Diary Of A Busker Day 187 Thursday January 5th Winchester High Street (opposite O2, Time: 2:30-4:32pm).
A cold and windy day – more cold than windy… but still cold. The last couple of days have been extremely unhospitable and busker-unfriendly, ie: a lot of rain. I head for the Vodafone spot, roughly half-way down the High Street but it’s been taken by Ben, who’s sitting down, white dog next to him, who’s also sitting down. I haven’t seen Ben out for months. I’ve seen him quite often on the High Street, not playing though. I know he had a baby girl (or “ba-by”, as I’ve noticed he says, using a somewhat archaic pronunciation) last year and I see his girlfriend out with it (her, rather). walking with another man – a brother or cousin apparently (I asked Ben about it). Anyway he looks pretty miserable and barely acknowledges me, which is unusual as he’s usually very “chatty”. He’s banging out some blues thing. Actually, I don’t blame him – he might have been out here for a few hours and it is pretty cold. I carry on further down the street thinking I might set up at Debenhams but when I get there, it’s so windy, my bucket would blow over. Even loaded down with £10 in mostly 50p coins – I normally put in £5 worth before I start. I go back up the other end and set up near WH Smiths – the deep end, and start with Yellow Bird…and get a couple of coins straight away…then nothing for about 15 minutes.
…then, during The Third Man , two guys, late 40s stand appear in front. I recognise one – but I haven’t seen him in months and can’t remember his name. He knows mine, though. “Marvin! Yeah – you’re playing my song! How’ve you been…” I’m talking to him while I’m playing, trying to remember his name. I know it’s got one syllable and he puts some silly adjective in front, like Desparate …Desparate Dan, or something like that. The other guy’s his brother, who asks me if I’ve learnt Batman. I remember someone asking this months ago. “Oh, it was you. Yeah, I learnt it…(I play it)”. Desparate Whatever’s brother really likes it, then they say goodbye – “Great, yeah, well, we won’t keep you any longer”, and they walk off, which puts me out a bit – I think that was deserving of at least a pound between them. As they’re going off, I remember his name – “Dangerous” Dave. I rename him – Ungenerous and not-very-Dangerous Dave, and his similarly not-very-generous brother.
After what seems like well over an hour I look at my watch. I’ve only been playing 40 minutes. Most of the tunes I can remember (unlike that bloke’s name – Ooh, he’s SO DANGEROUS, that Dave), but I mess up a couple of easy ones, like Over The Rainbow and Can’t Help Falling In Love – I haven’t played any of this stuff in two weeks. Most of it’s alright. Some songs I don’t even attempt – Vincent and the Samba one by Roberto Badden-Powell.
An old guy, Eric, who I gave a couple of guitar lessons to until he injured his shoulder, turns up. He’s one of these people who is just suddenly in front of me – I never see him approach, or come up slowly from the shadows behind me, like a lot of them do. He’s just there. “We’ve (he and his wife, Shirley) just been away on a (package) holiday.” “Oh yeah – was it good?” “They had a Queen band playing – bloody terrible.” “Oh!” “The bass speakers were moving, it was so loud.” “Right…well, that wouldn’t suit me either, Eric.” We then discuss when we should resume his lessons, and he says he’s going away again “On Friday.” “Friday – that’s tomorrow, Eric.” “Oh…is it? Oh yes, only a short trip, to the Isle Of Wight.” “Right, oh – that’ll be nice. Hmm, on the ferry, eh?” “Yes.” “Well, you take care, you know – with this wind and all that.” (It really has been windy – over 100mph in some parts, yesterday. Been on the news – fastest(?) wind “since records began” and all that sort of thing). “Yes, see you when we come back.” “Yeah, OK, Eric – you got my number?” “Yes.” “OK, well, say hello to Shirley, won’t you.” “Yes…umm…Happy New Year.” “Yeah, you too.” He goes off, then a couple of minutes later, Shirley turns up – “Hello, have you seen Eric?” “Yeah, he was just here!” “Right, which way did he go (streches arm left then right)” “Down that way.” Shirley gets her purse out. “Oh no, you don’t have to – Eric’s already given me something!” What an idiot – I could have made another two quid. Shirley puts her hand on my forehead. “Apparently you’re on the ferry tomorrow, eh?” “Yes, I hope we’ve got everything.” “Yeah, and don’t forget your life jacket.” “Eh? what?” “Remember your life jackets, you know – it’s windy.” “He he, yes.”
I don’t see many “regulars” today, so no one really comments on my absence, although one of the more friendly homeless guys has noticed – the one who once said there were too many beggars out one night, and that he wasn’t going to beg tonight as he “can’t be ARSED”. He walks by and says “Nice to see you again – I was wondering what happened to you.”