Diary Of A Busker Day 159 Wednesday September 21st Winchester High Street (1. opposite Card Factory, Time: 12:15-2:20pm, 2. disused doorway opposite River Island, Time: 3:30-5:45pm).
During my first set a man comes up, puts a coin in my bucket and asks if I make a living doing this. “Sometimes”, I say. He tells me he was in Reading last week and he saw a trumpet player (trumpeteer), “He was doing alright (looks at my bucket which has so few coins, they’re not even covering the bottom), his bucket was half full!” “Really? Did he use backing tracks? Lots of trumpet and sax players do because their instruments only play one note at a time.” “No, I don’t think so. I also saw a bagpipe player – he was making alot, too.” “Well, there aren’t too many buskers with bagpipes, you know – that counts for alot.” This man then proceeded to tell me all about his job – as a health service walk-in inspector: “Nye Bevin – I used to know him…I walked in one place, asked to see a doctor, the nurse said there’s a two hour wait. Asked some people – they had been waiting there hours…walked in an office, asked the manager “how many people work here?”, he said “half of them.” Like the man who visited the Pope, in The Vatican, he asked the Pope the same question – “How many people work here?” The Pope said “Half”…”
A lady whose face I recognise is suddenly in front of me, but who is it? Then I remember, she’s a religious lady who gave me a DVD of a guy who was stung by five deadly Box Jellyfish. He should have died but was “saved” by God. I met her a few months ago and she gave me the DVD to watch which broke down just as he was getting to the good bit – lying in the hospital bed, dying and then…God steps in. I saw her again two weeks later, told her about the faulty video, she gave me another one…and IT broke down, too. Saw her again, said she’d look into it and here she is again. Yes, there was a fault – it’s now been corrected, here’s a new one!
The weather is definately getting chilly and the “fear” of having to busk through the winter is praying on my mind, more and more and causing a certain amount of depression while I’m out here – playing through another winter is something I don’t want to do…
After my break – counting my money (slightly under the hourly average) and trying to fight off the “fear”, I’m back playing, up the road, just up from the market, where the street narrows…and it’s Lily, usually a friendly regular, but today she’s ignoring me – walking on the other side of the street. She probably thinks I didn’t see her. She’s wrong – I see ’em all! …another regular, 72 year old Anthony drops by, to pick my brains (and prod my guitar) about guitar stuff no doubt. But I’m wrong. For the first time ever he hasn’t come to talk guitar things. He wants to know if there’s a fish and chip shop up here. “A fish and chip shop? Um…no, but there’s one on the next road.” He ignores what I say and carrys on up the High Street, in a hurry. I wonder if he’s finally managed to get some Russian girl over here and she wants some of those famous English fish and chips. Now! Even at close to £10 a portion, it’s a small price to pay, Anthony. Speaking of small prices to pay, a young Chinaman says “Velly nice music!”, and after showing it to me, puts a solitary penny in the bucket. Being given a penny – worthless “shrapnel”, is usually meant and taken as an insult, but I know he doesn’t mean it like this, so I thank him – profusely. A penny – ha!
Purple God Woman Wendy drops by with a friend. How am I? “I’m going home soon – it’s getting colder”, I say. She leans in to me, presenting hr cheek. “What are you doing?” I ask. “You said “darling”, didn’t you? – I thought you were going to kiss me.” “Sorry? What?! No, I said “It’s getting cold – I’m going home soon”.” “Oh well, I’ll knit you a jumper – would you like one like that?” she says, looking at my authentic Fairisle Second World War tank top, a little on the short side. “Well, yeah. But can you make the blue bits red and maybe make it a bit longer ? – this is a bit on the short side. But, you don’t have to knit me a jumper, Wendy! Are you serious?” “I’ll knit you one”, she says as she walks off, laughing. The nutter. “I’m a forty-two chest!”, I shout – if she’s going to do it, she might as well get it right. My old-fashioned knitwear is causing a stir, it seems. Just after Purple God Woman Wendy, Christine – wife of the local guitar shop owner, walks by as I’m playing that old favourite from ’54, Mr. Sandman. “I like your jumper – it’s like your music – has a real old-fashioned feel.” “Yep, it’s a real authentic jumper – no label, it’s hand made, y’know!”