Diary Of A Busker Day 246

Diary Of A Busker Day 246 Thursday June 14th 2012 Winchester High Street 1. Opposite Zizzi, Time: 2-3:14pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:37-4:13pm, 3. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:30-5:45pm
It’s choc-a-bloc with buskers today; starting at The Buttercross: Rob, as loud as ever, moving further down…a young guy with an acoustic guitar that I can barely hear… further down at the crossroads it’s Colin with his trumpet and loud backing tracks. Even the bit down at Debenhams is taken – by Ben, who is annoyed by all the buskers coming from out of town. ‘Well, I busked in Reading the other day,’ I say. Of course, there’s no one further up, opposite Maison Blanc – there never is, but it’s a bit too close to Ben and he’s a nice bloke so…where to go…there’s only one place – back up the other end, up from The Buttercross, outside Barclays Bank and near the busy Jewry Street. I’ve never been there before so it’ll be another debut! I set up opposite the entrance to the Zizzi restaurant. I can see them all sitting down – they’re going to get some unscheduled background music…or noise, depending on their point of view, while they munch on their pizza and garlic bread.
Carol, who never EVER walks by without contributing, unlike some of my other so-called faithful regulars, gives me a pound while I’m tuning up. ‘Thanks Carol, and I haven’t even played anything yet.’ ‘Eh?’ A local bearded drongo plays an air guitar during Albatross and Mr. Sandman and dances around making a V sign (victory, up yours or peace – who knows, I’m assuming it’s the last) and says, ‘You’re a wicked guitarist, take care and good afternoon!’ and wanders off. A homeless guy, Brian, I think, sits with his white dog (the preponderance of white dogs among the homeless is noticeable) diagonally across from me. He’s there for half an hour before he leaves and I have to say, his trousers are so low I can see the whole of his bottom (that’s whole, not hole) before he pulls them up. Nice, Brian.
An old guy comes up – ‘You’ve come on a bit since then, eh?’ I don’t know what he means – ‘Since then?’ I say. ‘You were just starting out three years ago.’ I correct him, ‘Oh no, I’ve only been doing this a year and a half…are you sure it’s me?’ ‘Yeah, I asked if you could play something Spanish.’ He’s right, I remember, I tried to play Choro de Saudade by Barrios. ‘Oh yeah, I messed it up. In fact I still can’t play it!’ He tells me he was in the navy then the fleet air arm, in 1947. ‘1947, just after the trouble,’ I say. ‘Yeah, I waited till that was over, they wouldn’t take me before!’ ‘Ha! I bet you tried to join, though,’ I say. He laughs – ‘anyway nice to see you, cheerio,’ and he’s off. After an hour and a bit, I take a break and walk down the road…Colin’s the only one about now. I sit in the cathedral grounds. There’s a young couple kissing the whole time I’m there. I become somewhat Victorian and prudish about this; I mean, a minute or two, I don’t mind. Anything longer than that seems a touch…indecent, pater! Still, I suppose it’s better than two people shooting each other. Hmm…maybe I’m getting old. Maybe I’m jealous! Anyway, In the background I can just hear Colin but not his backing tracks and reflect on how his distant trumpet sounds like a child crying.
For my second set, I’m down the other end at Oxfam but pack up after half an hour when it starts to rain – which, naturally, stops the very second I’m all packed up and ready to leave. Halfway up the road, I stop to chat briefly to Simon (thankfully not shouting today) and Mick, sitting drinking coffee at one of the tables outside Costa. ‘Learned any new songs?’ asks Mick. ‘Umm…no, nothing, apart from the Moulin Rouge theme. I’ve had some trouble with the middle bit but my associate, Hugh, sent me the right chords the other day, so I’m trying to sort it out now.’ ‘Yeah? There’s some funny chords in some things! Memory, you know that one?’ ‘No Mick, don’t think I do.’ ‘Memory, not Memories. Memory – it’s in A flat BUT IT STARTS IN C!’ Mick always gets really exited when he talks about weird things in music. He’s always telling me about songs that start in such and such a key then go off in such and such another key. ‘Yeah, in A flat… (five minutes later)…tri tone substitution…’ ‘I’ve got to go and play up there, Mick!’
I have a final hour and a half, during which I go into a dark frame of mind, the catalyst being a lack of contributions. It’s amazing how after ten minutes of no money, a pound can light up the world. This happens…but it’s not enough. Another distressing thing is that three people who I’m acquainted with, walk by and ignore me – they don’t even nod. This includes someone who works at the bank and takes my bags of coins. In fact, she did it the other day; looked at me, then looked really embarrassed and hurried on. I get very paranoid about all this. I don’t know, maybe they think I’m scum, or I’m begging. Then I think (totally illogically, I know) maybe they’re right, maybe I am and how did it come to this, what am I doing here, what happened to the promise of my youth…all these things wrong with me now; the Tinnitus, I’m half deaf, this thing with my hand, what a waste of time, what am I doing here (again)…
Earnings: £28.56

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