Diary Of A Busker Day 202

Diary Of A Busker Day 202 Tuesday February 28th 2012 Winchester High Street Opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:30-3:45pm
A fairly civilised stint down at the crossroads. Civilised, in that the weather was fine, enabling me to play straight through without stopping to warm my hands up, and civilised because no one fell over me in a state of drunkenness. A lady comes up after my rendition of Tammy, now back as a regular in my set. She says, ‘Thank you for reminding me of my mum – she loved that song.’ An old guy stands at the other side of the bin, a few feet on my left. He looks like he’s come out of the hospital after a serious operation on one of his eyes. He listens for a long time, in fact I forget he’s there. After warming up for an hour, I feel brave and attempt a new tune, or rather the first part of a new tune – something I’ve been working on the past year –  Francis Kleynjans’s guitar arrangement of Debussy’s Clair De Lune, the first movement from Suite Bergamasque. It’s a difficult piece, full of harp harmonics and normal fretted notes placed next to each other, and played quickly. None of it’s easy but the first part is easier than the rest – and also the most recognisable part, so I play just that bit – but not very well, as it goes. Still, it pays off – the man near the bin comes and gives a pound. He says, ‘That was a brave attempt.’ Attempt is an accurate word. ‘Yeah, I need to work at it more. You can’t improve on the piano, though,’ I say. Indeed, but it’s so well-known, especially the opening bars, that people may appreciate it…or appreciate my bravery if nothing else. 
Ralph (93) comes by and I tell him I’ve listened to I Belong To Glasgow by Will Fyffe. That’s listened to, not learned. He starts singing/humming it, expecting me to join in on the guitar, which I try to do. ‘What key am I in?’ he says. ‘I don’t know…G?’ He carries on. I wonder if I’ll be singing out in the middle of the street to some busker in 40 years time… After a while he says he’s ‘going up the road to Boots, can you play me something as I’m going?’ ‘How about Wheels?’ I say. ‘No, Boots,’ he says. ‘No, the song’s called Wheels!’ I start it…and finish it and Ralph’s still here. I play some more…he’s off. Twenty minutes later and the other guy’s still here at the side of the bin. Ralph returns so I play Chinatown, My Chinatown as I know he likes that one and it’s the nearest I get to a Django Reinhardt style tune, who Ralph saw way back in the 30s. He’s singing along, leaning against the small bollard. While he’s singing along, I see something I’ve never seen before – Ralph  smiles! I’ve never seen him do that, ever. I’m thinking ‘my work here is done.’ The other guy moves out and stands on my other side, near Ralph. Ralph asks if I know Oh How We Danced The Night We Were Wed. I tell him I’ve never heard of it but I’ll look it up, later at home. He starts humming another one, gazing up at the sky the way people do when they’re trying to remember something. ‘I know the melody but not the words,’ he says. The other guy then says, ‘I know the words but not the name!’ Very funny. Ralph goes off, saying he’ll see me soon. I’m pleased I’ve seen him smile for once – I couldn’t believe that.
At precisely 3:28pm another amazing thing occurs. A small angel in the form of an Indian gentleman appears and puts a £5 note in my bucket. This sort of thing hasn’t happened in months, in fact, as I was saying to someone the other day, this can transform a day, especially if it hasn’t been going well. As it is, the money’s been the usual rate but it’s still an uplifting/amazing/NOTEworthy event – getting a fiver.
Earnings: £30.37

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