Diary Of A Busker Day 136 Sunday July 24th Winchester High Street (opposite Reflex, Time: 11:36-3:33pm).
I plan on doing only a couple of hours today as my right hand thumb is causing me some concern and after today I want to give it a few days rest. I’ve also arranged to meet three Scouse ladys in town – Fran, my old friend from London and her two friends, Joan and Marie, all in their 50s. I’m told they’ll be in town around 2 o’clock so I reckon I can get a short session in before then. They’re taking me to lunch.
It’s a slow start – nobody’s giving anything, and I get that old, familiar “what am I doing here/how did it come to this” creeping in. Marie-Therese turns up to remind me of my promise to tune her guitar. I give her my card again so she can phone me to make sure when I’ll be in town, so she can bring it in with her – I can tune it up out here. When she sees my card she says, “Oh, it is you! I thought…. (digs in her purse and produces another card I gave her recently) who is this man? It is YOU!” She gives me some money – she always does, and sits on the bench opposite, then wanders off…comes back and sits down for about an hour. She comes over again and starts talking about one of her sons who is some sort of technician for ITV. She’s going to phone him and give him my number – maybe he can help me.
My three Scouse ladies turn up at about 2:30. They sit on the bench where Marie-Therese was, and shout things at me and ask questions but it’s difficult to have a conversation playing fingerstyle guitar – I can do it if I’m strumming one chord…or doing The Third Man, which I can do in my sleep, but not much else. However they are appreciative and applaud onece or twice – a dead giveaway that they’re from out of town. They also help me out with some money – first some change, then the hallowed £10 note, which is good as it helps me enormously, financially and psychologically. They can’t believe how stingy the passers-by are. In fact, neither can I – they are especially miserly today it seems. It can get pretty soul destroying when it’s like this. I tend to keep my head down so I don’t see them all, ignoring me.
After half an hour, my friends want to look in Debenhams for a few minutes, then they’ll take me to lunch, so I’ve got a bit more time to build up the funds. By the time they emerge, I’ve done a 4 hour stint, practically non stop and double what I intended to do. My poor thumb – I’m definately having a few days off after this.
My friends take me off in their small red car for the promised lunch and we end up at The Mayfly, a pub a few miles away, out in the country. Very nice. On the way back I’m introduced to a phenomenon currently popular in South (or Sarf) London (or Landan) called planking. This requires the protagonist finding a surface able to support their body weight, be it a car roof, bench, bollard. They then lie down, usually on the stomach, stretched out with the arms either above the head or drawn to the sides – like a plank of wood, hence the term – planking. A photo is then taken (this is never a lone activity) by a joint planker, who has, or will have their own photo taken of themselves “in action” – planking, the photo(s) being then distributed on the internet. Fran chose a bench outside a village shop for her planking, Marie, a bridge and I, a stone monument in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church on the outskirts of Winchester. All part of a busker’s varied, cultured life.