Diary Of A Busker Day 144 Friday August 19th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Card Factory, Time: 11.00-1:50pm, 2. opposite Phase Eight, Time: 2:35-5:05pm).
An early start today as I want to get a good few hours in…but I haven’t even finished my first song before I get my first interuption – five boys about 14 years old – “Can we take a picture of you?” “Me? Why do you want to do that?” “Yeah, we have to take a picture of someone – who might become famous, like a musician.” I tell them they’ve got the wrong guy! but I let them take it. They have to get one of them in it, so one of them stands behind me, obviously doing some amusing sign I’m not supposed to see, as, when I turn around he quickly puts his arm down to his side. Then they say they have to find an upside down shop to photograph – they must mean the barber shop (it says BARBER SHOP upside down on the front) up near the top of the High Street but I only think of this after they’ve walked off.
…five minutes later four girls turn up – “Can we take a picture of you?” “Um, OK. You know, there were some other people who wanted to do that – do you know them?” “Oh, were there?” “Yeah, what is this, some school project?” “Yeah, we’re doing a Scavenger Hunt”, she shows me her clipboard. There’s a piece of paper that has YOUTH OPTION – SCAVENGER HUNT written on it. I let them take a picture – with one of them behind me. “Thanks – and we have to find an upside down shop, now.” “I thought you might. I reckon it’s the barber shop with the upside down sign. Go up the High Street and turn left on the road that goes to the cinema. And you can give me some change, OK?” Time is money. They say thanks, one puts 30p in my bucket and then off they go.
…Ten minutes later, a group of four – two boys and two girls, see me from across the road and come over. Before they get to me I shout “Don’t tell me – you want to take my picture and then have to find an upside down shop, right?” Right. Well, all these people are going to have more or less the same photo – all of me with a different person. Now, about finishing this song…
The money’s slow – £17 after two hours and ten minutes. I’m about to take a break when one of my regulars appears. “Of all the gin joints…” he quotes from Casablanca. How’s it going, he asks. I tell him – not too well, but I’l play As Time Goes By for him – then take a break. I must have played it at just the right time as a handful of people come up and it makes me about £4 almost instantly. Geared up by this “windfall”, I decide to postpone my break and carry on a bit longer…and play The Third Man, or The Harry Lime Theme, as it seems to be known to most people. During this, the “sad” man from wayback appears with his son on his shoulders. “Hi there, I’m playing your favourite song!” I say, thinking he’ll appreciate it. “Ha! You’re like a broken record player!” he says. Hmph. I don’t know what it is, but there are a few people who seem to appear when I play this. So, to them, it appear like it’s the only song I play. Like the old lady in the electric (wheel)chair. Whenever I play The Third Man – she suddenly is there – coming out of a shop, or wheelchairing up the road. And today – right now, she’s here, coming out of a charity shop, looking over at me and laughing as she bombs up the road. As I’m nearing the end of the song I notice a woman – mid forties – digging around in her handbag. This lady turns out to be my day’s saviour – she puts a folded £10 note in my bucket. I respond in the usual (genuine) humble manner – “Oh my goodness! – that’s alot of money! Would you like some change? – I have change, you know.” She dismisses the offer with a wave. Good old Third Man. I will defend that tune to the end.
After my toilet/cathedral grounds/packed lunch/rest break I head off for my second and final session – up at the busy part of the High Street, just down from WH Smiths.
I play The Third Man again, the second time today but I haven’t played it at this spot for a long time…I can’t recall when I was here last. A man, early 70s I reckon, comes up at the end. “Nice Norwegians!” he says. “Sorry? Norwegians? What’s that?” I say. “Yeah, what we in the business used to call Norwegians – Norwegian Fjords – chords.” “Oh yeah! (I laugh here), Norwegian Fjords – chords. Yeah, I like that. So, you like The Third Man, do you?” “Yeah, but I heard you play James Bond before that.” (he did indeed). He continues, “I used to play percussion – I did all the Bond films but one.” Wow, I’m (nearly) speechless. I mean, what are the chances of that happening? – I play Bond and a guy who played percussion on all the soundtracks (bar one) walks by?! “Wow”, really?” “Yeah, I knew all of John Barry’s group… (he lists names), and Vic Flick.” (“The name’s Flick – Vic Flick”), who played the guitar. He lives in California now. Yeah, all the films – but one.” “Wow”, I say again because this really is incredible, “Which one?”, I ask. He can’t remember but says it was the one they got George Martin to do. I know which one – “Live And Let Die. It must have been that one – the Paul McCartney one.” “Yeah, maybe.” Not maybe – definitely. I ask why he didn’t do that one. “They used a different fixer for that one.”
So who is this? – the percussionist who played on every Bond soundtrack bar one? Of course, I have to ask his name. It’s Stan Barrett. Stan then talks a little about his younger days at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, London. “Sometimes, after our session ended, me and some of the other guys he (Barry) had brought in used to start messing around with the percussion instruments. We’d get a rhythmn going – like a Latin thing or whatever and say “Hey John, listen to this – you could use this!” ‘Course, he knew what we were doing – trying to get some overtime! He’d say “Bugger off!” – Booger off! – he was from Yorkshire, you know. “Go on, booger off!” Anyway, like I said – what are the chances of that happening? A guy who played on all the Bond soundtracks walks by while I’m playing Bond!