Diary Of A Busker Day 245

Diary Of A Busker Day 245 Saturday June 9th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:07-1:31pm, 2. opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:40-2pm, 3. opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:30-4:10pm, 4. opposite Bellis, Time: 5:07-5:36pm).
A couple of weeks ago I came across 92 year(s) old Ralph sitting on a bench in the High Street. He started telling me how difficult it was to motivate himself into doing things these days and that he’d really like to take up the guitar again – like he used to, years ago. Maybe I could come ’round and go over a few chords with him sometime? – he said. He looked miserable and/or forlorn and I felt sorry for him. I only ever see him on his own and I know he’s been to the doctors alot recently. He lives in the same block as Anthony – just down the road, near the statue, so I said sure, I’d definately come and see him and go over a few things. Good – he’d like that, he said. He gave me his number so I phoned and said I’d come and see him today. He said that would be ok – but he’d be having his lunch in his club and maybe a pint afterwards in The Ship and to phone him around 2 o’clock. I reckon I can ‘sandwich’ a visit in between a couple of busking sessions…
There’s some loud group at The Buttercross so it’s down to Vodafone where I encounter opera singer Zemelda for the second time. She’s about to start one of her sets – they all start on the hour and are all 20 minutes – but she doesn’t want to overdo it today as tomorrow she’s got an audition for Madame Butterfly in Bracknell. I don’t know much about opera but I’ve heard of that one. I want to take her picture and she tells me that usually when people want a picture of her, they want one with her mouth wide open! – something she rather dislikes doing – when she’s not actually singing. I say I’m not bothered about how wide her mouth is – or if it’s even open! I’ll get one with it shut and maybe another when it’s open, when she’s ‘in performance’, which I do. I’ll come back after she’s done her set but meanwhile I’ll head further down and set up opposite the Maison Blanc…which turns out well – the hourly rate is surpassed and I sell two cds. Back up the road, as Zemelda takes a break, it goes not nearly as well although there are ‘millions’ of people about. Hm…my theory is that when there’s so many about, people are too distracted – there’s too much noise (=confusion) and everyone gets caught up in the forward moving throng and are thinking of lots of other things, so the poor busker gets ignored, more than usual. It’s a good theory, I reckon. I’m sticking with it. Anyway, I’ve got less than 10 minutes left before Zemelda starts again and not one person’s given any money! This could be the only session I’ve done where I’ve left with nothing and in a weird, perverse way I was half-hoping this might actually happen. Then I can say “One session I did, I got nothing!” However, it wasn’t to be. Two scousers stop and listen for a bit, then say “D’ya know any Django, mate?” “Django?” “Django Reinhardt – yeah.” No I don’t but Chinatown is sort of in his style – very fast, and anyway Ralph’s a big Django fan and HE’S happy enough when I do that one. I play it…and yes, they like that one and they know what it’s called. I tell them about a Liverpool bed and breakfast I stayed at last month. There was a sign on my bedroom door ‘ Any Damage To Rooms or Property must be Paid For So Think of your Mums House! And Enjoy Your Week-end. Thank You’
At 2 o’clock Zemelda starts up and I give Ralpha ring…no answer. I decide to look or him in a couple of pubs nearby – The Baker’s Arms and Alfies. He’s not there. Hm…he said something about his “club”, didn’t say the name but DID say it was near where I took his picture the other day. I look around…and see what he must mean, a door with a sign with RAOB, at the end of the alleyway near the Maison Blanc, almost opposite from where I play. That’s got to be it. It’s an old bloke’s place – I can tell before I even go in…and it is – an old-fashioned ‘working mens’ club, with old guys, mainly about 70 years old, some a bit younger, some older. I’m definately the youngest bloke in here – which makes a change, for once. The lady working there knows Ralph – they all do, but he hasn’t been in today. He’s probably at The Ship, ’round the corner. Hm…I’d rather not bother him, I think. I’ll phone him again…still no answer. I’ll try later but for now I’ll set up where I was for my first set and maybe see him if he heads to his club – I’ll easily see him go into the alleyway from here. I walk about a bit, then head back and there he is, with a lady (not young), heading towards the alley. I run over and get him just as they’re turning into it. He says hello and says why don’t I come in “for a pint”. I think for a second – I don’t know if I want to sit there with them all – him and his wife(?) and all the old guys. I mean, I’m not 70 yet. I don’t know, Ralph…maybe after I play out here for a bit, I say. “OK” he says – “but the bar shuts at four-thirty. They won’t serve you after that. Come in when you’ve ‘ad enough.” Ok – I will, I say. So, once again, here I am – and a long set, too – an hour and a half. I meet a friendly German guy – Kirk, whose grandparents were English – his grandfather was one of the soldiers who liberated Bergen Belsen – the concentration camp.
At 4:15 I pack up and go back to Ralph’s club. There’s not many in now. Ralph’s at a table with his lady and two other men. The table’s small and round and covered with a green felt cloth. They’re playing dominoes! Ralph sees me and says hello. He’s had his dinner – why don’t I sit down. One of the men at the table says “Sit, sit!” Hm, I’m not sure. I think I’d rather play a bit longer, somewhere…anyway, I was supposed to be teaching Ralph some chords at his flat. “Sit down. Sit!” the other guy says again, louder. Another old man, at the table next to Ralph’s gets annoyed at this – “He’s not a dog! – ‘Sit’!” “Well, no, I’m not.” “Here, you play The Green Man, don’t you? – I like that.” “The Green Man? The Third Man, you mean.” “Yeah, oh yeah…anyway, you should play ‘ere – cheer us all up. ‘ave a ord with the guvnor.” “Hm, yeah – maybe. Do they pay?” I know the answer to this already. “Pay? Well, er…you’ll get a few pints.” “Yeah – then I won’t be able to play, though.” The thing is, Ralph looks like he’s enjoying himself – he’s probably forgotten about feeling low and wanting me to come around with my guitar to teach him some chords. I tell him I’ll see him another time. Anyway, why bother learning a few guitar chords when you can sit in your club, have your dinner and play dominoes with your mates and your bird?!
Earnings: £36.92p + 2 cds.

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