Diary Of A Busker Day 252

Diary Of A Busker Day 252 Tuesday June 26th Broad Street, Reading (opposite Mobile Phone & Handbag Shop, Time: 10:33am-12:38pm, 1:15-2:23pm).
Back in Reading for my 2nd visit to the College Of Integrated Chinese Medicine, I set up near where ‘lounge’ pianist Tim Valentine was last week – where there are alot of benches nearby with alot of people sitting on them…and alot of them are old so they might like me. There are also a few mothers with small children – I’m popular (usually) with them, too. After listening – I suppose they can’t help it, as long as they’re sitting there – for a bit, two of these small children come over and one, all nervous and clasping her hands and wobbling about! asks if I can play Puff The Magic Dragon. That’s a first – I’ve had Postman Pat and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before but not Puff… …but of course I can – just the melody, though. Not all the chords and whatever. But you don’t need all that stuff with these old folk melodies. So I play it and I don’t make any mistakes which makes me feel quite proud of myself and they love it and go back to their mom then come back to me and say “thank you” all shy-like, like before, then go back to their mom. They hang around a bit longer then get up to go, so I give them PTMD again, as they’re walking off.
Near the end of the first set, I play Albatross. A woman walks by, stops and comes back. About 5′ 6″, emaciated, badly dyed blonde hair, sunglasses. “You play Albatross” she says, weirdly, like it’s a statement, not a request. Anyway, I’ve just played it! When she says it, I notice her two front teeth are missing. “Yeah – this is Albatross, so you recognise it?” “I should do, I’m old enough.” Then – “Marianne Faithfull’s mother taught me ballet.” Well, I think, what can you say to that. “Really?” “Yeah. Baroness Erisso – that was ‘er mother. Taught me ballet.” “Wow, really?” “Yeah. You can look it up – that’s what she’s called>” “Right, well, yeah – I’ll write it down (I get my pad and pencil), how do you spell it?” “What – Baroness?” “No – Erisso.” She starts to look confused. “I’ll look it up” I say. She gets three 2 pence coins out of her purse – “Sorry, it’s all the change I got. I drank all my money.” “That’s ok, thanks.” She wants to talk more. “Yeah, and I used to work next door to Ronnie Wood’s mother, y’know.” “You used to work next door to Ronnie Wood’s mother?” I repeat, back to her. “Yeah.” A pause. “You know ‘oo ‘ee is, don’tcha? Ronnie Wood?” “Well, yeah – he’s in The Rolling Stones.” Pause. “His mother must be er, old now – must be dead, eh?” “Yeah, an’ ‘ees old, yeah, all them – Swagger Jagger, Keef (said like that) Richards.” Pause. “Rod Stewart – ‘ee was a little urchin, no wonder Britt Eckland (turns head and mumbles something)…” Then she suddenly becomes aware of her missing teeth and covers her mouth – “Oh, I’ve lost me front tooth.” “Oh, um…it’s not on the pavement, somewhere around here, is it? I mean, you didn’t just loose it, did you?” “No – in me ‘ouse. In me back yard.” “Oh well.” Pause. “So, um…you’ve met all these people then?” “Um…ye(mumbles)” and with that she’s off. Strange. I wonder if I looked through some books on ‘the Stones’ if she would be in some picture, circa 1975. But how would I know? – there must be loads of women with blonde hair and sunglasses in photos of ‘the Stones’. And she would have had her teeth then – there’s no way they’d hand out with women without front teeth, surely. My word, she looked rough – a ‘rock (chick) casualty’ if there ever was one. I suppose she’s lucky to be alive. I wonder if it was Anita Pallenberg? – I’ll have to look it up. Dear, oh dear. Generous though – I believe her when she said she gave me all the change she had.
Not long after my bizarre meeting I take a break and attempt to find the nearest public conveniences – in the labyrinth that is the Oracle shopping centre. After what seems like an hour I’m back out on Broad Street. I thought I’d ‘take the air’ and have a short walk about before another session. On the opposite side and down a bit from where I was busking there’s an old guy – flatcap, with a music stand set up. He’s playing a penny whistle and has a collection bucket for Save The Children. I catch some of his set – a few songs, all in all about a minute and a half – they’re very short! The Flintstones theme, Oh Susanna, Last Of The Summer Wine – which I notice has the same or very similar opening notes as the Moulin Rouge theme. Back on the pitch – the same place I was before I went on my toilet search (it turned out to be in the House Of Fraser) – I’m quite near the old guy but there’s so much noise from all the people, not to mention the street cleaners atop their ‘Big Green Machine(s)’ – that I can’t hear him at all.
Later on, I meet Andy, a man in his 50s who stops and compliments me on my guitar – “I bet that cost a few hundred quid, eh?” Nosy. “Not as much as you might think – it’s quite a cheap one. Korean, not American” Andy tells me about a young band he’s managing, from Southampton. He thinks they’re going to be big and he’s taking no chances – he’s going to copyright their name – it’s a great one, he says. I ask him what it is but he’s cagey and evades it and starts talking about where they rehearse. I persist – “So, what’s the name?” “Um, I don’t want to say. Not before I get it copyrighted. So no one can steal it.” “Oh go on – what’s the name?” “I don’t want to say, anyway, it’s just a name, y’know.” (‘Just a name’? – but before he said it was a ‘great’ name, not ‘just a name’). Near the end of a busking day, I’m often low on patience – and can’t be bothered with silliness such as this – and I’m nearing the end of a day now. “Look, what’s the big deal? – you think I’m going to leave here and immediately form a group and call it the same name as your one?! Go on – what’s the name?!” “Well, it’s only a name, er…The Cunning Wizards. Just a name.” There he goes, almost apologising again – he’ll never be a good manager! He goes on “…yeah, they’re going to be big…” And he’s written some songs, too. I ask if he’s recorded any. No. Well, you need to get them recorded, I tell him. Andy asks me about myself – have I been in any groups? Yeah – loads of them. And I’ve been through all that record deal stuff, too, years ago. “Oh right” he says, “any name groups?” “Nope, none you would have heard of.” “Oh, what were the names?” “I’m not going to say!” (Ha Ha!) “you’d never have heard of them and then I’d be embarrassed, so that’s why I don’t tell people anymore! I used to, if they kept asking, then I’d say ‘but you won’t have heard of them’ and they’d say ‘I might have – I know alot about music’, then after I tell them, they say ‘no, never heard the name’ which made me feel like an idiot sometimes, so I don’t bother now.” Andy bigs up his Cunning Wizards for a bit longer then says he’ll leave me ‘to it’. He glances at my bucket which I deliberately keep a few feet away from me – a tip from Colin – apparently more people ‘give’ if they haven’t got to go right up to the busker. “I’d keep that a bit closer to you, there’s alot of toerags ’round here.” “Yeah? It’s alright – I keep my eye on it, you know.” “Yeah well they won’t think twice about that. Well, goodbye.” he walks off then turns around, still clearly concerned about my bucket – “Desperados” he says. A few minutes after he leaves I pack up. I reckon I’ve made back the train fare and also the acupuncture fee of £15…so I’m off, before the toerags and desperados get me.
Earnings: £36.42p Expenses: £15.50p (train fare), doctors – £15.00. Total: £30.50p

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