least favourite word? Liar.
- What’s your favourite colour?Blue. No sorry, it’s khaki.
- What colour or material would be suitable to describe you as a person? Green, robust material that’s used for military uniforms. Or blue jeans, but no, I think khaki or green military uniform material.
- What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Dreams.
- What turns you off? Drugs destroy dreams.
- What is your favourite curse word? I don’t curse. It’s more in a situation where something just won’t work where I just scream out at some point, out of frustration.
- What sound or noise do you love? A nice jazz piano eight finger cord pressed down in a place with great acoustic resonance.
- What sound or noise do you hate? The screaming of a baby.
- What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? A music composer.
- What profession would you not like to do? Profession is a good word and all work is good work, so there I nothing I generally would not like to do. Maybe not prostitution or being a killer. A politician, is something I would not like to be.
- If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I would love for God to be there but my mind is too small to believe and talk to a God. I am not an atheist but I don’t know, faith is such a complex thing. Thank you Christopher for your time and sharing your life with us. It’s been a great 12th month of the “12 people-12 months-12 stories project”.
Tag Archives: The Fire Tuba Player
Where and how will you be living in 20 years from now?
I used to think that my perfect future holds a big house, happy family with my wife and four children, a music studio and a garage for my vintage cars. But today I know that this scenario would have turned me into the mere image of my father. Only work but not time to promise only that one day the cars would be the children’s property. Actually, today being a busker, and making a living this way I have much time for my children. I am my own boss and make my own plans. So this moment right now is great. My life was broken but it was changed for the better. This being said, if I can still be a busker 20 years down the line I would not mind this at all.The fire tuba player, Christopher Werkowitz, is a familiar sight for Londoners near world famous tourist attractions.
What do you dream about?
I dream about love, like everyone. I dream about the right woman and a good life for my children. It’s a simple life put a life filled with love. It’s a cliché, I know, but that’s what I dream about. But you know, life is more complicated than this and I happen to be married to music now. Music is a beautiful thing, as it gives you back so much.Christopher Werkowicz has been busking for many years all over Europe with his fire breathing tuba.
What’s a miracle you’ve encountered in your life?
In my life there were many “anti-miracles”. One big one was that the woman of my dreams, whom I met when I was a young man and lost sight of while doing what I did at that time, was already married when I saw her again. In my dreams I was always going to finish school, make some money and marry her. That was always the plan but then she was already gone when the right time had come for me. That’s an anti-miracle for me. Another one was my father. He was a great great man but he never was the kind of father I needed. I needed a father to spend time with and dream about life, the future and whatnot. However, he was never present in these situations. I received many things from my father but not his time. That may be another anti-miracle for me.
One last story that may be called a miracle, now that I am looking back, was when I encountered a huge stash of machine gun ammunition somewhere in the fields as a seven-year-old. It took me three days in total to dig it all out and bring it home, to then stash in a self-made little basement. Just the thought of myself doing all this as a seven year old and not getting hurt at all, that’s a miracle I suppose.
Christopher Werkowicz is a busker in London, who built his own fire breathing tuba.
Would you if you were British choose for Britain to stay in the EU?
England is an island it’s an independent country. From a geographical point of view it would make sense to leave the EU. The pound should stay and the good traditions too. England should be independent.
Do you feel more Polish, European or citizen of the world?
I was born in Poland so I am polish, but I am vintage Polish. Because Poland was changed after communism. We interviewed Christopher Werkowicz in front of the National Gallery, where he enchanted tourists and residents with his breathing fire tuba.
What do you love about London?
I guess when I came to London the first time I saw a kind of Warsaw before the second world war. Similar style of buildings, people and more generally the atmosphere. What I love about this country is that I feel very safe. The police, CCTV it’s all working. In the night in Warsaw it’s a problem sometimes.
What do you dislike about London?
First of all I like London a lot. I don’t like some behaviour of English women, when they speak very loud and use bad language. And drinking women is not a very nice picture. Dirtiness in some area due to the lack of trash bins because of the anti-bomb safety measures.
Christopher Werkowicz is London’s famous fire tuba busker.
Is there a need in your community that should be tackled politically?
To be honest, coming from a country such as Poland I see London as a widely well structured, well regulated place. The busking community has its rules. You sign up with the council and receive a permit. It’s very inclusive and people are very respectful in general. Whether it’s car drivers that manage to make their way trough London’s narrow streets or just the occasional, recognizing nod when you’re passing someone on the street. There is no classical Londoner as such and people have learned in this place to live next to different cultures and sub cultures, habits and ideologies. People respect each other that’s what it is I guess. I respect all of this a lot.Christopher Werkowicz is London’s fire tuba player. We met him for an interview on Trafalgar Square.
Where and how do you live?
I live in Leytonstone. I live with two Polish guys. One of which is a bicycle courier and the other a Fedex courier. We have very nice neighbours. A great mix of students and families.
Do you enjoy your neighbourhood?
Yes it’s a great place. It has this village feel to it, is very quiet. I used to live in Upton Park, which is just a very busy and incredibly high frequented area.
Christopher Werkowicz is a well known busker in London and enchants young and old with his fire breathing tuba.
Where do you usually play in London?
There are over 20 to 25 places. Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, South Kensington, sometimes Brixton. Now that I have a car I am very agile and therefore able to move around quickly if need be, also outside of London to play at private events.
Do you have a favourite place in London to play at?
My favourite place is near London Bridge. There is this special corner with the greatest acoustics but at times the residents complain so the sessions tend to be rather short.
Christopher Werkowicz is a well known busker for London residents and his fire breathing tuba is part of the tourist attractions.
How come you started doing what you do today?
Well I guess I have got to start my story at the beginning. I used to work for the Polish television and Polish radio. However, there was increasingly a problem for journalists to report the truth in Poland. After all there is many kinds and versions of the truth. Basically after the “accident” of the Polish president Kadzinski, my hope to have normal work in my field was lost. Many times I brought interesting material to my boss only to see more than 50% of the content censored. So after having worked for the Polish television and radio for more than 20 years, I decided to leave this world behind and became self-employed. So I started my own film equipment company. It was a good time but I could not stand the crazy hours anymore as 24hour days became even for me to be a little bit too much work. I am after all 52 years old now. It’s not such a big deal if you are in your twenties but if you’re my age you should not have to work that much anymore. I have already struggled enough by having four children and gone through a divorce a long time ago and I wanted to rest at least a little bit. So after I finished running my film equipment business I had a little bit of money on the side and my therapist told me that I should do something that I love doing. He told me: you are an inventor, you are constantly building things, so why don’t you turn this hobby of yours into a job? So basically he told me to try and turn my crazy hobby into something I can make money with.
So I started thinking what I could do. I though of survival courses, basking and god knows what. After all street basking has no great reputation in Poland, whereas in England street basking has a long tradition. I, however, play the tuba and the piano. I love Brass bands and marching music and I used to play the tuba in the fire brigade back home. So this thought popped into my mind. A fire tuba. I remembered from back when I was a kid, my father took me to a Salvador Dali exhibition. I don’t know why but in my childhood memory a painting of a fire tuba is linked to this exhibition. Now I know it’s not a fire tuba but a fire giraffe and a tuba somewhere in the sky but in my head the two got mixed up.
Today the fire tuba project is complete and I am hoping to keep making money with it all over Europe. When I started experimenting to build a fire tuba it was at times very unsafe. There was a problem with the old motorcycle ignition I used and it was just a big hassle. But as it stands today it is very safe to handle this beauty.
I have already played in Berlin, Bratislava, Paris and actually in most European capitals. Always for 3-5 days at a time to then moved on. One time I ended up in London for a weekend and immediately loved the friendly atmosphere. The basking system in London is very open to everyone and the audience is the best one in Europe. I usually adapt my tunes to each nation’s heritage to relate better to the audience.
We met Christopher Werkowicz when we walked around London and were completely drawn into his art of basking, as he has the ability to transform big tourist squares into places of magic.
There is a growing Polish community in London. Do you have many Polish friends here?
Not too much. When I moved to London I came here to do basking and I met many Polish people that are not of nicest kind; homeless, drinkers, not bandits but aggressive. And it was the first time for me to see this many drunken Polish women sleeping on the streets. There are obviously not only Polish people on London’s streets struggling with live, but it hurts me most to see my countrymen and women like this. But as I am doing my own thing and have my own challenges every day, I try to avoid such people mostly.
We first saw basker Christopher Werkowicz in front of the Science Museum playing his self-invented fire puffing tuba.
Now the days have become longer again and The London People Project’s first stage reaches an end. The quest for our 12th person was eventually successful, as we re-found our long lost fire tuba player.
One Sunday I thought to myself that I would go check if he would be playing at Columbia Road Flower Market but in the end never made it there. Luckily when walking to South Kensington from having visited the Serpentine Summer Pavilion, I noticed a guy with a packed up tuba leaning against the Science Museum wall. I asked him if he was the fire tuba player and if he’d be interested in being our last person for the London People Project.
What is your full name?
Chris. My full name is Christopher John Werkowicz. There is a John tradition in my family. My father, grandfather and grand-grandfather all were Johns.
Where do you come from?
I am from Poland originally. I was born about 20km from the capitol of Poland that is Warsaw. A small city with around 100’000 people. It’s a very nice and green place. Very quiet.