Diary Of A Busker Day 235 Saturday May 19th 2012 Winchester High Street Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:50-5:40pm
I don’t usually come in on Saturdays. I was going to come in yesterday but due to having to wait in for a delivery of busking CDs, I couldn’t make it. In fact I could have, since the delivery guy came at 9 o’clock in the morning, but because I’m half-deaf, I didn’t hear him knock and he gave up and left them at the house next door, leaving me to wait all day…but it turned out to be a good thing… On the High Street, I’m greeted by Joel, with two dots above the ‘e’ – the friendly French balloon sculptor or whatever they’re called, these people who make animals out of balloons. He’s standing near the crossroads. A minute later, Mick turns up. I tell him about when I met Duck Baker a couple of weeks ago but he’s never heard of him. I say he lives in Reading. Joel says, ‘Ah, I was in Reading and saw Meek Jagger. I told him about you and he says yes, he’s heerd about you!’ ‘What? Mick Jagger?’ No, it’s not true. Crazee Frenchman. He goes off to make a balloon into a dog for some children. Mick asks me if I’ve checked out Jorge Cavieri yet – ‘an aMAAAAzing geetarist…apparently, he can do a tremolo WITH ONE FINGER!’ ‘One finger, Mick? Really? I’ll have to look into that, what with my Focal Dystonia, and all that.’ ‘What?’ says Mick. “The thing I’ve got wrong with some of my fingers…like Parkinsons’…neurological…signals from brain…’ I relate the FD part of my “hard luck story.” Mick’s never heard of it – ‘What’s it called?’ ‘Focal Dystonia.’ ‘Urghh…sounds like an album title!’ ‘Yeah it does, Mick.’ Off he goes, to Sainsbury’s bargain food bin.
At precisely 4:01pm an old guy gives me a £5 note and a compliment – ‘It’s good to hear such talent.’ What a generous, complimentary chap. Then a short man wearing a hat stands five feet in front of me…and never leaves. Occasionally he speaks, sometimes during songs but mainly in between – ‘Duanne Eddy – I’ve got an album by him.’ This is the only time I acknowledge any of his remarks, saying that I too have an album, signed by him and bought for 99p from a charity shop in Eastleigh…after another song he starts singing Spanish Eyes, then after another, it’s ‘Mooooon River, wider than a mile…’ Mick returns, Sainsbury’s bag in hand. ‘You get anything, Mick?’ ‘All I got was a JAAAAM ROLL! FIFTY PEE!’ ‘That’s good, how much was it before?’ ‘TWO PAAANDS! An’ I don’t even LIKE jaaaam rolls!’ Off he goes, again.
A man of about 70 comes up and asks if I’ll be here in a few minutes. I say sure, I’ll be here for the next few hours, same as this bloke in front of me. OK, he says. He’s going up the road but he’ll be back. Then the guy in front of me does an amazing thing. He moves! He walks to the ice-cream vendor just across the road, buys an ice-cream and comes back. Now he’s even more annoying. Before, he was just a bloke standing watching me – and not contributing – and I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking he might not have any change. But now he’s gone and spent £2 and has come back and is licking an ice-cream! And still he doesn’t contribute and he’s been here in front of me more than an hour!!
…the 70 year old kept his word and returns with a small white envelope which he puts in my coat pocket. ‘A little treat for you,’ he says. A little treat? What is it? I don’t know but I’m hoping it’s some money, a note…maybe two notes. Ten minutes later, a break is enforced on me as a bloke guides his mate in a van through the bollards a few feet away. I open the envelope… Inside are three £20 notes and four £10 notes. In my book that comes to £100. Me – a simple, humble busker has just been given £100 by a stranger, during a performance of The Theme From Dr. Zhivago, also known as Lara’s Theme. The notes were enclosed in a sheet of A4 paper, on one side was typed:
Ask candidate to repeat after you – “Dear Lord Jesus, I believe in my heart that you are the son of God, that you died on the cross for my sins and that you rose again from the dead.
I now repent of all my former sins and ask for your forgiveness please.
I receive you into my life as my personal Saviour and Lord, my Healer and Deliverer.
Please take over my life completely and manage it from this day forward and forever in accordance with your perfect will.
My old life is dead. Everything is become new. I am born again in Jesus name”
…and on the other side, in pencil – ‘I have included this note just in case you felt you needed it some time. God bless you and your wonderful music. Ken’
Well, before this happened I may well have needed the note, as I was very nearly about to commit a gross offence with an ice-cream on the person of the annoying bloke in front of me. But now? All I can think is HAAALLELUJAH! HAAALLELUJAH! (to the tune of Handel’s Messiah, of course). ONE HUNDRED POUNDS. Phew. Buskers don’t even dare dream of that happening. Maybe a £20, on a really lucky day. I don’t believe in any God, but in this case I’ll make an exception – God bless you, Ken!
After this I suppose some buskers might head home but I AM A PROFESSIONAL and carry on!…and as well I should because shortly after, I sell my first busking CD, to a lady who wants to cheer her ‘under the weather husband up,’ and hands over a ten pound note, so she gets a fiver back – I think that’s alright for a 24 minute CD, recorded LIVE with the number 35 bus going by, and no overdubs. But my good fortune doesn’t end there, oh no. Because at 5:35 a man wants me to play at his wife’s 50th tonight at 8 o’clock…and it’s a PAID gig! It’s time to quit while I’m ahead, before something terrible befalls me. What a day – it’ll never happen again.