Diary Of A Busker Day 150 Tuesday August 30th Winchester High Street (1. opposite WH Smiths, Time: 2:55-5:08pm, 2. opposite Vodafone, Time: 5:35-6:35pm).
I start the day at one of my old haunts I haven’t seen much of lately – the spot near The Buttercross – famous Winchester landmark/meeting place. Straight away I’m struck by how noisy it is here compared with further down at Debenhams. I’m not used to it and find myself checking to see if my amplifier volume is too low as I can barely hear it above the people. Nope, it’s the same volume I always have.
I play Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring. A tall, elderly man comes up and donates, “Ah, Bach. Do you know anymore Bach?” “No, only that one – it’s a good one, though!” “Hm…if you play it again, I’ll give you some more money.” OK, sure. He’s well-spoken – perhaps he’s loaded, although in my experience, those with, keep. I play it again. At the end he says, “Hm…I don’t think you should have that middle section in…” I interupt, “I’m playing Leo Kottke’s arrangement.” “Well, you know, you can’t improve on Bach”, he says, with a superior tone. “Well, you know, you can have your money back”, I reply, a little annoyed. “Oh, no”, he says. “I’m playing the main melody – that’s the main thing. The original has loads of key changes – very difficult to do on a guitar, you know.” “Hm…well I think the , um…what’s the word, for the best version called…the, um…” “I don’t know, ultimate?” “Yes, something like that, you know, for which all subsequent versions are judged by…is Myra Hess’.” “Really? Well I might look it up, then.” Cheeky man. This ‘aint The Wigmore Hall…it’s Winchester High Street.
My Downs Syndrome mate Tom comes by and stands by me for half an hour. He always gives me the same amount – a penny. I can talk to him while I’m playing some of the easier tunes – like The Third Man. “What are you up to today, Tom?” “Oh, nothing much.” “No? Neither am I – apart from this.”
Later, a guy who’s been sitting on the bench across the way comes over and asks me to play “the Tschaikovsky concerto” bit again! I have no idea what he means – he sounds Eastern European. He’s very polite so I don’t mind spending several minutes going back over the last few songs I’ve played – playing a few seconds of each until he decides it’s Vincent by Don McLean! Something in it reminds him of Tschaikovsky. I play the whole thing for him again – I need the practise, anyway – I’ve been trying to get this one up to “performance” standard so have been playing it alot recently, however I still I get lost halfway through, even with the music on the ground in front of me…
During my break I pay my monthly visit to the HMV Shop to see if my solitary cd album is till there. It is, but I’m amazed to see it’s been joined by another copy. Why, I don’t know – the one that’s been there has remained unsold for more than two years. It now has a companion – t0 keep it company – which is good, as I have been urging people (who ask if I do original music) NOT to buy the solo copy in the shop, as I fear that the file with my name on (which I like to go in and see) will, once the shop people see there’s no album in front of will be taken away when they next inspect the shelves – and see I’ve sold one album in two years. Now I can say “Yes, please by all means, but one cd – just leave the other one.”