Diary Of A Busker Day 71 Thursday March 31st Winchester High Street (corner of Marks And Spencer, Time: 2:34-5:50pm)
A session of admiral length down at the noisy corner – no Bertie the flowerman, only his young helper – “THREE FOR A PAANND!” or “numbnuts” as Bertie calls him. To the ‘happenings’, as they used to say in the old days of hippiedom…An old lady racing by at three miles per hour in one of those golf carts with a roof, turns the corner, stops in front of me and puts a pound in my Halloween bucket. “Thanks, I’ve never had anyone in a car stop and give me something.” “Ok, I wouldn’t call this a car – it’s the closest I can get though!” she says as she bombs up the road.
The weather is cloudy and windy but the temperature is acceptable so I’m able to play non-stop – and considering my ailment, playing quite well so I make an attempt on a new number – Wheels. It’s a happy tune and I want to introduce it to my set. I wait untill there are about six buses lined up to go around the corner, therby drowning out any mistakes – and there are plenty, some of which must have been heard by the two old gentlemen suddenly in front of me. “Sorry about that – I’m still learning that one.” One says it sounds OK to him. The other says “Are you good?” “I don’t know! Can you hear me?” I notice he’s got a hearing aid like mine. “Oh yes, but do YOU think you’re good?” he says. I don’t often get asked this but when I do, I say “I’m better than some and not as good as some others!”, which is probably true. I play them a shortened Yellow Bird, which has the same tuning as Wheels – they like it. I ask them if they’ve heard me play The Third Man Theme. “No” says one – a dead giveaway that they’re not from around here! “Do you miss out the 1st and 2nd man?” says the hearing aid man. It takes a second for this to register with me. “Sorry?” “You just do the THIRD one?” Ha! So, yes, I miss out the first two and play the THIRD man for them – with the wobbly/vibrato arm bits in. They like it. The no hearing aid man looks at his watch – “We’d better be off, our wives are waiting, we have to get a coach.” I shake their hands and hearing aid man walks away, heading up the high street. No hearing aid says “He’s going the wrong way.” He calls him back – “You’re going the wrong way, it’s over there”, he points the other way, to where the coach station is.
Later on, a woman in her mid 50s and in a hurry drops a few coins in the bucket, including a £2 coin – anything more than £2 is a big donation. “Well, I thank you very much!” I say. “You’ve caught me on the right day.” she says out of breath. How so? “…we’ve just sold our house for two million – over two million. It’s just gone in the account this morning!” “That’s very nice.” I say. “Yes…(and now she says – with genuine worry in her voice – something which could easily offend many people – including me, everyone I know, everyone I’ve ever known and everyone who does NOT have 2 million pounds in the bank, or £200,000.00 or £20,000.00 or even £20.)…but now we’re HOMELESS – we’ve got to find another home – soon!” Oh dear, the poor, posh, rich creature. But I’ll forgive her and gladly relieve her of her £2.70 – which means less than nothing to her but is a small fortune to me. A bit later, I relate this to Alan, the cheerful street cleaner I see every day I’m out here. We discuss the subject of enormous/obscene amounts of money and I promise Alan that if I ever win the lottery, I’ll give him a nice amount. “Can you win it soon? – I’m 75! You’ll have to win it quick. Anyway, why can’t they divide all that money, say if there’s twenty million – why don’t they give it to twenty different people and not all to one? I’d be happy with twenty thousand.” Indeed Alan – but it would defeat the purpose – it’s a lottery!Ragtime Phillip drops by to show the guitar tablature he’s written out for The Third Man – he’s worked it out himself but put my name in a dedication at the top “with more than a nod in the direction of M. Carthy, L. Wijnkamp(?) and especially Marvin B Naylor – Winchester 2011.” I’m impressed he’s remembered the B, but insist he adds Chet Atkins’ name, as that’s the arrangement I do out here, for without whom…apart from A. Karas, of course.
Near the end I play my own arrangement of The James Bond Theme. I’d played it earlier and got a few coins for my trouble. A common reaction from passers-by is the classic stance: arms outstretched – holding air gun (not a real air-gun – but like an “air” guitar), slightly bent over, taking long strides – usually from teenagers and young blokes. This time, it’s the shortish, blonde CPSO who does it. This really makes me laugh – an unusual occurance. I think – she could do it with a real gun, or maybe they’re not allowed to carry real ones, as they’re not really REAL policemen/women…