Diary Of A Busker Day ~ 114

Diary Of A Busker Day 114 Tuesday June 14th Winchester High Street (opposite Whittard, Time: 3:37-5:47pm.)

         During my now obligatory pre-session reconnaissance of the high street I have a chat with Bertie the flowerman who tells me this Saturday will be his last day here in Winchester. “I’m bored – I’ve been here 23 years. I’m here 10 hours a day. I’m going to Romsey – you should come, do a bit of busking, do do do do do (sings Third Man melody.), lots of money there – Romsey.” “Yeah, Maybe I should…I’d have to get the coach, or train.” “Yeah, it’s only £4.50 though.”

      While we’re talking, there’s a busker standing in the middle of the pavement, just out from the corner of Marks And Spencer, where I do a lot of my “work”. He’s blowing his saxophone over a backing track and he’s very loud. He occasionally doesn’t quite hit the note which makes Bertie wince. I don’t notice it as much due to the state of my ears but Bertie’s been listening for an hour and has had enough of it and is none too polite now, howling very loudly whenever he hears a dodgy note.

    I head back up the road to get as far away as I can from this guy and set up around the middle of the covered section, opposite a bench where my French regular Marie-Therese is sitting. After a couple of tunes – Edelweiss and La Vie En Rose, which I play whenever I see her, she comes over. “You are looking tired today.” she says. “No, it’s just my eyes – hay fever. I start itching them and they go all red.” I have a question for her – is her first name Marie, or Marie-Therese? “Marie-Therese. It’s a very religious name, you know. I am not worthy of it.” “Of course you are.” I say as she walks off. She always gives me money – a £2 coin usually, which is more than most give and she always looks so sad.

     Five schoolboys walk by, a couple dig into their pockets – one looks at his coin but hesitates in coming up to me until another one says “It’s OK, he’s good”! He drops his coin in the bucket, “Like your Halloween bucket”, he says.

          On finishing The Third Man, two ladys in their 60s approach, one has wild, bushy hair. “Come on, what are you going to play for me?” Bushy Hair says, or demands. “Um…, I don’t know. Do you know Ol’ Man River, La Vie En Rose?” “No.” “What about The Third Man, you must know that, everyone does!” “No, what’s that?” “I was playing it as you came up to me!” I play a bar. “No.” “OK..hm….what about Edelweiss?” and no sooner had I said this when Bushy Hair counts it in loudly while clicking her fingers “One, two, three, four! Edelweiss! Edelweiss – you look happy to…” she belts it out in an operatic manner, employing a ridiculous exaggerated vibrato. Thankfully, I have to endure this torture for not more than a minute – which is a minute too long, before she just walks away without a comment, she doesn’t even give me a coin. I have this confirmed by a man who’s been standing near me. “She didn’t, did she?” “Nope.” It’s certainlt a life of extremes – this busking business – One day, 8 polite, mellifluous, angelic schoolgirls. The next, a wild-haired, screeching, obnoxious ogre. 

     I’m most of the way through my session when a tall, bald guy comes up and says, “It’s Mr. Sandman! That’s what they call you in there.” He tilts his head to the side, indicating the Holland and Barrett health food shop behind me. “Is it? Are you sure – I haven’t played that for over an hour. You sure they didn’t say THIRD Man?” No, he says, definately Mr. Sandman. “Oh right, do you think they’re fed up with me?” “Hmm…well, I wouldn’t say…hm…fed up…” “Maybe I should leave – I’ve been here two hours, you know.” “Oh, don’t take it like that, don’t take it personally…I mean, I like it, anyway” (he emphasizes the”I”). “Oh, but THEY don’t? Maybe I’ll go in and ask them.” “Oh, don’t get a complex about it!” No? After he’s said all that? “Oh, I’m not.” So I carry on…with Mr. Sandman. Just for them in the shop.

Earnings: £24.19p.

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