Diary Of A Busker Day 158 Monday September 19th Winchester High Street (1. corner of Marks And Spencer, Time: 1:05-3:10pm, 2. opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:45-6:10pm).
The session starts slow – it’s almost twenty minutes before I get my first coin – 10p from a man, during When I’m Sixty-Four. It’s one of those when I think “What am I doing here?” and “How has it come to this? – my youth had so much promise.” I’m being ignore, I’m embarrassed, people must think I’m an idiot… . It gets a bit better, though. Dave – who’s wedding drinks reception/dinner I provided the soothing background music for last week – is suddenly in front of me. I didn’t recognise him in his casual clothes. He hands me a £20 note, because I played over and above the call of duty (by an extra half hour). I thank him – profusely, and say this is what I’d normally get in two hours – aprt from today, where I’ve made 10p in twenty minutes.
For a while I’ve been wondering what’s happened to the friendly street cleaner, Alan. Last time I saw him was the day before he was to have a big operation at the hospital. That was a few months ago and I was fearing the worst. But today I see him, walking with his wife. “Hello Alan, how ahave you been?” “I’ve been very ill”, he says, still smiling. “I know you had the operation, then didn’t see you.” He knows I must have thought he’d died. “Ha! Not yet – I want to enjoy my money first!” Good – I’m glad he made it. I’ve never seen a man with a more wrinkled face – like one of those old pictures of American Indian chiefs.
After an hour I count the money, which doesn’t take long as it’s only £5.59p – bad, and this is supposed to be a popular spot. There’s never any guarantee, that’s one thing I’ve found out. One of my older regulars tells me about a guitar tuition DVD he’s got and one of the songs on it is Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotten). I remember I learnt this off her first album and try to remember it now. I get through a verse (just about) and two people contribute, so I might resurect this one. My man asks me if my hands ever get cold – it’s on the “chilly” side today, definately. Hearing him say the words “cold” and “hands” in one sentence immediately gives me the “fear”. The “fear” is having to busk through another winter – a thought ever more in the back of my mind, and moving to the front. Something I don’t want to think about. Indeed, my hands certainly ARE getting cold…I warm them under the toilet tap and head off to the cathedral grounds where I watch ten 2 year olds chase a ball about, all of them screaming at evenly-spaced intervals.
For my 2nd session I’m up the road, near the crossroads and this turns out, financially, much better than the first. I even get the great gift of a £5 note. Whenever this happens I hear a choir doing that “Hallelujah!, Hallelujah!” thing from The Messiah – in my head, of course. This kind gift is from a man, my day’s saviour, who says, “You shouldn’t be here”, walks off, comes back a few minutes later and, thinking I might have misunderstood what he meant, explains; “You know what I mean? not ‘you should go somewhere else’!” I know, I say – it’s a compliment.