Diary Of A Busker Day 248

Diary Of A Busker Day 248 Reading, Broad Street (1. opposite Schuh, Time: 10:57-11:10am, 2. opposite Anne Summers, Time: 1:25-1:35pm, 3. opposite Clas Ohlson, Time: 1:40-3:03pm, 4. opposite Clarks, Time: 3:10-4:30pm).
I’m back in Reading – for the first of 4 Tuesdays at The College Of Integrated Chinese Medicine (acupuncture, in other words), as recomended by Duck Baker after I told him about my hand condition – Focal Dystonia, and how none of the so-called (western) ‘specialists’ could help me. Duck suggested I try the Eastern approach, so I thought – what have I got to lose? – not that much, not at £15 a session – with student practitioners, that is. The proper ‘doctors’ were £50 – a bit more than I can afford. I wouldn’t mind making back the train fare, though, so I’m going to get a bit of busking in while I’m in town.
I do well for my first session, before my consultation – £5.53p for just over 10 minutes – a sort of ‘best of’: Albatross, La Vie En Rose, The Third Man and When I’m Sixty-Four. After having the terrain of my tongue observed and mapped by first, a student doctor, then by a ‘proper’ one, I return to where I made my Reading ‘debut’ a while back – opposite Anne Summers, where I notice they’ve changes the lingerie poster. I’m not here long as, just after I start up, I hear a piano somewhere. I look around and see a guy down the road a bit with an upright with a big umbrella attached, on a little trolley. Maybe he didn’t hear me…oh well, I pack up and head down the other way and across the road – in the shade, as it’s a warm day. Here, it’s really slow – to get nothing for half an hour is pretty depressing, especially with all the people about. It’s also pretty noisy here – there’s a guy in a street cleaning machine – like a mini-van, who keeps going up and down the road. I can here him even when I can’t see him. …I’m startled by a black guide dog who all of a sudden is there in front of me, barking and snarling, during which time I play a bit quieter! …two men who must be at least 70, with grey quiffs shout “Rock ‘n roll!” – one holds up an Elvis album, an actual record (LP, long player, vinyl, 33 1/3rd…) …a mother and daughter come up and ask me if I want some Euros – the daughter holds open her hand and shows me five coins and I say I can’t as the banks won’t take them – “Oh, we only have Euros – we came from France yesterday.” No joy. After an hour and a half I decide to leave here – forever, and go across the road and up a bit, where I do a bit better. A three year old with two women dances around in the middle of the road (pedestrianised). “Oh look – she loves it! – the music!” She sure does – and ‘dances’ manically about for ten minutes until dragged away and the women don’t give me a penny, which annoys me, for all the joy my happy guitar music has given to the kid.
A old man likes my Third Man and talks about the TV series from the 50s with Michael Rennie – “I could never make that out ’cause Harry Lime was a criminal – the bad guy but Michael Rennie played the part of some sort of philanthropist, solving problems. It didn’t really have any similarity to the film!” I’ve been here a few hours now and I want to go home but, to my left, in the distance, I can see the umbrella of the piano guy. Hm…I wonder if I could get a photo before I leave Reading. I always admire people who can play the piano, as I can’t play it very well. I pack up walk down and introduce myself. His name is Tim Valentine. His piano’s got the fall board off so you can see all the workings – which I like – a piano’s so much more complicated than a guitar, it’s a real work of art. Tim Valentine’s all dressed up (something else I admire: a busker who makes an effort) with striped blazer, ‘piano’ tie and black and white two-tone, very shiny shoes. I ask the usual – does he ‘come here often’, all that sort of thing. He’s from near Oxford and has got two gigs, one last night and one tonight in Bracknell, so he’s booked two nights in a Travel Lodge and ‘sandwiching’ a day’s busking between them – “I might as well kill two birds with one stone” he says. Exactly, just like me, I say. He tells me he’s busked in Oxford. I say I never have – what’s it like? “You have to queue up.” “What – an actual queue?” “Yeah, and after an hour (playing) someone else will be there, straight away.” He tells me you need a license here in Reading – £25 a year. I haven’t got one, I say. “That’s OK – there’s only one guy who comes round to check – about once a year.” Tim thinks it’s silly to have all the different councils having their own rules for buskers. They should have one rule for the whole country, otherwise people have to apply in advance to all the different councils if they want to visit somewhere and busk. I agree. It’s easier to forget all that and just turn up and play and if they move you on, so be it. What time did he start today? At about half past eight. He tries to get £100 a day so he’ll finish at about 6 he says – “Like yesterday, I made £97, the whole day.” I say I like his shoes – I’ve been trying to get a pair like them, not as pointed, though. He says he got them here, at a shop down the street – he’ll take me there. First, he’s got to empty the two silver money cans that he’s got suspended from either side of his piano. He says he used to have them on the ground but someone came along and told him he couldn’t have them on the ground! As he empties the second one, he says “Oh dear, that’s another thing – I’m only supposed to have one – I forgot that!” I notice he’s got some cds stuck on his piano but they’re not of him – it’s his son. Apparently, two years ago, his son couldn’t play the guitar, now he’s recorded an album. Tim’s really proud of him. He leaves his piano in charge of a lady in a wheelchair and we walk down to the shoe shop. “I wouldn’t trade this – busking, for the world, you know.” Really? “No. I’ve been on ships, cruises, South Afica. There’s nothing like this – all the people I meet.” At the shoe shop they only had the really pointed ones, like what Tim’s got – which he doesn’t care for, either – “They get in the way of the pedals.” Back at his piano I get a couple of photos of him then it’s goodbye. A nice chap – with his piano/huge umbrella/trolley contraption/ensemble. I could do with an umbrella like his but there’s no place I can attach it to. Apart from maybe tying it to my head, somehow. As I’ve missed another train – I meant to leave two hours ago -I buy a pork pie from Sainsbury’s which I eat sitting on a bench, while some pigeons pelt me with bits of bread from a balcony…
Earnings: £20.69p.

Leave a Reply