Diary Of A Busker Day 205 Saturday March 3rd 2012 Winchester High Street 1. Opposite Card Factory, Time: 3:25-4:34pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:40-5:45pm
I pass Tony at The Buttercross, blasting out his sax and backing track. He’s arched backwards, sax horn above his head. It really is more of a visual performance more than a musically accurate one – he’s playing In The Mood, but he’s playing the melody – the three repeating notes – straight, giving each note the same length, instead of dragging the first note over a bit and shortening the second, so it’s not swinging, as it were. Because of this it sounds like a German Oom-pah band, which is bad enough (annoying but also very amusing), but in the bit after that, he plays a wrong note – the same note, everytime he comes round to that bit. However, Tony makes more money than me – and that’s why we’re all out here, anyway…
There are a few other buskers out today so it’s back down to the back of beyond, namely in front of Debenhams…where soon enough there’s something else to annoy me; bits of paper and plastic cellophane wrappers blowing around. The wind blows all this stuff everyewhere and when something hits my leg, shoe, bucket and music book, it stays there until I stop playing, get up, scrunch it up (impossible with cellophane) and hide/secure it behind my gigbag or in my coat pocket. It gets more and more annoying and I get more aggressive and start to emit low, gutteral grunting sounds everytime I get up to sort out the situation. I reckon everyone has their little pet hates and stuff blowing around and attaching itself to me is one of mine. It drives me nuts, but NUTS!
An old lady says, ‘I’ve been looking out for you!’ ‘And now you’ve found me,’ I say. I don’t know who she is soI ask her name. ‘It’s Sylvia.’ I still don’t know. ‘Oh right…hello Sylvia.’ She must have worked out that I don’t recognise her. ‘From the woman’s group,’ Sylvia informs me. Now I know – I played for about 40 elderly ladies a few weeks ago in a community hall and she was one of them. ‘Oh yeah, sorry. There was another Sylvia there too, who was one of the organisers…wasn’t there?’ ‘Yes, there are four of us – it’s a popular name!’ Then, thinking fast, I put my old smoothie head on. ‘It MUST have been – in 1955, eh?’
After more than an hour of fighting with the blowing rubbish and having it stick to all my stuff, I’ve had enough and pack up and pick up all the paper and plastic stuff and chuck it in the bin down the road. I didn’t make a lot of money, although I did have a generous surprise donation of a £10 note no less, from Paul, who came from out of town and happens to be an admirer of my recorded exploits. He just happened to be passing by while I was in the same area. In fact he rather single-handedly rescued the session from being a disaster, like it was the other day in the same place.
At the second place I fare a bit better…and encounter Maurice with the booming voice again. ‘HELLO MY BOY! HOW ARE YOU – YOU’VE MISSED ME, HAVEN’T YOU?’ He’s forgotten I saw him the other day. He’s also forgotten he’s shown me his tax rebate letter and shows me again. One of the local drongos turns up and Maurice has a complaint – ‘You know what I did the other day? I invited twelve of you lot – the local down and outs – to my house. I had a big pork belly I was cooking and I was going to feed you all. TWELVE of them, and you know what? NOT ONE OF THEM TURNED UP, NOT ONE!’ ‘That’s terrible, Maurice,’ I say, ‘I love pork…with crackling?’ ‘Oh yes, crackling. I’d been cooking it for hours but you know what – I always wait to put the vegetables on, OH YES! Because they don’t take long, you know. But there you are, NOT ONE TURNED UP!’