Diary Of A Busker Day 160 Friday September 23rd Winchester High Street (1. opposite Phase Eight, Time: 12-12:01pm, 2. opposite Reflex, Time: 12:10-2:15pm, 3. opposite Boots Optician, Time: 3:10-5:15pm, 4. opposite Vodafone, Time: 5:30-6:30pm).
The starts off – rather annoyingly, with a false start, as 30 seconds into my first tune, I’m drowned out by some guy singing opera style over a backing track – way too loud, of course – a small distance away, at The Buttercross. He’s surrounded by buckets, collecting for the Help For Heroes charity. Well, he can get stuffed for all I care. He even left his backing track playing while he took a few minutes out to talk to people.
…a few minutes down the road and I’m…down the road, far, far away – at the other end of the High Street. I have an amusing chat with a regular – an old man whose name I don’t know. He puts a couple of coins in my bucket, “There, I’ve got no f***in’ dinner money now!” There’s something really funny and bizarre about hearing old people swear and this makes me laugh – a rare thing. He goes on, moaning about the new market stalls not being fair on the shops, although all the shops and stalls sell different things. One isn’t taking business away from another, I say. I tell him I only ever go in the charity shops, like the one opposite – The British Heart Foundation. He says, “I go in, but I never buy anything – you don’t know where this stuff comes from. Some irate woman might have given all her husband’s clothes away! – and you walk out of the shop wearing something and a bloke says “Hey! – that’s my jacket!” Anyway, keep up the good work – I’m goin’ off to find some money for my f***in’ dinner, now!”
During my break, sitting down near the cathedral, a Scottish woman comes over and says, “We were gonna come and put this in yer box when we came back”, and gives me a £2 coin – a nice gesture. She and her friends were listening at one of the tables outside the posh Maison Blanc, they left and when they came back, I had gone.
At my 3rd spot, I’m visited by Purple God Woman Wendy. I’m playing Bach’s Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring. “That’s about love”, she says, as I finish. I then tune up. “I can tell when it’s in tune – it stops wobbling”, she says. “It stops wobbling? What does?” “You know – the vibrations. I can feel them.” “You can feel them?” “Yes, I can feel them – in my feet.” She then starts going on about Adam and Eve. I bring up the subject of dinosaurs – how does the Bible explain that? She says they were on the Ark… What about alien life forms? “Alien life forms? Do you need them?” she says. “Do I need them? That’s not the…” I give up – it’s really difficult trying to have a discussion/argument while playing a song. She asks me to hold out my hand – while I’m still playing. She puts a few tiny twigs in it. “It’s Lavender – it’s good for you.”
Just after I finish Edelweiss, a lady crosses the road and comes to me. I start up The Third Man. “I used to work in Vienna”, she says, smiling. “I’m a Berliner.” I’m intrigued – a German working in Austria, she looks about 80. “Really? When – a long time ago?” “In forty-two.” I’m very intrigued. “Really? What was it like then?” “Hectic.” Indeed. I bottle out of asking what she, as a German did in Vienna in 1942. Of course, I later wish I had. “Danke – und auf-weidersein!” I say.
Two schoolboys approach, one holds four pennies in his hand and drops them slowly, one by one, in the bucket. “It’s not going to break the bank, is it?” I say. The Scottish “drongo” I often see – he seems to always have a couple of paint strokes on each cheek – like warpaint, comes over in my last hour. “D’ye pley some Chuck Berry? Buddy Holly? Any rock ‘n roll, d’ye?” I do a short Chuck Berry intro for him, no charge. He likes that. “Wha’ aboot Apache?” “Yeah, I can do that!” I start it – rather shakily as I don’t do it enough. He sits down against the building across the street and puts his shades on. The second I finish Apache, he gets up and walks off. I end my day improvising Happy Birthday at the request of one of a bunch of girls in micro-shorts.