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.