Diary Of A Busker Day 628

Diary Of A Busker Day 628 Friday September 12th 2014 Chichester (1. Opposite Marks & Spencer, North Street, Time: 11:44-11:54am, 2. Opposite Toni & Guy, Time: 11:57am-1:17pm, 3. Opposite Marks & Spencer, Time: 1:58-4:05pm).

On arrival I walk by two young guys at The Cross. One’s strumming a guitar and kicking a bass drum, the other’s on a couple of steel drums. They’re almost out of earshot from where I set up. Four hours on North Street, today, as I’m giving East Street – and that annoying weird kid – a rest.

I only get through two songs: Albatross – no, Albert Ross! as it’s Chichester (or Chidester, as the train guard said), and La Vie En Rose…and no donations for either, when a woman in a suit appears next to me. She’s come from the council building behind me, so I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about…and I’m right! Apparently there’s wedding in a minute, until just after 1 o’clock. Lousy timing or what?! So I pack up and set up a bit further down…and it’s another three songs before the first donation (don’t they like me here, anymore?), which is for Here Comes The Sun, and it’s from a guy who also donates a nice compliment – ‘Fantastic, really sounds good’.

I think there’s an airshow on today, as there are four First World War-looking bi-planes buzzing around, quite high up. And I can say with some conviction that their engines are tuned to G. I know this because they did a fly past during Yellow Bird and the engines were perfectly in tune with the root note, exactly one octave lower than the 5th string!

A few minutes later, I sold a CD to a woman sitting nearby on my right, and she gave me a £10 note and didn’t want the change! Result! She was with some others, including a couple of men, all in their sixties. She’d come from Petworth. This was when all the wedding bunch had come out of the building and they were all dispersing. I happened to be playing Jesu, Joy Of Man’s, etc, a somewhat wedding-ey sort of piece, anyway. In fact, it got a couple of donations from the party as they walked past – I wonder if they thought I was playing it for them(?), and one was a £2 coin. People tend to stock up on the old cash when they go to weddings, I reckon. Anyway, the CD woman said she liked looking at weddings – ‘to see all the outfits’.

Heading for the cathedral grounds after the toilet break, I walked by the guitar/steel drum duo at The Cross, who, according to the bass drum head, are known as STEEL STRUM, which pretty much sums it up. Lunch was: ham and tomato sandwich, crisps, an orange and a lime cordial drink. At the end, STEEL STRUM were doing that old Supertramp ‘Don’t you look at  my girlfriend’ thing.

It wasn’t long into the second set when the batteries died. No matter! I was expecting it, so I brought some more. They died really quickly. It was during the last verse of Moulin Rouge. They started to go at the start and by the end, there was no sound at all!

After the battery change, the airshow – for it was still going on – got louder, and faster: jets, now, but I couldn’t see them anywhere. I could hear them alright! They were so loud, a few times I stopped playing, stood up and wandered a few feet to the right where there were some other people trying to see, down an alleyway where you could see the sky. I still didn’t see anything, though. After one particularly voluminous moment, a middle-aged couple came by, and I said, ‘I can hear them but I can never see them, what are they?’ The man said, ‘A Canberra and two Hunters’. He had to say it twice, as the first time, it was so deafening, I couldn’t hear him. Anyway, a Canberra and two Hunters – that’s a pretty precise identification! And he was right (because I know my postwar aircraft) because five minutes later, they came by again and I saw them this time. They were about a mile away, in the direction of The Cross.

Maybe it’s a 1950’s thing, which would explain the couple who I saw at Fareham station earlier, dressed in old gear. I finished with Edelweiss, and a woman said, ‘I like the old show tunes’, so I said most of the stuff I do is from the 50’s and 60’s. She said, ‘I’m old enough to have been there’, so of course I give her the old, ‘Surely not!’ rubbish, to which she replies, ‘I was in it’, so I say, somewhat stupidly, ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it’, like the lottery people say. Why?!

So there definitely must have been a 50’s thing going on, because there were a few people on the station platform with all the gear on: 50’s suits, long dresses, wicker hampers. Thinking about it, that would explain the couple I saw at Fareham station when I was getting here, earlier: they had all the gear on. It was pretty convincing, if you ignored some of the women’s modern hair highlights, and that most obvious modern giveaway: the tattooed ankle. Oh dear.

Earnings: £55.21p (gross) £42. 21p (profit), after £13 train fare.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 627

Diary Of A Busker Day 627 Sunday September 7th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:22-3:22pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:32-4:47pm, 3. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:01-6:01pm).

I’d just started Wonderful Land when I spot Scouser Chris, from across the road. I’m playing ‘his’ song and I swear I never saw him, which I tell him when he comes over. I said, ‘Honestly Chris, I never saw you, honestly!’ Weird. He asks if I’ve learned Telstar yet, so I tell him the truth: I learned the main bit about a month ago then completely forgot about it. I’m going to have to sort that out. Anyway, I thank him again – I do it every time I see him – for suggesting Wonderful Land, as it’s one of the more popular ones in a very slowly growing repertoire. Not popular enough, though, as I only got £6.10p for an hour’s hard graft. I leave in disgust!

Up the road, a rather uneventful hour and a quarter…then, up the other end of that road…a man and woman approach and I can see the woman’s holding an album (vinyl): Desire by Bob Dylan. So when they get opposite me, I go into Blowin’ In The Wind. Nothing, not even a glance. Now, how can anyone holding a Bob Dylan album – assuming they haven’t forgotten they’re holding it – not respond when they hear Blowin’ In The Wind – possibly the most famous Bob Dylan song ever, assuming they know what it is?…and how can they not?

Near the end, two women drinking wine (definitely not their first) outside the posh place on my right, clap after Albatross. Then one shouts, ‘Any Elvis?’ Now, the capo was already on the 3rd fret for Windy & Warm, so all I’ve got to do is slide it down a fret and I’m off! Then another woman appears and starts singing along with it, really badly. (Don’t gatecrash my performance, woman!)

After Elvis, the women clap, then one comes over, asks for a card and how much I charge for playing two hours. I say £180, and she then asks how much for THREE hours! I say two hours is fine: I can play all my stuff, but three hours, I’d have to do some of it again. She says she’d love me to play at something in Chandlers Ford. Well, what she says is, ‘Are you local?’ I say I am and ask where would the ‘do’ be. She says, ‘Oh, local. Winchester, Chandlers Ford’. Which means Chandlers Ford, doesn’t it? Not Winchester. If it was Winchester, she would have said it.

Anyway, a bit later, a cab arrives for these two women, who are laughing and stumbling about quite a bit, and the cab driver’s chuckling. Women and wine! Women, know your limits! So I shout over that I’ll have to learn some more Elvis, and the one that came over shouts, ‘Yeah, get your repertoire sorted out!’, so I say, ‘OK, but I can’t promise American Trilogy’, and she shouts, ‘Oh, we’ll sing it!’, so I say, ‘I bet you will’ as they fall in the cab. The driver thought it was hilarious. I reckon he’ll have a rather noisy ride to Chandlers Ford and a really quiet one on the way back.

Just after they leave, two men walk by and one says, ‘Was that you playing Albatross?’, so I answer in the affirmative (‘yes’, in other words), and he says, ‘Great, really great’. And how does that praise relate in terms of coinage? It doesn’t (zero, in  other words).

Earnings: £27.95p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 626

Diary Of A Busker Day 626 Friday September 5th 2014 Romsey (1. Romsey Market, Time: 10:15-12:00, 2. Old bank doorway, Time: 12:25-12:43pm), Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:35-5:40pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:55-6:45pm).

It started off OK, although a bit slow. An old guy commented on my attire – ‘You don’t look like you’re bejeans (it sounded like that, anyway)’. I said, ‘Sorry?’, and he said it again so I asked him what it meant. He said, ‘Well it doesn’t look like you’re down to your last few pence’. Ah, so it means broke, pennyless. I informed him all my clothes were from Primark, apart from the denim shirt, then added, ‘I doesn’t cost a lot to look like you’ve made an effort’. Anyway, I was wearing jeans and they’re not smart, are they? Smart/casual, I suppose. Is that what it means?

The drama occurred at midday. Some guy in a suit and tie comes out from the alleyway behind me and says, ‘Move up a bit’, and he didn’t even stop, he just slowed down a bit, and he didn’t say who he was, or anything. So he disappears across the market before I could say anything. I thought maybe he was something to do with the council. I was rather annoyed but I stopped playing and moved up a foot.

Ten minutes later, he’s back, this time with a bald-headed bloke in a suit (no tie). The first guy walks on but the bald one stops and says, ‘Sorry, can I ask you to move on?’, so I say, ‘Just let me finish this song and I’ll talk to you’, as I was doing Dixie McGuire and was only about 10 seconds til the end…which I then messed up in the 10 seconds, as I was getting more annoyed. Anyway, when I stop, the bloke says the other guy is the manager of Bradbeers, the big place behind me, and he doesn’t want me there. Bald guy says ‘Mr. Bradbeers is in charge of the space the market people are on, and they’re all there because of him and he doesn’t know who you and he wants you out!’

I couldn’t believe it. I said I’d been here quite a few times and some people like me, like the people who come to the market, and also some of the stall holders. In fact I was only here because of Bertie. Bald guy said he’d been here three months and he’d never seen me before. I said I’d been here three weeks ago and a month before that, and right on cue, a woman comes up, donates, and says, ‘I remember you were here before’. So this guy, hearing this, says, ‘Oh right, well yeah, now I’ve just heard someone say that…I’ll tell you what, if you move right back (against the wall), I’ll have a word with him and say about that woman and see if that’s alright’. Then he apologised and said he was ‘only doing his job’ – what a crap job: telling people to move – and this other bloke, Mr. Big, pays his wages.

Fair enough. So I dragged the stuff back and started up again. Five minutes later, he’s back (Paul’s his name) and he says, ‘Sorry, he really doesn’t like you. There’s nothing I could do, I DID try’. And that was that. We’ll, I really was quite upset, I mean, I come here for a peaceful time! I mean, who is this big shot/shit? This guy who gets his underlings to do his dirty work?

He’s Greg Davies, manager of Bradbeers. This I know because one of the market guys tells me. This is the guy they all have to deal with: a bully, basically. ‘Greg Davies – fucking prick’, the market guy said. I forget, Paul said there were a couple of other places I could play: the sunny doorway of the shut down wine shop on the other side of the road, which I told the market guy and he looked over, and there’s a load of rubbish there. He said, ‘What, over there? Like you’re a Big Issue or something? No!’ He had a look around and there was an old bricked up bank entrance a couple of doors down from the wine shop which he said might be OK. So although I was pissed off and ready to go home, I thought I’d give it a go. This was around 12:20, so there was half an hour before the bus, anyway. Also, I’d only cleared around £20, which isn’t good enough for Romsey.

So I set up and it was alright in the end. It was a bit too near the road and there was no curb and alot of big trucks going by, about 5 feet in front of me, but I managed to sell a CD, and got another £6 in the bucket, so that was £13 or £14 – not bad for 20 minutes. Maybe the prick did me a favour!

At the end, I went over to say goodbye to Bertie, who’d been having a cup of tea during the earlier drama with Paul. Bertie said, ‘He (the manager) told me, if you’d been better, he would have let you stay!’, and I fell for it. I said, ‘What, the playing?’, and Bertie starts laughing! On the way to the bus station, one of the other market guys, Bertie’s mate Darren, walked a bit of the way with me and said all the rights of the area revert back to the council in May, so this bloke could do nothing about it if I come back then. Darren also pointed out the dick’s office, on the second floor of a building opposite the bus station. In fact, he was sitting at his desk.

He said, ‘He doesn’t own any of this bit. You should set up here and play. He’d hate that, he wouldn’t be able to do anything about it!’ I said it was a good idea and maybe I should do it next week…for 8 hours! I won’t, though. What’s the point? But what a prick – I hate bullies! And he’s a coward as well, getting poor Paul to get rid of me. Greg Davies, manager of Bradbeers in Romsey, and an absolute dickhead.

Back in Winchester…I did an hour and a bit at Vodafone, where I haven’t been for awhile as I’m usually around the corner in these latter days. But I was too late, as all the vans turn up after 4. Afterwards, I went up the road and perchanced(?) upon Mr. William Kendal, enjoying his usual glass of white wine outside The Slug & Lettuce. He said there was a famous conductor, Harry Christophers, in the bar, and he got his phone number, which he was quite chuffed about. I said I hoped that would help him, as Mr. Kendal seems such a nice man, not like that prick in Romsey! He’s very trusting, too. He never locks his bike: it was some distance away, in front of the craft shop. Anyway, apparently this Mr. Christophers is doing a concert in the cathedral tonight.  (I bet he walked past me – he must have, but did he contribute? I don’t believe so).

I set up opposite Pavilion, which was shut, so they can save themselves the effort of shutting the door on me. It’s already done! I started just before 6 and was only going to do half an hour, but ended up doing a bit more, as a bloke came up from outside The Eclipse and asked for Apache. This was after I’d put my guitar away but everything else was still set up. He said he used to have Jet Harris come into his shop or snack bar, and he used to make him a baguette or something (the guy talking to me, not Jet Harris!) just before he got cancer (Jet Harris, not the guy talking to me).

He said he thought he never got the recognition he deserved (Jet Harris!) as a guitarist. I didn’t know he played the guitar, actually. I said I knew his girlfriend, Janet (who’s still alive).

I forgot, earlier, four drunken blokes wearing King Alfred Round Table shirts turned up. At least two were French, or they were putting on good accents! Anyway, they come up and start going on about French songs, so I whipped out La Vie En Rose, which caused them to dance in pairs and take photos of each other, doing so.

Right, that’s enough excitement for one day…and a couple eating outside the pizza place donated a £5 note. Definitely enough excitement, now.

Earnings: Romsey: £29.32p (profit after deducting £6.60p bus fare)                                                           Winchester: £40.30p                                                                                                                               Total: £69.62p (Including 2 CDs)




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Diary Of A Busker Day 625

Diary Of A Busker Day 625 Thursday September 4th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:40-5pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 5:18-6:03pm).

A fairly uneventful hour and twenty minutes up the arse-end, as it were, as everywhere else was full: At Vodafone, Weird John with his show tunes, and some young strummers at The Butter Cross.

There was no CD sale but I still managed to make about £17 – slightly above the average. After that, I cycled up to Pavilion, but there was a black guy sitting in the doorway just to the left of where I usually set up. He had a baseball cap on the ground which had written in it ‘Noughts and crosses, you play with me’, and he had some small postit-like pads around the cap, with games already played.

I went up and asked him what it was all about. He said if you play a game and he wins, you have to give him some money. I forgot to ask what happens if he loses. I don’t think he’d had alot of trade and he seemed a bit fed up. I’ve never seen a bloke like him before – like something out of the Depression in the 30’s. Anyway, I didn’t give him a game!

Down the road, two blokes come up: one young, the other about my age. The older one knew my name from the open-mic days at The Railway, it turns out, and he’d bought my Billy Balloon album. After some discussion of dates, we worked out he’d bought it early 2011. When these two heard me from around the corner, they thought the music was coming from the pub – The William Walker – across the road. This prompted me to tell them about when I went in there to see about playing and they said, ‘Yeah, OK…for free’.

This lead to a discussion about pub owners doing open-mic night as a way to get free entertainment, which is outrageous. One of my visitors said, ‘And the performers get all their friends along so the bar makes alot of money’. I said it was no wonder there’s loads of buskers these days. You make more out on the street than you do trying to get a pub gig. Outrageous (again). Anyway, I don’t want to play in pubs, there bloody horrible!

Another guy came up. He thought some of my stuff sounded French and asked if I knew any film stuff by a Jacques Tati. I said I’d never heard of him but I’d look him up

I packed up after 45 minutes as there was hardly anyone about. Still, I made about £7. The noughts and crosses guy was still sitting up the road, and looking a bit more dejected. I suggested he try the High Street but I think he thought I was trying to get him to move so I could set up! He waved his arm in the direction of the High Street then asked me the time. I think he’d had enough. Never seen him before. I should have given him a game, I felt sorry for him. Too late now.

Earnings: £24.47p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 624

Diary Of A Busker Day 624 Wednesday September 3rd 2014 Chichester (1. North Street, Time: 11:48-1:59pm, 2. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 2:35-4:05pm).

For a change, I set up a few feet from where I was last week – and in the sun: very unusual for me. There’s also no wall behind me which makes me feel a bit ‘on show’, which I don’t really like but I get used to it.

I sell two CDs. The first is to two teenage boys – one’s got a guitar. They were listening nearby, sort of behind me, then they came up during Twelve-String Shuffle and bought the CD. Then a woman and her daughter bought one after Jesu. The woman said, ‘When we came up before, you were doing something more upbeat but…I have trouble sleeping so – and I don’t mean to be rude – this might help!’ Music To Go To Sleep By.

When I was packing up, a woman came over and asked if I was going, so I said I was, as I was booked to be at East Street at 2:30. She said, ‘Oh, well, could you come and play opposite us? – you were last time, we really like you. We’re above that place there (L’ Occitane)…my colleague, he likes Albert Ross – he calls it, Albatross, and we like listening to you, so could you play there?’ I thanked her and said I would next time. I said I come up once a week. She never left a donation, though! Thanks lady, but you must think I do this for the good of my health!

In the alleyway, on the way to the toilet, I was behind two women. One, about 65, was in a mobility scooter, and smoking. The other, a bit younger, was walking beside her. The younger one – ‘The thing is, they don’t know, in the ol’ days, what smoking did. I mean, if you knew what was gonna’ happen, you wouldn’t have started smoking, would you? If you knew what was gonna’ happen when you got older’. Older one – ‘Na’. Younger one – ‘That’s the thing, they didn’t know, back in the ol’ days’. ‘Na’, said the older one, taking another drag from her fag.

Lunch: an orange, water, and pork pie I’d bought at the Tesco Metro on the way from the station. Then I set up at the next spot – East Street. Two boys were right near me – they said they’d heard me earlier and liked it. I said, ‘Well, it’s just old music I play, from the 50’s and 60’s’. A boy said, ‘That’s all I hear at home, anyway: old music…Jethro Tull, AC/DC. My dad listens to it, he has all the…new, re…’ I help him out, ‘CDs?’ ‘Yeah’, says boy. ‘Remastered?’ says I. ‘Yeah’, says boy. They hung around for a couple of songs then went. The blonde woman with the mobile store up the road at the clock tower – or Cross – walked by, so I did a few seconds of Bond. She smiled and winked.

Oh look, it’s that horrible kid from last week. The one who I thought was going to spit at me. He comes running up to me, and again it looks like he’s going to do it. He’s holding a coke can, and something I forgot to note down last time: he’s wearing a rather large Batman belt. So he runs up and before he gets to me, I stand up. He says, ‘Oh shit, do you remember me?’ I shout, ‘Yeah, I do!’, and he runs off. Good. I wonder if I could get a CPSO onto him. There’s never one around, etc…

The Dancing Lady turns up during While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but she’s not dancing today, although I suppose it’s not really a dancing song. But she does donate for which I thank her. She says, ‘No, thank YOU’, then to two girls walking past, ‘Listen to the lovely music!’

Near the end, out of a corner of my eye, I notice that Batman kid has walked behind me, and I think ‘I bet he’s spit on the back of my jacket’, so at the end of the song, I take it off and have a look and fortunately there’s nothing there.

The set wasn’t nearly as lucrative – if that’s the right word – as the first: no CDs and I reckon about half the coinage. I was going to pack up halfway through and go back to where my fan club is: opposite the office. The blonde woman goes by with her cart and says, ‘You alright? Crap today’. I say, ‘Yeah, it was alot better on North Street’.

Earnings: £44.82p (Including 2 CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 623

Diary Of A Busker Day 623 Tuesday September 2nd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:53-3:54pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 4:11-5:11pm, 3. Opposite Bellis, Time: 5:20-5:55pm).

After When I’m Sixty-Four an old guy comes up, leans in real close and says, ‘You’re the only proper guitar player I’ve seen today’, for which I’m most humbled, and for which I thank him. Then he says, ‘I mean John and Paul, they couldn’t play like that, could they?’ I say, ‘No, they couldn’t but what they did was different. They didn’t really do the fingerstyle guitar. Their main thing was the songs, wasn’t it?’ He says, ‘Well, She Loves You, yeah, yeah, yeah – that’s not a song!’ I don’t want to have an argument, so I agree with him! In fact, I almost DO agree with him! I say, ‘I know what you mean. It’s disposable pop music, really’.

He goes on, ‘I’ve seen them all, over the years…Tommy Steele, I mean their left hand’s not even moving!’ Again, I know what he means! I say, ‘No, they just stand there and strum. They’re strummers, they’re pop people…pop stars’. He says, ‘Well, I was down in Cornwall and there were two violin players, like a duet, you know, just improvising. Then I was watching the young musicians on the telly and there was a cello player and they were hitting the notes exactly right, and they’ve got no bars (frets, I think he means)…how do they do that? – all up and down the neck…and get it perfectly right every time? And then with the notes going… (vibrato, I think he means)’. I say, ‘Well, they play alot. Like me out here. It’s their life’s work, it’s their…vocation’.

I put the capo on, he went off and I did Can’t Help Falling In Love…at the end he comes over and says, ‘Does that raise it an octave?’ I say, ‘No, just a couple of semitones’. He says, ‘Oh, so the strings are tighter’. ‘Well, no. It just raises the key’, I say. Anyway, he complimented me some more then went across the road and sat on the bench while I did Deve Ser Amor, then his wife turned up and they both sat there a bit longer, then he came over again and said, ‘God bless you’, and they went off. He never donated anything, though, after all that!

Three youths walk past. They’re all giggling and one chucked something in that wasn’t a coin, so I stopped playing and had a look. It was a ring with a skull on it, which really annoyed me. In fact, I was so angry, I couldn’t speak! Chucking crap like that in the bucket like it was a bin. Pricks. Anyway, a long set – 2 hours, but it yielded about £30, including a CD sale. And again, they wanted a £5 one, but I did the old, ‘I’ve only got the £9 ones. I keep meaning to change the sign on the bucket (I’ve got no intention of changing it), but anyway I’m offering them for £8’. It works every time!

Up at Pavilion, it was all a bit slow…but the hour was saved by a £5 note I found in the bucket at the end, and I’ve got no idea who left it. I had a request! A girl who I’ve seen before – early 20’s, who was outside The Slug & Lettuce, came up and asked for The Third Man Theme! After that, I was going to head home, but stood awhile in front of the bakery trying to decide if I should do a short set. As I was there, Marcus came up and I told him I was thinking of going home, to which he replied, ‘Come on up the road. I’ll buy you a pint’. But I declined. I never fraternise with the natives. I should have, though, as the set was more or less a waste of time.

Song Of The Day: Norwegian Mountain Song by my late mate Claes Neeb. I’ve only worked out the main riff. There’s a really difficult bit later on…but it got a donation in the last set, from one of a group of three women. I just kept the main riff going for a minute or so.

Earnings: £44.83p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 622

Diary Of A Busker Day 622 Wednesday August 27th 2014 Chichester (1. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 12:23-2pm, 2. Opposite Marks & Spencer, North Street, Time: 2:23-3:23pm, 3. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 3:37-4:07pm).

The train at Winchester was 15 minutes late so I just missed the connection at Fareham, which, for once, was on time, which meant I had 45 minutes to kill. So I walked up the road, went to a couple of charity shops and ended up buying a book of Chopin Sonatas, which meant I spent £2.99 before I even started playing! Then, on crossing the road, I was informed, without any prompting, by a man pushing a perambulator that I didn’t need a licence to busk on the seafront at Southsea: all useful information, I suppose. Then, back at the station just before the train came in, a man standing near me tells me his friend has a Gretsch – a Brian Setzer model. Anyway, because of the train business, I was half an hour late starting.

Two men in their 20’s contribute, one with a £2 coin! Then, as they walk off, they say something I couldn’t make out. A few minutes later, one returns and holds out his phone which is playing a video of Metallica doing Nothing Else Matters. He says, ‘Metallica’, and I think that’s all the English he knows. I reckon they’re Polish and I think this is a request, so I say, ‘Metallica, oh right, no, sorry’, which he appears to accept.

A man about 65 comes up and says, ‘Didn’t I see you in Winchester earlier in the year?’  I say, ‘Yeah, you probably did’ (of course he did!) Then he says, ‘Or do you just play in cathedral cities?’ ‘Cathedral cities?’, I say, ‘No, I play anywhere. I live in Winchester, I play alot there but I come here once a week’.

At 2 o’clock – the hour and a half mark, I pack up. I’m booked on North Street from 2 to 4. I thought I’d split it today as when I phoned up yesterday there was no one booked anywhere. So, around the corner, 1st song – Albatross, got nothing…2nd song – La Vie En Rose got a comment from an old guy – ‘Play it again, Sam’, but no donation. I want to call him back and say, ‘Bogart never said that. He said, “You know what I wanna hear. Play it!” and she says, “Play it again, Sam. Play As Time Goes By”‘. Which reminds me, I haven’t done that one in ages…

Then it starts raining, although not proper raining. It’s the type where the droplets are tiny, so it’s slightly more than a drizzle, but I carry on. So naturally I do Here Comes The Sun – always a good idea when there ain’t none! And of course there are loads of donations – ‘Ahh, look at the poor bloke playing Here Comes The Sun in the rain’. Most of the donations are from children, girls mainly. It gets enough to be awarded Song Of The Day status.

At 3 o’clock the rain gets heavier so I have to stop and move the stuff back a foot, so it’s against the vaulted wall of the building behind me. Five minutes later it’s eased off so I move back out. I catch the eye of an old lady (they shouldn’t chuck them about) across the road. She’s walking her bike, an old light blue Ridgeback folding bike, I think. She comes over and contributes. I admire her bike, especially the old front headlamp, like I had on my 1950’s Superbe that got stolen, and which I’m still so mad about. Bastards! The old lady says, ‘The Parkinsons people gave it to me, you know, because I used to do things, help them out, you know’. Nice old lady.

Now, while she’s talking to me, a younger lady has appeared, and after a minute, the old one says, ‘Anyway, you’ve got someone else here’, and goes off. This other lady then says, ‘Is there any chance you could move up, or go to East Street? We’ve got a wedding on in here (building behind me) in a minute. This is the council, civic hall building, we have weddings here. So do you think you could just move up, or onto East Street?’ She’s very polite about it so I don’t mind.

As I’m packing up, another lady buys a CD and says, ‘You’re very good’, to which I say, ‘Thank you’, then moan about how the wet is making the guitar really hard to play. ‘I’d just done Tzena and it was terrible. It makes the neck and especially the strings really sticky- feeling. One shouldn’t play in the rain! That’s another thing – can I get electrocuted from a small battery-powered amp?

As I’m loitering near where I’ve just packed up, and thinking about setting up a bit further up, a couple in their 60’s pass me. The man says, ‘Have you learned Stardust yet?’ It’s the same guy who asked the same thing in Winchester a couple of weeks ago…or was it here a couple of weeks ago? Anyway, the answer is, ‘No, I haven’t learned it’. But what I HAVE learnt, or am learning, is Claes Neeb’s main riff to Norwegian Mountain Song, which I did in the first set, but it needs a lot more work.

I decide to go back to East Street to finish off…and a rather disturbing incident occurs. Three boys come up. Two about 14, one 8 or 10. The older ones stand a few feet away, the younger one comes up, stands in front and thrusts his hips towards me a couple of times in a very sexual manner. I stop playing and stare at him. He then moves to my left, comes closer and appears to do something with his mouth, like he’s working up a spit. I stand up so I’m taller than him, and he says, ‘I love you’. I say, ‘What? What is this?’ He’s still doing the weird thing with his mouth. He then says, ‘Kiss’, and I’m sure he’s about to spit at me. I say again, ‘What? What is this? What are you doing?’ He then walks off to the others and they go off.

What’s all that about? I didn’t like that. I’m a 52 year old man, I can do without all that. Imagine some kid doing that in front of someone like me? It did unnerve me for a bit, even now, writing it down. That’s the down side of this. I make literally a spectacle of myself in front of hundreds of people I don’t know, and there are bound to be some nutters and idiot kids. Doll reckons it might have been a prank. I’m sure he was going to gob on me, the little jerk. Anyway, I did alright in the end, and sold another CD as I was packing up.

Earnings: £63.62 (gross) £50.52p (profit, including 2 CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 621

Diary Of A Busker Day 621 Sunday August 24th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:20-4pm, 2. Opposite Clarks, Time: 4:21-5:26pm).

On the way to the first spot, I had a brief chat with Young Sam. He was feeling tired after a late session boozing last night and he didn’t know if he could last it! I suggested de-tuning his guitar a couple of semitones, or sing everything an octave lower…or do Johnny Cash songs, so he went into I Walk The Line – he only knows the first line. I said just do it over and over, that one line. He said, ‘I know a guy who does that!’, and laughed. Ha!

Up the road, a slow start: Albatross, Tzena, the 1st Gnossienne, La Vie En Rose, The Third Man, and not one donation. I suppose I should think myself lucky as it was only then, during TTM, when the Pavilion door was shut. Hey, why wait so long?! Even Ian, who ALWAYS donates, didn’t. He showed up during the Gnossienne, said, ‘So sad’, made to wipe an imaginary tear, then walked by, saying, ‘I’m just out with my family today’. What, you didn’t want them to see you give money to me? I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt because he’s a good bloke. The spell was broken with Borsalino, which got TWO donations. Song Of The Day!

An old lady with her son and his wife stopped, well, the old lady stopped, the others kept walking. She looked at the bucket – ‘So what’s that for?’ ‘The bucket? For me’, I said. ‘For you? What are you collecting for?’ ‘For me’, I said again. ‘What, for you? You’ve got…CDs? Who is it for?’ she said. ‘It’s for me. Money for me, for food!’ I said. ‘Ah, oh…do you mind me asking how much you make in a day?’ I did mind but I said, ‘No, I don’t mind. If I play a solid hour, maybe £10, about that’. ‘Oh’, she says, and looks in the bucket again, ‘You’re a bit short of that, aren’t you?’ I confirm this – ‘Indeed I am, I played 20 minutes without anyone giving anything’.

‘So you play here?’ she says. ‘Yeah, I play here two, three times a week’. ‘And this is what you do?’ ‘Yeah’. ‘And they don’t move you on?’ ‘The police? No. I’m not a beggar, I’m a musician. There are some beggars who pretend to play flutes, so the police can’t move them. As long as they’re playing an instrument, they can’t move them’. ‘Oh, I see, yes, I’ve seen them. Is that why they’re doing it?’ ‘Yeah, they’re just begging. I’m not begging, I’m a musician. I’ve played all my life’ (not literally true). ‘Yes, it sounds it’, she said, then she put a pound in and said she had to catch up her people. Well, they must be half a mile down the road, I reckon.

The set turned out OK in the end – I’d got about £25. In fact, about 5 donations all came at once, when I was packing up! One of the donors – a man about 65, noticed this, laughed and said, ‘You get paid when you pack up!’ I said, ‘Yeah, maybe I should pack up more often!’

Well, it was quite funny because after the set, while I was looking around the High Street for a spot to play, I came across that old lady again, sitting outside one of the coffee places. I took it her relatives were inside settling the bill. She said they’d just had something to eat: scones or rock cakes, but the rock cakes were so hard she said she thought they were a couple of days old, but she didn’t want to complain as, ‘I don’t like to do that if I’m with other people, you know. Although they DO come and ask, you know, if everything’s all right’. ‘So you either have to lie or be honest, don’t you?’ I said. ‘Well, yes. I DID complain about something once, though. I asked for some cheese and salad or something, and I got the tiniest bit of cheese, so I said, “You’ve brought me the smallest bit of cheese”, so they came back and put this HUGE piece of cheese on the plate. We laughed’.

‘Yep’, I said, ‘It’s good to complain sometimes, you have to’. Then her son came out and said, ‘Are you talking to strangers, mother?’ I said, ‘Yeah, a stranger with a bike and carrying a guitar on his back’. The son then commented on the amp strapped to the bike, so of course I went into the whole amp/battery thing – ‘They’re great, Roland Micro-Cube. I can’t recommend them more, and the batteries: Procell, they’re the best. By Duracell. You can’t get them in the shops, only on the computer. Red and black, Procell’. He was interested – ‘Really? How long do they last?’ ‘Twenty-four hours. That’s a long set’, I said, calling in to play the, by now, standard joke.

That tall, bearded nutter turned up. He said, ‘I’m either going to move to Durham or die. I’m not sure which. Do you like it in Winchester?’ (he didn’t give me time to answer) ‘I’m from Middlesbrough, I know you’re from that way (I’m not)…I was saying to someone who knows me – he’s a philosopher…of life. I said “What’s your opinion? Should I stay here or should I go?”, and he said “Go”‘ (wise words!) I managed to say something here, I said to the nutter, ‘But what’s YOUR opinion?’ And he said, ‘Go, just GO! And with that, he went.

Earnings: £42.91p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 620

Diary Of A Busker Day 620 Saturday August 23rd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:25-5:05pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:25-6:45pm).

I meet the two Brians just after starting up with Albatross. First: Posh BrYan, who said, ‘Hellaaooww (like a cat’s Meow), how are you?’ I said I was OK, and that I was just warming up. ‘Ah, just tuning up’, said His Poshness. I said, ‘No, warming up. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m tuning up…does it?’ Posh BrYan laughed and went on his posh way.

Then, 80 year old Brian popped by, and lo, he did admire my bicycle! He thought it had been refurbished. I had to tell him it hadn’t, it’s all in original condition. Two previous owners: the first had it for 27 years and he didn’t do alot of miles on it. Brian thinks his bike is from the 60’s. I informed him on how to accurately date it via the rear hub, and told him mine says 82-12, so December 1982. Brian said his bike used to be a 4-speed but it only works on one speed now. I said, ‘Oh well, you only need three speeds’. He said, ‘You only need one speed where I live!’

There then followed a period of no donations. Very depressing…and then some kids came up – the parents were standing near the C & H entrance – and they donated a few things: some silver – nothing too extravagant. Then an older one, a boy, came back and said, ‘I really like your music’, and donated more. I asked if he’d heard me before and did he live here. He said he lived in London, and that they were down here visiting ‘my dad’s father’. The he said, ‘Do you know the Hat Fair?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know it. I don’t go to it, though’. He said there was some guy supposed to be walking on water, but he didn’t think he was very good. Then he said, ‘Well, I hope you can buy something nice with your money’, which, of course, was very sweet, and which, of course, made me feel instantly thankful to be out here.

After the toilet break, I went up to Pavilion and arrived as Young Sam (who’s back in town) was on his way to the cathedral grounds to relax. He said he’d done well today – I didn’t ask how much he’d made – and that he was here earlier. I had a moan about the Pavilion Bitch. I said, ‘I guarantee that the door’ll be shut on me in less than a minute after I start playing’. Then I asked how HE’D found her. He said, ‘Fine, they even bought a CD’. Well, that confirms it: it’s ME they don’t like! (Sure enough, just after starting Albatross – a good opener, the door was shut. But not by The Bitch: by a man who came from upstairs. The owner, I reckon).

Sam the Younger said he was going to The Willow later – he’d got a gig there. I said, ‘What, a paid one?’ ‘No’, he said. We then bemoaned the whole thing about live music, ie: no one pays. All the pub owners get free entertainment these days. (Mind, some of it I wouldn’t want to pay for!) Sam said Brighton’s the same: he can’t get a paid gig. He won’t as long as people are willing to play for nothing. No wonder there are so many out busking now.

Sam then went on about open-mics. He says I should do some. This brought to mind, oddly enough, The Willow. A while back, someone who works there persuaded me, against my better judgement, to go along. But when I got there, I found a few similarly-aged people waiting to do sound checks, and it was two hours before any music was going to start, and I thought, ‘I’m not doing this: hanging around for hours, to play a couple of my own songs that no one will get, and not drinking anything because I don’t want to give the tight-fisted bar owner £3.50, which is £3.50 more than what they’re giving anyone to play.

And that’s apart from having to listen and pretend to like any of the other “performers” for an interminable length. I’ve done all that, as I told Sam, millions of times (not literally but it feels like it) and I can’t be doing with it all again! It’s OK if you’re a sociable sort of chap, but I’m not. I had a bit of a rant, actually. At the end, Sam said, ‘You sound like my dad!’ I said, ‘Well, that’s what it’s like when you get older. You can’t be bothered with all that stuff. You just change. You think differently. You’re a different person to what you were ten years ago, aren’t you?’ Yes, he was, he said. (I sound like his dad – I bet I’m older than his dad! Some of these youngsters forget how old I really am, I reckon) Anyway, Sam’s a nice lad. I wonder how he’ll get on in the wider world of music…

I had an amazing thing happen around the halfway mark. In the middle of a song, two blokes about 60 come up and one starts asking about something to do with a wedding. So, thinking it must be about having me play at a wedding, I stop playing and say, ‘Sorry, a wedding?’, and the bloke says, ‘Where can you buy cards for a wedding, you know?’  Well, of course, I was FURIOUS (I really was), and I just looked somewhere else. Then he said it again – ‘Wedding cards, you know?, from around here?’ I said, ‘You better ask someone else’, and they went off. Good. Fuck off. It completely threw me. I couldn’t even remember the song I was playing. I just hit a couple of loud chords – not even chords, just open strings! I was pretending it was his head, I think.

At 6:30 – after an hour, I was about to pack it in, when a man comes up from outside The Eclipse, donates a pound and says, ‘I was going to put this in the jukebox but I thought I’d give it to you instead!’, which was nice, so I felt obliged to carry on for another 15 minutes!

Earnings: £31.93p


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Diary Of A Busker Day 619

Diary Of A Busker Day 619 Friday August 22nd 2014 Winchester (1. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 2:25-4:25pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:43-5:45pm).

Some sad news. It began with the old lady who knitted those so-called wristies, and was going on about that Never Smile At A Crocodile song, paying me a visit (it sounds like I’m in a nursing home or prison). This was at the end of James Bond, which I messed up because I haven’t done it in ages. I used to play it everyday, once upon a time. Anyway, she says, ‘Is that a new one?’ I say, ‘No, I just haven’t played it for awhile, but I played one just before, which is a new one – The Sweeney’. She couldn’t remember it, so I did it for her – all 40 seconds of it.

She then suggests the Minder theme as another one to learn. Well, I’ve got no intention of learning that one but I said I’d ‘bear it in mind as I often do people’s song suggestions…for instance The Sweeney. That was suggested by Bertie The Flowerman. He used to work down there, in the alleyway’. My old lady then said, ‘Oh, is he the one who died?’, and then I thought ‘she must mean George – the older guy’, and I though ‘I haven’t seen him in months, since the beginning of the year’. So I said, ‘You must mean George’, and she said she didn’t know his name but she heard from someone he had cancer (that was definitely him) and he went in hospital and it all happened very quickly.

She was sad about it: he was a nice man, she said. He was, too. I always remember what he said when I couldn’t understand why some days I make more money than others, when all the factors are the same: time, place, weather, number of people about. He said, ‘It’s what the public want on a certain day’, and I kept saying, ‘But it doesn’t make sense, George – there’s no logic in it!’ And all he kept saying was, ‘It’s just what the public want on a certain day!’ So there you go – another good man gone from the High Street. My old lady said, ‘Well, we’ve all gotta go sometime’, and then SHE went!

On a lighter note…a bit later, I suddenly noticed there was a woman next to me with a dog. She said hello, so I did, too…then, realising I didn’t recognise her, she said she’d done the painting of me in Chichester. So it was Kirstin White! She thanked me for sending the CD, with her painting on the cover. We talked about doing some more paintings whenever we met. She said, ‘We could put them all in a line, people could spot you in them…Where’s Wally!’ ‘I know where he is’, I said.

Earnings: £47.06p (Including 1 CD)

Speaking of paintings, I finally got a message to Graham Marsden, who painted the Rockin’ At The Buttercross, and he sent me a photo of it (unsold and in his collection), and I knew straight away it wasn’t me. For a start, the person is playing standing up – that was the main thing. And he’s wearing what looks like a cowboy hat, and playing a Stratocaster style guitar. In short, it’s none other than “Rockin'” Rob Berry! Now, there IS an orange bucket, but it’s a big one, but this seemed to be enough to convince the Drongo that it was me. Oh well, they ARE Drongos and they know not what they think. Anyway, I sent a message to Rob on his Facebook thing but he hasn’t replied.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 618

Diary Of A Busker Day 618 Thursday August 21st 2014 Winchester (Opposite Oxfam, Time: 4:24-5:40pm).

The temperature has got a bit cooler the last few days, which is of course giving me the BIG FEAR. I’m determined not to be doing this in the freezing cold. I think 4 years is enough for a 52 year old man.

A toddler dances around like a loony, near me, his mother egging him on. This goes on for 15 minutes, and I keep the stuff upbeat for the duration of the, er…dance. And what do I get in return? Nothing.

It looks like it’s going to start to rain the whole time. In fact, one of the C & H blokes looking out at the door says, ‘It’s going to pour down any minute’. That’s what I thought, but it never did. And the coinage? Almost £11 for an hour and 15 minutes; more than I thought I’d get, especially as there was hardly anyone about.

Earnings: £10.89p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 617

Diary Of A Busker Day 617 Wednesday August 20th 2014 Chichester (1. Opposite Marks & Spencer, North Street, Time: 11:40-1:35pm, 2. Opposite Toni & Guy’s,  North Street, Time: 2:20-4:02pm).

Back in Chichester – my favourite place these days, as the populace appear to like me. And back on North Street, where I was booted off the last time I was here. I couldn’t get a spot on East Street – all booked up.

A memorable 1st set, if only because I meet a man – Stuart, who met Chet Atkins. He came up to me with a friend – Dennis, because he recognised my arrangement of La Vie En Rose as a Chet one. He then produced from his jacket pocket a list of all of Chet’s albums! Some were marked with a yellow marker – I forgot to ask him why. He said he actually brought Chet over to do a show in 1994 and said he was playing till 2 in the morning ‘…and he did his party piece – two songs in one “to save time”, he said’.  That would have been Yankee Doodle Dixie, which I could have played if I’d practised it a bit…if I’d only known I was going to meet this guy!

Stuart said Chet was a very nice man – ‘like yourself’, he added (how does he know?) Anyway, the most important thing is he bought a CD. I said I hoped he liked it and he said ‘I hope so too!’ I asked if he’d heard of Claes Neeb. He said he had so I started to tell him about when Claes’s two Norwegian friends had seen me, then asked if these two knew the song that Claes wrote – Norwegian Mountain Song, that Chet did a version of. (I was trying to learn it last night but it’s quite difficult, especially with this bloody hand problem. There’s a great video of Claes playing it for Chet). I told them Claes died last year. ‘That’s the problem’, Stuart said, ‘they’re all dead. I said, ‘I know, but Claes was only about 62’. Stuart said Chet died of prostate cancer, which I didn’t know, although I knew it was cancer.

I forgot to say, before we started talking about Chet, Stuart said he knew Big Jim Sullivan, who I don’t know much about, so when I got home I had a look and found out he was a top session guy. He played on loads of hits, including Dave Berry’s The Crying Game – he played the wah-wah guitar, which I always thought was Jimmy Page. But apparently they were known as Big Jim (Sullivan) and Little Jim (Page)…so which one was it?

Anyway, you never know who you’ll meet out here. I mean, if I hadn’t have been playing the guitar, they would have been a couple of old guys walking around and I’d never have known one of them had brought Chet Atkins over to play. Bizarre. But if I hadn’t been playing the guitar, I wouldn’t be here! Again, bizarre.

I pack in after almost 2 hours and head off  to the toilet, and as I’m walking past a bench, a couple of old ladies – one in a wheelchair – compliment me, and I suddenly remember them being there when I started, so I say ‘You were here two hours ago, weren’t you?’ They – because old ladies speak collectively! – say ‘We’ve been here since 10 o’clock!’ – that’s 3 1/2 hours! I tell them I’m going off for my lunch but I’ll be back, so we might meet again. ‘Oh, we’re going at two’, they say. I should have asked why they’ve been out here for FOUR hours.

After the toilet, I walk down to East Street to see what’s going on, and before I even get there, I can hear her: Boring Jazz Girl! Actually, I’m going to stop calling her that, as I feel guilty about it, so it’s going to be just plain (boring) Jazz Girl from now on. Also, where is this market that’s supposed to be going on today? That’s what that bloke said last week – ‘You should be here Wednesday, for the market’. Well, there’s no bloody market. I reckon he was a nutter…he bought my CD, after all!

After the lunch near the cathedral – it’s distinctively colder than usual (the temperature, not the lunch), I head back up North Street and set up a bit further down, near the T junction…and am briefly annoyed by someone playing a saxophone near where I was earlier. Have they booked? If so, why have they – the council – got two people playing on the same street? I think they haven’t booked as 15 minutes later, they pack up and go. An unaccompanied saxophone, it certainly bloody well carries!

Yes, a distinctly cooler day. It’s sunny now and then, when it breaks through, but mainly cloudy and quite chilly, certainly for most of the 1st set, anyway. The hands aren’t used to that, especially the right.

Earnings: £58.48p – £12.90p (train fare) = £45.58p profit (Including 2 CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 616

Diary Of A Busker Day 616 Tuesday August 19th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:44-4:49pm, 2. Corner Of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 5:04-6:04pm).

A somewhat peaceful hour near the cathedral grounds to start off. Hardly anyone about but the percentage of donors was very high as there was about £20 at the end of the set. That includes a sale of a CD, to a couple who were listening in the pub opposite, who I could see through the open window. First, the man came over and said, ‘We’ve enjoyed your music, god bless’, before he went back to the pub. Then, 15 minutes later, they both came over – that’s when they bought the CD, and paid the full £9, too, although when he came over, he was holding a £5 note: for the cheaper CD, which are no more.

Rain-wise, it started to sprinkle a bit, but nothing too heavy. In fact, it was one of those where it was raining where I was but not on the other side of the road. After cycling around a bit, I ended up down the road from the first spot. During California Girls, a big CPSO comes up and starts going on about a Beach Boys thing he saw on TV – ‘They still sound great’, he said. I said two of them are now dead, then we talked about that and Brian Wilson. My cop was wondering if he has Parkinson’s (Brian Wilson, not the cop). I said I didn’t know. All I know is he’s had a stroke or two and he used to take a lot of drugs.

After 5 minutes, the cop makes to leave, so I say, ‘Well I thought you were going to arrest me!’, which I did. I mean, these guys don’t usually stop to talk to me. Or I thought he was at least going to ask me to turn down.

Mick comes along carrying two shopping bags. I ask how he is. ‘Alright now, as I’ve got my bargain food’, he says. ‘That’s what I thought’, I said. He says he’s off to get some coffee as he gets one free at the place up the road. That’s good, I say. ‘Well, you’ve got to buy one first, of course, then you get a free refill’. ‘Oh, I see’, I say. Like in motorway service places: a free shot of expresso’.

Mick says, ”course in the States, you can sit there all day. They keep refilling, you only have to buy one’. Do they still do that? That sounds like a 1970’s film! I wonder…(all this time, I’m playing Albatross)…Mick then does a seagull-like very high pitched sound, where the note slides down a bit (2 semitones) from a very high one, and I suddenly think: ‘I can do that on the guitar – why didn’t I think of that before?!’ So I’ll have to put that in.

Just after Mick goes off for his buy-one-get-one-free coffee, Big Issue Simon turns up with his bashed up guitar. Amazing – it’s been years since I’ve seen him with one. He’s got a crushed Special Brew can clipped to the soundhole, which I ask him about. He says he uses it as a distortion effect: he’s got some small pebbles in it which rattle around when he plays!

A Drongo on crutches passes me and says something I can’t quite hear, so I say, ‘Sorry?’ This follows: Drongo – ‘You should maybe stick to the music areas and not the cathedral grounds, you know’. Me – ‘Why’s that?’ Drongo – ‘Well…people, you know…they don’t like it’. Me – ‘What?’ Drongo – ‘Have you not noticed? Maybe you’re engrossed in your music. Lots of people walk by’. Me – ‘Just because they walk by, doesn’t mean they don’t like it. They’re just walking by. Has someone said something to you?’ Drongo – ‘Not exactly…they just…they don’t like it. I’m just sayin’, you know, someone could come up and whack you’. Me, getting angry – ‘Someone could come up and whack me? Who, you? Are you going to do that?’ Drongo – ‘Well, no…I’ve got these crutches…I’m just being polite…someone could do something’, and he starts walking off, so in a very loud voice, I say, ‘Well, thanks for your concern!’ I bet he’ll get one of his mates to “whack” me now, just to prove a point!

Earnings: £25.99p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 615

Diary Of A Busker Day 615 Monday August 18th 2014 (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: Sometime in the afternoon. Exact time not noted, but played 1 hour and 55 minutes 2. Opposite Bellis(?), Time: Afternoon. Precise time not noted, but played 35 minutes).

A stroke of luck which afforded me at least one donation. The second song in – Here Comes The Sun, and a couple on their 60’s come up. The man’s holding a CD of Abbey Road – ‘I’ve just bought it!’ My reply – ‘What an incredible coincidence!’ because it was.

I do 5 minutes short of 2 hours here and pack up when they start revving the vans to load the stuff up from the market, and it starts to rain. I had a toilet break and when I came out, a couple of CPSO’s were standing by the bike rail. One unzipped a pannier on one of the bikes and pulled out a long package and put it down his police vest thing. I wondered about this as the bike they took it from didn’t look like the usual Smith & Wesson bikes the police – even CPSO’s(!) use. Maybe it was a drugs bust, or they’d got a tip off. They then walked across and into Marks & Spencer.

As it was raining quite hard, I thought I’d kill some time at Waterstones, where I haven’t been for ages, mainly because I don’t need to warm up! The rain stopped 15 minutes later so I finished off with 35 minutes up the road and got £4.50p – not too good, so I packed up.

Earnings: £28.84p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 614

Diary Of A Busker Day 614 Sunday August 17th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Pavilion, Time: 3:17-3:45pm).

A non-event, due to the event of a cycle race in town. There were barriers all along the High Street and Market Street, near Pavilion, that goes down to Gieves & Hawkes. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about it till I came into town or I wouldn’t have bothered. Because there were loads of people at the barriers on the High Street, the only place I could set up was at the Pavilion spot…but they had loudspeakers set up everywhere, blasting out that song ‘Happy’, which is everywhere these days. And then, when there wasn’t some twat rambling on about what 14 year old had just come in 3rd, there was music being played. Fortunately, it wasn’t too loud, which was why I decided to set up.

But I got no money. What happened was I was able to get three songs in before the bloke on the P.A. started up. These were La Vie En Rose, Chinatown, and The Third Man – all certified crowd favourites, of course. But not today. Not a penny from ANYONE at the barriers or restaurants or The Eclipse, down the road. Too many walking about with coffee cups and Lycra for my liking, actually. Then a load of bikes came around the corner and the bloke on the P.A. started up again. So I stopped, then he stopped, so I started up and got through Windy & Warm and 30 seconds of Albertross (ha)…then he started up again so I stopped.

After five minutes, I asked a man near me, with a 18 thousand speed bike, if he knew when the fiasco was ending. He looked at his program and said ten past six, so I thought, ‘This is silly, I’m going home!’

Earnings: £0.00


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Diary Of A Busker Day 613

Diary Of A Busker Day 613 Saturday August 16th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 1:51-3pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 3:33-4:20pm, 3. Corner Of Monsoon, Time: 4:29-5:29pm).

My old mate Pierre the balloon man’s in town. I see him as I’m coming into the High Street and have a chat with him. I remember he was having a bad day about a year ago and he said he’d hang himself if he could afford the rope!, so I ask if it’d got any better. He says, ‘Yeah, now I can afford the rope!’

Down the road a bit, on a bench, there are two blokes. One’s singing and playing the guitar – I think the song’s called Crazy Love. Pierre says he’s a nice bloke – from New Zealand, where, according to Pierre – ‘They only have ship (sheep) to play to’. Pierre’s about to take his lunch break on the bench opposite to where I set up. A man comes up to me while I’m settling down and asks if I play any jazz. I say I don’t. He says he used to play in groups in the 60’s. He looks about 70 so I believe him. He sits down on Pierre’s bench and after a few numbers he comes over, donates and says, ‘Beautiful – I guarantee you’ll have a hit before you’re 21!’

After an hour, the New Zealand guy and his accomplice come by during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. They really like it, and sing along. (I allow this sort of intrusion now and again, as long as it doesn’t detract or conflict with MY performance). At the end, they donate and introduce themselves as Nick – the player, and Michael, and they are indeed both very nice people. As I’ve been here an hour, I offer my place to them – they take the offer up.

Apparently, this is the first time Nick’s played in England – a shame: he could have picked a more generous place! I suggest he/they visit Chichester, which is certainly a more friendly and generous place, although they come down pretty hard on anyone without a permit, I have to say. Still, they should just turn up and play, I say. I mean, they’re not going to get chucked in jail. Same with Reading. It’s big world out there!

While Nick sets up, I chat to his mate – who sounds English – and let him into the great secret in the world of battery-powered amplifiers. Namely Procell. I explain you can’t get them in the shops – only on eBay, and they last 24 hours: that’s TWICE AS LONG as any other Duracell, and they cost HALF THE PRICE. I even take one out of the amp to show him exactly what they look like. I’ve NEVER been this helpful (and sociable) in my dealings with other musicians! I tell them they’ve got to get some.

Nick’s a likeable performer. He’s selling his debut album. He’s got a good voice and it goes well with his playing which is more or less your basic strumming. But it all sounds good. I put in a pound, possibly the same one he gave me, and ask if I can get a photo for my diary. Nick immediately gets up off his stool, comes over and puts an arm round me, thinking I must want to be in the photo. No way. I just want one of him. Good luck to him. A nice bloke.

Earnings: £52.20p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 612

Diary Of A Busker Day 612 Friday August 15th 2014 Romsey Market (Time: 10:17am-12:23pm), Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:18-5:29pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:43-6:53pm).

Back to Romsey to see my old mate Bertie. An unusually slow start by Romsey standards: FOUR songs before I get any coinage, so that was nothing for Blowin’ In The Wind, Here Comes The Sun, La Vie En Rose, and the 1st. Gnossienne – all big crowd favourites, usually.

Then it was Tzena, Tzena, Tzena (I think I’ll just call it Tzena from now on) and a woman in a mobility scooter comes up. She’s really excited and says, ‘That made my day, when I heard that – Tzena! We sang that in the choir! I was saying to the man in the market, “He’s playing the one we sang!” Oh, you won’t believe it, I was so happy, it really made my day!’ She really was thrilled. I had to say it – ‘Well, your saying that’s made my day, too’.

And after that, it was really good. A man named Len bought a CD after Ne Me Quitte Pas. He was about 65, very polite and complimentary. Looking at the CD, he said, ‘And you arranged that one – you’re a star, it’s a pleasure to meet you…’. In fact, I sell no less than THREE CDs: another after Yellow Bird and the 3rd one after something I can’t remember. But that lady was so happy about hearing Tzena, that, for once, the criteria for Song Of The Day worthiness will bypass monetary considerations and be awarded to a non-CD sale song.

Speaking of Ne Me Quitte Pas, a woman pushing her husband in a wheelchair said, ‘You played a Dusty Springfield one – If You Go Away’. I said, ‘Right, yes, she did it, and also Scott Walker, Frank Sinatra, Jacques Brel – it’s a Jacques Brel song, you know’. ‘Brings back the old days’, she said, ignoring my information. I supply some more, I said it was from 1959. ‘We’ve been married for all that time’, she says. Indeed, and now she’s pushing him along in a wheelchair. That’s some sort of devotion for you.

A funny moment. I looked over at Bertie and he’s got a picture of Cliff Richard’s head, not quite life-size, from a newspaper. The police have raided his house as he’s been accused of assaulting some boy, years ago. Bertie’s got Ciff’s face stuck on the top of a cardboard stick, and he’s pulled his hood up so he looks really odd! It cracks me up. I can’t resist it – I do the intro to Move It. Of course, later I did The Sweeney Theme for him (Bertie, not Cliff) as he was the reason I learnt it.

So, a good day: 3 CDs and a fair bit of coinage. After packing up, I get some shots of Bertie with his Cliff mask. He says, ‘You gonna put that in your diary? Say “Cliff Richard’s out hiding in the market in Romsey!”‘.

Earnings: £45.07p (Including 3 CDs)

Back home (a double-header!)…I got to The Butter Cross as two young guys were packing up…and then just as I was about to start playing, I heard that bloody awful Karma Cameleon coming out of a shop – the O2 shop opposite, I think. I thought,’They’ve seen me and they’ve started up their jukebox, the bastards!’ But then I thought, ‘Sod it, I’ll carry on’. There were four of them – all young blokes, in the shop, and they were throwing what looked like plastic frisbee-like discs about, trying to hit each other with them. There were no customers the whole time they were still open, about an hour. That’s all they were doing – mucking about with the frisbees.

I sold a CD, and for the full £9, too! A woman came up who’d seen me a few times. She saw the CD sign: £5 and £9, and asked what the difference between the CDs was. I said there were a couple of differences: the £5 one’s about 25 minutes long and the £9 one’s an hour long. But the biggest difference – if it is a difference – is I haven’t got any £5 ones left. I almost said the usual: she could have it for £8 but she didn’t seem to object to the full price.

A woman who I’ve often seen sitting outside The Eclipse with a bunch of people, comes up – on her way to the revered watering hole, I’m assuming – and says, ‘What’s your name? – ’cause we were talking about you – not in a bad way’. So I tell her and she says, ‘Marvin, right’, and walks off. (I thought everyone here knew my name – that’s what the woman in the craft shop said!)

After an hour and 10 minutes, I do a rough count: about £18, I reckon, and that’s including the CD. After a toilet break, I head back up…and there she is with her bunch of people, outside The Eclipse. I then hear several ‘Marvin’s’ as I ride by! I reckon I can do an hour here, at Pavilion, which’ll bring the total up to just over four hours. I reckon I can easily do four hours as long as there’s a break – a big one – inbetween. My thumb’s alright and I haven’t gone mad, like I would, doing three hours straight through, so I reckon I can do it.

A few minutes in, a couple of people from outside the pub come up to donate. They’re pretending they’re on horses, like the Monty Python Knights from Ni. And they’re not young – in their 40s. What alcohol does! A bit later, a couple more come up, including the woman and another woman, who asks my name, so I say, ‘Marvin. She (I say, looking at the other woman) asked me that half an hour ago’.

I got two requests: both requesters appearing at the same time. One – The Rain Song (aye aye, someone’s heard me before) from a bloke outside the restaurant on my right, and another – Brown-Eyed Girl – from a woman sitting with two others outside The Slug & Lettuce. Well, Brown-Eyed Girl’s a song I will NEVER play, so I say – yes, I know the song but I don’t play it, but do a feeble attempt at some of the double-string runs. The woman has a look at my songbook and asks if I can do California Girls. Of course, I prefer the pluraled Californian variety to the singular Brown-Eyed variety, so I say I will, although I did it 15 minutes ago. This woman forgets to donate but the man does.

I tune everything down for The Rain Song, do it…then gradually tune up, stopping off at Yellow Bird and Wheels, then California Girls…and there’s absolutely NO acknowledgement from the woman requester and her silly girlfriend. At the end, I did a quick count-up and I must have taken around £25 in that 70 minutes.

Earnings: £49.52p (Including 1 CD)

Total earnings after bus fare (£6.80p) = £94.59p (Including 4 CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 611

Diary Of A Busker Day 611 Thursday August 14th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:38-4:08pm, 2. Corner of Monsoon, Time: 4:14-5:49pm).

On the way down the High Street there were two young strummers banging it out at Vodafone. I carried on walking!…and had a depressing start: a half hour down the arse-end in which I got three donations, for a grand total of £1.40p. And what is it with the Chinese and shrapnel?! They only ever give 1 and 2p coins. About 20 minutes in, this woman and her 10 year old daughter turn up, all smiles. The girl gets out 3p to give me then stands beside me while the mother takes a photo.

Well, I’ve never forced a smile so much in my life. I mean, I was in a foul frame of mind BEFORE they turned up. I was thinking ‘Someone’s having a laugh here’, and I was really getting pissed off, then these two turn up with their 3p and posing with me for a picture! You gotta laugh…but I wasn’t. So after the half hour mark, I packed up and left in disgust. Even the family sitting opposite never came over to donate, and they were there almost the whole time. Even when I shook my head after looking in the bucket – and they saw me do it, nothing.

Things were alot better up the road, thanks to Monsieur Satie and a bloke listening across the street, who clapped after the first song. He was then joined by another bloke, and they both clapped after the second one. Then the second bloke came over and said, ‘Don’t suppose you know any Dire Straits?’ I’ve seen this guy before – he came up and said the same thing then. I said I didn’t, he left leaving the first bloke…who came up after La Vie En Rose and asked about the song before: the 1st Gnossienne. So I told him what it was and who wrote it, and he wrote it down in a notebook.

He then asked if I did this professionally, then talked about his son who was a singer in a rock band – ‘He played The Cavern and some other places till it all imploded and now he does covers…’. He then went back to his bench so I did the Gymnopedie and shouted over, ‘This is another Erik Satie one, Gymnopedie…the first one!’

He was then joined by his wife(?) – they were both mid-sixties, I reckon – and they both sang along to California Girls, which I’ve never had before. Then they come over and he says, ‘This is my son’s mother-in-law. It’s quite a confusing story…’ and it certainly was! Then he asks for the Gnossienne again. He said they ‘live in different places and don’t often get the chance to be together’. Actually, I was happy to play it again, as over the last 15 minutes, he and then she, had donated around £5 in coinage.

So I go into the Gnossienne and at the end a man comes over and says in a foreign tongue – French, I think, ‘James Satie, yes’. I replied, ‘Oui’ (I didn’t argue about the James bit) and he puts a £5 note in the bucket! He said, ‘I’ve not even heard Satie on the guitar’. So because of my guardian angel and his friend (son’s mother-in-law, or whatever she was) and his Satie request, I got a £5 note, some more coinage from him (and her) and a couple of other donations to boot. So, Gnossienne No.1: Song Of The Day, without any question.

Even Frank stopped, with his two dogs. Also, Mick, who was hanging around the market stalls, came over. I told Mick about the disastrous first session and he said, ‘And for that (£1.40p), you slaved all your life, hunched over a guitar’. Indeed, Mick. Now, what song was he going on about?…one he’d gone on about before – ‘An A, then a B minor with an A bass…then a G7 with an A bass (I play it)…no, that doesn’t sound right…the notes are A, F, B, D (I play the chord)…yeah!’ It IS a most interesting chord, I have to admit.

After all this, about half an hour in, the two Vodafone strummers walked by and one was holding his acoustic guitar with the headstock broken clean off it! I gave the obligatory horrified look as they glanced at me.

Earnings: £25.07p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 610

Diary Of A Busker Day 610 Wednesday August 13th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:12-5:42pm).

I couldn’t believe it – I forgot the tuner! First time I’ve ever done that. In fact, I was so annoyed, I was going to come home. All the stuff was on the ground: the lead, capo, tattered old music folder, cloth, bucket…no tuner. I searched every crevice of every pocket in the case…nothing. Sod it, I had to do it manually: something I hadn’t done for years, not out here, not even at home. Oh well, on with the show…

…and another case of mistaken identity. A woman comes up and says she’s seen me at a theatre show, playing some kind of madrigal(?) I have to tell her it wasn’t me. She says ‘it’ looked like me. I say ‘it’ definitely wasn’t me. She says, ‘Oh well, you’re good enough’, which was a nice way to end the conversation, I suppose.

A man comes up and says, ‘I’ve got a white Les Paul’, and that’s it. It’s always weird when people come up and make these statements. Anyway, he just stands there grinning, like some sort of congratulations are in order. I say, ‘You’re lucky, I haven’t’, which is all I can think of saying, apart from ‘Well, I think they’re too heavy and even if I had one, I wouldn’t bring it out here’, which I can’t be bothered saying.

I stuck it out for an hour and a half in a tuner-less state. Actually, it wasn’t too bad. It was noticeably out on only a couple of songs…and I shouldn’t have tuned down for Wheels and Yellow Bird – that was just force of habit, after playing an hour and a quarter – because it took awhile to get it right.

The coinage was up from the usual, though. I could tell by a quick glance during packing up. The filipino (why’s that not with a Ph?) woman from the bakery was having a cigarette and she asked me how it went. I said for the first time, I’d forgotten my tuner, but I’d done better than usual, then added, ‘Maybe they liked it better out of tune’.

Earnings: £21.57p

I never found the tuner. I must have left it at Chichester…which reminds me, three young foreign guys came up and said they’d seen me yesterday, in Chichester!

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Diary Of A Busker Day 609

Diary Of A Busker Day 609 Tuesday August 12th 2014 Chichester (1. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 12-2pm, 2:38-4pm).

Song Of The Session (not Day): California Girls, as it secured 4 donations. A man I recognised from last week, stood by me. In fact he’d bought a CD – ‘I listened to some of your CD’, he said, and didn’t say much else, just stood there for ages, like he did last week. There’s nothing I can do about it if someone wants to stand there, and some of them -always the men, never the women – want to do that. Anyway, as he’d bought a CD, I feel I can tolerate it…for a bit.

I tuned down for Wheels/Yellow Bird, and said to the bloke, ‘You’ll recognise this, it’s on the CD’, and at the end, after it had got no donations, I said, ‘People usually like that one!’, to which my man replied, ‘You should be here tomorrow, that’s when the market’s here’. I said, ‘Is it every Wednesday?’ He said, ‘Yeah, and Saturday’, so I said I might see about that, although not tomorrow but maybe next Wednesday…unless the council’s banning busking on market day, which they no doubt are. My man eventually drifted off – I said I’d see him again, next week.

The set wasn’t as lucrative as the first one was, last week, so I went two hours straight through then did a rough count-up, and after the £13 train fare deduction there was around £18. Then the usual: toilet break followed by the packed lunch in the cathedral grounds. A milder day, not as sunny…and people don’t like me quite as much as last week: no bloke coming up, complimenting the playing, as I’m having the packed lunch…no old dancing lady, although I’ve got a feeling she passed me on the way from the station.

The second set, a few feet away from the first, got off to a good start: Here Comes The Sun got FIVE donations: Song Of The Day! Then, a man about 60 asked if I knew any Jerry Reed. I said, ‘Unfortunately not – ‘he’s too fast, it’s too difficult!’. But I said I did a few Chet Atkins things, like La Vie En Rose, which was what I was playing – my man said he  guessed that was one of his arrangements. Then he said, ‘Merle Travis?’, so I said I sometimes do Cannonball Rag, but I’d just sat down and I need to warm up for that one! Even so, I attempted the start…and messed it up…well, I didn’t mess it up, I just couldn’t get beyond the first verse. I couldn’t remember the rest!

So I apologised, saying I was rough and he said, ‘Well if that’s rough, I’d like to hear it when you’ve practised!’ – a big compliment, of course, but it really was bad. I think the poor bloke was deaf. I tried it again, and again I couldn’t get past the first verse, which I then blamed on just having had my lunch! Then two really old people came up who I think were this guy’s parents, and they were heaping compliments on me. They then said that he (the son?) used to play, and he butted in – ‘Yeah, I used to play’, then he showed me his hand: he had no forefinger beyond the first knuckle. ‘I used to play alot better. I’ve had to modify it!’, he said. I didn’t know what to say so I just shook my head and grinned incredulously (how do you do that?!)

I stopped at 4 o’clock on the dot, so that was an hour and 22 minutes, on top of the two hours. While I was packing up, a(nother nutter) bloke comes up. He’s got food around his mouth, big cross around his neck, very quiet Scots accent. I said I had to pack up and get the train to Winchester. He said, ‘Ave been te Winchester…the cathedral’. Me – ‘Have you?’ ‘Yeah, am goin’ te the art gallery’. Me – ‘In Winchester?’ ‘Noo, here’. ‘Right, you mean the one over there?’, I say, pointing to the one down the alleyway opposite, where Kirsten White had her show a couple of weeks ago. ‘Noo, down there’, he points toward to clock tower. ‘Me – ‘Oh, there’s one down there, is there?’ ‘Yeah’, he says. Me, being friendly – ‘Right…well I might see you next week, if you’re here’. ‘If yer lookin’ for me, ahl be in the gallery’, he said.

So, no CD sales, no dancing lady, no Early Learning Centre bubble machine…but still worth the hassle.

Earnings: £57.28p (gross) – £13 (train fare) = £44.28p (profit)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 608

Diary Of A Busker Day 608 Monday August 11th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Jigsaw, Market Street, Time: 4:17-5:54pm).

I seem to be seeing alot of Mr. W. Kendall of late. He rode by today and asked if I knew Telstar, which, oddly enough, I taught Tom and Owen (their performance now on youtube!) The trouble is the melody: it’s all over the place, so the chords would be everywhere. Maybe I’ll look into it again…

There are hundreds of dreadlocked, rucksacked young folk walking about, from this Boomtown festival just out of town. And quite a few in very small cars covered in mud. One stopped right in front of me and the girl driver – not even waiting for me to finish whatever song it was – said, ‘Do you know where (somewhere) is?’ Being offended, I just looked at her and carried on playing. Then some bloke walked between us so she asked him. She drove off, saying, ‘Thanks for your help’, sarcastic bitch. Tough luck, lady. Make a note: Must not come to Winchester and interrupt MBN while he’s in the middle of a song.

A bit later, another car pulled up really slowly and I was deliberately keeping my head down so they wouldn’t ask me where some place was. But then I saw a hand put a coin in the bucket, so of course I have to look up in preparation of thanks and acknowledgement. The bloke just looked at me with a cheeky grin, which made me laugh.

I met a young guy named Marly, who was listening across the road: he really liked Girl, so when he came over and donated, I asked if he liked The Beatles. He said he mainly liked jazzy stuff: Django Reinhardt and some modern players I’ve never heard of. He was asking about the stuff I play: he’d never heard of Chet Atkins or Merle Travis, though he’d heard of Tommy Emmanuel. He’d seen him do Classical Gas on Youtube, so we started talking about that. I said I wished it (Youtube) had been around when I was his age, which was about 20, and he actually said he realised he was lucky – ‘We’re the first generation who’ve got all that’. Indeed.

I made it just over an hour and a half. I left when some pigeon chucked down a load of moss and dirt from the guttering, which landed right next to me. I took it as a sign.

Earnings: £15.82p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 607

Diary Of A Busker Day 607 Sunday August 10th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Jigsaw, Market Street, Time: 2:35-4:11pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 4:32-5:34pm).

After Wonderful Land, I got a £5 note from an old lady in a wheelchair. She was being pushed by two men. Maybe they were taking turns. Anyway, she made them stop in the High Street, about 20 feet to the left, and she was clearly enjoying it, so Wonderful Land –  Song Of The Day! However, later on I sold a CD to a woman who’d seen me loads of times. The song that secured the sale? Dixie McGuire. So I think that really has to be SOTD. After all, £6.50 beats a fiver, so first time SOTD for that one. I still can’t play it right, though.

2nd set was an hour, up the road. Just after I started, opera singer and intimate of Cleo Laine (ha!), Mr. Kendall stopped by on his bike, and while we were chatting a little Indian girl came up, showed me a pound coin and said, ‘Is this alright?’, to which I replied, ‘Of course it is. It’s more than most people give’, which I think might have embarrassed Mr. Kendall a bit, because he very rarely contributes and a minute later, just after he’d parked his bike against the wall, he came over and said, ‘I hope a pound’s alright’, before putting said pound in the bucket! He then went and had a glass of white wine (with ice) outside The Slug & Lettuce, where he remained for the whole hour.

As I was leaving and walking the bike past his table, we had a chat about our respective bikes, including how rubbish the brakes are on the old bikes. Mr. K relates his tale. He was once riding down the High Street and because the brake pads were wet, they didn’t work and he went through a red light. It reminded me of an incident years ago in Brockley, Sarf Landan, when I was going down a hill on a borrowed mountain bike, and because I was used to said rubbish brakes on the old bikes, where you have to slam both brakes on full, that’s what I did and the bike stopped dead! The front wheel stayed on the road while the rest of the bike, along with me, swung over the top. I remember lying on the road 10 feet in front of the bike and not one person stopped to help. Probably because there were a load of cars whizzing by. It should have all ended there, really.

Earnings: £36.76p (Including 1 CD)

Note: I went to the hospital to see the alleged painting of me. I found the corridor where all the paintings were but it wasn’t there, so I asked at the reception and just as I was asking, a woman walked by and said, ‘Oh yes, I remember that one. I used to walk by it all the time. It was sold’. So that was that. The Drongo was right all along. I’m going to have to try and track down the artist. A painting of a bearded Marvin B. Naylor: The Bearded Buttercross Busker.


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Diary Of A Busker Day 606

Diary Of A Busker Day 606 Saturday August 9th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:33-3:14pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:29-5:31pm, 3. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:55-6:25pm).

The whole place is full up with these bloody buskers. There’s even a bloke at the Pavilion spot – I forgot to see if they’d shut the door on him…with Rick Tarrant sitting forlornly outside The Eclipse, as I cycled by, because that’s his spot!

Up from Vodafone, there are a couple of kids break-dancing, I believe it’s called….and down a bit, across from where I sometimes play at Monsoon, there’s a bloke with some equipment and a guitar case. I ask if he’s coming or going. He says he was doing alright ’till those kids started up there’. I suggest he sets up opposite from where he is. That way he’ll hear them less and he’ll be blasting down from them. He usually makes £70 in 3 hours, apparently.

Anyway, there’s too much going on, so…down the arse-end for me! …I get nothing for 4 songs, and then, BAM! – Albatross, and I sell TWO CDs! Song Of The Day unequivocally, if that’s the right word. There’s a funny thing about Albatross. After I play it, a few people have asked for a Shadows number, or they ask if it IS a Shadows number. I reckon it’s the reverb, but also, I know Hank Marvin did it. It happens today. Some bloke says ‘Wonderland’, which at first throws me – what’s Wonderland? Then I think: Albatross, Shadows…Wonderful Land! Which is what he means, of course.

Actually, it’s a bit annoying. He doesn’t come up and say, ‘Hello, sorry for bothering you my good man, but I wonder if you’d be so good as to play (whatever song)’. But no, he just comes up and says, ‘Wonderland’, the dick. Anyway, I say, ‘Wonderful Land, you mean?’, and he flicks a pound coin in…rather rudely, I thought.

A bloke donates and admires the bike, and when I say it’s a replacement for a stolen one, he tells me a story. His two friends went to France and while they were waiting overnight at the ferry place, their electric bikes were stolen. They were locked up – chained – to the back of their camper, and they had a couple of dogs guarding while they were sleeping (the blokes, not the dogs). When they woke, the bikes were gone and there was a sticker on the camper saying ‘Bonjour’.

Next stop, after a 15 minute break, Gieves & Hawkes and a long session: two hours. I see Phillip on a bike – never seen him on one before. He says he’s got some good news – his cancer of the pelvis isn’t spreading (this is the first time he’s said where it is), and his fingernails have grown back.

I play Je Te Veux, and do the octave bit a bit better (bit a bit better!) than the other day. Someone donates a £5 note during this session – great, but I have an even bigger surprise at the end. When I’m inspecting the bucket, prior to transferring the contents to the camera case, I find a very screwed up £10 note! So that’s £15 PLUS TWO MORE CDs! – which makes FOUR CDs: a record, I believe (not a ‘record’, like as in vinyl – a CD), and a load more coinage. In short, a bloody good day. A hell of a lot of playing, though: the 2nd session was more than THREE AND A HALF HOURS, so I think about going home…then decide to do a short one up the road, after a toilet break and some water refreshment.

Rick Tarrant’s STILL outside The Eclipse! I stop and he says I should play a bit – ‘you might pick up a fiver, and anyway, it’s going to be raining all day tomorrow’. So I take him up on it, do half an hour and pick up £5.50p, so he’s almost bang on. Rick was there for most of it. I started with his favourite – Windy & Warm, but when I looked up at the end (of the set, not the song), he’d gone.

On the way back, I bought a customarily soggy Big Issue off Simon. I only ever see him with Big Issues that look like they’ve been trampled on, or are in various stages of drying. Then, a female Drongo standing nearby comes up and says to me, ‘Did you used to have a beard?’ In fact, she asked me the same thing a few months ago. I said I used to but it wasn’t a big beard – it wasn’t very long. She says, ‘Yeah, but you’ve got a plastic pumpkin, ‘aven’t you?’ I say that I do indeed have such an article about my person – a trademark, in fact. ‘Yep’, she says, ‘there’s a painting of you up at the ‘ospital, yeah, I thought it was you, with the pumpkin’. ‘Really?’ I say. Yes, she’s pretty sure it’s me. She says it’s in the corridor down from the entrance, and it’s for sale for £50, and it’s called Rockin’ At The Buttercross. ‘You want to get some money out of that’, she says. Well, I’m not bothered about that, but the painting – I’ve got to see that.

First a watercolour, now a painting for £50, in semi-permanent display in a hospital corridor. I’m going to have to go up tomorrow and have a look.

Earnings: £95.30p (Including 4 CDs)

An observation: Parents who give their children 1 and 2p coins (shrapnel) to give to me, never make eye contact.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 605

Diary Of A Busker Day 605 Friday August 8th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:45-5:45pm).

An end of the day session, and I should have brought the umbrella. It wasn’t raining when I started, although the sky was grey all over (like that crap Dave Clark Five song).

It was 5 songs in before any coinage, and that was from Phillip – appropriately Beatles T-shirted, during Here Comes The Sun. I exaggerated slightly when I told him I’d been there 20 minutes and he was the first donor, but he replied, ‘What’s wrong with this country?!’ I don’t know, my friend…apart from people are mean and/or they don’t care.

The second donation was right after Phillip’s comment, from a young, dark-haired, bearded bloke who I see often out here. He put a coin in, saying, ‘I did that ‘cos I heard what you said’, so I said, ‘You don’t have to do that for that reason, you know’ – (I don’t want sympathy money: I’m not a beggar, as I said to Phillip).

And then a bloke dropped a 20p coin in, or rather it fell just outside the bucket, which he saw but couldn’t be bothered to pick up and put in the intended place. Which means I have to, and that sort of thing winds me up.

Then the old guy in the buggy came by and said he hadn’t seen me for ages. I said I’d been around. This was after a Satie piece, so I decided to try my new one – Je Te Veux, suggested by the man the other day around the corner. I worked it out from a youtube video – a great little version, actually. It went OK apart from the ascending octave bit – a shame, as the rest is certainly passable. I don’t think the old guy was impressed, though! He said something like, ‘I think people’s favourites are the ones they’ve heard you do for awhile’. I don’t think he was impressed by my music on the ground, either. Tough! – before I memorise it, I need it! This bloke hasn’t been very well, he’s just come out of hospital, ‘where they fixed me up a bit. I couldn’t speak much’. He’s alright now, though!

Then the drama began. It started pouring down at the 45 minute mark but I carried on a bit longer, then decided to pack up…as a friendly man came across from Nero’s to ask if I wanted a cup of coffee or tea – I didn’t, of course – then chatted and asked loads of questions for a good few minutes before he returned to his companion in Nero’s. Then I actually DID pack up, but there was a problem. My amp on the back of the bike: there was no way to keep it dry, and it really was pouring.

My ‘saviour’ appeared in the (unfortunate) form of Jeremy, who insisted he get a plastic bag to put the amp in. The trouble was, almost all the shops were shut, and the ones that were open only had paper bags. I said I’d go down to Sainsbury’s and get a plastic one but Jeremy wouldn’t hear of it – he’d go himself. I asked him not to, as I don’t want to feel indebted or beholding to someone I regard as a rather patronising creep, but he went off, anyway.

There was a man standing nearby who had heard our discussion and when Jeremy went off, I said, ‘I didn’t want him to go!’ He came back in a couple of minutes with a transparent bag he’d got from some place on the way to Sainsbury’s, so I put the amp in it, although I first said I might put it on my head to keep THAT dry, to which Jeremy replied, ‘Oh no, you might suffocate’, to which I replied, ‘Well, it would solve a few problems!’, to which he replied, ‘Yes, then I wouldn’t have to give you any money’, which rather annoyed me, so I said, ‘You don’t have to give me any money, anyway – I’m not a beggar!’, to which he replied, ‘Oh, it’s only a josh – a joke, blah, blah blah, etc.’ He’s so bloody patronising!

Anyway, I put the amp in the bag, Jeremy went off, and I stood around waiting for the confounded rain to stop. It didn’t, so I took my jacket off, put it in the gigbag, got on the bike and went home. I got soaked but at least the jacket stayed dry, and no water marks! I should have done that in Paris 10 years ago when I had that light-coloured jacket, when it poured all the way on that walk to that bloody Eiffel Tower!

Earnings: Just over £9 (inaccurate, as I dumped the coinage into the jar without doing a count-up)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 604

Diary Of A Busker Day 604 Wednesday August 6th 2014 Winchester (1. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 2:28-4:10pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 4:25-5:45pm).

It was nice to see Madelaine after I don’t know how long: she’s certainly the most toothsome of the lot out here, that’s for sure. I said she should try Chichester as the people are more friendly there than here…although they’re probably friendlier to HER more than me!

That bloke with the white hair and moustache came by and donated after Yellow Bird, and again asked if I’d seen the film Black Narcissus, as Yellow Bird reminds him of it, and again I said I hadn’t. ‘There  are lot of demons’ in it, he said.

I got away before all the vans pulled up, and went up the road to Pavilion. At the end, I was approached by a man who said that if I wanted ‘a change of scenery’, he runs a restaurant up the High Street – Eat Drink and Bee, and I could set up outside and play amongst the tables of diners. Apparently 11 to 12 is the best time, as he gets ‘all the retail therapy and yummy mummys’ there. Now, first off, I thought ‘that’s nice of him to ask me to play at his place’, but then it occurred to me, what he’s suggesting is I play there for nothing. He said I could put the bucket out, of course. Gee – thanks, kind man. I should have suggested he might like to set up a small kitchen next to me here, and make some snacks for the passers-by. No pay but he could put a bucket out for anyone who might want to show their appreciation.

Earnings: £35.50p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 603

Diary Of A Busker Day 603 Tuesday August 5th 2014 Chichester (1. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 11:45-1:20pm, 2-4pm).

Seeing as I did so well up the road from The Clock, I made sure I booked the same place this time. On the phone, the woman went through the same routine: take a break every half hour, this time adding ‘don’t play in front of Marks & Spencers – they don’t like it’. So I didn’t. I played opposite the shop NEXT DOOR to Marks & Spencer(s)! – namely Next. I also started 15 minutes earlier than my allotted starting time, namely at 11:45.

First song – Albatross, and a bloke stops to tell me it’s his favourite song, and also that it’s his birthday today, so I say ‘Happy birthday’. ‘I’m 48’, he says. I say, ‘Well, have a great day’.  He says, ‘Thanks’, and walks off. No coinage for playing his favourite song on his birthday. But loads of folk here DO appreciate me, and I bet it’s not their birthday. Lots of old guys think I’m great! At one point, there are four standing in front, and two of them buy CDs!

Song Of The Day: Wonderful Land. 10 minutes after I played it the first time, a guy comes up and says, ‘You know Wonderful Land?’ So I played it again, and again half an hour later, when another Shadows-loving guy comes up. This one starts telling me about his friend who played the guitar in the early ’60s. Then about his funeral: ‘We ‘ad Apache when they brought the casket up the aisle, then Walkin’ On The Air, then Wonderful Land for when we see ‘im off’. Well, that sounds like a jolly old service, I thought!

For the second Tuesday in a row, I flout the rules laid down by West Sussex Council, and play a full hour and 35 minutes! Then I went to the toilet, then the cathedral grounds for my lunch – a diet lunch which I’m on for a week. While I was there, a man came to put some rubbish in the bin next to my bench, and in doing so, complimented me on the playing, said he hoped I’d sell some more CDs (he didn’t help by buying one, though), and said, ‘Have a great day’. I don’t think anyone’s ever come up to me while I’ve been having my lunch in Winchester and said that!

People like me here – perhaps a permanent move is in order! I’ve also cleared – after the £13 train fare – about £20, which is extremely good. If that carries on for the next session, I’ll be well happy. As it turned out, the next spot – not more than 20 feet to the left of the first spot, and much closer to Marks & Spencer – wasn’t quite as good, but I still made £30 in 2 hours: better than the usual Winchester amount.

Early on, that funny old lady – The Dancing Lady – appeared and did the usual: a few turns, smiling, pointing at me, trying to talk to people walking by – this was during La Vie En Rose. She then disappeared into Marks & Spencer and I never saw her come out! I hope she didn’t expire in there because I need to get a photo of her. The trouble is, I’d have to stop playing and I just can’t do that, not when she’s in her element, so to speak. I’ve got to get a photo, though. In fact, I haven’t got one of anyone here.

Halfway through, a woman came out of the Early Learning Centre on my left, and set up a bubble machine which proceeded to spew forth many thousands of soap bubbles. A few hundred came my way but most went upwards. When she came out again a bit later, she came towards me and I thought, ‘She’s going to tell me off for being here so long’, but no, all she said was, ‘Please let me know if the bubbles annoy you, OK?’ Indeed, people are nice here – they really do like me! Then, during The Third Man, a man says, ‘Could you possibly make it more difficult?’!

Earnings: £63.76p (Including 2 CDs) – £13 (train fare) = £50.76p (profit)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 602

Diary Of A Busker Day 602 Saturday August 2nd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:49-4:56pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:19-6:21pm).

I had a quick wander about…Sid, the bloke who breathes into his flute, was at Vodafone…and up from him, towards The Butter Cross, there were some annoying people banging on boxes. In fact, The Butter Cross was strangely buskerless – unusual for a Saturday afternoon, so I grabbed it, as it’s been awhile since I’ve been there.

Two songs in, during La Vie En Rose, that poor old woman with Alzheimer’s appeared with her son and his wife…or her daughter and her husband! So at the end of the song, I went straight into her favourite – Chinatown, and she was smiling and trying to say something to her son/daughter. After that, I did Tzena, then Twelve-String Shuffle – I don’t think she liked that one as much! Maybe the sudden stops were confusing. Maybe the whole bloody thing was confusing.

Also, there was someone sitting on the bench with a dog that barked at every other dog that went by, and I think that was confusing, or annoying her. It was annoying ME, I know that! After 15 minutes, the son/son-in-law came up and said, ‘Your hands must be tired now’, as I’d just done a load of fast stuff. I said they were OK. He put a £2 coin in, although I said he didn’t have to as he’d put something in a few minutes after they got there – it could have been some shrapnel, I suppose – but he said, ‘No, no – it means a lot’ (to the old lady). I felt sorry for her – what can you do? To play a song that she likes – it’s the least some idiot like me can do, I reckon. In fact, I did Chinatown twice for her: once at the start, then 10 minutes later.

I must have been in a more-than-usual cheerful frame of mind(!), as I even stopped to talk to some Italian boys who contributed. I even stopped playing! – to tell them about Chet Atkins, but I had to write the name – Chet Atkins, American guitarist – on my pad as they couldn’t understand me. I said, ‘If you like this (what I play), you look him up, yes?…what’s Italian for goodbye?’ ‘Arrivederci’. ‘OK, arrivederci…bye!’

Philip came by to say hello. He was holding a woman’s hand…the woman was attached, of course! He introduced her – Sarah. Philip looked well, all things considered, but they were slow, walking off. He hasn’t mentioned his cancer to me for a long time. He’s still in that Yellow Submarine T-shirt! It turned out to be a long set, just over two hours – well, I haven’t been here for ages. But the money was good for once. I did a quick count-up at the end – there was over £30.

After the toilet break, I took a photo of my new CD cover: Kirstin White’s Chichester painting of me. Doll made it into a CD cover. It looks great! – much better than what I had: a guitar on a white background. Now it’s custom-made: an actual PAINTING of me ‘out on the street’. I was definitely in the right place at the right time, then.

At Pavilion, I started with La Vie En Rose and The Bitch did a little dance then shut the door! In record time, too: not more than 10 seconds after I started – ha! Money was steady. The key contributors were a bunch of men in their 40’s, drinking outside The Eclipse. One came up and asked for When The Saints Go Marching In. I’m using my incredible powers of deduction and assuming they were supporters of Southampton Saints Football Club. Anyway, I said I didn’t do it but would see if I could work it out…which I did in about a minute, as there are only 3 chords in it. Key of C.

I played it, made a few mistakes, and not one of the blokes acknowledged me! I played a couple of other things, then Albatross, whereupon one of them gave me the thumbs-up. At the end, he came up and said, ‘When The Saints – can you play that?’, to which I replied I’d played the very same 10 minutes ago, to which he replied, ‘Play it again’, and takes out a load of pound coins and drops them one by one into the bucket: ‘There…one, two, free (three)…foah…(up to), nine…yeah, play When The Saints – we’re old school, y’see’. OK, £9 is good enough for me to turn the volume off, take another minute and rehearse it. Then I play it and…NO RESPONSE!! So I played it two more times…and I think one of the football heathens gave a sign of recognition at the end of the last time. Give me strength. I packed up then, as I’d just brushed the three hour danger mark.

Earnings: £63.30p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 601

Diary of A Busker Day 601 Friday August 1st 2014 Winchester (1. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 1:20-3pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:43-4:25pm, 3. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 4:33-5:32pm).

A good session around the corner from the ice-cream man. I’v put Horizons back in the set, and was rewarded with a pound from a man who said, ‘That’s my favourite’. This spot’s OK as long as I get away before 4:30. Also, psychologically, it’s better, as the percentage of people ignoring me is less than around the corner in the High Street, because I made about £20 in an hour and 40 minutes, and I bet I wouldn’t have made that a few feet away with all those millions of people walking by.

AA Dave came to say hello on his way back from Greggs, with a baguette, which reminded me – I brought a ham roll along, which I told him about. He said, ‘How many days has it been there, though?’

Ian dropped by, so I wished him a happy (belated) birthday and told him I’d been carrying around a CD of The Other Chet Atkins to give to him, but I never saw him so I’d taken it out of the guitar case! I said, ‘I’ve been carrying around a present for you’, and he said, ‘Well, to hear you is a present, you know’. What a nice chap! Anyway, he went and stood across the road – only 10 feet away! – and I played Tzena. After, he came over and said, ‘I like that bit – da da, da da, da da’, and I thought, ‘I bet that’s the bit I’ve been working on – the difficult bit, so I said, ‘You mean this bit (played the D, F#7, B minor)’, and he says, ‘Yes, that’s it!’ I said, ‘Oh good, I’ve been working on that – it sounds easy but it’s not’. (I played the song another 2 times later on and it wasn’t nearly as good).

After the toilet break, I cycled around…the spot where I play, near Pavilion, was taken by those two old guys (two old guys! – they’re the same age as me!) who are usually on the bench opposite The Butter Cross, so I bombed down the arse-end. When I was setting up, I could hear a tinny sound, like someone listening to music on a Walkman (do people still use those?!) I reckon it was the market bloke opposite, who was sitting down, side on from me as he had something in his ear. But I thought I’d carry on, I mean, if he’s listening to something going right in his ear – it’s probably loud and he won’t be bothered by me! After 10 minutes, the tinny sound stopped.

That kid from yesterday, with the hat, walked by – this time with his dad(?) He kept looking back at me in a rather cheeky way but didn’t break into that manic jumping about. Not so confident when you’re out with the old man, eh?!

The spot’s rubbish: I didn’t even get £3 in 45 minutes, so I decided to pack up after Albatross, which brings forth some humming from the market bloke across the way. He then says something, so I lean forward…he says, ‘Did you hear me earlier? – I had my radio on.’ (So it was a radio, not a Walkman). I said, ‘Um…no, I didn’t think that was…’, and sort of trail off! ‘I had my transistor radio on…when you arrived, did you not hear it?’ , he says. I feign deafness and he sort of laughs, just a bit. Oh dear, I AM a naughty boy…and a liar.

3rd set. I was offended (it’s MY turn now) by a man, walking with his wife or whatever she was. The man stopped to off-load some shrapnel, in fact, I even heard the word ‘shrapnel’ as he was talking to his wife or girlfriend or whatever she was. He stopped for quite a while, while he dug around in his wallet, and I thought, ‘This is what you do when you stop in front of a bin and think, “I’ll just have a root around and get rid of all that rubbish I’ve got in my pocket” – crisp wrappers and stuff’.

Just before packing up – I was doing Moulin Rouge, and a bloke who’d been outside The Eclipse came down and stood in front of me. I’d noticed him everytime I’d cycled past, and he’d been there the whole afternoon, so I reckon he was a bit out of it, I mean, his eyes were well-glazed. Anyway, he just stood there and I thought, ‘What’s going on here?’, because he wasn’t smiling and I thought he was going to hit me or something, I mean, I’d rather be confronted with a smiling drunk than an unsmiling one. Then, after what seemed ages, he gets a coin from his trouser pocket, says, ‘Nice music’, and puts the coin in the bucket, which was one hell of a relief, is all I can say.

Earnings: £35.55p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 600

Diary Of A Busker Day 600 Thursday July 31st 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time; 2:03-3:23pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 3:35-4:35pm, 3. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 4:53-6:03pm).

As I’m on the bike trying to work out where I’m going to set up, I pass Mandolin John at the Gieves & Hawkes spot. He’s not playing, just sort of hanging around the phone box. He shouts that I can set up there if I want to – he’s waiting for a call: waiting for a call in a phone box? – you don’t see that much these days. But I don’t fancy it and I don’t want to be beholding to him, not for anything!

Down at Oxfam, it’s a bit boring until a hatted kid of about 8 with his mother and younger brother, starts jumping up and down like a maniac to whatever I’m playing. So I keep the tempo up: Chinatown, Music To Watch Girls By, Tzena Tzena Tzena (I heard you the first time). His mother tries to drag him away – useless, of course, so at one point, I say, ‘I’ll play something slow, if you want to go!’ But she doesn’t seem bothered so I keep it up. And then the cheeky bugger takes his hat off, puts it on the ground upside down and carries on jumping about! Of course, people thinks that’s hilarious. It WAS pretty funny. A woman said, ‘He’ll steal all your custom!’ He was there dancing – no, jumping – for another 10 minutes, until the mother finally got him away. Actually, I was relieved he didn’t get any money!

Up at Pavilion, and the door was shut almost immediately, but not by the dark-haired one, by the blonde girl – the Blonde Bitch. Dixie McGuire – I’m having real problems with, as usual, even though I’ve been doing it a lot. Tzena – the D, F#7, B minor bit is a bit better. You win some, etc.

After an hour, I pack up and take a toilet break, then a cycle around…there’s a girl on a cello at Vodafone, and that tall ginger youth I told off the other day, with an accomplice opposite The Butter Cross. I felt a bit bad about that – telling him off. I shouldn’t tell off young people – there’s a good chance life might be difficult enough without miserable old people like me having a go. Then again, life’s about learning! Or is it?

I finished off with a stint down the road…and sold an album, and an original one at that! – to Mr. Jaffe from the music college. £8! Then opera singer Mr. Kendall stops by on his old Raleigh – a 1954 model – ‘Just 3 years younger than me’, he informs me. We compare bikes for a few minutes – he was well impressed with the condition of mine. I happened to be doing Wonderful Land when he stopped, and he asked me about it – he couldn’t remember the name of it and who did it so I supplied him with all the relevant information, which prompted him to remember Apache, which I haven’t done for awhile. I’ve sort of kicked it out and put Wonderful Land in it’s place, as I think it’s a much more convincing arrangement, and by popular agreement, I think. Anyway, I played some of  Apache for Mr. Kendall – it was OK, so I thanked him for reminding me of it. Maybe I should put it back in the set.

Earnings: £33.82p (not including sale of original album Earth And All The Universes).

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Diary Of A Busker Day 599

Diary Of A Busker Day 599 Wednesday July 30th 2014 Winchester (1. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 4:33-5:12pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:17-6:12pm).

I must remember: avoid playing on Market Street from 4:30-5:30, as all the market people bring their vans around to load up. It’s only a little street and I had to stop and rescue the bucket 4 times or it would have been a crushed ex-bucket. And the money was terrible – I got less than £2 for almost 40 minutes playing. I shouldn’t have bothered. I packed up in disgust.

Down the corner and up the road (is this bit still Market Street?), I had a guardian angel who saved the day. This took the form of a hatted man who was sitting outside The Eclipse. He came up about 3 songs in, put a £5 note in ‘for some Zeppelin – I’ve heard you lots of times, I know you do some’. I said, ‘Of course, you must mean The Rain Song’, and said I’d do it. I mean, FIVE POUNDS – you must be joking! So I finished what I was doing, did Siboney, because I’m not going to drop everything straight away, then tuned down and did the request (he took a photo of me during it)…after which he gave me the thumbs-up. He then mentioned Little Wing, which, oddly enough, might be a bit like The Rain Song, ie: a good guitar piece on it’s own, without any vocal melody. So I thanked him for that.

A couple of songs later, during the Gymnopedie, he comes up again and this time drops a £2 coin in, so that’s £7! He says he loves Satie and has another suggestion – another Satie one – a waltz, something called Je Te Veux. I said I’d look into it. He goes back to his seat…then comes up again as I’m starting Ne Me Quitte Pas – not purely by accident: I reckon if he likes Satie, he might like the minor-key Brel one…and I was right. He says, ‘This is great, you’re playing my greatest song list – Jacques Brel!’

Now, before he came up, I was toying with the idea of doing the 5th Gnossienne, but decided against it as I haven’t done it in a couple of weeks, and I definitely DON’T want to make a hash job of it in front of an…aficionado. I finished with Dixie McGuire, which was terrible: the Focal Dystonia on the middle finger stops me from doing the main bit right. Bloody awful.

Earnings: £16.34p

P.S. My saviour also mentioned something about playing at his 60th, but these things never usually come off.*

* It didn’t.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 598

Diary Of A Busker Day 598 Tuesday July 29th 2014 Chichester (The Cross, Time: 12-4pm).

Strictly adhering to the half hour playing then 10 minute break rule…

1. 12 noon-12:30pm. I had the guitar on my lap while I was enjoying my cucumber, cheese and lettuce baguette, just before starting up, and woman walked by and said, ‘Don’t get that on your guitar, will you?’ I said, ‘Nope, it’a all going in my mouth’. Just after I started, the guy selling balloons from his cart – he was 10 feet in front of me – moved off 40 feet to the right. Earnings: £4.32p.

2. 2:40-1:10pm. Time’s going slow. It must be these silly 10 minute breaks. Probably psychological as it’s usually never less than an hour before I take a ‘normal’ break. Money going down: £4.20p – I haven’t even made the train fare back. Tuning down for Wheels/Yellow Bird, etc., there’s a jazzy bloke somewhere to my right who was playing when I got here and hasn’t stopped since…what about YOUR 10 minute breaks, pal?

3. 11:20-1:50pm. About halfway through, a girl walked by with a gigbag and Roland Cube Street, and I’m sure it was Boring Jazz Girl! – it must have been: all the music coming from the right had stopped. So it was her, not a bloke, I was hearing. Boring but daring Jazz Girl not abiding by the rules…and she’s cut her hair – it’s barely down to her shoulders, now…and the money goes down: £3.80p, and I STILL haven’t made the train fare back. I’m fed up with this – I’m packing up and going to the toilet.

4. Opposite Next, Time: 2:10-3:10pm, 3:25-4:05pm. I thought I’d come to where Boring Jazz Girl was. After the first song, Albatross, a woman comes by, looks in the bucket and says, ‘So you’ve done alright, then?’ I say I’ve come down here because people weren’t very appreciative at the other end. ‘I still haven’t heard you – good luck, then’, she says. Then I realise it was the same woman who came up before I started!

It must have been the influence of BJG, but I thought, ‘Sod it, I’m doing an hour right through!, and so it was, and no one came to tell me off. Not even legendary Chichester CPSO, Sean Treble, or that jerk, the time after…and I was rewarded with the well-above-average coinage amount of £17.68p, so it’s alot better here, but then it’s not nearly as noisy as up at The Clock, which is like a hub, with the 4 streets joining, and all the traffic. This suits me much better. So that’s two and a half hours playing – another half hour or so will do it: I don’t want to cross the red line…

…near the end, an old couple were chatting to me – this was all the way through Twelve-String Shuffle, which I just managed to hold together. The man mentioned The Shadows, so I told him I did Wonderful Land and then did it. At the end, he said, ‘You know, I think I prefer that to the original’, and I remember someone else said that, in Winchester. These are the kind of people I like!

At 4:05: For most of the last set there was a woman diagonally across from me with an easel, doing a painting. Now, while I’m packing up, she comes over, says she enjoyed what I was playing – ‘and all the unusual key changes’ – my response: ‘I don’t think some of them were intentional’. ‘Oh of course they were!’, she said (how would she know?) Anyway, I asked if she was doing a painting (of course she was – she had an easel and a canvas and a paint brush!) – she said she had, and asked me to come over and see it.

Well, it was only a watercolour of me!, with the old couple who were there earlier. It was really good, too. I got a photo of it and also one of her in action, doing the painting – posing, in other words. Her name: Kirstin White – ‘artist’, as her card said, and she’s got an exhibition this week at that little art gallery I went to last time I was here. The one through the alleyway, right behind where she was doing the painting, in fact. I said maybe I could see it next week. ‘Too late – it’s only on this week’, she said. She then told me about a potential gig. She sometimes does art shows for a home for dementia patients in Eastleigh, and they sometimes have other days where they have people play – would I be interested? I said I would. She said I’d get about £70, which is £20 more than the one I used to go to near Alton.

So we exchanged cards and I said I had to get the train, just as a tall bloke about 65 comes up and asks if I play clubs! I said, ‘Yeah, anything’, and he asked how much I charge and I thought,’Bloody hell, all this right at the end, just when I have to get the train!’, and I couldn’t think, as I’d done 3 hours and 10 minutes, so I gave HIM a card, so maybe I’ll get TWO gigs out of it, which would be good…of course, maybe I won’t.*

Anyway, Song Of The Day is Here Comes The Sun, as it was the last, and that’s the one the bloke heard when he came up about the potential gig…and it got about 5 donations, too. In fact, I did it about an hour before and it got a few then, as well, so unequivocally SOTD.

So there it was…the day started bad, but after I changed spots (unlike that bloody leopard), it ended well. I’ll have to remember that if I come here again, not to book up The Cross, but book North Street, or East Street.

Earnings: £42.01p – £13 (train fare) = £29.01p (profit)

P.S. I had alot of compliments during the last set. At the very end, a man said, ‘It’s incredible a man of your ability is sitting out here’. I don’t know if he contributed, though!

* I didn’t.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 597

Diary Of A Busker Day 597 Monday, July 28th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:20-5:50pm).

I set up near The Butter Cross, locked the bike behind me, sat down and had just tuned up, when I heard a bloody saxophone. There’s a bloke – early 20’s, tall, reddish hair – playing about 40 feet to my right, about 8 columns down. I couldn’t believe it! Sod it, I packed up, unlocked the bike, went down and stood in front of him until he stopped playing. He said, ‘You play the guitar, don’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah, did you not hear me set up there?’ – I pointed to where I was. He said he didn’t, so I said, ‘Next time you might want to have a look around before you start playing – make sure there’s no one else around’, and he said, ‘I did’, so I said, ‘Next time you need to have a better look around’. He mumbled something – probably ‘twat’ – as I went off.

A bit further down, I bumped into Mick, who was having his coffee outside some coffee place. I told him about the guy, who we could hear really loud. Mick said it was a pain listening to people busking with instruments that only do one note at a time, like the saxophone. I had to agree, although it’s possibly more annoying if they’ve got backing tracks going. Mick then went on about complicated songs with weird root notes, chord changes, bar lengths, tempo changes…his usual (favoured) kind of conversation, in other words. But Mick could see I was still fuming about the bloke up the road. I was! I mean, I hadn’t even started playing and I’d been offended! I said I reckoned I just don’t like people – the general public. ‘Oh well, what can you do? C’est la vie – such is life’, he said. Indeed.

Down the arse-end, that weird tall guy stopped while I was setting up. The conversation: He – ‘I’ve decided, if I don’t like someone after 20 minutes, I’m going to tell them I’m a communist (and then, completely changing the subject, as is his wont)…sorry, do you do this for a living?’ Me – ‘This and some other things. All to do with music’. He – ‘You teach?…customers? You have customers? You give lessons?’ Me – ‘Yeah, a few’. He –  ‘Someone told me you were a session man’. Me – ‘Well, I played on some things’. He – ‘Really? I bet you’ve played on some hit records’. Me – ‘No, mainly on my own songs, no hits’. He – ‘Really? Someone told me about a guy, he played on hundreds of hits, he just died’. Me – ‘Really? Do you know his name?’ He – ‘Hmm…no, I can’t remember…hundreds of songs, he was on’. Me – ‘Was it Hal Blaine? (he was the only famous session guy I could think of but I’m sure he’s not dead!) Umm…I don’t know’, he said and he just walked off, as usual, in the middle of a conversation. No ‘right, well…see you’, or ‘bye then’. People are strange.

Anyway, it was only going to be half an hour, then an hour, but it ended up an hour and a half. I didn’t keep extending it because the money was good, because it wasn’t – it was below the average. I just couldn’t be bothered packing up and setting up somewhere else, so I put up with all the noise and buses: at one point there were 6, all in a line. I stopped playing as they all crept by at 1 mile an hour.

At 5:30, just after Jesu, Joy Of etc., while I was tuning down for The Rain Song, the bloke from C & H came out to bring in the sign. He said, ‘The Rain Song – that’s in your repertoire, can you do that one?’ (Ha!) I said I was just about to do that one. Now, I pondered this coincidence and arrived at the conclusion that he’s heard me so many times, his brain is conditioned to hearing some things in a certain order, like the order I ALWAYS do some of the songs in. Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring is ALWAYS followed by The Rain Song. So he’s unconsciously expecting it, which is why it must have popped into his head: he’s anticipating the next song. A bit Pavlovian, methinks…perhaps.

I’m booked in at Chichester tomorrow – with a 10 minute break every half hour, as instructed/ordered by the council, who are ‘cracking down’ on all buskers because the people in the shops are fed up hearing non-stop playing for hours on end…according to the woman on the booking line.

Earnings: £12.53p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 596

Diary Of A Busker Day 596 Sunday July 20th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:13-5:13pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:25-6:10pm).

I think I’m usually pretty polite with foreign visitors, and if I’m in a really good mood (unusual), I’ll even stop playing if they interrupt me to ask where the bloody cathedral is. But some guy came up and just said, ‘Can you play Go Johnny Go?’, and I thought, ‘I’m not going to stop playing whatever it was, and go into some rubbish Chuck Berry riff, no matter how legendary they are. So he stood by while I ignored his request, then he shoved his phone at my face to show me a live shot of Mr. Berry, playing Go Johnny Go, no doubt. I ignored him, kept on playing and he went off. Some people! – and I bet he was thinking that about me, too! I mean, I might have been more polite if he’d been, but not if I’m in one of these depressed moods.

Song Of The Day: the zither-style Third Man arrangement, because during the performance – if I can be so bold as to call it that, I had to stop TWICE, to sell CDs. That’s right: before I got through the song, I’d got rid of TWO CDs, and the £8 ones, to boot!

It’s Sunday, so the bloke from the Gospel Hall came out with his table of pamphlets. He was there on my right for the whole second hour of my stint. Near the end, he came up to me (I’d done his favourite – While My Guitar…earlier) and asked if I knew Rob Berry. I said I sure did. He said, ‘Yeah, he used to be a session man in London. He played on Keith Richards’s solo album’. I was impressed. I said, ‘Really? I didn’t know that’. My man said, ‘Yeah, that’s what he told me, anyway’. Then he invited me in for a cup of tea – this was at 5 o’clock. I thanked him, but remembering the awful brew they brought out to me before, I declined.

Then he couldn’t resist – he tried it on: the religion. He picked up a pamphlet – ‘Would you like to have a look at this?’ Me – ‘Oh, what’s that?’ He – ‘On Christianity’. ‘Oh no, I’ve got my own beliefs. There’s other worlds out there’, I said. ‘What, like this?’, he said. ‘No, all different. All different life forms’, I said, and I was going to start on about The Kingsclere Group when he said, ‘Right, well I’ll leave it to you’. A wise decision, God-man. I was going to go home after packing up but decided to try up at Pavilion, although I knew there was no way it was going to be a repeat of The Golden Day that was yesterday.

Well, I don’t know what gives people the right to think they can come up and say anything. A bloke about 60 was sitting in Posh BrYan’s usual seat, and he came up after the Gymnopedie, contributed and said, ‘I saw you two years ago and you weren’t very good. You’re alot better now – must be all the practice’. Now, I always thought I was pretty consistent out here, or maybe I can’t tell the difference as I hear myself all the time, everyday almost. I did grill him about it – like was he sure it was me? but he insisted it was. He said I was on the High Street and I was reading the music from a book on the ground (sounds like me). I wonder what I was doing – he couldn’t remember. Might have been Vincent, or La Paloma, Georgia On My Mind…Take Five, Cavatina even.

Then when I was packing up, a bloke came up from outside The Eclipse and gave me £5 in coins, for which I thanked him (profusely). He was Scottish and his name was Keith. He said, ‘No, thank YOU. I was thinking – reflecting on busking’. Me – ‘Are you thinking of doing it?’ Keith – ‘No, I was saying to my wife, you know, why spend all that time practising in your flat, house…bedsit, when you can play out here?’ Me – ‘Well, I do spend alot of time practising – not out here…does it sound like it?’ Keith – ‘No, I wasn’t saying you sound like you’re practising – no, don’t get me wrong…it’s all about giving enjoyment utills’ – he pronounced it you-tills. Me, not knowing what the hell he’s on about – ‘Utills?’ Keith – ‘Yeah, a measure of enjoyment. Like when you have a beer, you have five utills, then after another, you have six utills’. Me – ‘Six? – don’t you have ten?’ Keith – ‘No, it doesn’t work like that. It’s the first beer that’s the best’. Me – ‘Oh right, I see’. Keith – ‘Yeah, it’s like a…line on a graph, you know, it steadily decreases in utills’. Me – ‘Like an exponential growth curve…but in reverse’. ‘Keith – ‘Yeah, so after a whole lot more beers, you’re life’s not worth living – you’ve wasted a whole evening’. ‘Oh right…yeah, I see’. Indeed.

Earnings: £41.91p (Including 2 CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 595

Diary Of A Busker Day 595 Saturday, July 19th 2014 Winchester (1. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 2:08-4:20pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 4:47-5:05pm, 3. Opposite Bath Travel, Time: 5:17-6:25pm).

An incredible day, money-wise! If only every day was like this. I started off round the corner from the Vodafone spot because Sid the flute Drongo was sitting just up from there, breathing into his flute. I got a nice comment after Albatross from a guy who’d been listening across the way. He came over, contributed and said, ‘Very nice, better than the original’.

Also, for the first time, I spoke to a man who I’ve seen around for awhile. He must be the shortest man in town – not a dwarf or midget (I don’t think), just really short!, about 65, I’d say. He came up and started talking about another busker who he thought was very good. He said he had a P.A. and backing tracks. I said I didn’t really agree with all that backing track stuff (unless you’re an opera singer like Demelza). Then this incredibly short guy says, ‘I’d like to hear you sing’, so I said, ‘No you wouldn’t!’, and I said I just played instrumental guitar stuff out here. Anyway, I couldn’t handle lugging all that P.A. and microphone stuff around.

I attempt – and no too badly – The Sweeney, a couple of times, with the volume turned down a bit, of course. That was OK but one that wasn’t was Dixie McGuire. The verses are always difficult: my thumb seems to want to do only about half of the bass notes, which is no good. The middle was OK, though. So, a long session: 2 hours plus. I wasn’t sure whether to come home – there was about £30 in the bucket, which was pretty good, so I thought about it while I was having a toilet break…and afterwards while I was drinking my squash, by which time, I’d recovered, so I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll do another one, up at Pavilion, and make it up to 3 hours’.

And it was a good job I did, because what happened was, after I’d done 10 minutes, a man came up from outside The Eclipse, said he was Ben, and offered me £20 to come down and play for his table! (I initially thought he was going to tell me to shut up!) Well, I thought about it for 10 seconds – during which he actually gave me the £20 note, which sealed it, I suppose…I mean I couldn’t give it back once he’d given it to me, could I? So I finished up what I was playing, did another one – the 1st Gnossienne, and packed up.

So that was probably the shortest set (lots of short stuff today) ever. Jeremy, who was sitting outside the pizza place came up and asked me what was going on. He probably thought the bloke had asked me to shut up, too. When I told him and showed him the £20 note, he said, ‘Oh well, yes, you’ve got to do that, then’. I do. I mean, that’s what I’m out here to do: make some money.

So I packed up, put the amp on the bike and went down to the pub, about 30 yards down the road. But I didn’t want to set up too near as there were other tables, and I don’t know if anyone else wanted to hear me(!), so I set up right next to the road, just in the shadows. Ben said I could play as long as I wanted: 20 minutes, half an hour. I ended up doing an hour, with the bucket out in front, and at the end there was about £20 in there, including a £5 note.

There was only one bad moment. About 20 minutes in, during La Vie En Rose, I thought I might have to stop playing because, while putting my finger flat across two strings, they suddenly really hurt, and every time I did the bit, it was the same – very painful. In fact, I couldn’t play the bit, it hurt so much. Also, I wasn’t sure when a similar bit would come up in some of the other songs. I’d only know when it was too late! So that freaked me out a bit. And also, I didn’t want to have to stop after 20 minutes, as he’d already given me the £20.

Fortunately I got through it. It was quite funny, though. As the hour progressed and the sun was going down, I kept having to move back towards the road, to stay in the shade, so in the end, I was actually in the road! Ben also bought me a pint, which I had beside me for half an hour, which I had at the end. ‘Down in one’, said some wise-guy at one of the other tables. And when I went over to tell Ben I was stopping, he gave me another note – a £10 one!

So, all totalled, I’d done about 3 and a half hours: no wonder the finger was objecting. That was probably at the 3 hour mark. It knows! So, with Ben’s £30 and the £20 in the bucket, it was £50 for an hour and 15 minutes, meaning there must have been around £40 from the 1st session: very good. When I said goodbye to Ben, I said, ‘So, same time tomorrow?’! Money-wise, unbelievable. Like I said, if only every day…

Earnings: £93.19p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 594

Diary Of A Busker Day 594 Friday July 18th 2014 Romsey (Romsey Market, Time: 10:15-12:25pm).

I decided to do what Bertie said, and get out of town for a few hours: get back to Romsey where I haven’t been for ages…

On arrival at Romsey Market, I said hello to Bertie and his mate, who also has a stall – he has one in Winchester, as well – I see him there all the time. Bertie said I might want to set up near him, in between his stall and the road, but I decided against that as I’d be practically in the road and there isn’t a curb and someone in a car could easily bump me off!

I started with Albatross, after which a young bloke who sells eggs opposite – he has a T-shirt that says EGGMAN – shouted out, ‘We’ve missed you!’ I was quite nervous today, probably as I hadn’t been here for so long, and messed up a couple of things: When I’m Sixty-Four – which should be easy, and The Rain Song – I just couldn’t remember one bit. I had to stop altogether, after trying 3 times, and tune up to normal tuning. All that effort tuning down and I mess it up!

I sold 2 CDs, though, and for the, by now usual £8 reduced from £9, and both buyers were old guys. The second guy was telling me he still sleeps in the room he was born in, and he’s lived here all his life. After the chat, he went off but came back 5 minutes later to ask if I’d had lunch. If I hadn’t, then he could give me some at his house which was nearby! I thanked him but said I wasn’t having my usual lunch break (in front of the Abbey) as I was going to play right through, which was true.

There were a couple of 5 minute breaks, one of which I spent talking to this old guy, and they were long enough for me to ‘recoup’ and start up again, without taking half an hour off in between 2 hour-long sets. In fact, at the halfway mark, Bertie put a cup of coffee and 2 biscuits next to me, and also some coinage – I’m not sure if it was his way of saying ‘take a break’! Anyway, for him, I’d re-learnt The Sweeney Theme, which I’d been doing for a couple of hours last night at home. So I did that for him twice – not too loudly as it’s all over the place. I need to rehearse it a bit more! But I did the easiest bit – the intro – on it’s own a few more times.

I also did Danny Boy, which was OK, especially considering my somewhat fragile mental state. At the end, I packed up, went over to say goodbye to Bertie, and told him about the old guy who asked if I wanted to go to his place for lunch. Bertie – who thinks and speaks really quickly, and who’s quite a comic (or thinks he is) said, ‘You can look at it two ways. Either he’s got loads of all the best guitars in the world and he’ll let you have a play on them all…and give you lunch and a plectrum or pick, or he’ll fuck you up the arse’. Oh yes, it was good to get out of Winchester. I’ll have to come back soon.

There was unfortunately, one offender. A bloke walked by with his girlfriend, and he was holding a £20 note which he lowered as if to put it in the bucket, but then lifted his arm and carried on. A dick.

Earnings: £41.90p – £6.30p (bus) = £35.30p (Including 2 CDs) profit.


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Diary Of A Busker Day 593

Diary Of A Busker Day 593 Thursday July 17th 2014 Winchester (Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 3:20-5:30pm).

A very hot day – about 85 in the old measurement, I reckon, and so I’ve donned the summer outfit: stone (light beige) trousers and matching jacket bought from Primark about three years ago, and my white Peter England shirt from Shillong, in deepest darkest India, also about three years ago.

I feel benevolent today, so I give the ice-cream vendor bloke a break and set up around the corner from the usual spot where I’m blasting practically right at him. It’s another slow start, though: 4 songs before any coinage. And I mess up Cannonball Rag, which I’m trying to resurrect after picking up a couple of fast runs from an old Thom Bresh video I saw this morning.

The money picks up OK, though. Most of it’s from the foreign students, of which there are about a million. A girl bought a £9 CD, but she got it for £8 as she originally wanted the no longer in existence £5 one. Then, two girls walked past, towards the cathedral, stopped, had a discussion then one came back and put a £10 note in the bucket! I couldn’t believe it! She said, ‘Nice song’, and the song – or rather Song of The Day, Girl.

The man who runs the posh Woodruffs card shop walked by. In the morning, I went there to buy a card for Mother Naylor’s 79th birthday, and I picked one with a picture from 1935. Anyway, when I went to pay for it, the guy didn’t want any money from me. He wanted to give it to me because he liked my playing, and he said people have commented on it, while they’re in the shop, which is halfway between the Pavilion and Gieves & Hawkes spots. Well, I couldn’t believe it – a £2.50 card and he gives it to me. It’s a shame the off-license isn’t like that! Hmm…I hope he was telling the truth and he didn’t give it to me because he thought I was poor.

So, a good day, and made good mainly by the foreign students, and mainly the girls. When I told Doll, she said they probably liked my summer attire. Ha!

Earnings: £40.20p (Including 1 CD)

The couple selling hot dogs had a sign: GIANT SAUREZ DOG – £5 – IT’S A BIG BITE

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Diary Of A Busker Day 592

Diary Of A Busker Day 592 Wednesday July 16th 2014 (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:51-2:51pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3-4:20pm).

An amusing incident occurred at the first session. When I started playing, the Pavilion door was wide open but when I looked up after having my head down for not more than a minute, it was shut! I didn’t see who shut it, but there was only one person in the shop and it WASN’T the dark-haired Bitch – it was the blonde one: the blonde-haired Bitch. So maybe she doesn’t appreciate the finer points of fingerstyle guitar, either…or maybe she does!

However, a few minutes later, after I’d started Albatross, the door was opened by the blonde one, who then smiled at me, so I thought, ‘What’s going on here?’ And then, another woman – a customer – walked by the door, looked at me and gave me the thumbs-up. I reckon she must have said, ‘Oh, I like that song’, or something like that, to the blonde who must have then thought, ‘Oh well, I’ll open the door’ – ha! That’s my theory, anyway…and I’m sticking to it.

Actually, there was another almost amusing incident. A man with his small son contributed, saying, ‘Oh, what’s the one you play? – the lost man?’ I corrected him – ‘The Third Man, you mean’. Mind, I sometimes feel like The Lost Man…! The Third Man played by The Lost Man.

Fifteen minutes before the hour, the usual happens. A van – a Europcar – pulls up right in front of me. The bloke gets out, goes in a shop, comes out, gets back in the van – so I think he’s going to go, but then he gets out again, opens a side door, gets out a parcel and disappears into the alley, presumably on the way to the High Street. So I play until the hour’s up then pack up when, as usual, the bloke comes back and drives off!

There are two blokes refurbishing the Oxfam shop, opposite. They’re banging and drilling and sawing away. They were here yesterday, as well, and I don’t think they’re big fans of the fingerstyle technique, somehow. They seem to glare at me, as they did yesterday. (Or maybe I’m paranoid…) It’s too bad: we’ve all got a job to do.

When I was packing up, a man came up as I was rubbing my hands and said, ‘I suppose your hands are tired, playing here all day’. I said it was OK and I was going home now. He ignored that and said, ‘My hands are strong…play chess (do you need strong hands to pick up a bishop…ooh, er)…karate, holding things’. ‘Oh, right’, I said. He went on – ‘Most people, when they hear karate, they move back, but karate’s about – you wait for the other person to attack’. Me – ‘Oh yeah, right…I see’. ‘Anyway, I’ve only got 50p’, he says. ‘You don’t have to give me anything, you know’, I say. He, walking off, says, ‘Well, I’d give a week’s wage if I could’. Me – ‘Thank you, that’s very nice of you’.

Earnings: £21.47p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 591

Diary Of A Busker Day 591 Tuesday July 15th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:18-2:18pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:25-3pm).

Down at Market Street near Vodafone is Caroline Dexter. I know this because she’s got her name on a case of CDs. She strums and sings – and quite loudly, too – or is it she’s just got her PA speaker a bit loud. Anyway, when I start up around the corner, I can hear her inbetween songs, but not when I’m playing, so it’s OK.

A girl and her father(?) walk by. The girl is wearing a Beatles Abbey Road T-shirt. I happen to be playing Here Comes The Sun, an extremely famous Beatles’ song FROM THAT ALBUM. Nothing, not even a glance. Famed local opera singer and colleague of Cleo Laine, Mr. W. Kendall, cycles by on his old Raleigh and HE does not acknowledge me, either. Weird. Maybe he’s seen my almost mint condition 1982 Raleigh just behind and to the side of me, and is jealous because my bike looks better than his!

Song Of The Day: Albatross, as it gets no less than FOUR donations. Apart from that, the session was a bit slow…after which I bombed down the road…and wouldn’t you know it, that Beatles Abbey Road T-shirted girl walks by again…and again, nothing!

Things were again going a bit slow, then Bertie The Flowerman comes by for a chat. Bertie – ‘When are you coming to Romsey?’ Me – ‘Now!’ Bertie – ‘Come to Romsey on Friday – it’s busy now’. Me – ‘I will, Bertie, this Friday…no, next week. I’ve got a lesson this Friday’. Bertie – ‘Yeah, come down’. I assure him I will. I keep forgetting about Romsey – I really should go, and soon. Actually, if I go in the morning, this Friday, I’d be back by one o’clock – that’s well before the lesson. I point to my bike and tell Bertie all about it: 1982, a replacement for my late-lamented stolen 1950s one. ‘I like it’, Bertie says, very approvingly. Yes, I must get myself along to Romsey.

Five foreign tourists – middle-aged women – all stop to have their photo taken with me, and donate a combined total of not more than 25p.

Philip walked by wearing his now omnipresent Yellow Submarine T-shirt (what’s all this with these Beatles T-shirts?)…he gave me a few coins – I said he didn’t need to, and he said, ‘Nonsense! You’d do the same for me’, and I said, ‘Yeah, you’re right’. I told him he looked well – he did. He said he was definitely feeling quite strong today. After he left, off towards the Guildhall, I went into Gymnopedie No.1. and he turned and waved. Always a nice touch, whenever anyone does that.

At the end – it wasn’t a long session, due to a lesson at 4, Delia shuffles up. I always know it’s her. From the eye’s corner, I can see a very short shape moving slowly towards me… She does her usual: claps at the end of the song then gets a pound from her old tin. She’s got her trolley loaded with big Volvic bottles – ‘I can’t drink tap water – it’s got chlorine, it gives me upset tummy, so I buy Volvic for my coffee and tea’, which I think she’s told me before…several times.

When I stand up to put the guitar away, I really see how short she is! I mean, I’m usually looking UP at her (just about) when I’m on the stool. She says she used to be 5’2″ but she’s shrinking. I say I’m probably shorter than I was 10 years ago – I don’t know if that’s true, though. I think I said it to make her feel better! She says when she’s on the bus, she always knocks on the window when she passes me at this spot. I say she’ll have to knock louder. I never see her!

Earnings: £14.95p


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Diary Of A Busker Day 590

Diary Of A Busker Day 590 Sunday July 13th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:38-5:12pm).

A mammoth – even marathon – set, down the arse-end. This was mainly because when I came into town, there wasn’t a space anywhere. The order of play from The Butter Cross down: The Butter Cross – Young Sam. The cathedral grounds entrance near Pavilion – two young strummers (close your door on them, you bitch!)…as I cycled down from there, poor Rick Tarrant was sitting outside The Eclipse because as long as someone’s up at the Pavilion spot – his favourite, he can’t set up. Around the corner from Vodafone – a puppeteer. And at the alleyway opposite Marks & Spencer – Frank. So, choc-a-bloc, as the saying goes.

At Oxfam, three old blokes stop – not to contribute, but to admire and ask questions about my new old bike parked against the wall next to me. One bloke said he ‘saves’ old bikes like mine. They took some photos of it, then, as an afterthought, put 10p in the bucket, as they stopped me from playing for 5 minutes. Now, 10p is well under the average if I work it out as £10 per hour…I don’t know how many minutes 10p works out for but it’s definitely less than 5! Actually, I didn’t mind: I’d done 45 minutes and wanted a short break.

A bit later, during When I’m Sixty-Four, Frank walked by on his way home and he said, ‘You can play that for me in about 4 months time!’ So, he’s 63 (obviously) – he must be the oldest busker in town.

Once again, I lie about the £5 CD, feel guilty, and let one go for £8. In fact, I lied twice. The second time was to a woman who was sitting with her boyfriend or husband over the road outside Cafe Blanc. She came across, wanted a £5 CD, I said she could have the £9 one for £8, and she could take it over the road to peruse it before she – or the boyfrend/husband – bought it. She did, and came back with a £10 note and DIDN’T WANT ANY CHANGE! She put the note in the bucket, saying, ‘We’ve really enjoyed listening to you, anyway’. In fact, they were there well over an hour…which wasn’t as long as one of the Drongos, who was there for my entire duration. Firstly, on the bench opposite, then hanging around the Gospel Hall doorway on my right.

Near the end, there was a man who came out of the Gospel Hall and was handing out flyers. He was doing it for a long time, then he came over and I thought he was going to ask me to move, I mean I’d been there more than 2 hours. But all it was was a request – for While My Guitar Gently Weeps! So I did it after tuning up from the Yellow Bird/Wheels section. I did it as the last song, and he must have been pleased – it brought forth clapping from him! and also from another man across the road AND a table of FOUR outside Cafe Blanc. Cheers! (I reckon the first guy was the catalyst).

I forgot to say, I did Danny Boy for the first time in ages and it got a couple of donations, although I really messed up one bit.

Earnings: £38.80p (Including 2 CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 589

Diary Of A Busker Day 589 Saturday July 12th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 12:58-2:58pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:07-3:54pm).

Young Sam’s back in town and at his usual Butter Cross residence. In fact, he’s not yet set up as there are 3 people playing across the way. Down at Vodafone is that weirdo John. I have a chat about him to Sam – I tell him about what happened the other day, and Sam also thinks there’s something not quite right about him. He says John’s come up to him a few times and definitely been a bit odd. I say I think he’s left home, going by the huge rucksack he always seems to have with him. I know he was having problems with his landlord – I remember him saying awhile back – so I suppose I’ve put two and two together…who knows. But I’m not going to ask him! Sam says that if he’s left home, he should get away from here and travel around a bit and not get into a rut, which is maybe what’s happened. Again, who knows…

I set up around the corner. It’s very busy, noisy, and a hot day, and of course, this is the one place where I play where there’s no shade! A man sitting with his wife outside The Eclipse comes up, donates and says, ‘I read an article in the Chronicle about a year ago where you said alot of people listened (they’ve got no choice!) but didn’t give you any money, so…there, I’ve done it!’ I said, ‘A year ago?’ He said, ‘Yes’. He’s wrong – I said, ‘That was three years ago’, which it was, and I’m amazed anyone still remembers it!

Near the end, His Poshness of BrYan, who’s been sitting at his usual table the whole time I’ve been playing, comes up and contributes. I thank him and remark on the warm weather and that I almost took off my jacket. BrYan says, ‘Well, you see all these people walking round, you know, wearing vests, with tattoos, and you think “We are an ugly lot”. People say to me, “You always look so smart”, and I say, “When we wake up in the morning, we’ve all got to put clothes on, and it’s just as easy to put nice clothes on as to put bad clothes on, you know”‘. Indeed, my Posh friend, and it certainly is warm, but I wouldn’t go as far as to remove the jacket, and I say this to BrYan (not emphasising the Y, of course). BrYan says, ‘I couldn’t agree more. You’re a man after my own heart’.

BrYan now wants to talk about money – ‘How are you doing? – well? I could hear the clunk of change from over there’. I say, ‘It’s not too bad but it hasn’t clunked for about fifteen minutes, apart from your kind donation, so I think I might have outstayed my welcome’. Indeed, but I’d been there nigh on two hours, so after I’d done the two hours, I left…

…to do a shorter session down the road, via the backstreet…and I sold a CD! The lucky purchaser, a man, came up with a £5 note – for a £5 CD, of course, but as I (but not he) knows, I ran out of them a few weeks ago. So I lied and said, ‘Ah, now I’ve’, and he pre-empted me – ‘You’re going to tell me you’ve run out of them’. I had to tell him he was right…but he was very welcome to have a look at these other ones, for £9…and then because I was feeling guilty about lying, I said he could have one for £8! Which he did. But the whole lying thing is starting to get to me. The first time it happened, it wasn’t a lie, as I really had just sold the last one, but I’ve done it about three times now…and it’s definitely a lie now! I wonder how long I can keep it up. Of course, I could change the sign to: CDs – £5/£10, and then offer the £10 for £9…

Earnings: £40.42p (Including 1 CD)



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Diary Of A Busker Day 588

Diary Of A Busker Day 588 Thursday July 10th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:15-2:49pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:02-3:42pm, 3. Opposite Bellis, Time: 5:52-6:07pm, 4. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 6:15-6:55pm).

Unbelievable – the door of Pavilion stayed wide open for 26 minutes! – until California Girls, when The Bitch had obviously had enough. And then, as if in cahoots, a bloke pulls up and parks a van that had Yodel written on it, right in front of me. So that was that. Also, all I made was £2 – terrible, so I packed up and rode off. Such a nice day, too. What a shame people are so mean…in this one-horse town.

I pulled up (in my trusty steed – the ‘new’ old Raleigh) at the Vodafone corner, and spotted Frank a bit further up, near The Pentice, with his dogs and cart. So I went up to find out what he was doing. He said he was playing there but then someone in the phone shop behind him had come out and moaned to him. I said he could set up at Vodafone if he wanted, but he said he’d been there two hours in the morning. Poor Frank. Poor Vodafone people.

Anyway, I said I was going to have a look up at The Butter Cross. There were a couple of young blokes there an hour ago, but if they weren’t there, I’d set up, and if they were there, I’d head down the arse-end, to Oxfam. Well, they were there, so I headed down to Oxfam via the back street, which took about 20 seconds on the bike!

Things were slow there, as well, but I did meet Harry The Dutchman again. He was smiling but he said, ‘It’s getting more difficult’. I wasn’t sure what he meant: life I suppose. I said, ‘You made it back from Holland, then’, and he said, ‘Yes, a week I was there’. Then he notices my jacket and says he wants to get one like it. He’s got a beige one that zips up but he says it’s not quite warm enough. I say I got mine (originally from Moss, according to the label) across the road at Oxfam, about a year ago. But there are always a few light linen jackets around the charity shops. I said he was looking well and he said, ‘Well, all that glitters…you know, isn’t…what do they say?’ ‘All that glitters isn’t gold’, I said.

Harry said he’d been trying to find a place that sells prunes (I knew what he was saying, this time!), so I said they should have some in Sainsbury’s, round the corner, or Marks & Spencer…but then again, they might not: they’re not big shops. Harry said he thought they had some in a covered market somewhere around here. After a bit, he got out two 50p coins but he couldn’t bend down to put them in the bucket. I said he didn’t have to give me anything and he leaned in close – ‘It might encourage people to do the same’, he said. I said, ‘I wouldn’t bank on that!’ Then he said he had to go back up the road, and leaned in again – ‘My…best half’ – he’s going to meet his wife!

Then, after shaking my hand and saying he hoped to see me again soon – I said, ‘Of course you will. I’ll probably pass you on my bike. I’m leaving in a minute, he was off. I started The Third Man, looked after Harry – I knew he’d turn around – then he carried on, stepping in time to the music…slowly, very slowly disappearing…then he turned again and waved his cane so I held my guitar up – which I never do, still playing The Third Man. What a guy.

Intermission: I had to be at home at 4 o’clock to hear a repeat of The Flash radio show that played The Photograph on Sunday, which I missed as I was coming back from Basingstoke when it was on.

Back in town, I returned (to the scenes of my earlier crimes) and set up near The Butter Cross. Not many about…got through three songs and then that horrible Drongo (ex-prostitute?) woman turned up and sat on the bench opposite. I tried to ignore her but she’s just bloody horrible: shouting, being generally obnoxious, then I’d had enough and packed up.

During the last song, Big Issue Simon was down at the bin, picking stuff out and throwing it to the pigeon nearby. While I was packing up, he comes up and, referring to the Drongo woman, who’d now been joined by a man, said, ‘I don’t know why they want to be like that: sitting in front of you while you’re trying to do your work. They just buy a bottle of wine and mess it up for everyone – hassle everyone’. I said, ‘You’re not with them, are you?’, and he was really offended – ‘Me? No! Didn’t you see me come up the road? I’m diggin’ around the bins for the pigeon’. I said, ‘Sorry. I’m glad you’re not with them, she’s awful – I can’t handle it. I’m going right down the other end now’.

Simon then starts talking about the pigeons – by this time there were three – who were still feeding off whatever it was he’d got out of the bin. The conversation: Simon says (there’s a rhyme there!), ‘Those two big ones – I call them Mr. and Mrs. Pidgewick’. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Pidgewick?’, I say. He says, ‘See that little one?’ ‘Yeah’. ‘I know where that one was born’. ‘You know where it was born?’ ‘Yeah, round the corner. I was actually there when it was being born. His name’s Earl – well that’s what I call him’. ‘Earl, right’. ‘Yeah, and see the one with the white tail?’ ‘Yeah’. ‘That’s his mother’. (The bloke even knows where the pigeon’s were born!)

Then he says, ‘Did you hear about Bible John?’ ‘No’, I say. ‘Do you know him?’ he says. ‘No’. ‘Oh well, it won’t mean nothin”. ‘Right…no I don’t know him…why?’ ‘He died. Yeah, that’s what we called him – Bible John’. ‘Oh right’.

I didn’t go down to Oxfam, I went round the corner to Pavilion, which was closed by then. So the door was shut, but not on me! It was pretty slow and I got quite depressed, but I managed 40 minutes and did get one nice compliment: from a couple who were sitting outside The Eclipse, down the road. They gave £1.85p, and the man said, ‘You were very good – we appreciate it. The night needed it!’

Earnings: First half: £6.82p + Second half: £8.80p (+ one 5 cent euro coin) = £15.62p.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 587

Diary Of A Busker Day 587 Wednesday July 9th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite The Body Shop, Time: 1:30-2pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:07-3:37pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 4-5pm).

It got off to a depressing start. Half an hour – that’s all I could take – smack dab in the middle of the High Street, and all I got was £1.73p. While I was packing up, Mr. Rutter walked by with an old lady – his wife, I’m assuming, or a friend (not his mother – she’d be 100, at least!) He stopped to say he’d ‘just been to an amazing concert: young musicians…’ All I could think of saying was, ‘Good. Better than being out here’, and with that, he walked off, poor bloke. I must remember to control my annoyance/anger, and not take it out on old people innocently passing by and/or remarking on how good someone else is.

One of the two coinage donors was that old woman whose name I still don’t know. The one who was going on about that song – Never Smile At A Crocodile, the other day. Well, she mentions it again, and I had to listen politely as she contributed. But that was just after I started, so I was in a good mood…especially after a lady complimented me, not on my playing but on my bike! Anyway, this crocodile song’s from Peter Pan, which, weirdly enough(!), I’m not familiar with. But I said I’d try and remember to look it up.

So, after a quick getaway, I started up at Gieves & Hawkes…after Wouldn’t It Be Nice, a couple in their 60s donated, the woman saying she’d seen The Beach Boys at Hampton Court not long ago. The other day, I was looking up who was still in them, so I asked her how many of the original ones were there (of the ones that aren’t dead, of course). I said I thought it was probably Mike Love, Bruce Johnson and Al Jardine. She didn’t know, so I said that Mike Love usually wears a baseball cap, and she said, ‘Oh, I think they were ALL wearing baseball caps!’, which really made me laugh, but she said, ‘They were amazing. I was dancing like I was sixteen again’. So there you go.

I sell a CD! It’s to one of a small group of foreign language students who passed me about five times, going in and out of the cathedral grounds. It was a boy wearing dark glasses and a hoodie: an appearance which quite unsettled me, actually, but he was OK. There you go (again), you can’t tell a book… He came up during Yellow Bird and just said, ‘CD’, so I explained I’d run out of the cheaper ones and showed him the £9 ones. He gave me a £10 note and refused the pound coin change. Well, the sale changed everything. I mean, an instant £8.50p profit in the bucket! It made the day. In fact, I stayed there an hour and a half because of that, during which time Mr. Rutter walked by, ignoring me. (‘You can talk to me now, I just sold a CD so I’m happy!’)

After the toilet break, coming out of the alleyway (that sounds like I went to the toilet there), I walked past an angry man on the phone – ‘No, I don’t want YOUR people phoning ME! I want to talk to the child protection officer NOW!’ Oh dear, there will never be peace in the world…

Hour THREE – I’m being quite strict in my timings today – was down at Oxfam, where I haven’t been for a bit: June 29th to be exact, and where I was still in an OK mood, due to the CD sale. Even the buses droning by didn’t get to me like they usually do. And I had a surprise while transferring the funds from the bucket to the new coinage receptacle: a little blue-ish square. A four-times folded fiver (serious alliteration, there) – who put that in? – I’ve got no idea, but thanks anyway, whoever you are.

Earnings: £41.76p (Including one CD and a 5 cent euro coin)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 586

Diary Of A Busker Day 586 Sunday July 6th 2014 Basingstoke (1. Location 2: The Malls, Central Square, by red planter, Time: 1-2pm, 2. Location 3: Outside Halifax, Wote Street, Time: 3-4pm).

Day 2 of the Basingstoke Busking Festival. On the way to the first spot, I came across one-man band Ian Kimber, playing just inside the entrance to Festival Place: Location 1, in other words. In fact, he was just finishing. I asked how he’d done and he said ‘really well’. He held up a big black plastic bucket, and said he’d got about £35! I had a quick look and I could see a £5 note in there. I asked how he’d done yesterday: not very well, he said. He was playing outside a Greek hairdresser and the guy came out and gave him a(nother) fiver, so Ian said, ‘Is that for me to stop playing?’

I noticed he played a 12-string guitar so I said they were my specialty. He then told me about a friend who has loads of really expensive guitars: Gibsons, Gretsches, Fenders, an old Framus – ‘He’s a professional musician, you know…really good’. I had to think quick! – ‘Does he have a Rickenbacker 12-string?’ He was sure he didn’t. Bingo! ‘That’s something I’ve got that he hasn’t, then’, I said in a smug obnoxious way!

Where Ian was, you could easily hear the act in Location 2, in the big open place, which was where I was headed. It was the Sing For The Community Choir, and I think they were getting on Ian’s nerves a bit. After I said goodbye, and got another (better) photo of him, I donated a pound, and went on my way. When I got there, the choir was finishing their last song, and it’s a song all choirs consisting of mainly middle-aged women do. Namely Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen.

While I was setting up, one of the organisers came up. The same woman who I talked to yesterday about maybe swapping this spot with someone else. She said they hadn’t seen the guy yet, so I said it was OK: I’d face the benches and see how it went. Well, two minutes later, she comes up with the bloke who says he doesn’t mind if I want to switch with him! And I’m just about to start playing, so my brain’s geared up for doing that. Anyway, first I said OK, then I thought ‘Oh, I don’t know’. In short, I couldn’t decide. In the end I said I might as well stay where I was, which must have puzzled them a bit.

So I did the hour and it was better than yesterday: I got about £9. Now, knowing I had an hour to kill before set 2, I had an idea. I thought I’d walk to the other end of the mall, to the Old Town – where I’d played yesterday, and walk up Wote Street and film it, because I thought it would be a good video for Blue World, which, after almost 15 years, I suddenly thought should have a video! I don’t know why it occurred to me to have a video for that one but who knows why these things come to us…

Anyway, I get there, switch on the camera and start walking up Wote Street, which was pretty dead and I was thinking, ‘Oh dear, this is a bit boring’. Then, I felt a spray on the side of my face, so I turned and there was a yellow bin moving about! A joke bin, spraying people with water and making silly honking noises, and I thought, ‘I’ve got it – I’m going to film that, instead!’ So I stood at the side of the street and that’s what I did. I filmed it 3 times, for 4 minutes each time, as that’s about how long the song is. Near me, there was a man wearing a hat, and at one point I said to him, ‘Is there a bloke in there, or is it remote control?’, and he said ‘Well, what do YOU think?’, which I thought was a bit odd.

After I’d done the filming, I started walking back to the mall…Ian was playing in the place where I did my first spot, yesterday, and this is where I was due at 3 o’clock. But first I had to get my guitar from the first place – there was a vacant shop where people could leave their things – then come back here. Anyway, this bloke in the hat comes running after me, and it was he who was operating the bin! He had a remote control he was operating behind his back! (I was wondering about that) Anyway, I told him I thought it would be perfect for this really old song of mine. One sequence in particular, had a boy and girl running around the bin, being sprayed, laughing and generally having a good time. And what was great was, near the end, the bin disappears up the street with the two kids following it. Perfect for the end of the song.

The guy said he’d been doing it for 16 years, and he’d got the most fun from the reactions of the people who were annoyed by it: being sprayed, I reckon, and he especially liked watching the people who were enjoying watching the people who were annoyed by it. I said when it was done, I’d send him a link to the video.

By the time I’d got my stuff and come back, it was 10 to 3, so I stood near Jess who was sitting on the concrete steps ‘policing’ the pitch, as she said. At the end of his set, Ian dragged his stuff to one side while I set up. Of course, during the break, all the people who’d been watching him, disappeared! And it didn’t get much better. In fact, at one point, at about the half-time mark, it was only Jess there! I made sure I captured this desolate image on film: vacant concrete steps with her on the far right. She came over and said, ‘I’m sorry there’s not more people’. I said it wasn’t her fault. Actually, money-wise, I’d made about the same as the first place, with all those hundreds of peoploids walking by. So it just goes to show. Unfortunately, after the train fare, the profit was £10.69p. But I got a great video out of it. A real stroke of luck, that was.

Earnings: £19.59p – £8.90p = £10.69p (profit)

The video for Blue World: https://youtu.be/r9Fx1NfM0UI

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Diary Of A Busker Day 585

Diary Of A Busker Day 585 Saturday July 5th 2014 Basingstoke: Basingstoke Busking Festival (1. Location 3: outside Halifax, Wote Street, Time: 11-11:45am, 2. Location 2: The Malls, Central Square by red planter, Time: 12-1:00pm).

The day of the Basingstoke Busking Festival. The first spot they’ve got me down for is in the Old Town. A young lady, Jess, is holding a pole with some sort of a flag on top. She gives me a form to sign, then I set up while listening to a bunch of people (unseen) somewhere nearby singing Old Lang Syne! It sounds like it’s from a pub, so I ask Jess if there’s one around – she thinks there are a couple. Just across from me, and near one of the entrances to the huge shopping mall, are some benches. Jess says, ‘you might get a few listening there’.

Well, when I start, there is literally two men and a dog. That really made me laugh. A few songs in, one of the organisers asked if he could get a shot of me talking with a local councillor – a woman a bit younger than me, in a big red skirt. He was giving instructions – he obviously had the ‘perfect shot’ in mind. I had to turn my guitar and myself toward him, on my right, but look like I was talking to the councillor, on my left, so I was a bit contorted. Anyway, as I was supposed to talk to her – for the purposes of the shot,  I’d never met her before, so all I could think of saying was, ‘So…do you come here often?’! I can’t remember what she said now, but at least she laughed. The shot was for her portfolio, or something.

The organiser then took some shots for a local paper. I had to leave after 45 minutes to be at the next place in time to start at midday, so I quickly packed up and said goodbye to Jess and her helper Andy – who really liked CaliforniaN (as he said) Girls. Both very nice, polite young people. I think I made about £15 – not bad, but then there’s the train fare of £8.90p to consider in the equation!

The next spot was the big open space, not far from the entrance, near the train station. The guy on before me, Ian Kimber, was just finishing up. A one man band: he played a 12-string guitar, had a small bass drum attached to him, and also a weird device: two small pulleys on his shoes, with ropes going god knows where! I remarked on the ingenuity of his contraption, and he pointed to two small, slightly discoloured circles on the upper part of his shoes and said, ‘Those were an experiment that went wrong!’ It looked like he’d tried to drill through his shoes, the mad bugger.

Once I started, it was pretty obvious it wasn’t the place for me: too many people, too much noise. It would have suited a performer who can do all the chat and get a crowd built up. That sort of Hat Fair rubbish, which incidentally is this weekend, back home…I’m relieved I’m here! Anyway, no one was giving any money. It didn’t help there being two weird women in small rotating carts. The women were, apart from their heads sticking out, completely covered. Their faces were painted, they had witches hats, and were going around making strange noises, so of course, they were getting on my nerves.

After 40 minutes, the organiser asked me how it was going, so I said, ‘Not very good’, and explained that this was the wrong sort of place for me. I said the other place was better , being more intimate, and asked if there was any way I could go somewhere else, maybe not today, but tomorrow, as they’ve got me down at this spot from 1-2 o’clock, but they’ve got me down for the other place from 3-4 o’clock, which means I’ll have an hour to kill. (Because I’ll be here, I’m going to miss The Photograph on The Sunday Selection, which is from 4-6 o’clock, although I can hear it on the ‘listen again’ thing, but I would have liked to hear it ‘live’!)

Anyway, the woman said she’d see if I could switch with the guy who’ll be playing near the mall entrance, which is a much narrower space, probably better suited for me, not like this. But they can’t switch with someone else today, as it’s taken ages to get it all sorted out. Mind, there’s no guarantee I’ll make any more coinage anywhere else.

For the last 5 minutes, they had the idea to move me a few feet to the right, nearer to a bunch of benches (bunch of benches – good name for…something!), which I agreed was better than me facing the big space. And…I got not one donation! At least it was only 5 minutes.

Oh well, the organisers liked me, and one of the women had a few other ideas for me, for stuff in the future. But then she mentioned this bloody ‘personal liability insurance’, which I said I couldn’t afford. In fact, weirdly enough, the last time I heard of that was here in Basingstoke, when Kai was going on about it. You need it to busk in the mall. Anyway, when I said it was too expensive, that was the end of that.

Earnings: £19.96p – £8.90p (train fare) = £11.06p profit.


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Diary Of A Busker Day 584

Diary Of A Busker Day 584 Thursday July 3rd 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:30-6:10pm).

As I was walking the bike up the road, a tall, young guy with a guitar passed me. Ten minutes later, I’ve sat down, tuned up and about to start, when I hear someone singing that bloody awful Adele song, and it’s that guy, about 50 feet down from me! So I get up, walk out a couple of feet, and there’s a woman standing in front of him, who sees me – I’m still holding the guitar – and ignores me. Anyway, I stay standing there, she looks at me again, then the bloke laughs…and then they’re gone – good, as there was no way I was going to move! Cheeky. I reckon they were testing me. I stood my ground, for once!

So I sit down and just before starting up again, an old guy who’s always around here, drops a 5p coin – shrapnel, more or less – in the bucket, and says, ‘I found it on the ground. It wasn’t for me so you might as well have it’. Thanks pal, for putting an almost worthless coin in my bucket. I mean, he might not have meant it, but give me a break – some people are old enough to know better…aren’t they?

So, 2 offenders…soon to be 3. The third, in the form of a 3 year old girl/brat, who comes up and starts stroking the strings on the guitar WHILE I’M PLAYING IT. The mother? – all she does is come up to watch. How can an adult let a child do that? Is this the new breed of parent? – of the type that worship their child and believe they can do no wrong? So, I suppose the REAL offender was the adult.

One person watching and shaking his head in disapproval, was the Greek(?) bloke who does the sand sculpture of the lying down dog, outside W. H. Smiths. HE can shake his head in disapproval: I swear it’s a con: the dog never changes, it’s always in the same state of near-completedness. I know I’ve said this before, but it’s GOT to be a con!

Three offenders? Come on, I’m sure Winchester can squeeze another one in! Sure enough, near the end, a FOURTH offender appears. A drunk (I think) middle-aged woman – a Drongo (I’m sure) who leans in during a concentrated performance – NOT a good way to start an acquaintance with me – and says, ‘Didn’t you have a beard?’ I ignore the comment. In fact, I ignore everything she says, but even so, she goes on – ‘Yeah, you had a beard…didn’t you used to play outside the ‘hospital?…yeah…I’m sure it was you…you used to play outside…didn’t you?…I’m sure it was you…a beard…I’m sure…’. If she was so sure, why did she ask me? She goes and sits on The Butter Cross and was there when I packed up, and she’s probably there now, hours later. Weird people and offenders, everywhere.

Earnings: £21.94p


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Diary Of A Busker Day 583

Diary Of A Busker Day 583 Wednesday July 2nd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:30-3:25pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:35-5:45pm).

Another fine, sunny day…but I’m offended, yet again. This time, by that rough old ex-whore (because I’m sure she was one). During The Third Man, she comes out from the cathedral grounds, accompanied by two Drongos, and while walking past, says, ‘Can we have something new?’ Who the hell is she, to say that? It makes my blood boil! I sort of recovered almost straight away, though, because an old guy comes up and says, ‘That’s my favourite song!’, which is great. I love it when someone does that, right on cue. Unfortunately, he doesn’t contribute – ‘I haven’t got any money, but I might have after my dentist appointment. If I see you, I’ll give you something then’. Will I see him again?…and will he remember what he said?

Anyway, what to do about the whore…I reckon I should go up and say, ‘Have you ever learnt an instrument? That is, apart from the blue-veined piccolo’. Something like that. Or maybe it’s best if, when I see her again, I stop whatever it is I’m playing, and go into The Third Man, as she seems to like that one. But turn the volume right up – maybe that would be better. People of her ilk: cowards! She wouldn’t have said that if she was on her own. God, she’s rough – I wouldn’t pay 5p for it. I give it 55 minutes, then leave. The money was well below the average.

The good thing about having the bike is I can get down to Oxfam, via the parallel road to the High Street, in about 30 seconds. And if I don’t like the look of it, I can get back to the main drag, as it were, via the one-way system bit of the High Street and the other road, the one that goes by Sainsbury’s. So it takes no time at all, which is what I do.

At Vodafone, there are millions of foreign language students, and two are really generous: I’m handed two £5 notes! The first was from a girl who, after her group pass me, comes back, gives me the note, then puts her fingers to her mouth, like ‘Don’t tell anyone’. Then, during the 5th Gnossienne, an Italian boy, standing with his group to my left, does the same – so making the Gnossienne Song Of The Day. ‘Nice song’, he says.

I also managed to sell a CD to a couple, mid 60’s I reckon, from Holland. They came up after Albatross and asked if it was The Doors, and when I corrected them, they asked to look at the CD to see what else was on. They then asked about some of the songs, so everytime they said a song name: La Vie En Rose, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, I’d play a few bars. I suddenly realised, after a couple of minutes, that I’d done the first bars of more than half the songs. I said, ‘You won’t need the CD now, I’ve just played most of it!’, and oh how we larfed…

Apart from the CD, they also got, free of charge, the best part of my Focal Dystonia Lecture. I can’t remember how I came to talk about it…possible because I hadn’t brought it up for awhile, and they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time…or the right place at the wrong time(?) Following the lecture, the husband remarked that Django Reinhardt played with only two fingers, and he does the V sign at me, which really made me laugh! I think he saw the funny side of it, and joined in with the larfing.

Scouser Mick stopped to listen to whatever I was doing. At the end, I told him I’d been doing Wonderful Land alot: at least once, every time I’ve been out here – I thanked him again for mentioning it. I was quite eager to show him how, after all the practise, I’d improved the playing. So I did it and he was well impressed, which was a relief, as he didn’t seem impressed at all, the first time I played it to him. So I felt I’d redeemed myself, somewhat. He brought up another Shadows one – Foot Tapper, that he thought I could learn. I said I’d ‘look into it’.

Apart from the two £5 notes and the CD sale, the takings were £21.31p, and that’s for 3 hours. So almost half the money came from three (or four, if you count the couple as two) foreigners.

Earnings: £38.81p

Note: I’ve solved the problem of the coinage spilling out of the gigbag. I’ve bought a small camera case from the pound shop, which I now put the money in after every session, and I put that in the top pocket of the gigbag.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 582

Diary Of A Busker Day 582 Tuesday July 1st 2014 Winchester (Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:56-3:06pm).

Another slow start: 4 songs before any coinage, and then some idiot pulls up in a car right in front of me! He gets out, opens the back – it’s a hatchback, as we used to say in the old country – and goes off towards the High Street. Ten minutes later he’s back, with a woman carrying a sign that says among other things, BAN FOIE GRAS FROM WINCHESTER. They’re both late 60’s, I reckon, and I think I saw the woman a few days ago when she was being dropped off with the signs. Anyway, they bugger off. I couldn’t believe he parked where he did, as there was 10 feet in front and more than that behind, so he had enough space not to block me.

Just after they left, Owen’s mother came up. (Weirdly enough, I have to see Owen later on, for his lesson). She came out of the cathedral with her daughter, who’s just finished a concert, playing her string bass. The daughter’s sitting outside the cathedral grounds entrance with the bass in a huge gigbag, and her mother’s now gone to get the car. But at first, I think the daughter wants to busk so I ask the mother if she would like to set up and play here. I say anyone can play, as you don’t need a permit…yet!

The mother says no, she’s not going to busk, then tells me about the concert – ‘She’s really exhausted from it. She’d like to play with YOU, though!’ – (very flattering, but I accompany no one, madam. I am an island…) I remember Owen saying his sister was at the train station when that poor boy threw himself in front of the freight train – she saw it happen. That must be terrible, I mean, how can anyone ever forget something like that.

Posh BrYan, who was sitting at his usual (posh) spot, was drinking – not his usual: (posh) red wine, but a pint of beer. When he left, he didn’t come over, just went off towards the Gieves & Hawkes end of the street.

Delia turned up and stood by as I finished Ol’ Man River. I’d gone through the bit I’d forgotten the other day, so that was OK. Delia didn’t put her usual pound coin in, but a couple of silvers. I told her she was looking well. She said, ‘I don’t feel it’.

I played Brazil, and sure enough, my intended samba arrangement is morphing into a Travis-picking style one – I can’t help it! I think I might start it off samba-like, then switch to the Travis style.

When I left, I was detained by a man, about 65, who was sitting with a glass of red wine at a table outside The Slug & Lettuce. He started going on about a three hour Shadows concert – The Farewell Tour, I think, and he really did go on and on – ‘…and the drummer had his name, Bennett, on his drum…what was his name?’ And I was thinking…and the only Bennett I could think of was Cliff Bennett, probably because, in the course of his Shadows lecture, he had mentioned Cliff, of the Richard variety. But of course it was BRIAN Bennett, which came to me just after I’d gone.

In the end, I excused myself with, ‘I have to go now, I have to give a lesson to an 8 year old girl at 4 o’clock, and I need some time to prepare myself for that!’, which did make him laugh.

Earnings: £14.70p (Including one CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 581

Diary Of A Busker Day 581 Sunday June 29th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 12:45-1:19pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:25-2:35pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:43-3:29pm).

I knew – or I suspected – there was something weird about Mandolin John, and now I’m sure. I turned up at the spot and he was a few feet away and was packing up – he’d just put his guitar away. He had a rather large rucksack, like he’d just left home for good. Anyway, I went up and asked if he was leaving and he said he was and that he didn’t want to play too much in one place, as some songs he does, he thinks people might not want to hear again, because after awhile he’ll have to start repeating stuff – ‘Like Consider Yourself. They might not want to hear it too many times. Some songs they might not mind, some songs they do’.

I then asked him about some music coming from the O2 place across the street, and he said, ‘Well, we have an understanding: when I play, they turn off the music’. He said he’d actually gone in and asked if they would. I asked how he’d done – had he made much, and he chuckled and said, ‘Well, enough to scrape by’. He then said again about not playing the songs too many times, and I said, ‘The thing is, most of the people will be tourists and they won’t have heard you before. Don’t worry about the people in the shops. They’re probably bored because they seem to stand around doing nothing, so they like to moan about something’.

I then asked if someone had come out and said something, and he went into a rant, starting with, ‘Well, they’re all 16 to 24 year olds. That’s why they put them in a group – 16 to 24, and I hate them all, I want to get a gun and kill them all, I hate them…’, and he got louder and louder, and this is while he’s still packing up. He went on, ‘…and there’s nothing wrong being gay…now I’m going to have a cup of tea (now he got really loud)…IF IT’S ALRIGHT WITH YOU LOT!’ – he was shouting to the people in the O2 place but people were starting to look. By this time I’d finished setting up/tuning up and had gone into Siboney, trying to ignore him, actually trying to drown out his shouting.

Then he comes and stands right next to me, looks at me and shouts, ‘And I don’t like people taking pictures of me and…do you think you own this pitch?!’ I couldn’t believe it. I stopped playing and said ‘What?’, and he says it again – ‘You think you own this pitch?!’ I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I asked if you were finished and you said yeah. Don’t have a go at ME’. He says, ‘Oh, I thought you…’, and mumbled something, then started ranting about something else, then stopped and walked off. I think he said ‘sorry’ as he past me. I just said, ‘Bye, John’.

It really put me off. I tried to resume Siboney but couldn’t remember the middle bit: the bit that needs the most concentration, so I gave up and went into something else. It made me quite angry. Maybe he’s having some sort of breakdown – I mean that’s just not normal. I think a rant like that, it’s what you THINK of doing sometimes when you get angry, but you don’t. I also remembered him saying to me ages ago, how he says what he thinks, and it’s got him into trouble a few times. So what is it? A mental problem?, or is he just a jerk?

Whatever it is, I think I’ll avoid him next time I see him about. It really put a downer on the set, which didn’t go well, anyway: I packed up after 35 minutes, with £3.86p. But the area was too loud: there was a young strummer up at the bank, with his guitar and mic coming out of a Cube Street amp, and he was really loud. The music from O2, I could have handled on its own, but not with the guy shouting up the road.

I escaped to the (relative) tranquility of the other side of the alleyway, namely, outside the craft shop, where, after a few tunes, up comes Posh BrYan who says, ‘You’ve brightened my day again’, and he even donates! I tell him about the incident earlier, and I said, ‘I think the guy’s a bit mental’. BrYan leans up and says, ‘I think anyone who sits in the street and plays is a bit…’, and he just smiles and walks off! Yeah, I reckon you’re right, my posh friend! Just after His Poshness leaves, weird Mandolin John walks past and gives a – rather sheepish, I thought – wave, which I ignore. I mean, how dare he behave like he did – mental problem or not – to me?, a 52 year old man trying to earn a decent crust!

A man a bit older than me really loves my Albatross rendition. He says he used to play – ‘But not like you’, which is very nice, but I say, referring to Albatross, that’s it’s not as difficult as he might think, as long as you can get the thumb going on the low string, the rest is pretty easy. In short, all it takes is some practise.

I got a bit worried at one point, when my hand really hurt. This was during the G major 7th chord in Deve Ser Amor, and I don’t know if it was to do with playing the zither – or trying to – last night, but I haven’t felt that since the last time I had a rigorous zither session. Actually, I hope it WAS because of the zither and not something else.

Third and last spot, I cycle down to Oxfam – and past weird John, who’s setting up or packing up at Gieves & Hawkes. I ignore him. I’m relieved I’m on the bike, I mean, if I was walking, I’d have to walk past him and be obliged to speak, perhaps, and I don’t want to do that. Anyway, Oxfam was going a bit slow and then a man bought a CD. He wanted a £5 one but of course there aren’t any left, so he bought a £9 one…for £9, although I DID offer it for £8, because I’m an idiot.

In fact, I might keep the ‘£5 CDs’ sign on the bucket, to lure people who want one, then, when they’re here, say the same thing as I did to this poor guy! – ‘Sorry, I’m completely out of those – I must remember to change the sign…but I’ve got these other ones…’ Song Of The Day: Gymnopedie, as it secured the CD sale…and is not on the CD.

Some nutter woman stood near me, talking very loud, although I couldn’t understand a word. All I did was smile. I thought, ‘I’m not going to stop to hear what she says, I’m just going to smile’. Anyway, I’d heard enough nutters for the day- one’s one too many…but at least she donated a pound! But I always have mixed feelings about this: when weird folks donate. Still, a pound’s a pound. No one at Sainsbury’s is going to say, ‘This pound’s from a weirdo, we’re not going to take it’.

Again, during Albatross, another man, a bit younger than the first one said he really liked the arrangement, so I went through the whole – ‘It’s not as hard as it looks, as long as you keep the thumb going on the low string, etc…’.

One thing I’m definitely not used to, with the new set-up, ie: bringing the bike in, is I keep forgetting I need to put the coinage from each session, in the pocket at the top of the gigbag. And if I open the pocket to put the next session’s coins in, and if the bag isn’t flat on the ground, all the money rolls out, like it did today when I went to put the last session’s coins in. I’d forgot that the last two sessions’ coins were in and the case was at a slight angle, and everything – almost every coin – fell out on the pavement.

Earnings: £31.93p (Including one CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 580

Diary Of A Busker Day 580 Friday June 27th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:05-5:05pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:30-6:30pm).

The reason I came in late was because I got a call from Ollie’s mother saying he’d have to cancel the lesson at 4 o’clock due to him cutting his finger, slicing an avocado. Anyway, the first person I see as I’m setting up is his mother, who tells me more. She took him to the hospital where he had three stitches…they were up there till two in the morning…had to postpone his performance of his original song (the one I’ve been helping him with for months)…

Just before The Butter Cross, there’s a bloke sitting down ‘playing’ a two-string guitar: he’s only got the D and G, and they were – literally, bits of string, like what you tie a parcel with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before!

The little autistic boy, Ethan, came by with his parents. I don’t think they wanted to talk to me today, but I made them! I said, ‘Hello Ethan’, as they were passing and, for a few minutes, he stood staring at my right hand moving on the guitar. I decided to do my good deed of the day. I got one of my last £5 CDs out and gave it to him, saying, ‘You can have this to listen to’. So he takes it, looks at it and throws it to the ground! Of course he does, because he doesn’t know what it is! No wonder. It’s just a blue circle on a bit of plastic.

The embarrassing forgetfulness of song arrangements continues. Today it’s the upbeat chorus part of Ol’ Man River. I get to the bit, can’t remember it so I have to abandon the entire song and go into something else…and I can’t remember what THAT was, either!

An old guy requests Guitar Boogie Shuffle by Arthur ‘Guitar’ Smith, as it was the first record he bought. Unfortunately, I don’t know it – although I suppose I should – but I say I’ll look it up. In the meantime, he can have another Shuffle from around the same period – Mr. Weedon’s Twelve-String Shuffle, which is fair enough, I reckon.

A funny moment. A man walks by with his 2 year old daughter, to whom he’s given a coin to give to me. But she doesn’t want to do that. He has to push her towards me, and she’s trying to go back the other way! Then when he finally gets her to me, he can’t unfold the child’s hand. He has to unfurl the fingers one by one with both his hands! It was really funny. I’ve never seen a fist so clenched.

I get rid of the last of the £5 CDs to a man who came up after the Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring/Black Mountain Rag medley. For this they are awarded joint Song Of The Day status.

I pack up after two hours – a long set, and while I’m doing it, an old lady regular (OLR) turns up. She’s the one who knitted me those fingerless gloves. She’s had a song in her head – Never Smile At A Crocodile, so like with the old guy earlier, I say I’ll look it up.

I’m still trying to sort out the best way to pack up, when I bring the bike in, like today. The main problem’s the coinage. It can’t stay in the bucket, as it gets turned upside down and stuck on the end of the guitar. I tried putting the coins in my trouser pocket but I could feel them and it was annoying, so I’ve decided to decant them into one of the zipped pockets of the gigbag. I’ll get the hang of it, it’s just I had all the packing up down to a fine art: I’d been doing it the same since I started, which will be four years in October. Time flies when you’re having fun…

Next, I had almost half an hour of total indecision…no, indecisiveness(!) I was going to go home but then I thought I should stay, as I needed to make more money, due to the cancelled lesson. But I’d just done two hours straight through, and my head was done in. So I was all packed up and had walked up to Jewry Street with the bike, and I just stood there, trying to decide. What happened, of course, was that the longer I stood, the more my brain was recovering…and after ten minutes, I was all ready for another set!

So I went back down to The Butter Cross – there was no one set up – and I stood there looking at the space where I could play…then I had a look through the alleyway, at the Pavilion spot – there was no one there, either, and I STILL couldn’t decide what to do. There were two Drongos on the Butter Cross steps, really rough-looking, too. In fact, they looked like they were out of a zombie movie, or that Michael Jackson video!

One started talking to me in a Scottish accent – ‘If I were ye, I’d pley over there (nods to the alley)…that space near the cathedral. Ye’ll bring in the money there, no’ in the alleyway, oot the other side, ye’ know?’ I felt like saying, ‘Yeah, but you’re not me’, but I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there before. I was thinking of going there’. In fact, because they were here, that decided me! The Drongo that was talking to me had loads of white lumps on his fingers – what’s all that aboot?!

Anyway, I went to the Pavilion spot and started to set up, and that tall, white-bearded man (the nutter) came up. In fact, he was near The Butter Cross while I was with the Drongos. He says, ‘Don’t listen to them, Marvin, their brains have gone from drink, don’t listen to them. I once told them where the night shelter was – trying to help, and he got really angry. He said, “If I want to know about a night shelter, I’ll find out myself!” Anyway, have you seen Prince Edward and Sophie?’ (What?!) When I didn’t answer straight away, he said impatiently, ‘Prince Edward – you know who he is, don’t you – a royal!’ I said, Yeah, sure’. Nutter says, ‘Well, he’s in the cathedral. That’s why there’s loads of security there (nods towards cathedral)’. I said, ‘Oh right, I didn’t know’. Nutter – ‘He spoke to me’. ‘Did he?’ ‘Yeah, there (nods towards the High Street)…he was walking by and he looked at me (I’m not surprised) and actually said “Hello” and said “I’ll see you in the pub, later’, and I said “If you’re payin'”‘. And then the nutter just walked off!

I managed an hour. Of course, now, when I set up for a second session, I have to scoop  all the coinage from the gigbag pocket, whereas before, it would stay in the bucket, which would be placed upright in the bag. I can see I’m going to have to sort something else out. Anyway, another hour – that makes three, and my head’s REALLY done in!

…and all this on the day The Pirouettist was pitched for it’s first sync…a cheese advert!*

Earnings: £47.82p (+ one USA cent)

*It was rejected.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 579

Diary Of A Busker Day 579 Wednesday June 25th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite The Body Shop, Time: 1:42-2:42pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 3:09-4:39pm).

I don’t want the ice-cream vendor bloke outside Vodafone to get fed up with me, so I set up a bit further up…and it goes slow. It’s around the 7th song before any coinage, so I was getting quite depressed by it all, as usual.

Delia showed up halfway through, during The Third Man, so she told me the story she’s told me before, about the time, years ago when she was back home in Italy at the theatre bar in the interval, and she found herself standing next to Alida Valli. ‘She had a beautiful face’, she said, though she reckoned she (Alida) was ‘getting on’ by the time she was in The Third Man. She said she was really beautiful in an earlier film – Piccolo Mondo Antico (a small old-fashioned shop, or something like that, she said). Anyway, I asked Delia what she was doing in town (it’s not a Tuesday or Friday) and she said she had to go the hospital for her sciatica back problem.

Then, near the end I had a bit of luck. I sold a CD, to a lady with slightly shaky hands. She must have heard Albatross from earlier as she asked if it was on the CD. The last song was Ne Me Quitte Pas, which I couldn’t finish as I forgot the middle part. A few bars in and that was it, the mind went blank after the E major 7th chord on the 7th fret. I couldn’t get it so I stopped and packed up. Brazil was a bit better, but I’d done that near the start. Maybe the brain had reached its FULL – NO MORE INFORMATION ACCEPTED level.

When I went to the toilet, I chained the bike and took the amp off the back, which I’m now carrying around uncovered, which is OK as it’s got a handle. I think if it rains before I leave the house, I’ll walk into town and have it in the bag, like before. When I came out of the toilet, I noticed that there are trees with railings around them, all the way down the pedestrian bit, and you can see a couple of the trees from the upstairs bay window of Waterstones, where I sometimes sit with a book. I reckon I can chain the bike to one of the railings, thereby keeping an eye on it from above!

Up at Pavilion, Shirley walks by with a friend. I haven’t seen her in awhile and I’m wondering if Eric’s still alive. I don’t want to ask but I don’t have to, as she says he’s now got a zimmer frame and is progressing slowly. She says the hospital was useless so she got him to go for the therapeutic sessions, at £65 an hour! But she reckons they’re worth it.

Once again, I attempt Ne Me Quitte Pas, and like before, I can’t get beyond the exact same place! And this happens just after a couple on bikes contribute, then stand back to listen. Of course, I apologise – ‘I’m sorry, I’ve played that hundreds of times and I keep making that same mistake today – I think my mind’s gone!’, were my exact words. They say, ‘OK’. Very embarrassing. I have to stop the whole thing, then I panic because I have to think of another song to play straight away and I can’t think of one!

I eventually go into Chinatown. Also, I debuted my ‘Brazilian’ set: Deve Ser Amor, The Girl From Ipanema, and Brazil. For the last half hour the left hand was hurting a bit, so I thought I’d better head home at the end of the set. The thing is, I’d practised – mainly Brazil, for an hour before I’d come out, so that put the total playing time to well over three hours today.

Earnings: £33.67p (Including one CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 578

Diary Of A Busker Day 578 Tuesday June 24th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:35-2:27pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:33-3:21pm).

Young Sam, who I haven’t seen for ages, has set up camp at – in fact on – The Butter Cross. As usual he’s on a break! Down at the crossroads, there’s a long-haired (actually meduim-haired) youth, playing some blues (actually hard-rock) solo over a backing track. He’s not too loud, so I can set up down the road on Market Street near Gieves & Hawkes. I nod to Glen, who I can see looking out at me from the bowels of the esteemed gentleman’s outfitters… and that’s about as cheerful as it gets, despite the sun being out, because for almost an hour’s playing, I get £4.50p. People are mean. There’s no excuse for it. How depressing. I couldn’t make the hour – I’d bloody well had enough.

I strapped the amp to my lovely new 1982 Raleigh – its second time out here, and moved down the road. The hard-rock guitar guy packed up 10 minutes before I did, so the ice-cream bloke and the market people’ll be getting a right earful today. First the hard-rock guy, now…me! – a diverse mixture (or coupling?) though, they’ll have to admit.

Unbelievably, it’s 20 minutes before any coinage. Oh dear, it’s awful. I get that terrible DOOM mental state – wouldn’t anyone? Literally hundreds of people pass and not one contribution. I never get used to it, never. It does my head in. Actually, it’s 21 minutes (I wrote it down) before the first coin, which was at 2:54pm. In fact, there were two more donations for the same song, Here Comes The Sun. I was so thrilled – and relieved, I named it Song Of The Day.

The last donor was a woman: quite tall, sunglasses, American as it turns out. I can’t remember what she said to me but a few minutes after she went, I noticed her up the road and across the way, and I think she was filming me. She had her iPhone – or whatever everyone except me has now – pointed at me, anyway. I didn’t mind too much – she’d contributed, after all, and remembering what that awful sodomist Wilde said – ‘There’s only one thing worse than being filmed, and that’s NOT being filmed’ – ha!

So anyway, she came back over and started asking if I wrote any of my own songs. Well, I somewhat hesitantly produced my single copy of the new album and wow – she bought it! For £8! I said it was for sale for £10 on my website but SHE could have it knocked down a bit. That’s a first for out here: an original music CD sale. Her name: Valery Docherty ‘from Pennsylvania State’, which of course led me into my ‘I lived in London, Ontario for 20 years’ part of my Hard Luck Story. I then gave her my PR bit about some of my songs being taken on by some sync music companies, and all that.

I did warn Valery that my own stuff is nothing like what I do out here, but it didn’t seem to put her off. The poor misguided fool. In fact, I said it three times, just to prepare her. I wonder what she’ll make of it. I might find out*: I gave her my card and she’s here with her husband – a guitarist – until Sunday. Typical – the only time I sell an original CD, and it’s to a ‘foreigner’. But then, she’s been the only one to ASK if I did my own music. It’s the foreigners who take the chances! So, most of the 100 minutes was pretty crap and depressing, until Here Comes The Sun and Valery, who I forgot to say was polite, very complimentary, and even shook my hand.

Earnings: £15.55p (Breakdown: Coinage £9.90p + £8 for original CD. 100 CDs were £235, so £2.35p each means a profit of £5.65p)

*I never did.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 577

Diary Of A Busker Day 577 Sunday June 22nd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 12:55-1:55pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:09-4:29pm).

The door of Pavilion is open wide and that dark-haired miserable bitch doesn’t seem to be there today, so I reckon they’ll keep the door open. Things go OK for almost 45 minutes…a man sitting with his wife and year old daughter comes over and puts a fiver in saying, ‘It’s alot better than some of the stuff around here’.

Then some idiot in a van reverses right in front of me and stays in his seat, 4 feet in front of me and he never got out to deliver anything! I thought if I say something, I might lose my temper, so I stopped after 5 minutes and dragged my stuff 10 feet to the left, which put me just clear of the back of his van and right next to the barrier, beyond which are the tables of The Slug & Lettuce. In short, the place where I used to set up. Predictably, the van buggered off a few minutes later. I stayed there to fill out the hour…and got only one donation, and that was when I was packing up.

Break time. I had a look up and down the High Street, starting at The Butter Cross where there’s a singer/guitarist. Halfway down to Vodafone, a young dreadlocked guy tuning up with an amp like mine…at Vodafone, 2 kids doing manic dancing on a big mat. One kid’s about 16, the other about 8. Very confident they are, to do that in front of a load of people, no doubt about that. At the spot facing Gieves & Hawkes, there’s an ambulance and alot of soldiers in posh army gear. I found out later it was a First World War commemoration thing. And besides all that, the cathedral bells are going like there’s no tomorrow, so I wouldn’t have been heard, anyway!

I reckon I might as well go down to Oxfam, as I haven’t been there in ages. Philip walks by as I’m finishing the first song, Blowin’ In The Wind. He says he thinks it sounds great, so by way of thanks, as he’s walking off, I start up the Gymnopedie, which makes him turn and smile. He looks OK, in fact he looks pretty well, considering.

Across the way, there’s a woman – early 60’s, I reckon. She really likes what I play and stays for a long time. I’ve noticed that whenever someone sits down near her, including an old lady resting in her frame next to the bench, she’ll strike up a conversation straight away. She’s got quite long hair and I think she must have looked pretty good 30 years ago. Why do women in their 60’s still go around in black leggings and thigh-length boots?! Because it’s a FREE COUNTRY, I suppose.

A waitress from Maison Blanc comes across with a tray of very small things in paper. Also in the tray is a normal sized chocolate eclair. She says ‘That’s for entertaining us’, and I think she’s going to give me the chocolate eclair. But no, she points to the small things in the paper, which look like a blob of brown cream. That’s all they are – blobs about an inch long! So I take one, thank her, she goes off and I take a photo of this blob because I can’t believe it’s so small, like a chocolate!

Two minutes later, I notice this waitress is going up to everyone, and they’re all getting one of these things. She’s even going up to blokes looking in the windows of the shops next door to the restaurant! So, I got mine ‘for entertaining’. What have these blokes got their’s for? Looking in shop windows?! – that really amuses me.

I then notice that the woman who had seemed to enjoy my playing so much, is gone…and she never even contributed…not even a penny! But 10 minutes later, she’s suddenly sitting on the ground, right next to me! She starts mumbling (I think she’s had a few) about how she used to tune engines for Formula 1, eight cylinders and all that. I say I can only tune a guitar. Then she says ‘I know Steve Winwood’, and I think BINGO! – Steve Winwood = Traffic = John Barleycorn Must Die album (containing the song John Barleycorn with capo on the 7th fret) – I happen to have the capo already in the correct position, doing Here Comes The Sun, now what are the chances of that?!

So I do John Barleycorn and she doesn’t seem to recognise it. Come on, that’s one of Winwood’s finest! Then I say, ‘You know, I give guitar lessons to a boy named Oliver Winwood, and he’s a relation’. She ignores me because she must be the kind of person who’s only interested in what SHE’S saying. Anyway, folks are giving her (and possibly me) strange looks as they walk by. I hope they don’t think she’s my wife. I say to her, ‘I bet people think you’re my groupie’, to which she replies by mumbling, and because of this mumbling, I keep having to say ‘sorry?’, which starts to annoy her. So I say, ‘Look, I’m a bit deaf’, and point to my hearing-aid. After 20 minutes she says, ‘I have to go’, and goes, still without contributing. So, what did I find out?…she’s just moved to Winchester, her name’s Christin Christine, or something like that. I couldn’t make it out due to the mumbling.

The session’s a long one: 2 hours and 20 minutes, so that’s pushed the total past the MORE THAN THREE HOURS DANGER ZONE.

On the way back, I pass Mandolin John singing where the flower-seller usually is (I reckon John’s off his head), then up to Pavilion, where, as there are alot of people, it crosses my mind to set up again, but then I think, no way. I mean, 3 hours and 20 minutes I’ve done. DANGER ZONE, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER ZONE!

In the alleyway to The Butter Cross, there’s Otto, sitting against the wall of the West Cornwall Pasty Company shop. He looks up and says, ‘Give us a blast o’ Chuck Berry’, and I think ‘Is that all he likes? – Chuck Berry and Earth Angel?’ I say, ‘Sorry Otto, I’ve got to go home now’.

Earnings: £42.26p (+ one 1984 Australian 50p)

The price of local celebrity: On Monday, I went to buy something at the craft shop opposite Pavilion. When I paid, the Chinese girl behind the counter said, ‘Thanks Marvin’, so I said, ‘How do you know my name?’ and she said, ‘Everyone knows your name’. I said, ‘Oh my goodness, local celebrity, am I?’ Now, I can see how people would recognise the music – that’s blasting out, sort on on display, but my name? How do they know that?’

Then, as I was getting on my bike to go, that tall, bearded nutter was walking past and he said, ‘What does the B stand for in your name? Anything unusual?’ I said, ‘No, only Brian’. Local celebrity, indeed.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 576

Diary Of A Busker Day 576 Thursday June 19th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:38-6:23pm).

Since I got my new bike, I’ve been thinking about strapping the amp on the back and coming into town. The amp fits pretty well on the rack and there’s an elastic rope which stops it from falling off. I reckon I can put the stool, music book and stuff in the gigbag, and strap that on my back, which is how I’ve been carrying it for awhile, anyhow. But on the bike, it won’t be on my back for as long, which is good, so that’s what I do. The bucket was a bit of a problem, but I found I could stick it upside down on the end of the guitar and it would just fit in the case. In fact, I had to use the bigger gigbag as it wouldn’t fit in the one I’ve been using.

The only other problem was what to do with the coinage in the bucket after the set, when the bucket’s turned upside down! The coins will need to be transferred somewhere else. One solution is to dispense with the bucket and do what most everyone else does: put the gigbag open on the ground for people to chuck the money in. But wait a minute – the bucket’s my trademark! I can’t get rid of that! Anyway, I never liked the gigbag on the ground situation. It takes up alot of space…and everyone does it! So the bucket stays.

I make it into town OK, but I’ve just got to watch getting off the bike, as my leg seems to bash the amp which sticks out on either side. So, where to put the bike…I don’t want to lean it against the pillars at The Pentice, as it gets in the way of people trying to get to the shops behind me. And across the road seems too far away, although I’d be able to see it. I mean, I’m a bit paranoid about it being stolen. I need to keep my eye on it, it’s really nice. I decide to lock it up and lean it against the wall of the shop behind me.

After that’s all done, I can set up – without the bag the amp’s usually on, and start…but I find myself turning my head after every song to see if the bike’s still there – that’s how paranoid I am. It must be a natural reaction. Anyway, look what happened in Greenwich. That old bike was nicked practically under my eyes. The bastards.

So, to the session. There aren’t many about and I’m thinking there must be a football match on or something, but the money’s the same rate as normal. A man my age comes up after listening on the bench, contributes and asks if I’ve heard of Lenny Breau. I say I have – he was brilliant but all that stuff’s too difficult for me! The man says he himself’s a jazzy player and he’s really enjoyed listening to me. I hope he didn’t hear my attempt at Brazil. Definitely NOT jazzy.

At 5:58, after almost an hour and a half, Otto comes up. He hasn’t done that for awhile, although I’ve seen him around, off his face as usual. We passed on the street the other day, I said ‘Hello Otto’, but it didn’t register at all. So he plonks himself and his kitbag on the other side of the pillar I’m against and does the usual ‘Pley us some Chuck Berry’, which is pretty hard to do in the middle of the Yellow Bird/Wheels/The Third Man G-tuning section. But I think about it and think ‘what the hell, the guy’s got a shit life. I can do it and he’ll love it’. So I say I’ll do it just after I tune up…a minute later I switch on the treble pickup and do an approximation of the Johnny B. Goode intro…

…and then a Chuck Berry style two-string solo and he’s happy with that – ‘Marvin, you’re a genius!’ I say ‘No Otto, but Chuck Berry was’. For sure: his words were great, and how many guitar players have copied his style? – there must be thousands…and I’m not one of them! Otto gets up, thanks me again and says ‘I won’t hassle ye no more’, and wanders off…of course, 10 minutes later, he’s back – ‘Can ye pley Earth Angel?’ Well, I would have but I don’t know it. I know he’s said that one a few times before. So I say ‘I don’t know it, Otto, but I’ll look into it at home’.

I drag the session on, so it’s an hour and three quarters, then pack up. I empty the coinage in the bucket into one of the pockets in the gigbag (I’ll have to make sure to dig down deep and get everything out of the corners), unlock the bike, put the amp on the back and head off. I timed the trip back: 10 minutes, and that’s mostly uphill. But it cuts the journey time by half. I bet it was more like 8 minutes on the way in.

Earnings: £17.41p


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Diary Of A Busker Day 575

Diary Of A Busker Day 575 Wednesday June 18th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:35-6:02pm).

A late start, as I’m trying to finish that bloody painting in time for Clare’s birthday next week.

An offensive moment near the end of Here Comes The Sun. Two women and a small boy turned the corner just to my right. One of the women was wearing a dirty white vest, hair scraped back, fat and ugly. In short, repulsive. They came and stood in front of me and the repulsive one destroyed my train of concentration with ‘You know the way to The Bakers pub?’ She meant The Bakers Arms, the scummy place down the alley, nearby. And I thought ‘Yeah, that’s the sort of place scum like you go to!’ Because anyone who interrupts anyone clearly in deep concentration and devotion to their ‘art’ IS scum and deserves to be VILIFIED!

Oh yes, if there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s someone asking me a question in the middle (or near the end) of a song. It’s out of order, unacceptable, etc …and it makes my blood boil! Arrgghhh!! So, she asks the question and I carry on playing and just look at her…then she says it again – ‘You know where The Bakers is?’, and I carry on playing but seeing as she doesn’t get it, I stop and say ‘I’ll talk to you after the song’, and start it up again. She says ‘Oh, sorry’, and they walk over to the ice-cream vendor bloke and ask him.

But when she said ‘Sorry’, it wasn’t an apology. She said it like SHE was the offended party. I mean, I know it’s not Wembley but DON’T COME UP AND INTERRUPT! Unless accompanied by the words ‘I’d like to buy a CD, please’. In fact, the ‘please’ is optional. And that’s the ONLY exception I’ll make!

I see two familiar people. One who usually stops to remark, but doesn’t today. That was Philip, who I’ve been starting to worry about, as I hadn’t seen him for awhile. The other, one who hasn’t stopped for ages, but does so now, was Anthony, the old guy. I was playing the zither-style version of The Third Man and he came up and said ‘You’re the third man’. But Philip, hmm…maybe he’s becoming more ill and doesn’t want to stop, as it may lead him into talking about it. After he donated – and he always does, he just smiled and carried on.

After an hour, I noticed the amp was dying, and although I tried to get to the hour and a half mark – it was going fast, I managed to do While My Guitar Gently Weeps, got through a bit of Twelve-String Shuffle, and that was it. It was all fuzzing and fading in volume. What had happened was I’d switched it on by mistake yesterday when it was in the bag at home, and I’d only noticed it after about three hours.

Earnings: £12.55p (+ one 5 euro cent coin)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 574

Diary Of A Busker Day 574 Tuesday June 17th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 12:38-1:58pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:25-3:10pm).

I’ve only been playing a minute when one of the old lady regulars (OLR) appears and asks me where I’ve been lately. I say I haven’t been anywhere, I’ve been here: we must have just kept missing each other. She asks if I’ve used the fingerless wool things – wristies – she gave me. I lied and said I’d used them twice, when it was really cold, and they were a real help. She then said something about going down the road to meet her daughter, so I said she should bring her up here for a listen!

I sell a £9 CD! To Linn, a Chinese woman. A student, in fact, studying advertising at Southampton College. She’s around here till September, then she goes home, and she wants the CD to remember Winchester by (I reckon the tourist board should imburse me something for this sort of thing). She thinks my playing is ‘colourful’ and she’s seen me alot but this is the first time she’s dared to come up. This was after the 1st Gnossienne, which I had to point out wasn’t on the CD, although her favourite, La Vie En Rose, was. In that case I have to award Song Of The Day status to both songs: JSOTD – Joint Song of The Day.

I packed up after an hour and 20 minutes – that’s long enough I thought, and went to the toilet, cutting across the Brooks Centre, where, at the top of the stairs, two bored shop girls waved to me. Then, through Waterstones and down the stairs at the other side. I’ve never done that before: gone through without looking at a book! So on the way back, I remedied that and had a quick browse through a book on Robert Plant. Back out the other side, the two shop girls waved again, saying ‘waving again’, as I walked by!

At Vodafone, it’s Frank, who I haven’t seen in ages, camped out with accordion, two dogs, trailer, camping cooker and the lot. He says he should have been home doing his garden, but on a day like this, he had to come out. Also, he says a couple of young, out-of-town buskers came up and asked him about busking here. He told them ‘You’re wasting your time in Winchester’. I said that must have been encouraging for them to hear!

So, round the corner and up the road…and I get the usual greeting/warm welcome from the miserable, dark-haired bitch in Pavilion. Thirty seconds into the first one, Albatross, the door, that was wide open is shut tight. There are subtle (and polite) ways of doing things, and that ain’t it! I should go in and ask her name and when she asks why, I should say, ‘Because I keep a diary of who I meet out here, of any nice things people say to me, and other stuff that happens, and if I know your name, then I can stop writing “that miserable, dark-haired bitch from Pavilion”, which would save time and lead’. But I didn’t, because we never do what we think. Or maybe it’s not a good idea!

I told Doll this when I got home and she says I should just say ‘Hi there!’ in a very loud cheerful voice. She says it would probably annoy her more than if I got angry and started swearing, and I think she’s probably right, so maybe I should try that.

I forgot to say, I debuted two new songs: The Girl From Ipanema, and Brazil, in honour of the world cup. In other words, I employed a bit of opportunism. The Girl From Ipanema was the one requested the other day which I was determined to learn. I learnt it OK, apart from I kept getting the C’s and F major 7th’s mixed up. But Brazil needs a bit more work, so I was doing bits of it in between the other songs, which helped a bit. Anyway, when those two are done, together with Deve Ser Amor, I’ll have a Brazilian set.

Earnings: £29.90p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 573

Diary Of A Busker Day 573 Saturday June 14th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:25-3:40pm, 2. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 3:47-4:52pm, 3. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 5:04-5:37pm).

A ‘note’ worthy day, in that for each session, amongst the usual donations of coinage, there was a £5 note.

For the first session it came from a young guy who, after he put it in the bucket, requested The Girl From Ipanema, which I don’t do, apart from the first chord! I was a bit embarrassed about this (I’m writing this two days later and have now learnt the song), but said I’d ‘look into it’, before thanking him profusely for the big donation. As I was packing up, another young guy donated £1.20p and said ‘I always see you around and always enjoy it’, which was nice.

Now for the second £5 note. Because the Drongo who breathes into the flute was near my usual Vodafone spot, I set up around the corner. A man was listening with his dad who was in a wheelchair. They were a safe distance away, near the market stalls. The man comes over and waves a fiver in front of me and asks if I know any flamenco. I say I don’t, mainly because it’s too difficult with my hand problem. I said he didn’t have to give me the note but he put it in the top pocket of my coat and went back to his dad, so I carried on, and then the guy went off and left his dad there for a few minutes…then he came back, came up to me again and said ‘My dad likes Spanish music, can you play THAT?’ Well, not really, apart from Siboney, which I’d done earlier and which I think they’d heard. So I say I don’t really know any proper Spanish music, and he says ‘You know any jazz? My dad really likes that’. No, I bloody well don’t! Why’s he picked the three kinds of music I don’t do?! – that’s really annoying!

Anyway, I think this guy had had a few drinks – his face was quite red, and I sensed he was getting a bit annoyed with me, which is tough. I mean, there’s not enough hours in the day to learn all the different styles of music in the world. So I did Deve Ser Amor – the nearest I can get to Spanish music. It’s Brazilian – that’s near enough, isn’t it?! And I did Siboney again. They drifted off with barely a wave, but I got the fiver. Bloody hell, no one plays everything!

The third and final fiver, donated at precisely 5:37pm, was from a woman who brushed my thanks (profuse, of course) away with a wave of her hand.

Earnings: £36.07p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 572

Diary Of A Busker Day 572 Friday June 13th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:55-3:10pm).

Only one session today, due to the lesson at 4 o’clock. Song Of The Day – Here Comes The Sun, once again. One of it’s contributors was a man who gave £3. He was one of the dads of someone Jude went to school with at Western. Quite a friendly bloke, but he talks really quickly and quietly so I can never make out what he’s saying. I was always saying ‘Sorry?’ while he was talking to me.

Anyway, he’s smiling away and he says something but I can’t make it out so he has to say it again…and he was saying ‘You’re very talented, very talented’, which made me embarrassed that I’d made him repeat it. Well, I said ‘Thank you, sir’, although I’ve never called him ‘sir’ before! It’s just what I say out here, but it’s stupid – ‘sir’, as if I’m talking to a knight or some bloody lord!

Twenty minutes in, a bloke pulls up in a van, right in front of me. He takes a couple of plastic boxes out the back and disappears through the alley to the High Street. A bit rude, I thought, but I dragged my stuff three feet to the right so I could just clear the back of his van. He came back awhile later and went off but I stayed where I was. It was a shame about the guitar lesson because I made double the usual amount here and could have done with doing another session somewhere else.

Earnings: £26.00 (+ 1 USA dime)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 571

Diary Of A Busker Day 571 Thursday June 12th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 3:41-4:50pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 5:10-6:05pm).

I start off with Siboney, a rather unusual starter but what the hell! I then do a bit of Puff The Magic Dragon, which I did a youtube recording of a couple of hours earlier on the Sigma twelve-string, which turned out OK, but not out here: I only did a verse before I messed it up. Marcus the painter happened to be there and he asked if I knew who wrote it. I only know it was a poem by Leonard somebody, who was an American student, and the music was by Peter Yarrow, and I only know that when I had to look it up, when I put the video up. Well, Marcus begs to differ. He says it’s from around 1910, and the first person who did it was Marlene Dietrich. I’m sure he’s wrong – it didn’t exist before 1962, but he’s sure he’s right. He’s definitely not…I’m sure…I think.

The Councillor comes by and after not conversing with me – or donating – for ages, drops a £5 note in the bucket, which was good, as it was going a bit slow. There’s mainly schoolkids about and they don’t give anything. After 45 minutes, I suddenly got really hungry and I also needed the toilet, so I did another 20 minutes then packed up, went to the toilet then bought a Snickers (for 60p).

I started to set up at Pavilion, but looking about I noticed there was hardly anyone at any of the tables, and not even anyone walking around, so I packed up and headed back down to Vodafone, which I’d just gone past on the way from the toilet. But it was a good decision, as it turned out, because I had the good fortune to meet an old guy, who was watching from across the way, and he came over with a(nother) £5 note! So, two in one day!

But that’s not all. After I did La Vie En Rose, he bought a CD! I also might have got a gig out of it – a garden party…in Norfolk. I gave him my card but I don’t hold my breath for that sort of thing anymore*. Anyway, this guy came up after Blowin’ In The Wind and commented on the arrangement, so I told him it was mine but in the Chet Atkins style. He said he knew that, so I said I did a few of Chet’s arrangments, including La Vie En Rose, which I then played a bit of and told him where I’d found it, on the double CD of Chet’s home recordings, which they released after he died. Well, this guy knew all about them. He said they were found by Paul Yandell – also dead, which I found out recently – who went through all of Chet’s home recordings and he said, ‘These are good enough to be released’, and they certainly were: they’re all brilliant. Ol’ Man River’s one of them, though I had to fake some of the middle as it’s so difficult to work out.

So, out of all the takings, this old guy with his fiver and buying the CD, accounted for £12.50p – more than half the total. And it could have been £13.50p, as he wasn’t bothered about the pound change from the CD, which I insisted he take! Great business sense, Mr. Naylor…

Earnings: £33.31p (Including 1 CD)

*I never heard back.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 570

Diary Of A Busker Day 570 Wednesday June 11th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:10-2:25pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:45-4:15pm, 3. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:25-5:05pm).

I saw Delia for the first time in awhile, and I think it was the first time I’ve seen her hair, as she wasn’t wearing that scarf she’s always got. Her hair’s pretty short so I ask if she’s had a haircut. She says some others have asked her that as no one else has seen her without a scarf before! She says her hair’s thinning at the back and she thinks she looks like a man – ‘I look more of a man than you’, she says. I say she doesn’t (of course). She’s wearing a dress, which prompts a conversation  about men who wear dresses(!) Delia definitely hasn’t got time for those, or ‘women who like women’. I play the usual – Dr. Zhivago, as she goes off.

There’s a load of people about, so the takings – about £11.50p – is disappointing for an hour and fifteen minutes. I have a break by way of walking to the toilet near the bookshop, but not going up to the bookshop, then heading back, this time to Gieves & Hawkes for an hour and a half…during which I’m paid a compliment: a woman donated and said ‘You always cheer me up’.

There are a few sitting – lying would be more accurate – in the cathedral grounds, but hardly anyone walks by me, so it’s just as good (or bad) as the High Street. A guy starts drilling a hole in the wall of the pub across the road, for an ashtray to fit. That goes on for 5 minutes, then he stops but then 20 minutes later he starts drilling on the other wall, so I pack up…and wave to Glen, stuck in his posh gentlemen’s outfitters. I walk up to the Pavilion end and through the alley, and I was going to go home, as I’ve  done almost 3 hours, but changed my mind when I saw there was no one at The Butter Cross. When I first came in, there had been some young strummers with red plastic Help For Heroes collection cans, so I thought I might as well set up and clock it up to the 3 hour mark.

A funny thing happened. Earlier on, at the second spot, a little old lady contributed. Now, this same lady, I see walking towards me and I thought she must want to do it again. But when she gets a few feet from me, she must have suddenly realised she’d already donated, or recognised me from the other place, and she quickly turns around and goes back! That was quite funny, but the really funny bit was she went into the Specsavers opticians! ‘Not recognising the busker you’ve already given money to? – You need Specsavers!’ The thing is, she must have had some more change to give away – why not give it?!

Earnings: £32.74p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 569

Diary Of A Busker Day 569 Saturday June 7th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 1:15-3:35pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 4:38-6:23pm).

Another day of fine weather and – weirdly for a Saturday afternoon – no one at The Butter Cross. Sod it, I’m going to take advantage! So, who turns up after not even 10 minutes, but Rick Tarrant. I ask him if he wants to play here. After all, he’s come from out of town…and he’s a nice bloke, but no, he’s going to set up around the corner.

The coinage is pretty steady for 20 minutes, then I do Blowin’ In The Wind and get about 8 donations – I couldn’t believe it! I award it the coveted Song Of The Day status. It’s a really long set. The longest I’ve done for…oh, years: 2 hours and 20 minutes. After an hour and a half, I was thinking ‘I should pack up now’, but then I thought of Rob and those two guys who set up camp on the bench, and how they’re all here for the whole day, or 3 hours at least, and then I thought ‘sod it (again), I’m staying!’, just this once.

Other points of interest: I got my first request of the day: a woman asked for La Vie En Rose. I’d done over an hour before so was pleased to do it again. In fact, I would’ve  done it if I’d done it just before she came along, a request’s a request and all that.

After the 2 hour mark, a man walked past, stopped, put his hand in his pocket, came back, looked in the bucket – and I could see he was holding plenty of coinage, then walked off. Maybe he was thinking ‘I’ll see if he’s got much in there and if he hasn’t, I’ll donate’. Then I got some genuine applause, in the form of clapping, from a family on the bench opposite. This was after the Wheels/Yellow Bird/Third Man (zither-style) G-tuning set. Also, I did something I’ve done not even a handful of times since I started this ‘job’. After I finished the marathon stint, I skimmed off £10 from the bucket, and I reckon there was at least another £25 there, and I thought ‘This could be a very good day…for once!’

Even so, at one point, Pete – another guitar player I sometimes see – came over from the bench after Albatross and remarked about all the people who WEREN’T contributing. He said ‘People don’t realise how long it takes to learn how to play like that’. I reckon he’s right. But some don’t give a damn, anyway. He told me a guy gave him a £20 note in Fareham the other day, and then, as he was walking off, came back and dumped a load of change in his case – about £2 worth – ‘So that one guy gave me £22’. I said it’s amazing when that happens. It can change the whole day, everything. Thinking about it, if it’s going bad, selling just one CD can change everything.

After packing up, I went to the toilet, then to the bookshop and looked through a book of transcripts of all the Secret Policeman’s Ball shows. The Peter Cook – The End Is Nigh one was funny. After that, I had a chat with Glen, who was having a ‘breather’ outside Gieves & Hawkes. He never did the recording thing yesterday. It was called off, as he or the people he was doing it with, didn’t have anything organised! He’s a nice bloke, and I found out he’s a big Alan Partridge fan. He said he left a hotel once and he said to the receptionist ‘I’m leaving you, you cow!’  – of course, she had no idea what he meant. (A)Ha!

Anyway, I thought I might as well do a 40 minute set and make the whole lot up to 3 hours, so I set up up the road from ‘Glen’s’ (I might start calling Gieves & Hawkes that), up at Pavilion…which was a bit slow to start off with but picked up soon enough…AND I sold a CD, to Anna who’s getting married in Gloucester in August. She liked what I played but upon my inquiring of the suitability of me entertaining in some small part on the ‘special day’, said she wants something a bit more ‘jazzy’ for her reception. She took a card, though.

After The Third Man, and just after I’d finished the hour and had the guitar on my lap, about to pack up, a man comes up from a table outside the place on my right, where Posh BrYan usually sits. He says ‘Before you start(!), what was that?’ So I tell him everything I know about it – who was in it – ‘Joseph Cotton, Orson Welles, that woman…Valli. She was known as Valli – V-A-L-L-I. I don’t know what her first name was (Alida, I remembered later)…Carol Reed – director…1949, set in Vienna (by now, the bloke was walking back to his table!)…and it was played on a zither – very difficult instrument to play, by this bloke Anton Karas…’. What else is there to know?!

Then I get a load of requests – and this in now well past the 3 hour mark that I’ve promised myself I won’t go beyond. Firstly, a girl (early 20’s) from a table outside The Slug & Lettuce wants Mr. Sandman. She must have heard me before. Methinks she’s (over)familiar with my celebrated repertoire. I have to admit, I’ve been somewhat neglectful of that one – one of the few I knew from way back when I started. Thinking about it, I only knew about 5. I say I’ll do it but apologise beforehand for the mistakes.

So I play it, and there were plenty of them…then a young guy comes over – I think he was at the girl’s table – and asks if he can play my guitar, to which I reply ‘No, sorry’, to which he replies ‘Why not?’, to which I reply ‘I don’t let anyone play it. Are you a musician?’, to which he replies ‘Yeah’, to which I reply ‘Are you sober?’ to which he replies ‘Well, uh…no, not really’, to which I reply ‘Well, there you are, sorry’, to which he replies ‘Well…I’m not like Pete Docherty…you know’, to which I reply ‘Well, you don’t look like him’ – he had light hair, this guy.

I think he got the message, in the end. But he had a request – ‘California Girls, you played it before’. A request from a drunken youth, to play my guitar, I can’t handle. A request from a drunken youth for ME to play a song I did earlier, I can handle. So he gets California Girls…(I really have to sort the intro out. My arrangement’s pretty good but I need to memorise the bloody thing!) After that one and a few others, because I now need to round it off to an hour and a half, a woman on the bench at the cathedral grounds entrance comes over and requests The Third Man! Now she’s definitely heard me before!! After that…and another one, it’s an hour and three quarters, which makes a total of 4 fours and 5 minutes playing, and my brain is starting to go.

I’m packing up and there’s a man who’s been sitting and talking with the woman for about 20 minutes – before that, he was outside the posh place with a glass of red wine – he comes over with his wine, puts in £3 and says ‘Great, excellent, as usual’ and starts heaping on more compliments. I see this guy around town alot, when I’m playing, and also on the way home – I think he might even live on Greenhill Road – but he’s never spoken to me until now. I reckon it’s the wine.

When I got home and counted up, I couldn’t believe it. I thought there wasn’t more than £50. So for once, a really good day – double the usual rate. It’s a lot of playing, though. The left side of my right hand first fingernail – the one that does all the work! – was noticeably worn down.

Earnings: £82.20p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 568

Diary Of A Busker Day 568 Friday June 6th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:48-2:06pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:14-3:35pm).

I’d spotted Rob’s stuff in front of The Butter Cross when I came into town this morning, so I knew he’d be holed up there for a few hours…and sure enough, a few hours later he was still there.

I was going to set up around the corner at Pavilion but there was a van parked, so I went down the road to where I was yesterday, in the hope of a much improved situation, coinage-wise. It wasn’t a much improved situation. In fact it was a much worse one: only one donation – a 50p – in 20 minutes. I left when Rob and his missus were wheeling their trolley to the car park down the road. They even said I should go ‘up to the cross’, which is what I did after finishing off The Third Man – even that didn’t bring in any coinage.

I’m relieved to say it turned out a lot better up at ‘the cross’. Mick dropped by during Ne Me Quitte Pas and started talking about the chords to Midnight Cowboy, which he tried to work out once but couldn’t. I said I’d have a look.

There was an odd bloke sitting on the bench across the way. He looked like he was laughing at something. He had his head down but I could see he was laughing. It was a bit weird – he turned up halfway through the set and stayed there the whole time. He did, however, come over after While My Guitar Gently Weeps to provide the most generous donation I’ve had for a few days now: a £2 coin and a £1 coin. I make that £3 in all. So I forgave him his weirdness.

Earnings: £21.25p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 567

Diary Of A Busker Day 567 Wednesday June 5th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:21-5:22pm).

First day back after  a week off. An old couple contribute and the man asks about my amp: what does it run on. ‘Six double-A batteries’, I say. He asks how long they last. ‘Twenty-four hours’, I say. ‘That’s a big stint!’, the woman said.

A bloke with hardly any front teeth shouts something at me from a car as he’s going round the corner. Uncouth swine. A few minutes later, Bertie The Flowerman drives by in his van and waves, which is a bit nicer.

During Wouldn’t It Be Nice, a man who I’ve seen before parks himself against the pub opposite and listens for awhile…he really likes Twelve-String Shuffle: big smile, so, although I despise shouting,  I shout across, ‘Bert Weedon!’ He shouts back, ‘He used to have a guitar book!’ I shout, ‘Yeah, 1-2-3 step!’ Then he shouts back something I can’t understand…then I do California Girls – he really likes that one, as well, so I shout, ‘My own arrangement!’ He shouts, ‘Do you do any more Beach Boys?!’ I shout, ‘Just that and Wouldn’t It Be Nice!’ He nods and says (doesn’t shout) ‘Oh’.

The coinage is a bit slow here, but at least my memory’s holding up. I even do Ol’ Man River and the 5th Gnossienne…and the thumb’s going OK…I even get through Deve Ser Amor, which I need to record, soon. The weather’s fine, too: not too hot or cold. About 68 in the old measurement, I reckon.

Trumpetman Colin turns up near the end, talking very quickly as usual – ‘I was following a Chinese girl, there she is…’ A short-skirted girl is disappearing down the path in the cathedral grounds. Me – ‘You were following a Chinese girl?’ Colin – ‘Yeah – nice legs. I was on the way to the bank, on the High Street, and I saw her and thought “I’ll follow her, yeah!” Anyway, I don’t usually come here more than once a week…maybe once in two weeks, usually Monday…’ So there you are!

As I’m packing up, Gregg locks up Gieves & Hawkes, comes over, says hello and asks how it’s been. After apologising for being here two hours, I say it hasn’t been very good. I did a quick count-up and it was around £15 – well under the average. He says he’s nervous as he’s got to go into the recording studio tomorrow for the first time, and record something for a charity CD. He reckons he’s going to have a couple of drinks before. I say ‘Yeah, have one…but have a load more after you finish’, and he says he might have a few during, as well. I wish him luck! He says he’ll let me know how it goes, if I’m here on Saturday.

Earnings: £15.37p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 566

Diary Of A Busker Day 566 Thursday May 29th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite River Island, Time: 1:20-2:25pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:30-2:55pm).

Just as I’m coming into town, it starts raining and the only place I can set up is at the Vodafone end of The Pentice, right near Big Issue Monica…and things were slow. That friendly foreign nanny and her charge, Ariadne, stopped in front and the baby leaned forward to see me while the nanny sorted out the transparent waterproof cover. Then, after leaving a donation – she always does, I went into Windy & Warm and I could see Ariadne smiling, so the nanny stopped, reversed and went under The Pentice shelter while I played the whole song, and the baby smiled the whole time. She must really like that one! I must remember to play that every time they come by. It was really good – it cheered me up…a bit. She really liked it.

Up the road, for the second set – the rain eased off somewhat, it’s slow again and it was getting me down, after being ‘up’ because of the baby liking the song…and then here he is again, Harry The Dutchman! First time since May 15th, and it was great to see him again. He says he’s off to Holland for awhile, to see his brother who’s not very well.

In the end, the money was OK, in fact, very slightly above the average. And I did see two nice people – regulars almost, and I think Ariadne’s starting to recognise me…and she seems to be waving these days, too.

Earnings: £17.46p

Note: In the evening, I took the 1950’s Raleigh Superbe up to London. I cycled from Waterloo to Fran’s place in Forest Hill, then to The Coach & Horses in Greenwich for Gary’s 50th drink (the event, not the amount he’d had!), and while I was there, outside the pub, the bike was stolen – it wasn’t 15 feet away. It was even front-fork locked. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve had it since 2008. I went back the next day to speak to someone at the security place but there was no CCTV aimed at the exact place where it was. And I went to Deptford Market, where the security guy said old bikes sometimes turn up. Nothing. Then again, when I showed him a photo of it, he said there was no way a bike like that would be there long, as it’s a classic.

On the Sunday, I went again to London, this time to the big market at Brick Lane, where I’d got a few old bikes (some of those were probably stolen!) when I used to live up there. No luck.


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Diary Of A Busker Day 565

Diary Of A Busker Day 565 Wednesday May 28th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:30-4:25pm).

An overcast sky which started to lightly drizzle as I was coming into the High Street – typical! At The Butter Cross, there were two young guys: one strumming, one banging on a box. Halfway down to Vodafone, it’s Syd/Sid with his flute, who I was going to ask if he could maybe move up a bit, so I could set up at Vodafone, because he was halfway between two spots, but I couldn’t be bothered talking to him!

I walked down almost as far as Oxfam, then decided to come back and set up at Gieves & Hawkes, mainly because the thought of all the buses going by, down at Oxfam, was really putting me off setting up there…and it went alright, although I thought I’d have to stop once or twice, as it started to properly rain every 15 minutes. A van went round the corner and one of the blokes in it – the one near the window – looked at me and said something ending with ‘mate’. Probably something like ‘Oi, you’ll get electrocuted, mate!’ – I don’t know, all I could really make out was the ‘mate’ bit. Anyway, people shouldn’t shout things out to people they don’t know!

Most of the coinage (I’m pretty sure) was of the sympathy variety. I mean, I must have looked pretty forlorn, sitting there hunched over the guitar, trying to protect it from the drizzle, which never really stopped. I even sold a CD: to a rough-looking woman with dyed blonde hair – a sort of haggard ‘rock-chick’ type, who I met twice. The first time was just after I went into the 1st Gymnopedie, and she shouted really loudly from the pub across the road ‘Is that Albatross?’ I stopped and said it was Erik Satie, then did a bit of Albatross, to show the difference. The natives WILL be educated.

Then, 15 minutes later, she turned up again, asking about the CDs and mentioning the Gymnopedie, or as she called it – GERANAPELABO – that’s what it sounded like, anyway! Although I pointed out that Albatross was on both CDs – because she wanted that to be on it, she went for the £9 one, originally pulling out a £5 note until I had to inform her that, no, that one she was holding was an hour long and that’s the more expensive one. Anyway, even without the CD sale, the money would have been above the normal rate.

I wanted to do an hour but it started to rain heavy at around the 50 minute mark. I managed to drag out another 5 minutes, but the guitar was pretty wet by then and, also, the amp batteries needed changing – the low E was buzzing the whole time when it was fretted on the 7th fret, on the verses to California Girls, so it was time to stop.

Earnings: £20.46p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 564

Diary Of A Busker Day 564 Tuesday May 27th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: approximately one hour 25 minutes, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: one and a half hours. Exact times not recorded)

I had two proper paying gigs – last Tuesday and Saturday, so I didn’t bother coming into town for over a week. In fact, I was a bit worried I might not remember a lot of stuff but it was OK, the only problem being the hands – the right one in particular – being out of practise…so I should have probably left out Dixie McGuire, Deve Ser Amor, and one or two others.

I was going for an hour and a half for the 1st spot, and it was going well until I heard a racket moving towards me from the right, and upon investigation – meaning a slight turning of the head! – I discovered it to be four Hare Krishnas banging on their drums, and one had a small accordion-like thing. I had to stop as they were getting louder than me, and then they stopped about 20 feet away at the crossroads, and didn’t look like they were going anywhere, so I thought about it and decided to pack up, as I was going to anyway, after another 10 minutes. Strange, I don’t thing I’ve ever seen that lot here before.

I didn’t have a break, apart from the time it took to walk up to The Butter Cross, turn left through the alley and start up at Pavilion, upon which, the wide-open door was promptly shut. Then there was a fire alarm, not only loud, but loud enough to almost drive me mental over about 20 minutes. It felt like it was getting louder and louder, but it wasn’t…apart from in my brain of angriness and intolerance! I think it was coming from the museum near the cathedral grounds entrance, diagonally across from me.

I stuck it out, though…and was rewarded with a CD sale. It was a man of about 60, with his wife, who were waiting for their daughter to turn up. They came up after California Girls but liked my rendition of Girl – not Californian, Rubber Soulian! – so I’m going to make that Song Of The Day.

I stopped after exactly an hour and a half, which, together with the 1st set, made it up to almost 3 hours: long enough after more than a week off. Besides, the joint in my left thumb (there’s a film there) was starting to hurt, and I’ve got to watch that.

Earnings: £34.81p (Including one £9 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 563

Diary Of A Busker Day 563 Sunday May 18th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 3:17-4:47pm, 2. Opposite River Island, Time: 4:54-5:36pm).

Not one donation for 28 minutes. In fact, I was just about to pack up, thinking half an hour’s long enough to put up with this rubbish, when a kid donated, followed by an adult then another one. So I thought – ‘typical’, and decided to carry on.

Posh BrYan was at his usual spot. He didn’t speak to me this time and when I looked over a bit later, he’d gone. Ten motorcyclists turned up and parked outside the cathedral grounds entrance, a few yards to my right. They were so loud, I just stopped playing – I can’t compete with that! The drivers went off in the direction of the High Street and came back half an hour later, so I stopped again while they revved up and buggered off. They went down towards Gieves & Hawkes.

After an hour, I thought I’d pack up but after a quick count-up revealed about £15 – good for an hour – I decided to sit down again!…and then got barely anything for another half hour, which serves me right, I suppose. An hour and a half’s long enough (that Pavilion Bitch shut the door on me again), so I packed up and set up near Vodafone, just up from the usual spot. I thought I’d give the ice-cream vendor lady a break from me.

Christine walked by just before I set up. She asked if I thought I’d get some ‘stragglers’ at this time of the day: 5 o’clock, which was true, it was all there was left – the stragglers, and the odd Drongo…very quiet. It was alright, though: I must have got about £10 for just under 45 minutes – and the weather was fine. I think the weather, or rather, temperature in May is probably the best for playing outdoors.

Earnings: £29.31p (+ 40 euro cents)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 562

Diary Of A Busker Day 562 Saturday May 17th 2014 Ringwood (1. Opposite Tansy’s cafe, Time: 3:30-4pm, 2. Outside Sainsbury’s, Time: 4:10-4:45pm).

An out of town appearance: a rare event in my old age, being 52 today. This is The Fanfare For Spring that that woman came up to me about awhile back, when I was at Gieves & Hawkes. In between then and now, I’d confirmed then cancelled it, as it’s such a hassle getting to Ringwood. There’s no train station, so Doll has to drive me, get to a parking place and hang around while I play. Anyway, I felt bad about cancelling , so I got myself reinstated: uncancelled it, as it were.

We got there in time, I left my stuff in the car, checked in at HQ – the old Stead & Simpson shoe place at The Furlong Centre, then wandered about trying to find the first spot, Tansy’s, which I did, on a small courtyard off the High Street. But on arrival, they’d got me down for playing at 3 o’clock, not 3:30 like they told me and like what was on the form at HQ. So I rushed back to the car where Doll was, got my stuff, rushed back…where the folk band that was playing when I got there was still playing, by which time the lady stewards decided that 3:30 was the right time!

So, I stood for a few minutes watching the folk lot, who the stewards thought were called Marvin Naylor because of the confusion with the listings! While I was waiting, another spectator – a ginger-haired woman, came up and asked if I’d been playing in Winchester a couple of weeks ago. It turned out she came up to me after the 1st Gnossienne and was going on about it being used in the Au Chocolat film.

Anyway, when the folk bunch finished, I set up, putting the bucket quite a way in front of me, but unfortunately (for me) there was also a big charity bucket in the centre of the courtyard. I started up with Albatross, The Third Man, La Vie En Rose – after that one there was a bit of clapping from a table outside the cafe, and some of the people to the right, where I’d been waiting. Then I thought I might as well do the Satie number, which would give me a good excuse to announce it was both our birthdays: mine and Monsieur Satie’s – ‘The next one’s by Erik Satie, whose birthday it actually is today, May 17th…in fact, it’s also mine (here there were a few muted “happy birthday’s” from the crowd of seven)…although his was in 1866. Mine was …96 years later!’

The whole thing was a bit nerve-wracking, as, although there were only a handful there, they weren’t walking past, they were STILL/STATIONARY, which, of course, terrifies me! At 4 o’clock, while I was playing, one of the stewards came up, told me the time and said I had to be at the next place, up the road, so I stopped. The takings were – wait for it: 17 pence. Broken down as such: three 5 pence coins, and a 2 pence coin. Even less than I expected.

Up the road, outside Sainsbury’s, the folk bunch were playing, so I left my stuff with a steward while I went to the toilet in a pub. By the time I returned, the folk lot were finished, so I set up and started, keeping it pretty ‘up’, as Chinatown, My Chinatown went down well with the four people sitting nearby. Doll was also sitting nearby for the whole set…with a bad toe. She’d almost ripped the nail off, earlier.

I must have done about 35 minutes, then at 4:45, the two stewards came up and said they had to go. One said I could do some more songs but there’d be no one there – no ‘security'(!), but the other guy didn’t really want me to go on. They would have had to pay the police, apparently, if they had wanted to extend the so-called ‘security’. But there was no one there, anyway! Only a couple of people sitting down (not including Doll) and some people coming out of Sainsbury’s. So I stopped. I mean what’s the point?!

The takings were a distinct improvement on the 1st set: £6.28p. Actually, it was a shame I had to stop – after solid hour’s playing, I was just getting warmed up. Oh well, it made a change from the usual place, namely Winchester…and Doll said she liked it more than she thought she would.

Earnings: £6.45p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 561

Diary Of A Busker Day 561 Thursday May 15th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:25-4:05pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:25-5:40pm).

Fact is stranger than fiction…during the 1st set, an old couple came up and said ‘So did you ever get the £10,000 from that Mrs. Hurst?’*, which threw me for a minute – I thought ‘What? – £10,000?’ So I said ‘Sorry, what do you mean…what?’ So they repeated it and then it hit me…the animated Diary Of A Busker film – they must have seen it and thought it was real! I mean, they said it in all seriousness, I had to explain it was a made-up story.

Harry The Dutchman isn’t dead! He’s suddenly right in front of me: flat cap, teeth glistening (they’ve got to be be dentures). At first, before he says anything, I think it must be a ghost because I’ve heard they can look solid before they slowly evaporate…but it really is him. He’s pleased to see me again and we shake hands. In fact, I even stop playing and stand up. The weird thing is, he thought I’d gone away, as he’s been back here (he lives in Portsmouth) a few times, so we must have missed each other everytime, although he said he hasn’t been out as much, as, due to a problem, he has to go to the toilet every half hour.

He says he’s trying to find a place that sells ‘Prums’, which throws me (again) for a bit – ‘What?’ He says it again – ‘Prums’. ‘Prums?’, I say. ‘Yes, PRUMS, P-R-U-M’, he spells it out. I say I’ve never heard of that, and he says it again – ‘Prum, P-R(he rolls it)-U-M, that you eat’, and then he makes a really funny clicking sound with his mouth! I still don’t get it, then I think he must mean PRUNES. Maybe it’s some weird Dutch thing they have with their m’s and n’s. So I say ‘You mean prunes, P-R-U-N-E’. ‘Yes, prumes!’ – he says it again with an m – ‘that you eat’, and he does that clicking thing again: weird but very funny.

He then tells me his surname, which I write down all wrong so he has to spell it out for me – ‘van – small v, then, separate word – den Braak – small d,e,n, then Braak – capitol B, r (rolls it – I wish I could do that!), a, a – two of them, then k’. Then he says ‘It has two meanings: one good (then he leans in, looks either side of him and then lowers his voice)…and one bad’. ‘Really?’, I say, my curiosity now aroused. ‘Yes, it means land that lays empty – that’s the good one’, and after a few seconds of him not saying anything, I say ‘And what’s the bad one?’ He leans in again, looks either side and says ‘To vomit’.

Harry says he’s 87, which is a mystery as when I checked my photo album – he’s the first photo in the album – the photo from April 2012 says he’s 86, so he should be 88 now. Anyway, I tell him my birthday is in two days – ‘How old will you be?’, he says. ‘Fifty-two’. ‘Oh that’s nothing!’ (I do like these old folks’ attitude to age). After a bit, he puts a pound in, we shake hands again and he says ‘Just in case I don’t see you again!’ I say ‘I’m sure you will, now. Probably in half an hour when you come back’, and off he goes. I resume the song I’d stopped playing, whatever it was, then 30 seconds later go into The Third Man. I look up the road, there he is. He’s stopped, turned round, big smile, and gives me the thumbs-up. What a guy!…and sure enough, 20 minutes later, he’s back, and puts a 50p coin in, saying ‘There, people should see that and come up to you’.

I almost forgot, just before Harry went off the first time, I got him to pose for another photo which, when I compared it, I saw it was taken just a few feet from the first photo, and he’s even got the exact same expression: big smile, head at the same angle, and he’s wearing the same flat cap. So that cheered me up a bit. The inevitable lack of coinage on a busy day had been getting to me, before he came along. In fact, it kept me up for the next two hours. I was so pleased one of my original old people – one of the original fans – hadn’t died!

In the 2nd set, I saw the little autistic boy Ethan again, this time out with just his dad, who spoke to me this time (so he’s forgiven). He said Ethan’s got chicken pox – I could see some red marks on his face, poor kid – and that he wasn’t feeling himself.

Speaking of the imminent birthday, as I was coming into Greenhill Road, a woman was getting out of a car with a baby and some shopping. As I walked by, she said ‘Oh, you have a guitar?’, so I said ‘Yeah, I’m just going home’. She said ‘What’s your name?’, so I said ‘Marvin’, and she said ‘Oh, we’ve got a letter, I think it’s for you. We put the name in Google and it came up about a musician’. She went in her house and came out with my birthday card from the folks over the ocean. They’d put No.5 Greenhill Road instead of No.4, and 5 is nowhere near our bit, strangely enough. The houses at the bottom of the road are 1, 3, 5 and 7 – all old and next to each other, and all the ones where we live are 2, 4 and 6. I hadn’t even realised, after more than 10 years of living here!

So anyway, the woman had written ‘return to sender’ and were going to put it in the postbox, so it was amazing I just happened to walk by when she was getting out of her car. When I said my full name, she said ‘Oh yes, that’s quite a distinctive name  – that’s definitely the name on it’.

Song Of The Day – Here Comes The Sun, which was played twice. The 1st time it got a few donations, the 2nd time, nothing.

Earnings: £24.17p

  • They meant Kurst.
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Diary Of A Busker Day 560

Diary Of A Busker Day 560 Wednesday May 4th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:40-3:30pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:40-4:10pm, 3. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:17-5:23pm).

A sunny day…but people are still mean! I saw Delia for the first time in awhile, on her way to the bus. She’s got a problem with her ear. Some wax needs to be dislodged. Her doctor says 2 to 3 days with the olive oil. They used to tell me it was 2 weeks. Anyway, she’s all wrapped up, like it was winter. I didn’t ask if she had the ‘mattress’ on underneath her coat, though. She says she might see me on Friday (she wasn’t here yesterday, as she wasn’t feeling well). I say Friday is the day before my birthday so she wishes me a happy one in case she doesn’t make it. ‘Stay young’, she says. I say ‘It’s too late, now – I’m old. You should have said that 30 years ago!’ She asks how old I’ll be. ‘Fifty-two’, I say. ‘Oh that’s very young!’, she says. That’s the one good thing about some of these old people. You feel pretty young next to them, especially the ones really getting on, in the late eighties, or early eighties, for that matter.

I gave it 50 minutes, which made me around £8, so it could have been worse…at the 2nd spot, at Gieves & Hawkes, I got barely anything. Also, that autistic boy Ethan was out, being pushed in his buggy by his dad and an old lady I’m assuming was his grandmother…and the father, who’s seen me a few times, completely ignored me. And the kid was looking at me the whole time they were going by. Ethan’s mother must be the friendly one! – she wasn’t there.

I didn’t have a break, just 5 minutes between sets, which was basically the time taken walking and setting up at the next place. The 3rd one, near The Butter Cross, was as bad as the 2nd…and what is it with these parents who park their kids near me, point to me, and there I am providing ALL the entertainment/distraction for 10 minutes, and then they go off without a donation, or even ‘Thanks’ or ‘Bye'(!) That does my head in. I can’t handle that!

There was one nice lady, though. One of the people pushing two really old ladies in wheelchairs. They were parked facing me while I was doing Yellow Bird, and one of them must have liked it, as she smiled at me. Or was that because I smiled at HER? I’ll never know! Anyway, the young lady came up, donated and said that was the song her son spent ages learning.

Then there was a pretty girl who was listening at the bench until her boyfriend turned up. Before they went off, she came over, donated and said ‘Your playing is beautiful’ in a foreign accent I couldn’t place. That was nice, but apart from that, coinage-wise, a somewhat humiliating, soul-destroying day. So, for two and a half hours…

Earnings: £18.14p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 559

Diary Of A Busker Day 559 Tuesday May 13th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 1:20-2:25pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:30-3:15pm).

I get the first of two related comments. Those of the ‘you’re wasted here’ variety. The first, from an Irish lady wearing those big black cataract glasses. She was sitting over the road for a bit, then she comes over, donates and says ‘I hope you find somewhere where you’re more appreciated’. She must have noted there’d been one donation since I started, and I was on the 5th song. Anyway, I thanked her, and then she said ‘Can you play The Deerstalker?’ Deerstalker – ha! I had to make my excuse – ‘I used to play it, you mean The Deerhunter – Cavatina, but I’m very out of practice, sorry’. I didn’t dare say I had the music with me. I still would have had to go over it for an hour, though. Then she said ‘I’ll come back to you’, and went off.

Maurice comes bellowing up the road, carrying a rabbit box – hutch, I think they’re called – with, yes indeed, a rabbit in it. He puts 10p in the bucket and carries on up the road, bellowing all the way…then he comes back, goes into the bakery behind me, comes out and says/bellows ‘Guitarist man! Have you got ten pence?!’ I say I have, and give it to him – probably the same one he gave to me. Then he says ‘Well, I came out of the bank with twenty pounds. All gone!’ ‘What happened to it?’, I ask him. ‘Pass’, he says. ‘Pass?’, I say. ‘PASS!’, he shouts.

I give it an hour and 5 minutes then pack up…and after having a look near Vodafone (yes, he’s there again, Sid The Flute Breather, breathing into his flute), I set up at Pavilion, where I get the second ‘You’re wasted here’ remark. It started like this…a man comes up – ‘Do you know any Brazilian music?’ I say ‘Only this (I do the intro to Deve Ser Amor)…Deve Ser Amor – a samba’. He: ‘Umm…you were playing something earlier…Here Comes The Sun, it reminds me of Black Orpheus, the film…you’re probably too young’. I say I’ve heard of the film. He says ‘Well, it was a French film in English, shot in Brazil’. ‘Hmm…very confusing’, I say. ‘Anyway, you’re wasted at this venue!’, he says (venue- ha!) I say ‘Well, thank you. At least its got air-conditioning!’, being outside, of course.

During the 1st Gymnopedie, I see Mandolin John, mandolin case on his back, and he’s pushing a shopping trolley loaded with some bags, not shopping bags, though. It looks like he’s moved out…there’s definitely a sleeping bag in there.

Earnings: £21.90p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 558

Diary Of A Busker Day 558 Friday May 9th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 12:13-1:14pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:37-2:42pm).

…and there he is again – Marcus!, near The Butter Cross. I can see he’s got his First World War uniform, but today he’s got his matching khaki cap. He must have read my mind because the first thing he does is ask if I can take a photo of him! – but without the cap…and not now, in a few minutes, as he doesn’t want to take it off just yet(?!) I say I’ve got to find a place to play, anyway. I can’t set up here, as those two old guys (late 50’s) who play their electric guitars on the bench opposite, well, they’re here again.

I tell Marcus I’ll probably go around the corner, so when he wants me to take his photo, he can come and find me there. He tells me a few other things, like he had to get up at 7:30, then he was an hour getting here, that his boss is coming today…

Around the corner, a van pulls up just as I’m about to plonk my stuff down. Typical. So I have to abandon that one and decide to try Vodafone…but there he is again – the homeless guy, sitting down, breathing into his flute or whistle – he’s not playing it, that’s for sure. Sid, that’s his name. I suppose I better call him by his name from now on. Sid, The Flute Breather.

So it looks like it’s back to Gieves & Hawkes…where it’s a bit slow. Nothing till the fourth song, then…the first donation was from a kid, followed immediately by three adults. My theory: people are more inclined to donate if they see a kid do it. It’s a good theory and I’m sticking with it!

Big Issue Simon turns up, walks in the William Walker pub opposite, comes out, sees me and shouts ‘I know you like to go off the beaten track!’ Why not, I think,  it’s as good as anywhere else. I got £10 here the other day, for half an hour, and that’s better than most days in the High Street. I reckon most busker people are narrow-minded, in that they won’t stray from the High Street. All they think of is: lots of people=money. They don’t think of the other side: lots of people=too much happening, including lots of other buskers=being ignored.

I revive Deve Ser Amor – the samba which I’m pretty sure I haven’t done since last summer…and I’m pleased with myself because I did it mistake-less, and without the music on the ground.

Near the end, Marcus turns up. He’s been looking for me as I wasn’t where I said I was going to be. He even asked some people, and someone told him where I was! (a strange thing, local celebrity). So, back to the photo…he removes his cap and poses with some trees behind him, at the entrance to the cathedral grounds. The picture’s great. He’s standing to attention like he’s in a drill about to be inspected! I say I’ll get the photo developed and make sure he gets a copy before I head home. He says he’s at The Butter Cross until 5 o’clock.

After Marcus left, I did a couple more songs then packed up and went to the toilet. Then I got two copies of the photo (it’s handy that Boots is right near The Butter Cross), found Marcus and gave him one of them. He loved it. We said goodbye and I walked down the High Street thinking ‘I’ll set up at Vodafone’, and wouldn’t you know it, just before I got there – I could see it was empty – Sid turns up, sits down and gets his flute out.

I went up to him…

ME – ‘So you’re here again, eh?’

Sid – ‘Yeah, I just been to the toilet’

Me – ‘Right…so you going to play some more?’

Sid – ‘Yeah, he he’ (he does a sort of laugh)

Me – ‘Right. You’re here a lot aren’t you?’

Sid – ‘He, he’ (again, a kind of laugh)

Me – ‘Mmm’ And I went off. I mean, what am I going to say to him? – ‘bugger off, you’re here all the time’? It’s a good job I’m not too bothered about being on the High Street, now I can go round the corner. So, down to the arse-end…and Song Of The Day is Borsalino. Not because it got a lot of money, but because it got a ‘What’s the name of that?’ from a man who donated, and then two more donations, which was high praise by today’s standards, this spot being especially unrewarding.

Posh BrYan walked by, or he was going to. I made him stop, by saying I’d seen his photo in the library. He said ‘Oh, that wasn’t the best one. They had another one. Black and white, you know. That was the best one’. I said ‘Oh, I didn’t know. I just saw the coloured one. Anyway, I voted for you’.

After my earlier triumph with Deve Ser Amor, I tried it again and completely messed up the intro, and instead of stopping and getting the music out, which was what I should have done, I carried on messing it up. It sounded bloody awful.

Earnings: £16.66p


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Diary Of A Busker Day 557

Diary Of A Busker Day 557 Wednesday May 7th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Santander, Time: 1:55-2:25pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:33-4:03pm).

Just after I leave the house, it starts raining – just a bit, so I was thinking – or hoping, that maybe The Pentice is free…unfortunately Mandolin John’s there, and down at Vodafone, one of the market stalls has got a radio on. This presents  a bit of a problem. I mean, I’m not setting up in the wet…however, there’s no one at the other end of The Pentice, that is, the bit nearest to Vodafone. It’s a bit close to Timpsons for my liking, but what the hell…

…so, as I’m about to start, Tony from Sainsbury’s appears and says, about our favourite trumpet busker, ‘Someone asked Colin to move the other day’ (I’m not surprised – he’s so bloody loud!) Apparently, it was the security people at Colin’s usual place, outside Marks & Spencer. Tony said he packed up and went off but came back a bit later.

Next up, just after I start, is someone I recognise straight away but can’t remember his name. He’s one of the Red Cross lot out collecting money in red plastic buckets. He’s dressed in a First World War soldier’s uniform, complete with peaked hat. He says ‘Hello’ to me and I reckon he knows I don’t remember his name, but he’s the guy I met last year with the huge Red Cross banner with all the regiments The Red Cross served with. He says ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I say ‘I do, you had the big banner…I’m sorry, what’s your name?’ ‘Marcus’. Of course, Marcus!

Andrew Rutter turns up to say he’s finally got permission to use the upstairs room of Boots to look out and do his sketch of Parchment Street opposite. It took him awhile as there was/is a load of scaffolding, and one bloke didn’t want him up there ‘for health and safety reasons’. But then another guy heard about what Andrew wanted to do and gave permission. I say I’ll look forward to seeing his finished drawing, and that I’m honoured to actually be in not one, but TWO of them! He says ‘Yes, I don’t think you need to be in another one. Someone might say “who is that bloke who’s in all these drawings?”‘ I said ‘Yeah, they’ll think I’m paying you or something so you’ll put me in everything!’

Something really annoying occurs. I’m in the middle of a song when I feel a tapping on my shoulder from behind. I ignore it and carry on playing. It happens again so I stop and turn. It’s a man in a suit, and I recognise the face. I played at some event he was something to do with, last year, but hey, does that give him the right to  interrupt?…especially as I didn’t respond to the first taps, you’d think he’d think twice, and work it out.

Two men sitting on the bench opposite get up to leave. One comes over and says ‘Have you got a Rolls Royce parked nearby?’ As I don’t get it, I say ‘What? – a Rolls Royce? – me?’  ‘Ah, I had you there, didn’t I’, he says. Fair play…but I still don’t get it, but at least he donated.

I see Ragtime Phillip – first time in a few weeks, apart from the other day when I was in the car. He says he’s got the same plastic thumbpicks as me, the John Pearse ones. I ask if he’s been playing again and he says ‘Not very well’, gives me a £2 coin and asks for £1 back. He’s a good bloke – I know he’s sick…I play his favourite Gnossienne as he walks off with a lady friend. I don’t think he recognised what I was playing, which I find hard to believe. Maybe he was thinking about something else. In fact, I kept my head down for most of it, as I though if I look up and see him recognise it, I’ll make a lot of mistakes! I mean, the piece is hard enough, as it is.

I’m only there half an hour – I feel a bit uncomfortable halfway up the road…it feels weird. Even so, I’m amazed I’ve got about £10 (£9.56p to be precise) – almost all in £1 coins. That’s double the usual rate. Just before I pack up, Marcus, who for 15 minutes was sitting up the road eating a pasty, comes by to say goodbye, and to donate some shrapnel. I wanted to get a photo of him in his war gear but I wasn’t quick enough.

I finished off with a somewhat disappointing set, coinage-wise, up the road where Mandolin John was earlier, and made £10 in one and a half hours – half the rate of the session before.

Earnings: £20.72p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 556

Diary Of A Busker Day 556 Monday May 5th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 12:53-1:53pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:58-3:38pm).

As I was walking in, I bought a Big Issue off Simon outside Barclays, and found out the name of the whistle ‘busker’/homeless bloke – who’s everywhere these days: Sid.

A slow first set, coinage-wise, although there’s plenty of peoploids about. Same old problem: High Street Syndrome – too many peoploids, too many distractions. The other thing I noticed was there weren’t a lot of the older ones about. In fact, it was quite noticable, so a lot of the stuff I do won’t be recognised. Who knows.

The street litter cleaner – not old Alan – the younger one with his morning grey morning suit, top hat and red bow-tie, he’s out. I think he wears all that stuff every bank holiday, and also during the dreadful Hat Fair weekend, and all the other ‘special’ days. Today I watched him sitting outside the pub with Legless Brian in his wheelchair, who he then pushed up the road and past me.  I was going to give it half an hour, as the money wasn’t good, but I did the whole hour, then left. At least the weather was OK – I’m glad I switched to the summer jacket – charity shop, originally from Next! Posh!!

No break, toilet or otherwise…set up opposite the ice-cream man at Vodafone…and I have a bit of luck. Just BEFORE starting, I sold a £9 CD. And I recognised the (lucky) buyer. He was one of those sitting at one of the tables up the road, a few minutes ago. A fact confirmed on inquiry. He had to wait a couple of minutes for his wife to get the money, which was fine by me, after the disastrous session I just did, for which I got about £6.50p.

I’ve carried on doing the 5th Gnossienne and whenever I do, I think of Philip who I haven’t seen for a few weeks now.* So I did an hour and 40 minutes here – quite a long session, especially after an hour and only a 5 minute break. In the end, the total came up to the average for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Earnings: £27.06p (Including 2 CDs)

  • I saw him 2 days later, from the car. He was walking in town.
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Diary Of A Busker Day 555

Diary Of A Busker Day 555 Saturday May 3rd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:15-1pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:15-3pm, 3. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:33-4:03pm, 4. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:07-5:07pm).

I was just about to get going at Gieves & Hawkes – all tuned up and everything, when my ears were assailed by that bloody rockabilly lot, blasting it out down at the crossroads. I never even got to do one song – there was no way I would ever hear myself above that racket, so I packed up and got as far away as I could, namely, down the to the arse-end!

Maurice turned up and donated two pound coins. I’ve just remembered: the other day he walked past, bellowing ‘I’VE GOT NO MONEY! I’M BROKE – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!’ Anyway, today, he’s bellowing something else, and looking at me as he’s about to cross the road, when I see a bus coming towards him (should I tell him? – ha!)…I say ‘Don’t get hit by the bus’, and he sees it and says ‘I’m 70 years old, and do you know why? – because I ALWAYS MISS THE BUS!’ Then, a few seconds later, after the bus has gone and as he’s crossing back over, he turns to me and says ‘They wouldn’t DARE hit me!’

I might have made a good connection. At the end of the set, when I was packing up, a couple who’ve been listening at one of the tables, come over. The man has something to do with teepee tents or marquees at wedding receptions all over the country, and he asks if I play at that sort of thing. Background music, as it were. I say I do – definitely!, that’s what I need more of, I’m your man, etc… I think they liked my discreet set-up – in the corner of a room sort of thing. He asks a rough price for 2 hours, so I said £150-£200, which he thought was very reasonable. Anyway, I gave him my card.*

The rockabilly bunch are still up the road…and around the corner, just outside the cathedral grounds entrance, near the Pavilion spot, there are two girls. I decide to be uncharacteristically sociable to other buskers for once, even though these two are surely part-timers. In fact, they’re not playing right now, the guitars are on the ground. Anyway, they’re friendly enough – young folk usually are! They say they’re leaving, so I can set up. I say I usually go over there, pointing to the place against the wall. They say ‘We like it here – we do a lot of dancing’. I say I prefer it over there, as I don’t do much dancing.

Quite a long set – 1 3/4 hours, and I was going to take a proper break but I got bored in the bookshop!, so I was back out, playing down the road from where I just was, although I just did half an hour, which put the total up to 3 hours – my self-imposed unofficial limit, these days (got to watch the ol’ thumb). But as the coinage was a bit slow, and as there was now no one down at the crossroads, I thought I’d do a short one. I was thinking of 20 minutes or so. However, the usual thing happened and it went on…to 40 minutes, which made a total of 4 hours playing time. Rare these days.

Earnings: £51.74p (Including 2 CDs: £5/£9, and a 50 euro cent coin)

  • I never heard back.
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Diary Of A Busker Day 554

Diary Of A Busker Day 554 Friday May 2nd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 12-12:45pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 12:57-2:42pm).

A grey day – or at least that’s how it started – and I wasn’t in a very good mood, which was why I got into a bit of a fix just after I started at the first place. Plus, about five buses went past and drowned me out the minute I started, which didn’t help things.

Anyway…there was an old guy listening from the bench opposite. He was there about 10 minutes…then that idiot who’s always asking for Batman (for me to play it, that is, not ‘Have you seen Batman?’!), he turns up, wearing a Batman T-shirt with the big yellow logo, and also a big Batman belt buckle, which he points to with both forefingers! Oh dear, I’m just not in the mood for it. I don’t like him, anyway – he’s ‘Dangerous’ Dave’s brother. He’s an idiot.

So he puts a 50p coin in the bucket and says ‘Yeah?…you know…Batman!’ I can’t handle it. I pick the coin out, hand it back to him and say ‘I don’t want your money, and I’m not playing Batman’, and I say it three times! The idiot’s confused – he says ‘Wha…what? – you don’t…’ I say it again ‘I don’t want your money’. Meanwhile, the old guy comes over and he’s heard me say to this Batman guy that I don’t want his money, and he’s now standing in front of me and next to Batman, and he now puts two 50p coins on my music book on the ground. But, of course, I can’t take his money because Batman will wonder what’s going on – if I take the old guy’s money but not his. So I refuse the old guy’s money!, which really confuses him. He says ‘What? – but why are you out here playing?! – you don’t want money?’ Oh dear, it’s a weird one, this!

After a few seconds of them both looking at each other, then at me, like – ‘What’s all this about?’, I say to the old guy ‘Do you want to give me some money?’ He says ‘Yeah!’ I say ‘OK, right’, and I hold my hand out and he gives me the 50p’s. I mean, there’s nothing else to do, is there?! Batman then says ‘Well, can you play some Beatles?’, so I say ‘Yeah’, and go into When I’m Sixty-Four, as they go back to the bench and carry on talking – probably along the lines of ‘What the hell was all that about? – he must be going a bit nuts!’

I reckon what I’ll do is wait till Batman leaves, then call the old guy over and tell him why I did all that weird behaviour. After the song, I go into Girl, and at the end they both get up and walk off together! So I can’t tell the old guy about it, so then I feel really stupid. Ha! – the old guy couldn’t work it out – ‘What d’you mean, you don’t want money? – why do you play?!’

I did 45 minutes there, for almost £8, which is OK – more than I thought I’d got. I really need the toilet, so that’s where I headed…passing the flower-seller, I suddenly thought about George and why I haven’t seen him selling his flowers there. Maybe he’s died – he did have cancer. And it really has been a long time since I’ve seen him. I suppose I could ask the bloke who’s there but I don’t know him, and in truth, I think I’m frightened of what he might say – ‘George? – he died’, so I don’t bother. But I might ask the young guy (Bertie’s mate) when I see him next.

Up at Pavilion, Posh BrYan’s in a very talkative mood. He was enjoying his usual – red wine and a pipe(bowl)ful at his usual place, outside the posh Le Monde place, for an hour, then he came over. Firstly, he heaped loads of compliments on me, which is unusual, then he starts telling me about his day – ‘Yes, I’ve had a very unusual day. I first had to go to the hospital, then I went to the Discovery Centre (what was wrong with LIBRARY? Someone must have decided it was too boring…) because someone came up to me the other day and said I was in a picture that somebody took*. I was sitting out there (points to his usual place). Then I listened to a Bob Dylan CD – a double one, that I bought the other day. Marvellous’.

Being a fan, I asked His Poshness what was on it. ‘Oh, The Times They Are A Changing’ says (Posh) BrYan. I say ‘Oh, so it goes back to all the early stuff – 1963, 64?’ ‘Yes…and a friend of mine, Philip Norman…(well, blow me! I recognise the name – I’ve got Shout! – that he wrote about The Beatles! I’ve had it for years! Philip Norman’s a friend of Posh BrYan?! – no way!…WAY!)…he told me he went to see him at the Isle Of Wight. I think he was going to interview him, and he said while he was walking around, he saw about twenty other Bob Dylans’. Me – ‘Twenty other Bob Dylans?’ Posh BrYan – ‘Yes, in front of every caravan, there was a young man…harmonica holder, you know, strumming a guitar’. Now me, probing for information – ‘Ah, I see…I’ve heard of Philip Norman. He’s your friend?’

BrYan – ‘Well, I used to share a flat with him in London. I haven’t seen him for awhile. He’s a writer’. Me – ‘Yes, I know’. Posh BrYan – ‘Wrote a book on The Beatles – Shout!’ Me – ‘Yeah, I know, I’ve got it – I’ve had it for years. I think they keep releasing it with different covers’. His Poshness then starts complimenting me again – ‘You really ARE a fantastic player…there’s only one thing you should be doing…(here we go, I brace myself)…you need to be more forceful – put yourself about more, like over there (nods towards the High Street)’. So I have to explain – ‘The thing is, if there’s someone already playing, I can’t go up and ask them to leave, and I’m not going to stand around, waiting for them to leave. That’s why I come here, and also down the road, and anyway, this place here’s as good as anywhere else. In fact, better sometimes. Also, no one else ever plays here, apart from the other guy, Rick – very quiet, wears a hat…you know?’

Posh BrYan – ‘Oh yes, he’s alright’. Me – ‘Yeah, and he does some of the things I do (I play a bit of Windy & Warm)…’ Posh BrYan – ‘Yes, but he’s not really a guitarist. You are – you’re MAGNIFICENT, my boy…you really ARE! I came here at one, had my glass of wine…that was an hour, and it was heaven, with the music wafting over…’ Steady on, BrYan – this sort of thing embarrasses me, especially from someone like him, who doesn’t usually say stuff like that.

Anyway, I thank him again and he says ‘No, don’t thank me – the truth must be told, you know!’ So I say ‘Well, thank you for coming up and telling me – alot of people don’t’. BrYan – ‘Well, if I thought you were crap, I’d ignore you’, and off he goes. So sometimes he thinks I’m crap! Because there’s many a time he DOES ignore me!

15 minutes after Posh BrYan, I sell a CD to a Frenchman of about 60, who’s been at one of the tables. In fact, he already put a pound in but he wouldn’t accept any change from his £10 note, so I made a profit of £8.50p on that one – salut! He told me he knew Paul Young – the singer, and his wife Stacy. I’m not sure how he came to mention that – I’ve been trying to remember, but I can’t. He was now on his way to the cathedral, so I played La Vie En Rose as he went off. He said he’d look forward to hearing me when he came back, but I packed up soon after that!

Earnings: £46.81p (Including 1 CD)

  • I saw the photo a few days later: A profile shot of His Poshness of BrYan, pipe protruding from posh mouth, glass of red on table, umbrella hooked on the other chair. The name of the photo? – Watching The World Go By. I bet BrYan was listening to me when the guy took the photo! I forgot to write down the photographer’s name but I voted for it – you write down the exhibit number on a slip of paper and put it in the ballot box.
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Diary Of A Busker Day 553

Diary Of A Busker Day 553 Wednesday April 30th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:25-2:42pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:54-5pm).

Rob’s back in town, at The Butter Cross, and the homeless bloke with the whistle’s down at Vodafone – what’s going on here, he’s taking all my spots! Half an hour in, Rob and his missus come down the road with all the gear and start loading it into their car, which is parked a bit further down. After, Rob comes up to say hello. I was doing Wouldn’t It Be Nice – he said it sounded good, and asked if I’d been to Oxford. I said no. He said you don’t have to sign a form, but you have to queue up and wait for whoever it is to finish, and then you get an hour. Sod that! I’m not going up all that way, what with the train fare and everything, and then queue up just to play for an hour. What if there’s a load of people before me? Rob says Chris, the guy who plays all the fast tapping stuff, goes up to Oxford and it takes him THREE HOURS each way, on the bus. He must be off his head!

Bertie the Flowerman’s back in town, too. He drives by in his van and waves…

…Now, I reckon it’s about time I met one of the biggest cunts in the world, and he’s right here in Winchester. He’s a bloke about 70, short, a bit tubby, wearing a cap, walking stick, with his wife. I’m playing Dr. Zhivago, and as they walk past, he says something about Hank Marvin. I say ‘Sorry?’, and he repeats what he said, which was ‘You’re not exactly Hank Marvin’. Yes, he really said that. I couldn’t believe it. I should have said ‘Yeah? – well you’re not exactly Brad Pitt’, but we never think of these things. Not me, anyway.

But what I do is stop Dr. Zhivago and start Wonderful Land, incorporating both the chords and the lead bit – come on, not even Mr. Marvin did that! But the cunt doesn’t even turn around – what a cunt. I bet he didn’t even know Wonderful Land. I bet he just knows there’s an expression – ‘You’re not exactly Hank Marvin’ (is there an expression?). I packed up 10 minutes later – I was making a load of mistakes, I was so furious. I mean, I was getting more and more angry, the more I thought about what he said. I should have stopped thinking about it!

After the toilet break, walking through the alleyway, I came across Bertie and the young flower bloke. I tell Bertie about The Cunt. He says ‘There’s always fucking cunts about’. I say I’ll have to visit him in Romsey (Bertie, that is), soon. He says ‘Yeah, a Friday, with the nice weather, now’, and he asks if I’m still writing. I say I am, and I’ll have to mention I’ve seen him. He says ‘Yeah, say you’ve seen The Legend That Is Bertie Le’ Mint is back’. I say ‘What? – is that your name?’ He says ‘Yeah, L – E, apostrophe, M – I – N – T. Le’ Mint. The Legend That Is Bertie Le’ Mint is back’. So I say I will!

Apart from the short chat with Bertie, I don’t really have a break before the second set, up at The Butter Cross. Then two good things happen. In fact, one was amazing! The good thing is I sell a £9 CD, to two Brazilian blokes – well, they got it for £8.50p. It took them awhile to work out the pound coins and 50p’s, so in the end, seeing they only had a few coins, I gave them 50p off.

Then the amazing thing. There’s a girl – early 20s, sitting with an older man on the bench opposite. I don’t know if they know each other – they don’t seem to be talking. Anyway, I do Albatross, then Windy & Warm, then they both get up, come over, and the man puts some change in and says ‘That’s for Albatross’, and the girl puts in a £20 note! She never said anything, and in fact, I was too amazed to even say ‘thanks’. All I could do was look at her as she walked off, slightly ahead of the man. Then she turned round and smiled and that was it. A crisp note, as well.

I carried on playing Windy & Warm while looking at the note, thinking ‘I’d better take that out of there soon and put it in my pocket’. Just then, as I’m picking up the note, Jeremy turns up and says ‘Did someone just give that to you?’ I said ‘Yeah, a girl who was sitting over there’. He says ‘She’s your groupie!’ I said ‘I’d rather have this’, holding the note up! Unbelievable – a £20 note. That’s like selling THREE CDs…almost. Wow – something like that can save the day. Well, after the setback earlier, my ego has been revived/restored. Yin and yang!

I finished the set with Dr. Zhivago, which I’m renaming as Not Exactly Hank Marvin (NEHM). A long stint: 3 hours and 20 minutes, almost straight through.

Earnings: £60.58p (+ 1 South Carolina quarter – 25 cents)


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Diary Of A Busker Day 552

Diary Of A Busker Day 552 Tuesday April 29th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:20-2pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:10-2:20pm).

There’s a guy with a guitar and P.A. speakers at The Butter Cross…and the homeless guy with the whistle down at Vodafone. While I’m standing around the corner from him,  Ernie, who made the staddle stone thing a few days ago, turns up. He looks pleased to see me, and he’s really pleased when I show him his creation on my keyring. Then he says ‘You’re looking very smart’ – I’m in my bank job outfit: black coat, black gloves, and carrying the bag with the stool sticking out the end!

A few seconds later, when I was at the corner of Market Street and The Square, writing in my pad, Roger Lacy and his good lady wife walk by. He says ‘Ah, you’re writing your next song order – maybe some Everly Brothers today? Or the winner of the 2:30 at (name of a horse race place which I’ve forgotten)?’ I said ‘No, I don’t bet, but my partner does. She won forty quid on The Grand National’. ‘Really?’, he said. ‘Yeah, amazing, eh? – forty quid’. Actually, I DID have a bet on but my horse lost.

I end up down the road, doing forty minutes for £3.70p. The minute I start, a van pulls up but at least it was a few feet away and not right in front of me. This was during Albatross. The driver got out and said ‘What a nice tune’. He was parked for 10 minutes, then left, after saying again how nice the music was. What a nice chap! I packed up when it started raining, although I was going to, anyway. Legless Brian was outside The Eclipse when I walked by. He said it was ‘quiet today’. Legless Brian knows. Posh BrYan was on the red wine a few doors to the right. He never came over to say hello when he left. He mustn’t have been drunk enough.

Ten minutes later, I was down the far end, where I haven’t been for awhile. Four buses went by as I was setting up, and I could feel myself getting annoyed by that, even before I started playing! It went OK, though. In the ten minutes I got in before it poured (again), I made £4.30p – more than I got for the forty minutes at the other place. I then went to Waterstones to wait for the rain to stop…it didn’t, so I came home, and of course it stopped as I was halfway there. The funny thing was, as I was coming into Greenhill Road, the van that parked in front of me earlier, was parked across the road. Then the driver walked up and when he saw me he said ‘Have you made enough money to pay the mortgage off?’ I laughed and said ‘No, I haven’t made ANY!’, which was almost true.

Earnings: £8.00

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Diary Of A Busker Day 551

Diary Of A Busker Day 551 Sunday April 27th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:37-3:37pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:05-5:20pm).

I had exactly one hour  before it started to rain, which was long enough to get rid of a CD – a £9 one, no less – to my biggest fan: Charlie, around 10 years young. He was out with his dad and another bloke and he really loved the fingerstyle style – he even said ‘I love it!’ He’s just started on the guitar and has never heard of the stuff I play and wanted to know how I was doing it, so, first off, I told him about Chet Atkins (I should have told him about Tommy Emmanuel – after all, he’s still alive and he could go and see him!)…

…then I explained about the different things going on, using La Vie En Rose as the model. In fact, I played the whole thing, saying what each hand – and each finger – does, starting with the right thumb doing the bass and mid-range chordal stuff, and the first finger doing the melody. Then, palm-muting for the bass, staccato for the chordal stuff, legato for the top line. I did a good demonstration: I played a few bars ‘straight’ – no palm-muting, then played the same thing with all the technique stuff on. Two completely different sounds. It took about 15 minutes, which I didn’t mind, seeing as they bought a CD. Charlie loved it – like he said. He was all ‘Wow! – that’s amazing!’, which is great to hear from a kid, I have to say, although they are to be despised most times. Anyway, I made sure they remembered the name Chet Atkins before they went off.

When the rain started, I dragged the stuff under the overhanging canopy thing of the Creative Crafts shop, packed up and went off to Waterstones for half an hour…

…back out, there weren’t many about – and no buskers either, so I set up undercover in The Pentice. About halfway through, I met that little autistic boy – Ethan, he came out of the Cafe Nero place across the way with his parents. I had to apologise and ask them his name, as I’d forgotten it again, which was a bit embarrassing as they remembered mine! Anyway, I stopped playing so he could have a plonk on the guitar (the things I do). His fingers had to be forced to brush against the strings because he just rested them on top. I suppose he thought he’d just have to touch them to get the sound. To make it more…shall we say – musical, I shaped a D chord with my left hand while the mother moved Ethan’s fingers across the strings. He smiled a couple of times – something I don’t think he did before.

Earnings: £36.20p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 550

Diary Of A Busker Day 550 Saturday April 26th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:55-2:55pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:05-5:25pm).

Some bloke’s banging out Layla at The Butter Cross, there’s a load of Morris so-called ‘dancers’ outside the cathedral grounds entrance near Pavilion, so it’s down the road I go…and it’s really slow, which is unusual: folks are usually quite generous down there.

I mess up my new beginning to California Girls. It’s more of a melodic banjo style, which sounds pretty good but it’s also pretty difficult. I do Wonderful Land but still haven’t played it to Mick…then half an hour later, there he is. This was during Borsalino, so I stopped and went into Wonderful Land…and messed it up!, although I’ve played it mistake-less about 10 times since learning it. That’s nerves for you.

I’m not sure if he was too impressed – even when I corrected the mistakes, all he said was ‘Yeah, there’s a lot going on’. Bloody hell, I did my best. I said it wasn’t too bad, as the melody notes seem to fit in quite easily with the chord positions, and that a lot of people have donated and that I was pleased I learnt it, for which I thanked him. I also told him what I found out about it: that it was the best selling single of the Sixties and was number one for 10 weeks, apparently that’s longer than any other record, including any Beatles single. Mick contributed – he had to, didn’t he! But still, I don’t think he was impressed. There’s no pleasing some. After an hour, I left with £4.52p – less than half the normal rate. People are mean, etc…

After walking about for 5 minutes, I set up at Vodafone (the Morris lot were still up the road), and got nothing until the third song – Here Comes The Sun, and then got 5 donations, so Song Of The Day, it became. But wait…awhile later, a CD sale – and a £9 one, at that, so the new Song Of The Day: Albatross. Actually, I had another CD sale. A bunch of young Chinese bought the last £5 one, despite my efforts to get them to buy the £9 one. But no, all they said was ‘Five pound’.

During Wheels , a young guy who looked like he’d had a few, requests – of all things, a Metallica song – Nothing Really Matters. How anyone can think – after hearing Wheels, that I might know a Metallica song, well, it’s well beyond the scope of my imagination! Weirdly enough, once upon a time, I learned that Metallica one, for someone I was going to give a lesson to, but it never happened. It’s a sort of miserable ballad, as I remember.

Anyway, when I said I didn’t do it, he asked if there was any place he could get a bass guitar from!, so I directed him to CY Music, up in Jewry Street. Then I played California Girls again – the intro, marginally better than before. Just before I stopped, an old couple paid me a compliment – ‘You make Winchester’. I replied ‘It’s not that bad, is it?’ – not a very grateful sounding reply when I think of it. I ‘make’ Winchester – no way!

A long set. I originally wanted to do an hour but carried on, as the outdoor thing I was going to do the next day was cancelled as it was supposed to rain, so I was £80 down. Then, after I got to an hour and a half, I went on to 2 hours and 20, making the total 3 hours and 20. And that’s straight through, apart from a 10 minute break after the first hour. I gotta watch it or the thumb’ll go again!

On the way back, I bought a Big Issue from Simon, who was ‘with’ crutches. He now thinks his hip problem has affected his hand – ‘I can’t seem to play anything fast, like the flamenco’. Flamenco? – he can barely string 2 notes together at the best of times! Flamenco, my arse. Then he said ‘If it doesn’t get better, I don’t know what I’m going to do…music is my life…playing’. Music is his life? Give me a break! I can’t remember the last time I saw him with a guitar out here!  So, after hearing about HIS hand problem, I reminded him of MINE. And I DO spend my whole life (slight exaggeration) playing the guitar…apart from when I’m writing down this rubbish…which takes about as long.

A bit further up, there’s the bloke with the sand sculpture of the lying down dog. Now, there’s  funny thing about that. I never seem to see the dog in any other stage of creation, apart from the finished state. And the guy only ever seems to be lightly brushing the surface around the base. I’m wondering if it’s a scam: that the sculpture’s really a plastic mould with a bit of sand glued on.

Earnings: £54.57p (Including 2 CDs)



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Diary Of A Busker Day 549

Diary Of A Busker Day 549 Thursday April 24th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:21-3:06pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:10-4:20pm, 3. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 4:48-5:10pm, 4. Opposite Bellis, Time: 5:15-6:05pm).

Started off with 45 minutes on the High Street, resulting in less than £4. I left in a hurry and in disgust! People are so mean, etc… Set up around the corner and was playing less than 5 minutes later and had a good session – about £20, and met some nice people. A woman asked if I’d like to play at something she’s organising in Ringwood: Fanfare For Spring. They’ve got about 35 people – or acts, playing around the town, and she thought I’d go down well. The only thing is, I can’t remember when! There’s no money, though, so I’d be going there to busk, basically. And I’d have to ask Doll to drive me, as I don’t think there’s a train station.

At the end, when I was packing up, two women came up: one about my age, the other about 80. The young(er!) one was holding a piece of music. To cut a long story short, the old one was Joyce, and it was her 84th birthday (I was near), and the younger one was her daughter, Alison. The music was La Vie En Rose, and the reason they had it was they were singing it while they were in the cathedral grounds. They weren’t singing it loud or part of a group. They were going over it because Alison was part of a group who’d done it in a production recently.

Well, right after they were going over it (the music had the English and French words – Take Me To Your Heart Again), they were amazed because they then heard ME playing it! – which must have been a weird thing: a coincidence in the truest sense. (Under the title, someone had written “this song is about being in love with life” – I thought it was a love song from a woman to a man. The credits were: English Lyric by Frank Eyton. Music by Louiguy. French words by Edith Piaf).

Alison is a translator – French/German, and they told me about their stay in Frieberg, which I remembered was where Uncle Colin used to mention. I think he went there with his parents in the Sixties…or it was where a woman he liked lived, then she married someone else…anyway, Joyce and Alison went there in 1985, when Joyce’s husband was alive – he died 21 years ago. Apparently, Alison had to have her appendix out while they were there. The people she was staying with sorted her out really well: German efficiency.

The temperature’s fine: the hands aren’t cold and the thumb’s OK, so instead of a break, I head up the road. I have no fear of the UPS van, as it drove past me while I was at the spot I just left. I’d seen it parked and kept an eye on it’s movements. Of course, no sooner had I set up – in fact, halfway through Albatross – when just as big a van as the UPS one turns up. This is a TNT one. I couldn’t believe it! The bloke got out, took a parcel to a restaurant to my right…came out with someone else, stood at the back looking at a bunch of forms, went back in the restaurant, came out, stood at the back of the van…

…after 20 minutes, I’d had enough of staring at the van, and packed up. I did get a few donations, though. I think some people walking on the other side of the van couldn’t work out where the music was from, although I had a few peering around the back to see. Ha!

Next stop: through the alleyway, turn the corner, and the usual ‘resident’ there – the homeless bloke who plays the whistle, has just got up to go somewhere else. There’s not many folks about – I forgot how late it was: after 5…but who cares! California Girls gets its FOURTH!! airing of the day. Yep, I did it at every spot. The intros still a bit tricky, the rest’s allright, though.

I was offended near the end. Two (homeless?) blokes, definitely drunk, come staggering up. One puts a hand in the bucket. His mate, who’s quite old, walks on. I grab the hand and say ‘Whoa, what’s all this?’ and make sure he hasn’t got anything. He says ‘I was just havin’ some fun’. I say ‘What – just having some fun? What – stealing my money?’ He goes off to join his mate, who laughs and grimaces at me. Twats!

I pack up after 45 minutes, meanwhile a girl (20s) who’s been sitting across the way with an older lady, comes over and says ‘I just want to say – I won’t hold it against you – that I lost the fiver when you didn’t play Here Comes The Sun’. It’s the one from a couple of weeks ago around the corner at Pavillion! – the older lady is her mother. It turns out she’s a waitress at Le Monde – the restaurant, diagonally opposite from where I play. She’s a big fan of mine!, and says I’m very popular with the staff. I say it’s really nice of her to tell me as so many people walk by and you just don’t know what anyone’s thinking – it’s one of the weird things about this ‘job’.

She says ‘It’s important that people should tell you how much they like you – they really do, you know. If you ever moved out of Winchester, you’d be sorely missed’. – ‘sorely missed’! Well, it was really nice she said all that, because people DON’T – even if they like you, most won’t come up and say it. Human nature. Anyway, this nice person is Ione – half Scottish, half Greek, she says. Iona – for the Scottish island. So that was a nice end to the day.

Earnings: £40.98p (+ one very shiny silver UAE coin)

P.S. The 5th Gnossienne’s getting a bit better, too – played it 3 times today.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 548

Diary Of A Busker Day 548 Wednesday April 23rd 2014 Winchester (opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:50-3:35pm).

A miserable day, weather-wise: completely grey sky with drizzle. It wasn’t too bad when I went in but it gradually got worse. One good thing, though, I debut a new song – California Girls, which I learnt last night. Actually, I only wanted to figure out the intro, which I’ve always thought was great – and found out it was Brian Wilson’s favourite – but then, after I worked it out, I wanted to know the chords to the verse, so I ended up doing the whole thing.

The intro is the tricky part – on one guitar, anyway – but the rest is not too bad. The only thing is, it’s all on barre chords, so it’s pretty tiring on the old left thumb. So I played it – made a few mistakes, but a man donated £2 at the end, so I named it Song Of The Day. In fact, I was so thrilled – a £2 coin for a song’s debut – that I told the bloke I learned it last night and this was the debut (I also apologised for the mistakes, of course). He said ‘Keep it up!’

After half an hour, the drizzle got heavier but I managed another 15 minutes before packing up. My idea was to take a break, then see if the undercover Pentice area was free, and maybe do an hour there. When I came in, there was a guy playing there. In fact, he passed me at the end of the first set during The Third Man and said ‘Harry Lime’ and donated 20p, I think. Anyway, I needed the toilet and to dry off a bit, so…

…Waterstones! and I saw a funny book in the war book display, called Jambusters – The Story of The Women’s Institute in The Second World War. On the back it said: “Julie Summers’ recounts how thousands of women rallied round during the dark days of Hitler, baking cakes and knitting jumpers as if their lives depended on it” – that made me laugh. Jambusters – ha!

Back outside, the drizzle continues…unabated. Up the road, almost to The Butter Cross, there’s the homeless guy who’s usually sitting, ‘playing’ his whistle in the alleyway, like he was when I came in, so I can’t set up. I don’t have anything against him – he always says hello. I thought about going up to ask if he would mind if I did half an hour, but then thought – no, let the bloke stay.

Earnings: £8.34p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 547

Diary Of A Busker Day 547 Monday April 21st 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 2:18-3:18pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:33-4:35pm).

A really good start: I get a £5 note during the first song – Albatross, from a tall old guy sitting outside The Eclipse, who actually walked up…then walked back. I’m always impressed by that. Full marks for effort. It made up for being shut out by The Bitch across the way – that was during the third one – a frequent Song Of The Day: Here Comes The Sun (Here Comes The Bitch).

Then, at 3:04 precisely, after the 1st Gymnopedie, the old guy does it again! He comes up and puts another fiver in the bucket, but this time I feel it’s only right to protest, I mean, he might have forgotten he’s done it. I say ‘You don’t have to do that – you’ve already given me one of those’. He says ‘Well, I enjoy the music’, which means he DOES remember, so I accepted the fiver. So there are two joint Songs Of The Day: Albatross and the Gymnopedie.

The second set was rubbish by comparison. When I left the first place, I had about £20 – £10 of that from the old guy, of course – and when I got home and counted up, I’d got no more than £6 from the second place, and that was 62 minutes. The High Street is rubbish. Wonderful Land’s proving popular, though. Nice one, Mick, though he has yet to hear it.

Earnings: £26.08p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 546

Diary Of A Busker Day 546 Thursday April 17th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 11:53-12:38pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 12:50-2:20pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:47-3:53pm).

There’s a guy about my age (too old for a pony-tail, anyway) who’s been at The Butter Cross for hours. He was there this morning at 9:30…and there’s the two young strummers, down at Vodafone, so I decide to visit the arse-end as it’s been awhile!

…and no donations till the fourth song, Here Comes The Sun, and then five!, which makes it Song Of The Day. I debut Scouser Mick’s favourite, Wonderful Land, and it goes pretty well, with no major errors. It’s one of my combination chords/melody jobs – a bit awkward but at least the melody stays on the three highest strings, so I can do the chord stuff on the lower ones. I’m not clever enough to put in a bass part: he can’t have everything. But I think it works better than Apache, which is mainly just me doing the lead guitar line. I pack up after half an hour, with £5 – better than I thought.

Up the road at Gieves, where I’ve got my eye on that big brown UPS van parked up the road, a woman with her father(?) stops at a safe distance from me and says ‘That looks like a Gretsch’, to which I reply ‘It isn’t’. ‘You wish’, she says, which I thought was a bit cheeky so I don’t reply. After some more seconds, she says ‘I’ve got a VOX’. ‘What?’, I say. ‘I’ve got a VOX pre-amp’, she says, as if she’s got a Picasso. All I can think of saying is ‘Excellent’, because a VOX pre-amp means nothing to me.

I do Wonderful Land again because I’m so thrilled I’ve got a new song in the set!, and it earns a donation from a woman who says ‘Wonderful Land – my favourite Shadows song, takes me back to the Sixties’. Looks like I played it at the right time. I even say how I learnt it yesterday, to play for a guy who keeps asking for it.

I sell a CD to an Australian couple, but only a £5 one. In fact I was kicking myself, as the man produced a £10 note, like he was going for the £9 CD until I showed him the cheaper one. I’m an idiot! Song Of The Day has to be revised – to Wheels, as it secured the sale.  A long set here: one and a half hours, and it was only near the end when the UPS van came down and went passed me.

So, a toilet break and a wander up the road…and there are lots out today. The order of play, as it were: at The Butter Cross – two blokes with dreadlocks and electric guitars doing Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel. Down a bit – a middle-aged bloke (older than me) on a ukelele, doing Give Me Sunshine, because he’s advertising the Eric Morcambe play at the theatre. At Vodafone – two young strummers (TYS, I should start calling them, as it’s a common occurrence). Even old Frank’s about – I haven’t seen him in ages. And going back up the side street, I see two big vans up at the other end where the UPS one was. What is this – delivery day?

So I decide to head back down to Oxfam. But before I do, as I was hanging around the corner, that tall, white-bearded nutter comes up to me, and only God knows what he was going on about. It’s like a stream of consciousness thing – ‘Do you like Scottish bank notes?’ Me -‘Umm…’, then he interrupts – ‘Like them better than English ones?’ Me – ‘Well, the shops don’t take them but’ – he interrupts again – ‘If you had the choice – English, Scottish’. Me – ‘Umm…’. ‘Now, if I wanted to learn the guitar, you’d be the man, eh?’ Me – ‘Well, if you wanted’ – he interrupts – ‘Professional? – you’ve been in groups, I know’, and then he’ll just suddenly stop and walk off. I see he’s carrying a prescription package from the pharmacy.

Down the road (again) I play Wonderful Land for the third time! And this time it’s BrYan who donates, and I think just for that, as it’s such a rare event, Song Of The Day really needs to be Wonderful Land! BrYan does a short Shadows dance, too (the one the short Shadow did!?) The twit. I hold out for just over an hour – a bit too long, as the noise and especially the buses, really starts to grate. I’m not used to it, here.

The last song, or what I thought was the last song, While My Guitar Gently Weeps – I’m nearing the end when that tall old-lady-regular turns up with a tall, lanky, long-haired youth – her grandson? Anyway, she says ‘Oh, come on, play something more cheerful!’ – the cheek! I stop and say, with mock incredulity ‘Madam, this is my ART!’ Actually, not so mock – ha! But it’s the end, so I don’t mind. She says she wants something Jamaican, so I offer Yellow Bird, the only vaguely Caribbean-sounding thing I do, and proceed to tune down the two strings. The things I do…

Earnings: £34.53p (Including two CDs)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 545

Diary Of A Busker Day 545 Tuesday April 15th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 3:22-4:08pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:22-5:07pm, 3. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:12-5:42pm).

I set up, started Albatross, looked to my right and there was Kai and his violin!, just in front of the cathedral grounds entrance. He wasn’t playing – he was talking to a woman who I see around town. I couldn’t believe I never saw him. Anyway, he held a hand out to indicate five minutes, but I just started to pack up. The woman came over and said ‘Oh well, you’re both good’.

So, a short walk down the road…and this is the only spot where I’m in the sun: very weird for me. Still, it’s not warm enough to dispense with the winter coat.

Three girls walk by. In the bucket, one puts a KitKat (strange name for a chocolate bar, I always think) with a piece of paper tied around it with an elastic band which I’ll inspect it when I’m done here. When I started, there was a man, mid 50s, sitting down to my left, just inside the cathedral grounds. I looked over a few times during the set, and he was carving something with a penknife. When I start packing up, he shouts ‘You finished, mate?’, so I shout back ‘Yeah’. He shouts ‘Come over here!’, which annoys me a bit, so I shout ‘No, YOU come over here!’, which he does.

He had a present for me: the thing he was carving – a staddle stone. I had no idea what they were – it looked like a toy Stonehenge stone, an inch high. He said they go under the old farm granary, and that I should put it on my keyring – he’d attached a small ring to the top for the purpose – and it would bring me luck.* I said I could do with some. His name: Ernie (and he wasn’t a milkman). Ernie from Bordon.

He seemed a nice bloke, so I felt a bit bad about the ‘No, YOU come to me!’ business, and he really liked what I played. I asked if he’d pose for a photo, which he was pleased to do. I thought it was about time I had another portrait in the album, anyway. He asked my name and said again how he liked what I did: he recognised the Chet Atkins style. Then we said goodbye, I put the staddle stone on my keyring and that was that.

Back to the KitKat. I unwrapped the bit of paper. It said:

Makuna Matata –

it means no worries (then there’s a smile-y face)

Enjoy the sunshine!

Love, a stranger xxx

Bloody Australian teen-hippies: “Enjoy the sunshine” – me?!

Up at Bellis, Song Of The Day – Here Comes The Sun again, because just after going into it, one of three foreign girls who were walking off – she put a coin in during the song before – comes back and puts in a £5 note – wow!, saying ‘I love that song’. She then went to stand nearby with her friends. I almost called her back to say ‘You put about £7 in there. If you put in another two, you can have a CD’. But I didn’t.

Last set – around the corner again, where I had the aborted set-up. There’s only three people on the outside tables: two girls on one, and a man on the other. One of the girls shouts over ‘Do you do requests?’ I say ‘Yeah, if I know them’. She says ‘Can you do The Third Man?’ (what a silly question!), so I say ‘Right, you’ve obviously seen  and heard me before’. ‘Yeah’, she says. ‘Probably quite a lot of times’, I say. She laughs – ‘Yeah’. Fair enough, that’s what they want, that’s what they get! Actually, it was a relief not to have to think of every song to play!

Also, I’m pleased to say they contributed before they left, but then there was no one there (I don’t know when the bloke left), apart from the people outside The Eclipse down the road in front of me. A couple of guys came up from there and went past during Albatross – ‘Love that – Albatross’. I gave it half an hour, then packed up.

Earnings: £25.43p (+ two American dimes)

*It didn’t work.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 544

Diary Of A Busker Day 544 Monday April 14th 2014 (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 4:30-5:05pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 5:12-5:40pm, 3. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5L45-6:16pm).

Thinking about it, I don’t usually come in on Mondays, but what the hell. Opposite The Butter Cross, there’s a man playing a whistle or flute, so that’s out, and there are a couple of young strummers near Vodafone. I’d been at Pavilion yesterday so I decided to go down the road…as I was setting up, Scouser Mick turned up and asked how it was going. He was on his way into the cathedral grounds. I said it was a late one – I’d just got there. He’s a generous bloke, he tried to give me a pound in secret: he kept his arm to his side, hand at 90 degrees, while leaning in to me, like I’d just bought some drugs off him! He said ‘I’m no Rockerfeller!’

He did the usual, which asked if I’d learned Wonderful Land, so I had to again apologise for not learning it, because I said I would. By that time, I’d set up, so he asked for Apache, which he knows I know!, although today was the first time I’d started with that one, as I like to slowly crank up the volume on the way to that.

I then demonstrated how important reverb is/was in some of the songs, like Apache, and to really show how important it is, I played a bit of Albatross without it, then with it. Before and after, as it were, and he was amazed at the difference. Before the reverb, it was almost unlistenable – it doesn’t work. But with it, it’s suddenly…ALBATROSS! Mick said ‘Yeah, I see…reverb is King!’ Anyway, I promised to have a go learning Wonderful Land.

After 35 minutes, it was a bit slow so I did a count-up: just under £5, so I packed up and walked up the road. The flute guy was still at The Butter Cross – he was playing Yellow Submarine! But the young strummer guys were gone, so I set up at Vodafone, although that didn’t even last half an hour – I got about £3. So…back up the road and to Pavilion, where I was sure it was going to be the session where I got nothing, zero coinage, as it was 20 minutes before the first donation, from a man holding a toddler. He’d been sitting outside The Eclipse and he’d come up the road to donate.

Then there were about four more donations and that was it. I didn’t want to stay longer than a quarter past six, anyway. When I went past The Butter Cross, the flute guy was still there.

Earnings: £16.55p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 543

Diary Of A Busker Day 543 Sunday April 30th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 1:58-2:58pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 3:02-4:32pm).

An hour for the first set. The bells went on for the first 20 minutes, behind me, then they stopped, then started up again at the end, so that ruled out setting up down the road, as they’re twice as loud down there. I made about £10, the usual for an hour.

Not five minutes after finishing, I started up around the corner. A girl from the Nero coffee place came out with a tray of pasties, followed a couple of minutes later by a girl from the chocolate place behind me, with a tray of the nice little things. They stood facing each other on either side of the road, like a gunfight (between pasties and chocolate – a pasty/choc off) was about to start. I thought that was quite funny.

The young couple with the autistic boy turned up again. I let him have a twang on the guitar – or rather, he just sort of pressed down on a string – his mother had to pull his finger across. His name’s Ethan, which I’d forgotten – I had to ask. He’s two and a half, sweet kid.

Song Of The Day: Dixie McGuire, as it got a couple of donations, including one from a very well-dressed old couple, especially her. I should have recorded that one – it was pretty close to the best I’ve played it out here. One I did record, however, was Siboney, near the end of the session. It turned out not bad so I’ll probably put that one up on the old youtube channel.

The money here was good: almost £25 in one and a half hours, that’s £10 more than expected.

Earnings: £34.07p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 542

Diary Of A Busker Day 542 Saturday April 12th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 1:30-2:30pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:40-3:05pm, 3. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 3:15-4:50pm).

Andrew Rutter came up to say the folks at the Laura Ashley shop, which is in some of the drawings he showed me, were so pleased about one of them, they want to hang them in the head office.

Two bunches of people at two different times stop me from playing, both, weirdly enough, going on about me playing at their daughter’s weddings! One bunch think they’re going to be let down by a keyboard player. They’re in the New Forest so I got all the pointless directions about roundabouts before I could say ‘I don’t drive’. The other wedding – the father wants half an hour of music when they emerge from the St. Lawrence Church, nearby in the alleyway. He’ll pay me £25, but then he starts going on about me sending a set list and maybe some songs ‘she’ would like to hear. In other words, songs not on the list – songs I’d have to learn. I said that would cost more. Why don’t these people just get a jukebox, or iPad?, or whatever they all have now. I’m not learning a load of stuff I hate just for a stupid wedding.

A cab slowly reverses until the driver’s door’s in front of me. It’s Maurice. He holds out a coin, but no – it’s not a coin. It’s one of those pound coin-like things you put in shopping trolleys so you can unlock the trolley, and then you get your pound back at the end. ‘I found it at Morrison’s – you can have it, I haven’t got any money’. This annoys me, probably because the money’s a bit slow and I’m getting a bit depressed, so I say ‘What good is that to me?’ Maurice says ‘Well, you can use it so you don’t have to use a pound’. He’s right, of course! If I was in a better mood, I would have laughed, but I just sort of grit my teeth and thank him.

Half an hour in, Rick Tarrant turns up so I apologised for being in ‘his’ spot, but he was alright about it. He said he’d go to the restuarant or pub and maybe take over when I stopped. When he asked how long I’d been playing, I said half an hour and that I could finish in half an hour, but he said ‘Oh no, you want longer than that – one and a half hours, you know’, so I thanked him – he’s a nice bloke. He went off for a bit, came back 15 minutes later, sat at a table for 15 minutes then, seeing I was still playing, got up and wandered off through the alley! I should have called him back, I suppose. I stopped just after that, packed up and went to find him…

…he was playing in the sun, facing The Butter Cross. He did a bit of Black Mountain Rag – I did that while he was sitting down, and Windy & Warm (hey, he’s stealing my act!)…he’s pretty good! Anyway, he said he was happy where he was.

Down the road from the 1st spot, there’s a guy working on the electrics box right near where I play, so I have to shift over 10 feet, so I’m right on the bend in the road, which is a bit weird as the cars look like they’re heading straight for me! And then I stabbed myself. When I went to reach in my pocket for my pad to write down when I started, the pencil, which was still sharp, went right in my palm. I pulled my hand out and it was there, hanging from it. The whole of the lead bit was in the skin at an angle, about an inch from the little finger. I pulled it out – I was amazed there was hardly any blood – and tried to suck the poison out, but the opening closed up pretty quickly. It didn’t hurt too much so I was able to carry on.

That homeless guy Brian came up with a Drongo mate. He wanted some money, as if I’ve got anything. (I suppose I’ve got more than him). ‘They’ve stopped us from begging and busking (I like how he puts the two together) in the High Street and I’ve just had a thing with me liver’, he says. He did look rough, and also like he was missing another tooth, but I wasn’t in the mood for it, although I gave him 50p – just to get rid of  the bugger.

At 3:05, I was drowned out by the bloody church bells, which are twice as loud here as up the road, so I had to stop. I packed up, walked around a bit then went back up the road and started up there again. The bells didn’t stop till I was 20 minutes in. A couple with a little boy with autism distracted me for a while. He kept trying to pick the bucket up and empty it, during which I was telling the couple about Chet Atkins, who they’ve not heard of because they’re 35 – my thoughts, not their words.

Just before I finished, a rough-looking woman with peroxide blonde hair comes up, puts a £5 note and a few coins in – ‘We had a pool around, sittin’ outside the pub’. I reckon there was £10 in total. I thanked them all – there were four of them – a few minutes later as I walked by the pub, and she said ‘Oh, we would’ve given you more if you kept playing’

Earnings: £47.09p (Including 1 CD – £5)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 541

Diary Of A Busker Day 541 Friday April 11th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:13-2:18pm, 2. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 2:25-3:55pm, 3. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:45-5:08pm, 4. Opposite Bellis/O2, Time: 5:12-5:44pm).

There it is again – the bloody big brown UPS van, in my spot! I’ve worked out what goes on. The driver parks there because it’s the nearest he can get to the High Street. He can’t drive into the High Street to do the deliveries so he parks here, piles all the boxes on a trolley and takes them through the alley to the street. Anyway, my plan is to play down the other end of The Square, where I’m facing up the road, and I’ll be able to see the van and when it moves off.

Fortunately I was able to sell a CD – to a group of people from Prague. A woman did all the talking, and had a look at both CDs. She asked me about busking permits, as she knew a girl violinist who was interested in busking in England. I said not to bother about permits: just turn up and play, even in London – Trafalgar Square. I told her I’ve seen loads of buskers there, the police just walk by.

What about Prague, though? I said I’d like to go there. She said I’d definitely need a permit and they’d get very mad at me if I didn’t have one (ex-communist ruled country? – old habits die hard, comrade), although I could say I’m a foreigner and they wouldn’t be as bad. But from what she was saying, I don’t think I’d go there, not to busk, anyway.

I learned a little trick. Because the CDs cost £9, most people will give £10: two fivers or a £10 note. If I hesitate in finding the £1 coin to give back, like if I’m going through my pockets trying to see if I’ve got a pound, more often than not they’ll say ‘Oh, it’s alright – don’t worry about the pound’. Result! Now, if the CDs were £8 – the old price, I’d have to give them £2 back, and I bet most of them would wait for that. But the pound? – no, they don’t care. So the thing to do is search for the pound until someone says ‘Don’t worry about it’. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

But getting back to the Prague lot – they were a nice bunch, all smiling and speaking good English. It was Dr. Zhivago that sealed the deal – not actually on the CD, but after they bought it they wanted to hear another, so I did La Vie En Rose – ‘This one’s on the CD!’ In fact, they saved the day – £8.50 profit on that one.

After 45 minutes, the van moved off…and after an hour I packed up, went up the road and did an hour and a half – a bit too long, especially as I didn’t really have a break. A couple in their late fifties came up from The Eclipse, and after they donated, the man said ‘We’ve been listening to you for half an hour: it wouldn’t be right not to leave anything’. I said I wish more people were like that. He then remarked on my spot. He said it had ‘good acoustic value’, as I’m facing down the road, and the buildings on either side channel the sound down – ‘…and you’ll have the tourists coming soon, for a few months…’.

After that, a 45 minute break at (where else) Waterstones, reading about (what else) First World War women’s fashions! Then back out for a disastrous 23 minutes on the High Street. I had one donation and left in disgust! I had to leave – I was starting to shake my head and feeling the beginning of my angry face coming on.

I decided to go home…but near The Butter Cross, I decided to set up to try and get a couple of quid at least…which is about what I got. Probably more like five, but still: all those people walking by. In fact, when I was packing up, I said to the bakery lady – who was standing outside having a cigarette – ‘People are mean. English people are the meanest people in the world. I’ve been to a lot of places and they are the meanest in the world’. She just looked at me with her polite face. Then I said ‘Oh well, bye, and she said ‘Bee’, which must be ‘bye’ in a weird accent: I don’t know where she’s from, apart from the bakery. She’s the one who I used to note had the job of dumping the sludge bucket.

Earnings: £34.51p (Including 1 CD – £8.50)

More recordings made: La Vie En Rose, Siboney, Ne Me Quitte Pas, Wheels, The Rain Song, Windy & Warm.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 540

Diary Of A Busker Day 540 Thursday April 10th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:15-4:18pm).

Another try at recording some songs. Today it’s Ne Me Quitte Pas, Chinatown, Yellow Bird, Wheels (twice), and Twelve-String Shuffle. Wheels twice, as the first one was aborted halfway through, when a woman donated and then started a conversation about Yellow Bird – the song before. The conversation’s on the tape as I didn’t switch the camera off until she went away.

Near the end – a long set, a young guy came up. He said he was from the Risen Pizza Company, he really liked my style and wanted me to play at the Merrydown Farm Fun Day on Friday (some serious alliteration there). The farm’s near Basingstoke and he said he would pay the train and taxi and there’d be hundreds of people – a lot of kids, and it might be really good for me. His name: Dennis Veazey. We exchanged cards and he said he’d phone me in the evening…

(Fast forward to the evening)…at 7 o’clock, he hadn’t phoned so I tried the number on his card and got ‘this number has not been recognised’, so I went on the Risen Pizza Company website, found another number and got through to Mark – the company manager. When I told him about what Dennis said to me, he seemed a bit put out – ‘If anyone’s going to hire anyone, it’s ME they talk to, not Dennis. When Dennis is manager here, he can decide who to get, until then it’s ME. So, what do you do, or what did Dennis say you were going to do? – just turn up? I suppose you have a hat, and people walk by and chuck in 5p, 50p, do they?’ This got me quite angry. I said ‘Look, I didn’t contact your company. This Dennis bloke came up to ME and said he liked what I play and asked ME to phone HIM, OK?’

I thought this guy was a twat, but I said I’d send a link to a video, which I did – that one from 2011 of The Third Man, with the poor late Colin standing near me. He gave me another number for Dennis, which I then left a message on, saying I’d spoken to this Mark. I never heard back.

Earnings: £26.53p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 539

Diary Of A Busker Day 539 Wednesday April 9th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 2:15-2:47pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:55-3:59pm, 3. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 4:32-5:32pm).

There’s yet another person banging out Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door at The Butter Cross –  they all do that one! – and those two ukelele girls are at down Vodafone – one’s on a tuba today. I do a half hour back up the road – things are pretty slow: nothing for three songs, then a bit of coinage…then that big brown UPS van turns up and parks right in front of me and that’s it – I’m not hanging around waiting for it to go, like the other day.

I give it five minutes, during which, after The Third Man, an old lady who’s been standing outside the craft shop (loitering – these old ladies are a menace) comes up to say she ‘knows that one’. She’s been waiting for her husband to turn up, which he does – ‘see, he always does, although I keep trying to lose him!’ Then the van guy turns up, so I ask if he’s going. He says he isn’t, so I pack up and head down the road. I did a quick count-up before leaving: about £10 – very good for half an hour.

Down at Gieves & Hawkes…Song Of The Day is definitely Albatross, as it picked up at least £7, and a few compliments, too – ‘You’re like Peter Green but with more hair’ – is that a compliment? – I suppose it is. One man comes up – ‘Oh, what’s that called?’ ‘Albatross’. ‘Ah right…um, who did that?’ ‘Fleetwood Mac did it’. ‘Ah, Fleetwood Mac…when was’ – here I interrupt – ‘1968’. A load of questions, a load of answers!’

After the toilet it’s…Break-Time At Waterstones! I look at a couple of books then spot the cover of the Bradley Wiggins one, and am amazed at how much he looks like Pete Townshend, whose book’s on the table round the corner!

For the 3rd and final set – although the Vodafone spot’s vacant, I take a chance and head back up to the 1st spot. I only did half an hour there and that was a couple of hours ago, so why not?  A cab (Wessex Cabs) pulls up, the driver gives me the thumbs up, then holds something up. I carry on playing – I don’t know what he’s holding but I’m not stopping to get up to see what it is. Then he gets out, comes across and donates…he was holding a pound coin! The guy actually got out of his cab to donate – I was impressed. He says ‘I like your style’ – do I detect a foreign accent? Anyway, I say ‘I’ve never had that before’ – true.

A man asks for my card, and do I know Santo Pati(?) by Santana. I give the usual – ‘No, but I’ll look into it’, which is a lie, really, as if I’m going to do something by Santana. He then has a look at my song list and asks if I can play Blackbird – ‘But only when my wife comes up the road…I’ll tell you when’. Fair enough, so I carry on with La Vie En Rose with him standing beside me, then he walks off, gets in a car and drives off! I don’t know if his wife was in the car. Strange,

During While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a young couple sitting at one of the tables, come over. They say they had a bet I would play Here Comes The Sun as the next song. I didn’t, although as I pointed out, it wasn’t too far off. She won and he lost a fiver.

I keep it to one hour – I’ve had enough by then. It’s not a cold day but the hands are gradually getting colder…and colder. Nothing like a month ago, though: I’m really glad the winter’s over! As I’m about to pack up, one of the old-lady-regulars comes to talk to me…for TWENTY minutes! She imparts much information: her son who runs the Bang & Olufsen shop down from here was awarded Top Company In Europe, 2nd year running…her grandson also works there. She lost her husband to Parkinson’s in ’02 and had her ‘fall’ in ’06.

She tells me the story: She fell down in her flat (found/bought for her by her son) around the corner, was on the floor (a wooden one) for an hour before she could drag herself (on her bottom) to the chair where the phone was (it was usually on the chair nearer her, but not on this day) and call her grandson at Bang & Olufsen – ‘I said “Now listen, it’s your granny”, and he said they were very busy in the shop, then I said “I’ve fallen down”, and he was here in less than a minute, you know, but they couldn’t get in because the door was locked, so they got the fire brigade and they had to smash the glass to get in…I don’t know who paid for the glass’ – (I do). She used to live in Bournemouth, on the 3rd floor of a place, but it got too much, so her son moved her here, near where they work.

She misses her friends from her old place but her son brings them over to visit once a month. She used to enjoy the church get-togethers, with the singing at Christmas, and the cups of tea ‘for the oldsters’. She remembers looking out the window with her husband, at the golf course at Kenton, and him saying ‘Oh look, there’s Jack (walking across) – he gets whiter every time I see him!’ She sees some of the people she used to know, quite often at funerals.

She says she’ll let me ‘get on my way’ about four times, then starts on about something else – ‘I can’t lift my leg, so I can’t get on trains to go to Bournemouth’. I say they have ramps to help people – she waves away all that. She’s quite shaky – I don’t know what that is: alot of them are like that. At the (final!) end, she says ‘Well, it’s nice to have a chat’, and off she goes. That’s what it is: her husband’s gone, she lives on her own, most of her friends are in another town. Twenty minutes is a serious length of time for a chat, but that could have been her ‘fix’ for today. I wonder what her name is? – I should have asked.

(When she first came up, she asked if I’d been back to Swindon – a place I’ve never busked, so I say she might be thinking of Romsey, but she was sure it was Swindon. But there’s no way – she must have been thinking of someone else).

Earnings: £42.97p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 538

Diary Of A Busker Day 538 Saturday April 5th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 3:39-4:50pm).

It’s been drizzling all day, but what the hell: if I can get the spot in The Pentice, I can do it… but I don’t want to overdo it as I did three hours yesterday and three the day before, actually more than three in Chichester…and the thumb’s hurting a bit…and…Bingo: there’s no one at The Butter Cross end of The Pentice, which is weird as it’s Saturday afternoon. Then again, the drizzle’ll put people off.

Today’s when I try out an idea I’ve been thinking about for a couple of days. I want to use my camera to record some of the stuff I do, and if the sound quality’s OK, I might put them on youtube with the intention (possibly) of putting them on a CD. I think the ones I’ve done at home are OK, but I’m sometimes a bit self-conscious and, as a consequence, I think I sometimes hold back a bit. Out here, there’s loads of distractions: people walking by, dogs, loud noises – so I can forget what I’m doing and relax…I think. Also, I’ve been selling the £5 CD that John Knutson recorded, and all he did was stick a mic in front of the amp, so why not try it myself? An experiment, anyway.

So…I give myself half an hour to warm-up, then switch on the camera and put it on the ground, a few inches behind my foot. First recording is Ol’ Man River, which I get through OK. The shot – the visual – which, of course, never moves, is my right foot tapping – a huge foot! Beyond that, you can see people walking by, but the lens is wet so it’s all blurred. Next up: My Way, and almost the same camera position, but the huge foot stays still. Next: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, with the camera pointing directly across the road and into the jewellers. This take was aborted halfway through due to a fire alarm going off.

Next: Borsalino, with the same shot as While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  Apart from the shop doorway, there’s my left foot (there’s a film there) and mainly the lower halves of people, but whole animals: dogs/pigeons, and very small children. Last one: The Moulin Rouge Theme, with the camera on the other side of me – the view mainly of the strap on my bag that the amp’s on! After that, I put the camera away – I want to see how they turn out before I do any more. It could be a total waste of time.

Back to what’s going on. There’s a guy(?) walking around – he was doing it yesterday – dressed as Darth Vader. It could be a tall woman, of course. I don’t know what it’s in aid of, but he/she/it’s walking up from the right while I’m doing Wheels – a very un-Vader-like song, for sure. Suddenly two teenage girls say ‘Can you play the Star Wars theme while Darth Vader’s walking up the street?’ I have to disappoint them – ‘Sorry, I don’t know it’. Fools.

I pack up as I’ve got to watch my thumb, and also, it’s no fun playing in the rain. It’s not pouring down but it’s that annoying kind of drizzle (what other kind is there? – I think to meself) that gets everywhere, even though you think you’re undercover. It bends into where I am and covers my lovely guitar. There’s no escape.

Anyway, there’s someone who wants to take over from me: a girl of 14 or 15. As I finish packing up, she says she’s here to busk for the first time, with her flute. I think she’s a bit nervous, so I say she shouldn’t be, and tell her about when I started out in Southampton – ‘I was really self-conscious (I still am!)…I didn’t want to set up, and when I did, I thought everyone was looking at me, but they weren’t. Maybe for a second, some people might, then they carry on doing what they were doing…’ I tell her she’ll be alright and not to worry and to enjoy it. What? – I’m a fine one to talk about enjoying it! I ask her name – it’s Eleanor. I say ‘Good luck, you’ll be alright’. And she will, because people love young girls playing anything out here.

Earnings: £15.25p


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Diary Of A Busker Day 537

Diary Of A Busker Day 537 Friday April 4th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 1:30-2:06pm, 2:13-3:15pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:07-5:30pm).

I set up opposite Pavillion, which I can’t see because there’s that big brown UPS delivery van parked in front of me. I see this van all the time, and the guy who drives it who has a moustache. He nods to me whenever he goes by. I don’t know where he is now, though, but I know the van’s never parked for too long, so I reckon he’ll turn up and it’ll be off.

So I start playing, with the side of the van four feet in front of me. There aren’t many people sitting outside today – it’s a bit chilly, overcast – but they must wonder where the sound’s coming from as they can’t see me! After some minutes, the driver turns up but instead of driving off and thereby revealing me to my adoring public, he gets a load of boxes out and trolleys them off to the photographic shop a few doors down. Then he comes back, gets some more boxes and goes off again…then he’s back again to carry a couple of lighter parcels off but this time he disappears through the alleyway towards The Butter Cross, and that’s it – he’s gone, he doesn’t come back!

I get rather fed up with this big dark van in front – it’s a bit oppressive, actually – so I decide to get out. But then I think – ‘I bet the minute I walk off, the bloody driver’ll turn up and the van’ll move off – it will definitely happen!’ This is why I’ve stuck it for over half an hour, because I KNOW it will happen. But in the end, I’ve had enough. I’ve had a couple of donations and one woman kicked the bucket by mistake, trying to get passed me: there’s not much space between me and the van. But most people are walking round the other side of it – bloody van!

I pack up and walk down The Square – I only found out the name today and I’ve been down it hundreds of times – and turn left at the bottom towards the High Street, and head for Vodafone…but wait, there’s that violinist that plays in Guy’s Threepenny Bit bunch. Hmm…I wonder…I turn back and just as I’m getting to The Square, I hear the sound of a van about to turn the corner…and yes, it’s the bloody UPS van! What I thought – no, KNEW – would happen, did…give or take a couple of minutes. The van turns the corner, the driver sees me as I mouth the words ‘For f**** sake’ – ha! So, back up the road. I now have full view of Pavillion when, after a few minutes, someone (not The Bitch) shuts the door tight – it was wide open. Cheers, you lovely people!

A man requests Anji – Bert Jansch, so I do the usual – ‘I used to play it but it’s really difficult because of this problem I’ve got with my hand…’, and then I play it, or try to. In fact it’s not too bad, maybe because I was teaching it to Ollie not long ago. Anyway, the man donates and it even gets another donation, so I’m going to name it Song Of The Day, and it’s not even in my official repertoire…maybe I should put it back in. After an hour, I’ve had enough and I bet the women in Pavillion have, too, and there’s hardly anyone about: four at a table, that’s it.

I walk about…Mandolin John’s strumming and singing some rubbish at Vodafone. What the hell, I’ll go down to Oxfam – I haven’t been there for awhile…but it’s slow..one amusing incident: That old guy from Southampton who loves Blackbird, appeared across the road during The Third Man, so afterwards I did his favourite, then go into Girl. He crosses the road and he’s standing next to me and at the end he says ‘Do you know any Guns ‘n’ Roses?’ Well, this cracks me up: he’s got to be 70, moustachioed, wears a nice suit, even has a small carnation in his buttonhole today. Not your usual Guns ‘n’ Roses fan, you might be forgiven for saying.

In fact, I even say ‘You just don’t look like the sort of person who’d like Guns ‘n’ Roses’, which I think he gets – he laughs a bit, anyway. Then when I say I don’t know any Guns ‘n’ Roses, he says ‘Any Bob Dylan?’, so he gets Blowin’ In The Wind. Art the end he wishes me a happy Easter and does a peace sign – the two fingers, which throws me a bit, so I say ‘Sorry?’, and he says it again – ‘Have a happy Easter’, and does the sign again, and then it clicks: he’s doing a rabbit sign!

Apart from that, it was pretty dead. A young guy from one of the market stalls comes across to donate – he liked the music, he says. Then, after I packed up and was about to walk off, a couple come across. The man says ‘We’ve been enjoying a cup of tea (he’s Irish), listening to you…there you go’, and hands me a coin. So, what’s it worth? – listening to me while having a cup of tea? 50p.

I was hoping to have a bit more success – of a Friday, especially since it’s been an expensive week, what with paying for the bloody album. I worked out how much the whole thing cost: £2,966 – that’s the recording, train fares to London (and back, of course!), mastering, and this week, the manufacture of 100 CDs and artwork, so that was about £340. The train fares were over £700 – half of what it cost to record the ten songs! And on top of that, because it’s half-term, all the guitar lessons are cancelled until the 22nd or 23rd.

I almost forgot, during the last few days, there’s been a big thing about sand from the Sahara mixing with the air pollution in England. I took a photo of a few grains which had settled on the guitar. BIG NEWS!

Earnings: £22.71p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 536

Diary Of A Busker Day 536 Thursday April 3rd 2014 Chichester (1. In front of HSBC bank, The Cross, Time: 11:38-1:08pm, 2. Opposite Next, Time: 1:40-2:50pm, 3. Opposite HSBC bank, Time: 3:17-4:05pm).

The blonde woman’s here today at her mobile stall of phone covers and cheap jewellery, and there’s a burger stall manned between a man and a young fat woman, and finally a guy selling ‘three punnets of strawberries for two pounds, ‘oo wants three punnets for two pounds’, which he says constantly. He must have got bored because at one point he gets it mixed up – ‘three for two pounds of strawberries’ – ha!

I play three songs and get nothing, then that woman I’ve met before, who was asking about prices for lessons for her son, suddenly appears – ‘My son did his first concert yesterday. He’s had five lessons, I’m so proud!’ and she walks off, no donation. Yeah, you’re proud, lady, but I couldn’t give a…The thing is, at the exact time she turned up, a man came up and donated – my first, and she distracted me from thanking him, which was very annoying.

Next up, a foreign photographer donates and asks if he can take some photos – I say he can. When I finish the song he tells me he loves taking photos of street performers (I’d NEVER call myself a performer), then when I say I live in Winchester, he says – ‘Oh, the um…festival, street performers, um…’, Oh no, the bloody awful Hat Fair, that’s what he’s thinking of. So I say ‘You mean the Hat Fair?’ ‘Yeah, Hat Fair’, he says. ‘Yeah, I thought so. I tend to avoid that’, I say. He seemed a nice bloke, though, despite the interest in the Bloody Awful Winchester Hat Fair.

Next, a woman who’s been standing at the market cross for a few songs comes up and says – or rather, barks ‘You know Al Stewart – Strange Fruit?’ (or Space Fruit or Small Fruit – I can’t remember!) ‘No, I don’t’. ‘Learn it’, she orders. ‘Well, I’ll make a note of it’, I say. ‘Learn it’, she orders again. How can people behave like that?! Learn it your bloody self!

Two young guys put a few coins in, for which I thank them – ‘Thank you very much’. One says ‘That’s alright’. But there’s something wrong. I thought I saw a cheeky grin, so I look in the bucket and on top of the camera case, there’s some euro coins – useless, apart from going toward the holiday fund which is about 30 euros – all money from the street, which is OK, I suppose, although it does annoy me a bit, I mean I’d rather have the pounds sterling. What can you do, though, apart from another sign amendment – NO EUROS.

At the end of one and a half hours, I count up – around £15, which just covers the train fare. All that for a £2 profit – bloody hell. Break time – NOT in Waterstones!, but standing outside it, facing the cathedral, which weirdly enough I was just reading about, a couple of hours ago. Page 18 in Laurie Lee’s As I Went Out One Midsummer Morning, just after he starts out busking, he says “I played Bless This House and was moved on at once by the police” – that was outside Chichester Cathedral!

2nd set. I need a change of scenery, so it’s down the road. The weird thing is, because the pavement is quite concave – the middle is a few inches higher than the sides, when I’m sitting down, everyone looks really tall! The set’s really slow – not many donations. Two high points, however: 1. The campest bloke ever comes up. He was sitting with two old ladies on a bench, nearby. He’s tall, mid-fifties, ironed blue jeans pulled up way too high. I think they might even have had an ironed centre crease. He comes up during Girl, which is pretty appropriate, leans in a bit too close and says – ‘Oo, what was the one you played earlier on? – Orson Welles in Vienna’. ‘Oh, The Third Man’, I say. ‘The name of the film – Orson Welles, Vienna’, he says, somewhat frustratedly, so I say it again – ‘The Third Man – the film’. He goes back to the old ladies.

2. That mad, dancing old lady appears and starts up the dancing, going up to strangers – ‘Tell him he’s a lovely person’, I hear her say to no less than three groups of people! Amazing. Bloody amazing.  Oh yes, it’s all very amusing and amazing but the money’s terrible. I can tell, I don’t even have to count it, but I do, in the toilet, after the set. There’s about £12 profit, now.

After another visit to Waterstones – this time I actually go up to the 1st floor, not for long, though – I do the 3rd and last set, back at the 1st spot. And at a mere 45 minutes, the shortest of the lot. At the very end, I play Bond for the blonde stall lady – ha! – Bond for the blonde!

Now, a woman about 60, pushing a shopping trolley, big gap in her mouth – no upper teeth, comes up. The conversation:

‘That James Bond?’, she asks.

‘Yes, it certainly is’, I say.

‘My husband used to watch his films’, she says.

‘Did he?’

‘And I used to watch them with him’, she says.

‘Ah, did you?’

‘Is he still alive?’, she says.

‘What’s that?’

‘Is he still alive?’

‘What, you’re husband?’ (I’m thinking she’s separated from him and she thinks I know him, or she’s mistaken me for someone else who knows him).

‘James Bond, is he still alive?’ she says.

‘You mean the people who play him? – yeah, they’re all still alive, amazing, isn’t it?’

‘Is James Bond still alive?’ she says. Oh dear, I finally get it: she’s lost it. I have to play along with it – ‘Yeah, he is’.

‘Cause he came from Scotland, didn’t he?’, she says.

‘Yeah well, his father’ – then she interrupts me – ‘He came from the same place as my husband, he came from Glasgow’.

‘Yeah, that’s right’.

‘Yes, he was Scottish’. Then, as she’s walking away, she turns around – ‘Shirley Bassey, she sang Diamonds Are Forever, didn’t she?’

‘Yeah, she did, that’s right…did a good job of it, didn’t she?’ (She certainly did).

Oh dear, I was laughing all the way to the station – not the bank, unfortunately – I needed that, even though it was at her expense. Actually, before I got to the station, I noticed a sign outside a pub – Acoustic Music on Thursdays, so I went in to see about maybe getting a gig. The barmaid said the manager picks who plays from the open-mic nights they have at a place across the road –  The Hole In The Wall. Well, I thought ‘sod that’ – there’s no way I – a 51 year old man, is auditioning in an open-mic night to play at a crummy pub in Chichester. I’d have to be as demented as that poor lady I just met, who thinks James Bond was real. I left the barmaid one of the £5 CDs to give to the guy. Anyway, the money for 3 hours and 25 minutes playing time – bloody terrible.

Earnings: £33.31p – train fare £13 = £20.31p (profit)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 535

Diary Of A Busker Day 535 Wednesday April 2nd 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:01-4:02pm).

Guy and part of his franchise are at The Butter Cross on a break…around the corner there are two vans in front of the craft shop…down the road and turn the corner and I can hear someone at the Vodafone spot, and when I walk up Market Street and peep around the corner, it’s Mandolin John strumming and singing, of all things, Wouldn’t It Be Lovely – or Loverley. Well, I know I do some weird ones…!

I think I’ll try down the road at Oxfam – why not?, I haven’t been there in ages…but as I get near, one of Doll’s idiot friends is on a bench – she’s just lit a cigarette. I can’t stand her and I’m not going to set up with her sitting across from me, so I walk past, round the corner and bide my time…10 minutes later, I go back, she’s still there. I walk up past the Guildhall to the Abbey Gardens entrance, sit there for 5 minutes…go back, she’s still there. Sod it, maybe the vans have moved! …no, they haven’t, but I meet Guy on the way up the road and he says he’s finished at The Butter Cross – he’s on the way to get his car.

So I head up, turn in the alleyway,  and go to where I usually set up at the end of The Pentice. One of Guy’s group – a young girl with long orange hair – sees me and comes over to say they’re finished. I say I know, as I’ve just seen Guy – their leader. Apparently, they’ve been playing as a much paired-down unit as a lot of the younger ones have gone back to their college jobs. Anyway, it’s another day of almost warm temperature, so no cold hands for once.

It starts off slow – 5 songs before anything: Blowin’ In The Wind, Albatross, Siboney, Here Comes The Sun, The Third Man, then the 1st. Gnossienne, which secured a £9 CD sale! The female purchaser asked if the Gnossienne was on the CD – I had to say it wasn’t, as it’s one of my newer ones, although I did say there is a youtube video of me doing it. Still, she bought the CD – ‘Oh, why not’, she said. Indeed, why not? So, Gnossienne No.1: Song Of The Day.

Ian stood by for a minute of it, too, and as he walked off, he said ‘Makes me feel sad’. Hmm…it IS a rather depressing sounding piece…still, nothing depressing about a CD sale.  I did My Way again – about the third time I’ve done it. At least this time it registered with someone: a man walked by, mouthing(?) ‘and so I face the final curtain’!

Earnings: £33.70p (Including 1 £9 CD)


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Diary Of A Busker Day 534

Diary Of A Busker Day 534 Tuesday April 1st 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 1:05-3:05pm)

While I’m setting up, I see that foreign nanny sitting across the way with the little girl, Ariadne, in one of those old-fashioned looking prams that are very high. Very expensive, I reckon.

Before I start, I try and mentally prepare myself for a bad session by repeating to myself ‘I will not get depressed – well, not too depressed, I will not get angry no matter how many people walk by and ignore me…no matter how annoying the noise from the builders/buses is, etc.’

…but it goes well: I get a pound coin from Ariadne, and sell a £9 CD to an oriental lady who works up the road in the Hampshire County Council offices. The sale took awhile, though. First, she wants one of the £5 CDs but doesn’t know any of the songs apart from James Bond, so I play short bursts of each one – a sort of Stars On 45 by Marvin B. Naylor, and she finally goes for the more expensive one.

Ian comes by – I haven’t seen him in ages. About the noise from the builders, doing scaffolding and repairs a few doors down, he says ‘You should complain, although you might get a bucket load of cement dumped on your head’. I probably would. They’re not too bad, it’s mainly just short bursts of drilling now and again. I get used to it – everyone’s got a job to do, I suppose. They might hate 1950s fingerstyle guitar, who knows…

Delia comes by during Horizons, which she really likes and doesn’t know who did it, so I say ‘A rock group did it years ago. Sounds a bit like Bach, doesn’t it?’ She agrees and gives me a pound – I don’t even bother objecting anymore, that’s how well we know each other! Her leg’s not very well BUT she’s got some aniseed sweets – I don’t know what they are so she gives me one…a bit liquorice-like, I say. She disagrees, anyway her grandmother used to swear by them.

An almost amusing incident. In the middle of a song – I forget which one – a man and woman walked by. The man was wearing a Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon T-shirt, so, grabbing the opportunity (being an opportunist, on occasion), I stopped the song and did the famous four-note phrase from Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The bloke looked over, didn’t smile – I mean, he could have offered some sign of acknowledgment, and walked on. Then, about half an hour later, another man, about 60, yellow jumper, red trousers, comes up and says in a German accent ‘Ah, I KNEW vat you ver playing, you know, when zat guy before? – with za Pink Floyd shirt?’ Me – ‘Oh yeah!’ Him – ‘Ya – I got it, I knew vat you ver playing’.

So, a good day for once (almost double the usual average), meaning people were generous – meaning people were generous? MEAN people were generous?! But still only a microscopic percentage…but I didn’t get depressed, which is the main thing.

Earnings: £38.63p (Including 1 £9 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 533

Diary Of A Busker Day 533 Monday March 31st 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:27-2:45pm, 2. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 2:49-3:12pm).

Mandolin John’s at The Butter Cross, shouting and strumming away. I’m going to have to stop calling him that – it’s the guitar all the time, now…no, sod it, I’m going to keep calling him Mandolin John. It’s pretty dead around the corner. Even Legless Brian outside The Eclipse says ‘Very quiet, today’.

At Vodafone, I wait for a bloke to finish his cigarette and go back to where he works a few doors up, before I set up…and I’m there at just the right time to witness a somewhat traumatic moment. A mother who’s lost her child is reunited with him. He’s about 6. They meet up – she’s coming from the direction of The Butter Cross, he’s coming from the other one. She’s hugging him and she’s hysterical, saying ‘I thought I’d lost you – where did you go? Where did you go?’ – she keeps saying it, and ‘Don’t do that ever again – do you promise me?’ She’s really relieved, but then she starts getting angry – ‘Promise me you’ll never, never, never, ever, EVER do that again – PROMISE ME!’, really raising her voice. I was getting traumatic, just listening. The kid didn’t seem to say much – I only ever heard HER. They went, then walked by 10 minutes later just like anyone else – you wouldn’t have known what had just happened.

After that bit of drama, a bit more drama played out in my head. The reason? I was ignored by everyone. In fact, I could take not even 20 minutes, for which I got two donations amounting to £1.30p, and that was it. I got the terrible depression and there was nothing I could do about it. It came on pretty quick – after the first song, and that was it, I had to get away. Something wrong somewhere – it’s getting more and more unbearable to play and be ignored. In fact, I’m starting to get a fear of playing in the High Street. Get a grip, get a GRIP!

Anyway, less than 5 minutes later I’m playing up the road, off the High Street. I can’t be too long, though – I’ve got Tom’s lesson at 3:50. So, two songs in…and it starts again – the depression!…but then I’m saved. After The Third Man, an elderly couple – well, late 60s – come up, ask about the CDs and, PRAISE THE LORD! – THEY BUY A £9 ONE!! I can’t believe it, it’s saved my life! That’s what it feels like, anyway. The sense of relief is ridiculous – it’a almost embarrassing…EMBARRASSING! And what’s more, while the man was paying me, his wife put a pound coin in the bucket, so out of the total amount of £12.80p, they contributed £8.50 (minus £1.50 – cost of the CD manufacture). They were my day’s saviours! I came out for THEM and no one else. How crazy. So, The Third Man – Song Of The Day, something it hasn’t been for awhile.

Earnings: £12.80p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 532

Diary Of A Busker Day 532 Saturday March 29th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 12:55-2:36pm, 2. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 3:25-5:05pm).

It’s a Saturday, so that means Rick’s here – at his usual place, and there’s loads of people sitting down outside, as it’s a sunny – even warm day, for once. Rick’s a nice guy – he stops playing to say hello to me. I say I’m going down to the other end of the street – he says he’ll look out for me – I’ll be in the sun, down there. I say I’m not bothered about the sun, being something of a vampire.

Like I said – the weather’s fine, so there’s lots of humans about, but the money’s not very good. Maybe that’s the problem – the old problem: too many people. It’s a shame, as I get some nice compliments (what compliment isn’t nice? – I ask myself). While a guy in a wheelchair is near me, listening, another bloke who donated a few minutes before, comes up again and asks ‘Did you used to be in Peter Gabriel’s band?’, to which I replied ‘I’m not THAT old, am I?’ The wheelchair guy then said ‘I think he meant it as a compliment’. Fair enough. However, after an hour and a half, there’s only £12 in the bucket. At least my hands aren’t cold, which is something, I suppose.

Break-time at Waterstones. I look through a new book on George Harrison. In particular, I want see if there’s anything about the April 1992 gig I saw him do at The Albert Hall, in aid of the Natural Law Party. I remember two things he said. After a couple of songs, when everyone was cheering – he got a great reception, he said ‘Thank you, I must be paranoid – I never think anyone likes me’, and then later he said ‘Vote for the Natural Law Party and let’s get these stiffs outa parliament’ – he pronounced it ‘paarleement’ – very scouse-like. Anyway, I would have thought the first comment, as it was quite memorable, would have been mentioned in the book, but it wasn’t. I might contact the publishers and suggest they put it in any future editions.

While I was in the bookshop, some pop/opera singers started up outside and carried on for about 20 minutes. Mind, I was in there for almost an hour – I needed a big break…in fact, I need a big break in more ways than one! I had to stand up for a few minutes to get the circulation going in my left foot (there’s a movie there) – I was shaking it round rather manically.

Back out, the sun’s still out, the loud rockabilly lot are still there – I forgot to mention them, earlier…at The Butter Cross, there’s a choir doing a silly version of a Take That song. I set up where Rick was – it’s definitely an off-the-High-Street day for me today…and the money’s still not good. I’ve resurrected Ol’ Man River, though, after going over it at home. I just must remember – keep playing it out here. Deve Ser Amor – that’s another one I need to get back in, especially as it’s getting warmer. Samba weather! That bit – D, F#7, B minor in Tzena is still getting me. I can’t get it right – not once, and it happens about TEN times in the bloody thing – I should be able to get it by now!

So, two sets of the same length: 1 hour and 40 minutes. That’s 3 hours and 20 minutes, and all for £27. That’s alot of playing for not much.

On the way home, as I got to the other end of the Arbor, the old lady in the posh corner house who has never spoken to me, now she speaks as she comes down her steps holding a plant pot: ‘Had a good day?’ Me, as I’m half deaf – ‘Sorry?’ Old lady – ‘Had a good day?’ ‘Well, not as good as usual’. Old lady – ‘Maybe they’re all at the seaside’. ‘Yeah, maybe’. Old lady – ‘Well, I see some of the young ones doing it (busking, I’m assuming she means), and I think, if they’ve got the BOLLOCKS to do it, well, give them the money. I couldn’t do it’. Me, laughing a bit, because an old lady’s just said BOLLOCKS – ‘Yeah’. But she said ‘young ones’. What about OLD ones like me? – I tell ya, it takes alot more bollocks to do it when you’re older! I should have said – ‘Yeah, and I’VE got more bollocks than them…or bigger ones!’

Earnings: £27.41p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 531

Diary Of A Busker Day 531 Friday March 28th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 1:45-2:55pm).

Just a short session before the lesson at 4 o’clock. Session before the lesson – ha! And I think it’s going to be slow one, as I got nothing for the first song…but then it’s Here Comes The Sun and a £2 coin followed by two £1 coins, which amounts to Song Of The Day, in my book…and then, just after, a bloke comes up and buys a CD – a £9 one! So, what did I find out about him: he’s 71 and a few years ago got some insurance money and he saw a Gibson guitar (he says a 775 or a 735 but he probably means a 335) in a shop, really wanted it, phoned his wife who said ‘Well, how much is it?’, he said ‘Two thousand pounds’, she said ‘Well, why don’t you buy it?’, and he did. He says ‘You’re always alright, aren’t you? – with a guitar, or ukelele, or something like that. You can go in the corner – anywhere, and play it, you know’, which I thought was quite true.

I’ve got my head down and an old lady comes up, doesn’t say hello or contribute, just barges up to me mid-song and wants to know if I’ve seen the old French lady – Marie-Therese. I’ve just remembered that this is the same one who came up to me about six months ago and asked the same thing, and I remember back then thinking she must have died. Anyway, I say the same as I did back then – I’ve got no idea but I’m sure she must have died, so she says ‘But I don’t know how you’d find out, you know?’ She says she knows the block of flats where Marie-Therese lives/lived, so I said she should check with the caretaker – they’ll definitely know if anyone’s died. Then she says ‘Well, don’t get cold sitting out here all day’. I say ‘OK. I’ve only been here 10 minutes, and I’m not here too long, anyway – I won’t get cold’. (I won’t get rich either, with you chatting to me and no contribution!)

Phillip comes by and gives 50p. I say he doesn’t have to do that. He says he knows he doesn’t have to – he wants to. I ask how he is and he sort of dodges it. I don’t think he’s too well. In fact I know he isn’t. 30 seconds after he walks off, I play his favourite – the 5th Gnossienne, I daren’t look up from the music on the ground in case he’s standing, watching, and I mess it up…which I did, anyway.

It’s Friday, which means Delia’s in town – a stationary figure I don’t see but sense over my left shoulder, during Albatross. ‘Oh that’s really nice’, she says. She apologises for the other day when she was out with her son and didn’t come up to me – ‘I had to go to Boots to get something for my leg’. She’s got sciatic nerve, which I’ve heard of but don’t know anything about. She says ‘It’s age – I’m getting old!’, and laughs. I say ‘You’re not old’, like you do. She says it’s very painful and she can’t sleep. I ask if she’s got painkillers – no, she doesn’t like them, and she can’t take too many, anyway. I suggest taking some whisky and she says ‘Oh no, that would kill me off!’

After she says goodbye, I start up HER favourite (they’ve all got their favourites, of course) – Dr. Zhivago, and she says ‘Ah, it reminds me of my youth’. I say ‘1962…no, 1963, I think’. She says ‘I saw it in 1967’, and I think ‘how about that? – she can remember what year she saw a film!’ I don’t know why but I then say ‘Where were you when Kennedy got shot?’ She says ‘I don’t know – I can tell you what year I saw Dr. Zhivago in, though’. Then she goes into a sort of reverie: she looks up – ‘I can see the train, I can see the snow, too!’

A good hour and 10 minutes – worth coming out.

Earnings: £24.57p (Including 1 CD and a 50 euro cent coin)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 530

Diary Of A Busker Day 530 Thursday March 27th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis/O2, Time: 2:40-3:20pm, 2. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 3:25-4:35pm).

One of my old lady regulars drops by and say she thought I’d died (makes a change from me thinking THEY’VE died), as she hadn’t seen me – ‘So you’re still in the land of the living’. I say I’ve been around, I just haven’t been around here, in this spot. Then she says ‘Then I saw your picture in the paper, and I said to my friend “Audrey, look – there he is!”‘ Well, I hope Audrey was relieved, too. She looks in the bucket – there’s one solitary donation, so she gets a coin out, which prompts me – ‘You don’t have to give me anything, just ’cause there’s not much in there – there’s no obligation, you know’, which she ignores, fortunately.

I spend only half an hour here – it’s pretty dead and I run out of patience: half an hour – long enough to be ignored! I should have gone around the corner. £4.05p is what I got: a pound below the average.

In fact, I DO go around the corner…and if I thought the first place was bad, this is…badder! The Bitch shuts the door 10 minutes after I start, so I promise myself to open it when I leave, and shout ‘You can keep it open now!’, but we never do what we say we will. It really is dead. There’s hardly anyone sitting down outside the restaurants and hardly anyone walking by, although I got more donations than on the High Street, so there you go.

An old couple who were sitting down, come by, and the man – who was in a wheelchair, reaches to put a coin in – I have to lift the bucket near him, after which he says – having noticed the dearth of coinage  – ‘Not having much luck here?’ I say ‘It’s OK – better than the High Street’. He says ‘Know any Charlie Kunz?’ ‘Charlie Kunz?’, I say. ‘Yeah, you won’t have heard of him’ (why say it then?!). Anyway, he’s wrong: I know him through all those 30s dance band records father Naylor had, so I say ‘I certainly HAVE heard of him. All that stuff’s from the 1930s – late 30s. I’ve seen his picture on my dad’s old records – he had loads of them. Charlie Kunz – bald, played the piano’ (There ain’t no flies on me). He says ‘Yes, your father will know of him’. I said ‘Yeah, and that’s how I do – I’ve definitely heard of Charlie Kunz, definitely’.

The couple end up listening to most of my set, as the cab they ordered takes ages to get here. The man must have been about 90 – he couldn’t walk. It’ll be fun getting old, bloody hell.

One of the school dads walks past. I think he’s a reporter but I don’t know his name. He says ‘Got a quiet corner, eh?’ I say ‘Yeah, it’s OK’. He laughs then says ‘Bit of sun, too?’ Me – ‘Yeah, it’s allright (it’s actually very cold)…better than the High Street’. ‘Really?’ he says – he must be like most people – they think the High Street’s the only place to be. Me – ‘Yeah, everyone ignores you there. The money’s better here’. ‘Is it really?’ ‘Yeah. The woman who works in there (I nod to Pavillion) doesn’t like me, though’. ‘No?’ ‘No, she shuts the door when I start’. ‘Friendly Winchester, eh?’, he says. I laugh – ‘Yeah’. He says ‘There’s a man at The Butter Cross who’s just standing and shouting’. ‘Oh, is he?’ ‘Yeah’.

I ended up doing 70 minutes. I was going to take a break as I didn’t take one earlier as I’d done just the half hour. But I got a bit lazy and didn’t want to stay out in the cold any longer…and I would have had to go to the bookshop for at least 20 minutes. I just couldn’t be bothered with it all today.

Earnings: £16.67p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 529

Diary Of A Busker Day 529 Wednesday March 26th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:30-2:55pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:13-5:18pm).

Approaching The Butter Cross, I see Mandolin John’s there with guitar, so I take one of the side streets, and another one and come out near the craft shop, which is where I wanted to set up but there’s a big brown UPS van parked right where I usually play and no sign of the driver so…down to the other end of the road, namely Gieves & Hawkes…but I decide not to set up there just yet, so I go across to Vodafone…but there are two young strummers there!, so it’s back up to the craft shop…and the van’s still there. Even so, I start to unpack my stuff, thinking the driver’ll be along any minute…but he’s not, so I pack up and head back down to Gieves & Hawkes…and wouldn’t you know it, 30 seconds down the road, just before I get there, I turn around and the bloody van’s leaving. Typical!

No matter, though. The first song – Albatross, gets two donations. In fact, the whole set goes OK, certainly as good, money-wise, as anywhere else. I fact, a couple of pounds above the usual. The percentage of people walking by who contribute is so much higher than on the High Street. I’m now even more convinced that this place and the one up the road are far better for me, and not least in a psychological way. I’d rather be ignored by 50% of the people than 99.9999999etc.% of the people.

I also wonder if people seeing a busker in a more or less deserted corner are more likely to feel more – dare I say, sorry for him, than if he was in the High Street with millions of people about. I mean, in the High Street, a lot of people must think ‘He must make a fortune here, with all these people about, I won’t bother giving him anything!’, as opposed to ‘Oh, look at the lonely busker, poor chap…let’s give him a pound!’ That’s my theory anyway, and I’m sticking with it.

I mess up a couple of songs: Ol’ Man River, which I’ve almost completely forgotten. I abandon it barely into the first verse. I’ll have to sort that out. And the fifth Gnossienne – I lost where I was (I still need the music on the ground), but managed to finish it. Also, I did My Way – only the second time I’ve done it out here. There’s a great bit at the end, which I didn’t do, where instead of the D, D major 7th, and D 7th chords – as used in the preceding verses, they turn the descending notes within the chords, into whole major chords of D,C#, and C. Very good, very dramatic. I always wondered about that bit…and now I know!

Mr. Rutter comes by as I’m about to finish, in fact he comes by 10 minutes before I intended to finish (making the session 1 1/2 hours) but by the time he’s done talking, it’s 20 minutes later, so I packed up. Anyway, he shows me a brilliant sketch he’s done for a book he’s writing on Winchester. It’a a view from where Vodafone is, looking down Market Street, towards where I am now. It’s a really big, wide drawing, about 2ft. by 4ft., and there on the right side, in front of Monsoon, is ME, sitting down playing my guitar! It’s so great – I’m really quite chuffed to be in another of his drawings – immortalised again! I get a photo, three actually. One of Mr. Rutter holding the drawing, another of just the drawing, and a third – a close-up of the bit with me – why not!

It really is a superb depiction of the view, and he’s got a lot of umbrellas in it, all different sizes and designs. He’s got his portfolio with him too, and he brings out some of the other ones he’s done: a big one of the Roman excavation near the city centre – St. Giles Church (?) which he said he had to get permission to sketch. It took him a few days until he got through to the right bloke, who said ‘You’re very persistent’, and then he was allowed only two hours to do it. So he got the basics done – outlines of buildings, and filled the rest in later. ALL his sketches are great, and very natural-looking. For instance, in the excavation one, he’s got builder’s fences and vehicle tyre marks.

He told me a good story about the Laura Ashley shop – one of the buildings he actually designed part of – the facade. It used to be a phone shop, and because it’s above an underground river – or part of the Itchen, the basement used to get flooded quite often, and they had a small boat that they’d use to row about the room to get things hanging from the walls and ceiling! He said ‘You wouldn’t believe that, would you? – looking at it now, it just looks like a normal shop, but the manager told me that, and he was a normal, intelligent man – he wouldn’t have made that up’.

He then told me another story(!) – a quite incredible one about a tribe from the Congo. There was a British military settlement (I can’t remember when he said this was) and they were friendly with one of two warring tribes, and the one they were friendly with got hold of the military band’s instruments, learnt how to play their own music, went marching to the enemy tribe, playing, and the enemy tribe was so frightened hearing their enemy’s music – war music, played in such an alien way, that they surrendered straight away!

When Andrew felt he’d stopped me playing long enough, he said he’d be off so I said ‘Goodbye Andrew’, and he said ‘Oh, what’s your name, by the way?’ I gave him my card and looking at it, he said ‘Ah, Naylor – that was the name of one of the last Quakers’, and he started telling me another story! – about this other Naylor – ‘Apparently, he was captured and tortured and they held him for ages, then when they let him go, he had no hatred for them, his captors, you know? – which is incredible, isn’t it? I mean, there’s enough hatred in this world’. Indeed, Mr. Rutter, there is. A fascinating man, who knows the worth of his work: as he says, if he doesn’t make a record of these scenes, they’ll be lost forever. And of the people he puts in them? – ‘People make it come alive. Without people, it’d be just a lot of buildings. The people are life’.

It was weird, just after I packed up, I went to the usual – Waterstones, and the first book I saw on one of the tables was A Map Of The World According To Illustrators & Story Tellers, and inside there many drawings very similar to Andrew’s.

Earnings: £22.87p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 528

Diary Of A Busker Day 528 Sunday March 23rd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, The Square, Time: 1:48-2:20pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:44-2:58pm, 3. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 3:00-3:37pm).

Coming in, I said hello to Rick, who’s facing The Butter Cross, and is, as usual, playing so quietly, I can’t ever make out what song he’s doing! We discuss the recent weather, ie: the hail, which I observed from inside the living room, and which he observed from out here an hour ago. He says he’s just doing a bit of playing while his wife’s ‘around the shops’. ‘It’s getting to be a bit of a habit, that, Rick’, I say…or observe.

I hadn’t changed back from the G-tuning since yesterday, so I started with Yellow Bird which collected a pound from someone, and then a light-coloured long hair from the head of a woman walking by with two friends, and that’s all she contributed. I have another memorable meeting: an old guy standing to my right waits till the end of a song, then says how much he likes my guitar sound, then informs me that he ‘used to play in Long John Baldry’s band, in 1962. I used to have a Fender…’ So, first I meet a bloke who was a friend of George Harrison and now a bloke who was in L.J.B’s group in 1962!, and I meet both at the same place!

I do OK here, the coinage being above the usual average…then it starts raining, or rather, almost hailing. So I go to move the stuff under the canopy of the craft shop, then notice they haven’t extended it because the place is closed down due to stocktaking or something. Hmmph – they could have told me! So I pack up and head to the bookshop and look through a few music books…

Back out, I had planned to set up at the other end of the Pavillion street, but they’re really banging out the cathedral bells and that spot’s where you hear them loudest, apart from if you’re ringing the bloody things. There’s no way I can play over the racket, so I set up at Vodafone – only 20 seconds walk away but the bells aren’t nearly as loud – but then leave in disgust after 13 minutes and ONE donation, and loads of people walking by. I’m increasingly favouring the off-the-High Street locations these days – it’s far less depressing. There’s nothing worse than playing stuff that takes ages to learn, and being ignored by more or less every man, woman, child, student, businessman/woman, the clergy, etc.

So back up to Pavillion…which I don’t mind as I was only there for half an hour the first time, and I won’t be here that long now, as I want to get back for The Spy Who Loved Me at 4 o’clock! At 3:30, a guy in his 20s comes up from The Eclipse and says he really likes the sound and starts going on about my guitar – ‘Is it a 335? etc.’ – something loads of people say, so I do my usual – ‘No, loads of people say that: same shape. It’s an Epiphone Casino – a lot cheaper, Korean’. When I say I’ll be finishing soon, he says ‘Oh, that’s a shame. I was trying to get three of my friends to come outside to hear you. Oh well, I’ll have to tell them to hurry up!’ And with that, he goes back…and returns 5 minutes later to offend me with – ‘Bit cheeky, I know, but d’you mind if I have a go?’ (Note: Remember to amend bucket sign with AND IF YOU’RE ANOTHER GUITARIST, NO, I WON’T LET YOU “HAVE A GO”, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE JUST COME FROM THE PUB). Anyway, I say ‘Sorry, no, I’m only doing a couple more songs and I have to make some money’, which is a damn sight more polite than what I wanted to say.

Earnings: £18.48p

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Diary Of A Busker Day 527

Diary Of A Busker Day 527 Saturday March 20th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, The Square, Time: 2:22-3:42pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:37-5:49pm).

A cold day…but then March is usually pretty cold, I suppose. Just after I start, a woman leaves her two kids in a buggy facing me, while she goes in the craft shop. She says to them ‘I’ll be about two minutes’. She comes out after fifteen minutes. They were smiling at me, but only if I smiled first. I was wondering what was going to happen if one of them ran off – one did get out and walk around the buggy.

Old Brian, without his bike, came up and said ‘Ah, you’ve got a new machine’, meaning the guitar, which isn’t new at all. I said ‘No, same one’. He said ‘Oh, is it? It’s very shiny’. I explain why – ‘That’s probably because I’m facing the sun, here, although it’s gone in, but it’ll make it look shinier, I suppose, from where I usually am’ – because when I think of it,  all the other places I play, I’m in the shadows/shade. I think Brian agrees – ‘Yes, maybe that’s it, because I’ve never seen you here before…and you’ve got your picture in the paper!’ (Indeed, Charlotte’s bit with me made the final cut – one of four interviewees for ‘Your Say’ in the ‘Chron’!) So I say to Brian – ‘Oh, you saw that, did you?’ He says ‘Yes, I never read what people say, I only look at the picture – “Oh, I know him, I know her!”‘ A cheery chap, is Brian. Why do old men’s earlobes get huge?

I was going to play an hour, then that came and went, and I was going to do an hour and a half but stopped 10 minutes short when it started raining, although I needed to stop, anyway: cold hands, toilet – the usual. Break at Waterstones, where I read the introduction by Will Self to a book of Nick Cave lyrics. Then I looked through one of those 1001 Things To Do books – this one – 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die.

Back out, at Vodafone…I get through an hour and 10 minutes, as that makes a total of 2 1/2 hours – long enough. Song Of The Day is While My Guitar Gently Weeps, as it secured a £10 – yes TEN POUND CD sale – the man didn’t want the pound back. He was very nice and complimentary, too. He loved the arrangement and said ‘You bring alot of pleasure to people’. Tell the palace…get me an MBE, or OBE!, you nice man.

On the way up the road, I buy a Big Issue from Northern/Big Issue Simon, still on his crutches, and he tells me again about his recent hospital experience: in agony for two weeks/morphine didn’t work until a different doctor gave him a non-opiate pain killer which worked. He didn’t think much of some of the doctors – ‘They’d come in with some nurses, who were great – I’ve got nothin’ against them, and just looked at the notes about me and not ask me anything, though. And I was tryin’ to find out things and it was like they didn’t want me to ask questions’. He also says he ‘got the impression that because it had “this guy’s been an alcoholic”, and he’s, you know, registered as homeless, it was like “you shouldn’t live like that, or this and that will happen”, although I hadn’t had a drink since October (he went in hospital in January), you know, they just saw the words ALCOHOLIC and HOMELESS’.

I ask him how the thing with his hip happened (hip-happened – ha!) and he didn’t know! But apparently the muscle surrounding the bones had gone and the bones were rubbing against each other – that’s what was causing the agony. He said it was like, when there’s the pain from a tooth, when a nerve is touched. It was like that, but it was all the time, and for weeks. They put him in a room with a bunch of 90 year olds and they were all screaming. I don’t blame them, Simon’s a frightening looking bloke! He’s worried about his left hand, too. He says he could barely play his guitar. He thinks it might be the pressure of the crutch on his palm. I say he’ll have to give it a few more tries and see. He’s really worried about it as, before, when he’s had a break from playing, then gone back, he’s had no problem playing, but now it’s different.

He talks about the ‘night shift’, which of course he hasn’t done for ages. It’s a good laugh as he can get a good sing-song going, if there’s a bunch just come from the pub. He talks about the bloke who lives down at the crossroads (I didn’t think anyone lived there!) who called up, as Simon says – ‘a law from the 11th century – sommit like that, that says you can’t make noise or whistle after 10 o’clock’. Anyway, Simon was supposed to have had a call from the hospital about a check-up, but it hasn’t come. I said he needed to sort that out. And they said they were going to send his papers, too, and he hasn’t got those, either, so he needs to sort that out, too.

Earnings: £42.95p (Including 1 CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 526

Diary Of A Busker Day 526 Thursday March 20th 2014 Chichester (The Cross, Time: 11:36am-1:37pm, 3:00-3:55pm).

I thought I’d better come back here before my two month permit runs out. The last one I had, I never even used! …and I need to get out of Winchester, being a travellin’/wanderin’ minstrel and all that. Unfortunately, it’s rather cold and windy – not like the last few days at all. In fact, I’m already thinking of somewhere warm to go in the break.

1st. song – Albatross, and an old guy stands in front and says ‘You’re doing the bass part’. I confirm – ‘Yeah, that’s right’. He looks at the amp and says ‘Oh, you’re doing the melody’, and I again confirm – ‘Yeah, I am’. Now it’s – ‘You’re doing both at the same time’. I confirm – ‘Yep’. He can’t get his head around it – he thought the bass part was coming out of the guitar and the melody out of the amp. I could see him studying my fingers and trying to work out what was going on. I think he did, in the end.

He then starts talking about Chet Atkins, so I say I do some of his arrangements. Then he says – ‘Yeah? – and Mark Knopfler – he did an album with Chet Atkins’. I say I know, then he asks ‘How long you been playin’?’ Me – ‘Oh, a long time’. He – ‘You ever played professionally?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘Yeah? You played in studios?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘Anyone I’d know?’ Me – ‘No’. I then come to the end of Albatross, which I hadn’t stopped, then go into La Vie En Rose, which brings forth – ‘Ah, Chet Atkins’, from him, then from me – ‘Yes, this is one of his arrangements’. He – ‘I can tell it’s Chet Atkins…what’s it?…’ Me – ‘La Vie En Rose’. He – ‘Ah yes’. Me – ‘You don’t mind if I carry on playing while you’re talking to me, do you?’ He – ‘Oh no…so, you do your own music?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘And your own arrangements?’ Me – ‘Yeah, well, half are mine – about half, and half are, well…probably Chet Atkins!’ He – ‘Yeah? The thing I admire about you guys is how you remember it all’. Me – ‘Practice. Hundreds of times!’, because I speaketh the truth.

A kid comes up and puts a coin in the bucket and the old guy says ‘Well, I think you got a couple of pounds…I tried to play the guitar when I was young. I could play OK, not like you’. I say ‘Well, thank you’. He did contribute in the end. I didn’t think he would, in fact, he might not have if it wasn’t for the kid doing it. Who knows. He was a nice old bloke, though, so I didn’t mind talking to him.

Half an hour in, during The Third Man, a rather moronic-looking CPSO who’s been lurking about with his Smith & Wesson CPSO bike, stands next to me on my right. Here we go. I stop playing and say ‘Yes?’ – I didn’t even look at him, I just looked ahead. He says – ‘I notice you’ve got a sign on your…(bucket, but he doesn’t say anything)…about CD’. Me – ‘Yeah’. He – ‘Well, technically, you’re not allowed to sell anything. You need a street trader’s license’. Me – ‘Right’. He – ‘But I’ve been told to overlook that’. Why mention it, then? – I don’t say that, I don’t say anything. He – ‘Do you have a permit?’ Me – ‘Yes’. He – ‘Can I see it?’ So I produce said permit of officialdom – I’m pleased I’ve been able to use it, in a way, although this bloke’s getting on my nerves. He looks at it, then – ‘Right. I haven’t seen you here before’. Me – ‘I haven’t been here for a long time’. He – ‘Right…well, as I say, technically, you’re supposed to have a street trader’s license but I’ll overlook that’. Me, thinking he wants me to feel grateful to him and respect his ‘superiority’ – ‘Right, thanks’, and off he goes, to stand in front of the clock tower. He puts his bike on its kick-stand and he puts it in front of him, like a fence. Smith & Wesson bike – I bet if he’d had one of their guns he’d have twirled it round his finger like Wyatt Earp, to try to frighten me.

An old couple come up. The man’s got an Epiphone guitar from 1934, which he’s done up a bit and his son plays it now. More importantly, they buy a CD – a £9 one, which, of course, I’ve been allowed to sell. But wow! – they give me a £10 note and don’t want the pound back!! But I have to insist!? It just takes me a minute to find one – in my pocket (I don’t want to get one out of the bucket). And the song that secured the sale? – Ne Me Quitte Pas: Song Of The Day.

I do a long stretch: Two hours, before my break, and it really is quite cold, so I’m going to have to find somewhere after the toilet break…and there he is again – PC Plod, just around the corner from the toilets! I pass him but he doesn’t acknowledge me. Ooh, he’s a moronic bitch! After the toilet, I try and find a shopping mall so I can have my sandwich and get warmed up…but there isn’t one, so I end up having it near the entrance to an alleyway. At the other end there’s a sign – OXMARKET ART GALLERY – A PLACE TO VISIT…A PLACE TO EXIBIT! Hmm…I might go in there in a bit, after my lunch.

I get my sandwich out and there he is again – The ‘superior’ officer – CPSO Earp, down the road a bit, and looking at me. I imagine he’s receiving a message: ‘Control to (whatever his number is), keep an eye on that sonofabitch, he’s from outatown, ain’t ee?!’ Earp – ‘Yeaaah, he’s just started on his sandwich…don’t worry chief, I’m onto him’. (After five minutes) -‘He’s opened a bag of crisps, now, chief.’ Then he’s joined by another CPSO…then they go off. I don’t suppose there’s alot to do in Chichester. Hell, we’re all afraid to do anything, with these guys keepin’ such a godamn watchful eye on proceedins’, packin’ a punch with their Smith & Wesson…bikes!…yikes!

I have a short look in the gallery, then ask the girl at the desk if there’s a Waterstones anywhere nearby. I mean, why break with tradition? …and there is, opposite the cathedral, she says. On the way there, I pass PC Plod/Wyatt Earp, his mate, and if I’m not mistaken, CPSO Sean Trebble, who I’m, of course, well acquainted with. In fact, they’re right opposite the book shop. Imagined conversation: PC Earp – ‘There he is again…he’s goin’ in the bookshop, now’. Sean Treble – ‘Yeah, I know him. He’s from the city. He tried to play without a permit. I kicked him outa town, sonofabitch’.

In the bookshop: I’m not very warm – not downstairs, so I go upstairs, which isn’t much better, I have to say. I walk about for ten minutes then sit down and look through a book – Paris by Julian Green. The left side’s in French, the right’s in English. I would have bought it but ten quid’s a lot of money, and for a small book. I never really got warmed up – I might have if I’d stayed another ten minutes but I want to do another hour – that’ll make three, and leave town at four o’clock, and it’s 10 to 3 now.

Back out, I can’t decide where to set up: where I was, or down the road…but down the road there’s some workmen hammering the pavement. They’re not very loud but I can see it would get to me, so I go back to where I was…and it’s another S   L  O  W  start…painfully slow – my hands really did need a bit longer to recuperate/recover/unthaw/heal. The treble was, officer Trouble, I spent too long walking about and then I ate my lunch outside, too. Anyway, I eventually got some donations, after five songs, or so…

…then, at 3:40, PC Plod and another one – who I didn’t recognise, come up to me during Borsalino, and they don’t bother with any politeness – to wait until I finished the song, before they start on me. The one I don’t know does the talking:

‘When are you moving?’

‘In about five minutes, to the station’.

‘Cause you’ve been here a long time’.

‘I’m booked to play here’.

‘What, all day?’

‘Yeah, till five’.

‘Well, you’re supposed to move around’.

‘Am I?’


‘Well, I didn’t know that’.

‘Well, that’s why I’m telling you’.

‘Yeah, well you don’t have to say it in such an abrupt manner’.

‘I didn’t say it in an abrupt manner’.

‘Well, it sounded like it’.

‘I was just saying, you have to move around…so when are you moving?’

‘In five minutes, down the road’.

I don’t like PC Plod, who remained silent throughout the exchange, and I don’t like this guy, especially as it was down to him, not waiting for the end of the song – ‘When are you moving?’ – talking to me like a fucking vagrant, for Christ’s sake. Anyway, they go off and I resume Borsalino. A lady says ‘You’ve brightened up the afternoon’ – take that, you second-rate cops. You’ll never get beyond the CPSO level! Well, I really dragged on my FIVE minutes…until it became FIFTEEN, which is only another TEN, after all. And that’s it. The train at 4:26 was on time…I wrote down the first two pages on it. A hard day, though – £25 profit, after the train fare, and I was pretty knackered the rest of the evening.

Earnings: £38.16p – £13 (train fare) = £25.16 profit.

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Diary Of A Busker Day 525

Diary Of A Busker Day 525 Wednesday March 19th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 2:25-3:12pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:26-4:15pm).

As I was walking about trying to work out where to set up, I bumped into Mr. Lacy, who’s 60th I played at a couple of years ago (by expert deduction, I reckon he’s around 62 now), and he was in a very talkative mood, going on about seeing Celine Dion in Las Vegas recently. After raving on about her ‘amazing stage presence’ – what about the nose? – and saying she’s taken on the role Barbra Streisand used to hold in American cabaret, he wants to know what I’m going to open with, today: Everly Brothers? Marty Robbins?! Well, I don’t know what to say…’probably my trio of Satie tunes’. Erik Satie? – Mr. Lacy’s never heard of him! Then he asks where I’m going to set up. I say not here as there’s a bloke in one of the market stalls with a radio on and he might get mad if I start up, so I’ll probably go on that little street that runs parallel to the High Street. He says ‘Won’t it be a bit slow? – anywhere off the High Street?’ I say that’s often better, as the people listen a bit more, as there’s no great rush forward…

…and just to prove the point, after 50 minutes, I’ve taken £9.20p up at Pavillion – a smidgen above the average. I only stop when Guitar guy Chris turns up, although I was going to stop soon, anyway. Chris says it took him FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to get from Salisbury – where he lives – to here, the other day, with all the rail replacement buses and all that mess. He was going on about a dog that was tied up and barking the whole time he was busking at a spot in Oxford.

I forgot, a few songs in, Delia waved to me from her son’s car as it was going round the corner. She gave me a sign, warning that she’d see me later. I watched them park down the road, her son helped her out with her buggy she puts her shopping in, she went across and into Boots…and I never saw her come out!

I don’t bother with a proper break, apart from a toilet one. I set up at Oxfam…where I’m visited by one of my nameless old lady regulars, who’s concerned about the weight of all the stuff I carry. I said ‘It’s funny you should say that, as I’ve been lately getting fed up with carrying it all around’. ‘That’s just age’, she said. I say ‘The guitar on its own isn’t too bad, though’, and she grabs the neck and lifts it up, and agrees it’s not. She thinks it’s a ‘very beautiful thing – very shiny and colourful’. Indeed it is, madam. Indeed it is.

A man buys a £5 CD to give to his mate who he says ‘listens to you all day in his office’, nearby (why would he want a CD then? – hasn’t he heard enough?!) I say ‘All day? – I’m not here all day…maybe it seems like it!’ This guy even asks me to sign it – “to John”, which I do with his black marker, but then smudge it all up when I put the CD back in the plastic cover, which I felt a bit bad about.

A woman about 60 donates after Dixie McGuire, which pleased me, as I don’t usually get anything for that one. I can play it a bit faster now – a bit more like T.E., but too fast, and it tends to disintegrate at the middle bit. The piece isn’t too fast, it’s just, at the moment, too fast for ME! Anyway, I tell her who wrote it – she’s never heard of Tommy Emmanuel. So I’m going to go on his Facebook page and tell him he’s got a new fan! She thought it was quite ‘jazzy’ and then asked how long I’d been playing for – ‘I don’t mean out here, just now’, so I gave the usual – ‘Quite a long time, although not too long playing this sort of stuff’ – I stopped just short of the ‘had to stop playing in groups because of my hearing’ part of the Hard Luck Story.

Earnings: £19.30p (Including one CD)

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Diary Of A Busker Day 524

Diary Of A Busker Day 524 Tuesday March 18th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 12:58-2:29pm).

Another slow start – five songs before any coinage, and then it’s all at once: four donations and a CD sale – Can’t Help Falling In Love was the one that did it, thereby making it Song Of The Day. I’ve seen these groups of schoolkids walking about with clipboards the last hour – loads of them. I had a feeling one of them might come up to me…about an hour and ten minutes in, one of them does – a group of four schoolboys. They ask if they can ask me some questions – they’re doing a survey. They’re very polite so I say OK, but I’m going to carry on playing – I can’t remember what it was I was doing, but I finish it and go into the-song-I-can-play-while-conducting-a-conversation, namely Albatross.

They start: ‘On a scale 1 to 5, 1 meaning very poor, 5 meaning…’ – here I interrupt with ‘Yeah, OK, I know how it works!’ They continue – ‘How do you feel about the parking areas?’ My answer – ‘I don’t drive so I don’t know’. Question Two: ‘OK…are there enough green areas in Winchester?’ My answer – ‘Um…no, I don’t know, I suppose there are never enough’. Question Three: ‘The appearance of the streets?’ My answer – ‘It’s OK, if they keep them like this one, I suppose’. Question Four: ‘OK, and the litter, do you think there’s a litter problem?’ My answer – ‘No, it’s OK, it’s pretty good’. Question Five: ‘OK…and is there a good variety of shops?’ My answer – ‘Hm…no, not really, too many coffee places, stuff like that’. ‘OK, thank you very much’, and off they go – it wasn’t too bad.

Later, as I’m packing up, there’s a young blonde woman in front of me – ‘Hi, do you mind if I ask your opinion on something?’ (another one?) I say, ‘Is this a survey? – I’ve just had some kids here asking some questions’. ‘No, it’s not to do with that. I’m from the Hampshire Chronicle – we’re doing vox pops’. Me – ‘Vox pops?’ She – ‘Yeah’. Me – ‘OK, just one question?’ She – ‘Yeah, are you a Winchester man?’ Me – ‘Yeah’. She – ‘OK (ticks her notebook)…and what do you do?’ Me, thinking what does it look like I do?! – ‘Well, as you can see, I play this guitar’. ‘OK, so I’ll write down BUSKER’. Me – ‘Ah, no…more like musician, because I do other stuff with music, not just this’. ‘OK…can I ask how old you are?’  ‘Yes you can – 51’. ‘OK, can I ask where you live?’  ‘Yes you can…up that way (I point in the direction of my home)’ ‘Oh, I mean what road?’  ‘Greenhill Road’. ‘OK (writes it down)…now I’ll just get a photo’ – she raises her iPhone or whatever they’ve all got. I say ‘Oh, the Chronicle’s got some photo of me (I’m three years younger), you could use that one’. ‘No, I want one of my own!’, she says.  ‘Right…OK’, I say, somewhat disappointedly. I pose, she shows it to me, I look really miserable. I say ‘It’s better than some, I suppose’.

‘Now, what do you think about the UK, USA and Russian situation?’ (I forgot there was a question!) ‘Oh right…I wish I knew you were going to ask me that, I would have paid more attention to the news. The thing is…(I can’t remember!)…Crimea, isn’t it? Well, the main thing I get is that both sides seem to think their, um…position is legal – that they’re ALL right…that’s what seems to be’. She writes it down, then – ‘OK, now your name?’ I give her my name, spelling out the surname – making sure she knows it’s Naylor with a ‘y’ and not an ‘i’ – like posh BrYan – ha!, then – ‘What’s yours?’ ‘Charlotte’. ‘OK, bye’. Oh, the fickleness of small town celebrity. Barely three years have passed since the Hampshire Chronicle, via their feature, bestowed instant fame on me, and Charlotte – one of their reporters, DOESN’T KNOW WHO I AM!! Well, it looks like I might be making a return to the local rag, this time as a member of ‘the general public’*.

Earnings: £12.77p (Including one £5 CD)

*Your Say (Hampshire Chronicle – March 20 2014)

We asked: Should Europe and the USA be more forceful over Russia’s plans regarding Crimea?

Margo Glover, 60, who works in property letting, of Albany Drive, Bishop’s Waltham, said: “No, I think it’s a bit like the Russian’s deciding to interfere with us and the situation with Northern Ireland.”

Marvin Naylor, 51, musician (good, she didn’t put BUSKER!), of Greenhill Road, Winchester, said: “I don’t know enough about it, but the thing is that both sides think they are right on this issue and that, legally, they are doing the right thing.”

Georgina Aldous, 64, a retired administrator, of Fishlake Meadows, Romsey, said: “You can say yes, they should be, but it is the implications of what it would then have on us that needs to be considered.”

Peter Simpson, 47, of Walpole Road, Stanmore, said: “They have to. The very reason Russia is making this land grab is because the US and Europe are seen as weak.”

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Diary Of A Busker Day 523

Diary Of A Busker Day 523 Sunday March 16th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 1:20-2:50pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:02-3:32pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:37-4:09pm).

The warmest day yet. I even swapped the corduroy coat for the light-coloured – or ‘stone’, as it says on the label inside – Primark summer jacket. But it’s another S    L    O    W session. Some kids are annoying but it’s the parents who are more annoying. Witness: a three year old picks up an imaginary coin – or something imaginary – from the pavement in front of me, puts it in the bucket, lifts my camera case to see what’s under it, puts it back then stands and watches me while the dad looks on. I think that’s bloody rude…of both of them!, but especially the parent.

Phillip came by during Blowin’ In The Wind and said he’d never heard me do that before. He didn’t hang around, though. I asked if he was OK – he said he was, and was off. An old man wearing shades and with a walking stick, came up really slow! and put a pound coin in, and then he slapped me on the face! – not hard. I thought it was really funny – I felt like some kid who’d done something wrong.

Down the road, I bump into Rockin’ Rob and his missus, heading off. He says it’s bad for him, too, and ‘I don’t know what the problem is’, so I say ‘The problem is – English people are mean!’ He says he’s been trying other places ‘for fresh money’: Andover, London, Reading, although there’s alot of Health & Safety stuff there. I ask him if he’s been to Chichester – he hasn’t. (I haven’t been for months, in fact I never even used one permit they sent me, and that’s for two months).

As I’m standing at Vodafone, Guitar guy Chris turns up, just off the train from wherever he comes from. He asks how it’s going, so I tell him – rubbish! I say he can set up here if he wants, or if he doesn’t, I’m just going to do twenty minutes or so. He says he’ll come back, so I set up…and I do OK for the first ten minutes – certainly better than Rob who, when I said I’d made about £6 in one and a half hours, said he’d made about the same here.

…I think I scared a little girl! I was doing Albatross and she stood in front, sort of transfixed. Then I thought ‘This must be a bit boring, I’m going to do The Third Man – it’s a bit more up, she might like that’, so I stopped Albatross very abruptly and said ‘Here’s something a bit more cheerful’, and she looked at me, sort of terrified, I started up TTM, and she, looking at me the whole time, walked off to her dad who was near the bin on my left. She wasn’t into it. I shouted ‘Oh, I thought you might like this one, it’s more cheerful!’, but she never came back. I felt bad about that for about a second. I must remember – ‘Don’t do anything too abrupt in front of small children – it might freak them out.

That old guy from Southampton who loves Blackbird, turned up and stood to my right, near the Monsoon entrance. (He’s still got some time left on his 10 week buspass, then). He just appears and doesn’t say anything, and waits for me to play his song, which I always do, although today I’m cruel and make him wait a couple of songs. He got a bonus today, though. While he was waiting, I played Girl, then the riff from I Feel Fine – ‘A little bonus for you, today’, I said. After twenty minutes, Chris, true to his word, returns. I’d forgotten about him…he says he’ll set up around the corner, at Gieves & Hawkes. He says he saw me there, yesterday. So I do another ten minutes and that’s enough. I want to do a shortened set down at Oxfam, then go home…

…a teenage boy and his dad come over to contribute during Here Comes The Sun. The boy was wearing a Beatles Abbey Road T-shirt – something I was so impressed with, I stopped playing and chatted to them, informing them that almost all the people who wear album T-shirts don’t seem to have any idea what’s actually on the album. The dad said ‘Well, he listened to the album yesterday’.

Half an hour’s enough – that makes two and a half today, and I think my brain was stopping: I forgot to do the zip all the way up on the gigbag after I put the guitar away. I’d left it open at the bottom and when I hoiked it up on my back, the bloody thing fell out! Fortunately it landed upright on the back edge – I think the strap button took the brunt – but then it fell over – I couldn’t stop it in time. There didn’t seem to be any big dents, though. But that’s never happened before. I almost forgot, Chris came by just before I stopped – ‘I’m giving up’, he said.

Earnings: £23.40p (+ 3 euro cents)


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