Diary Of A Busker Day 191 Wednesday January 18th Winchester High Street (opposite Vodafone, Time: 12:40-2:18pm).
The sky’s grey all over, it’s rained and looks like it will rain again but for the moment it’s dry and the temperature’s fine. Another slow start – I’m ignored for 15 minutes, then an old guy (a regular) appears and stands next to me, on my left and a few seconds later, it’s “Dangerous” Dave, on my right. These two don’t know each other and I’m not about to start making introductions, which I sometimes do – if I’m playing The Third Man, which I can play upside down – almost. (If I try to talk during other songs, I loose where I am, or I start talking only in the easier bits, which sounds weird and like I’ve got a speech defect). They don’t speak to me, which is unusual, as most do – annoyingly, while I’m playing. “Dangerous” Dave at least contributes, the old guy doesn’t. After a minute “Dangerous” Dave gets bored waiting for me to finish and walks off. At the end, my old guy peers in my bucket ( he always has a good look but never, NEVER gives anything) – apart from the £5 I put in before I start, there’s not much else. I give him my lecture about how there’s no guarantee of anything out here. Somedays are just better than others and I’ve got no idea why. Nothing seems to make a difference – the weather, the day of the week, time of day, how many people are about. I usually get the same no matter what. Sometimes I get more when it’s sunny, sometimes I don’t… Some days are good, some days are bad and that’s all there is to it. He thinks …”You know those animals – that commit suicide. They all run and jump off a cliff – little animals…what are they called?” “Really stupid?” “No one knows why they do it – the same as this – you don’t know what makes people give money.” “Yeah, you’re right.” He tries to help me; “Maybe you need a little dog, going around with a tin around it’s neck.” “Hmm.” Another one; “Or have photos in a frame that you change, like when you do Freight Train (one of his favourites), have a picture of a train, you know, and change the picture with the song.” Interesting, I agree, but too time consuming and I’d mess it up and forget to change the picture – “Why have you got a picture of Judy Garland there?” someone would say when I’m playing The James Bond Theme. “What? Oh, because I was playing Over The Rainbow and forgot to change the picture, sorry.” I can’t be doing with all that.
A man compliments me – “It’s unusual to see that combination – your electric guitar and real music.” (He’s just heard my Spanish Medley – Lagrima/Estudio en Mi Minor/Romance de Espana). I thank him. “Oh, not at all. It’s nice to hear something that’s not crash bang, you know.” I thank him (again) and say, yes, there are alot of loud “strummers” about sometimes – not today, it’s only me out today. He tells me of an Irish poet -I’ve forgotten the name he said – who was asked “what’s the best thing to play with a Boran?” He replied, “A knife!”
An hour and a half in and I decide to take a toilet break. In fact I’m almost looking forward to it – the toilets having now reopened after the renovation and refurbishment. They’ll be all spick and span and have soap dispensers filled with soap, for once. …but when I get there, it’s just the same as before; the place looks the same and there’s STILL NO SOAP IN THE DISPENSERS. Actually, there IS one difference between “before” and “after”; Where before there used to be cold water coming from the “cold” tap and (scorching) hot water from the “hot” tap, now they’ve simplified it – you now get cold water from BOTH taps. That was worth shutting the place for a week. In vain I search for Mr. John – chief commissioner of sanitary activities – to vent my rage upon, but he’s not in his little office just inside the entrance. In fact, he’s nowhere. Funny that, I think. Just then I see a guy in a wheelchair having trouble keeping the door of the disabled toilet open so he can get in. I wish to assist, and grab the door to keep it open, only to be told, (rather aggresively for my liking – I AM trying to help, after all) “Please LEAVE it (the door) thank you!” “Whoa! Hey – I’m only trying to help, alright?” I say. I reckon he’s lucky I didn’t “accidentally” push him over, ungrateful sod…
I haven’t got any snack to have in the cathedral grounds so decide to “test drive” a pair of hand warmers sent to me by my brother and his girlfriend* all the way from Canada. They’re packets of gel with a small round tin that, when you bend, produces a chemical(?) reaction which heats the packet up…and they work a treat, for about 15 minutes, which is long enough. However this first usage is quite wasted, as I decide to forgo a second session and go home instead – it’s started to rain with that annoying kind, where the water droplets are so tiny, they get blown everywhere – I couldn’t even play under the covered bit.
* The well known Canadian artist Holly Farrell