Dary Of A Busker Day 271 Saturday August 18th 2012 Winchester High Street 1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:17-3:05pm, 2. Opposite Waterstones, Time: 3:57-4:24pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 4:33-6:18pm
I come into the high street just as Rockin’ Rob and his girlfriend are on their way out, heading to The Royal Oak in Salisbury to do a proper gig. Rob tells me he’s had some hassle from the environmental officer who, rather unfortunately for Rob, has taken over the floor above Cafe Nero, right across from where he plays. They say he’s too loud – although the police don’t seem to mind – and have compiled a file against him, complete with photo (out-of-focus and grainy; suitably espionage-ish) and times of performance/offence.
Down at the other end, my Pickwickian, pipe-smoking regular sits down on the bench across the road, listens to a few songs…and comes across after Ol’ Man River. ‘Robeson got treated very badly, didn’t he?’ he says. Yes he did, I agree – ‘They (the American government) took away his passport, they were paranoid about communism, weren’t they?’ ‘Hmm…and they wouldn’t let him in the front door of some places. Had to go in by the kitchen. There was another black man who had the same thing.’ ‘Sammy Davis Junior, at the BBC. They wouldn’t let him in the Green Room, or the canteen. I remember reading that, and that was in sixty-nine – he was a big star.’
I visit the toilet to wash the metallic-ness of the guitar strings off my hands and while I’m at the dryer a young guy comes out of one of the cubicles, sees me and asks if I’m the one who does James Bond, to which I say I am. ‘Hey, that’s GREAT! You should go on Britain’s Got Talent!’ ‘What, playing James Bond?’ ‘Yeah!’ After that, it’s to the cathedral grounds…then to the craft shop for some paint for the psychedelic double-neck guitar kit…then to say hello to Rick Tarrant who’s busking right outside. He’s so quiet, I can barely hear him. I ask him how it’s going. ‘OK, I’ve made my bus fare and meal money!’ Then to check on the St. Lawrence Church prayer board. One says PLEASE PRAY FOR – Toby the dog. Another says PLEASE PRAY FOR – Everybody everywhere. I’m really tempted to write INCLUDING TOBY THE DOG on that one, and take down the Toby the dog one. Or write one saying PLEASE PRAY FOR EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE and take down the lot. Back on the street there are buskers everywhere and I don’t want to go back down to Oxfam. Not just yet, anyway; they need more than a half-hour break! Where to go…somewhere I’ve never been…I set up opposite Waterstones bookshop…but pack up after half an hour as a gospel singer and keyboard player have set up down at The Buttercross. And I wasn’t making much here, anyway. So, back down the road…at the crossroads I see a young couple I saw earlier, down at Oxfam – they walked by me carrying some big square shaped thing covered with a black cloth. I now see what it was. The guy is dressed as a hippie and is sitting cross-legged on a platform about four feet up, which is suspended by a fake tree branch at the side, but you can’t see that he’s sitting on anything so it looks like he’s levitating! And they’ve concealed the other platform, which is on the ground, with flowers. They look like they’re doing well, money-wise. I get a photo for my album. It’a good act, and pretty clever; all he has to do is sit there! There I am, busting my gut, playing non-stop for hours and he just sits there. I must be a mug!
Back near Maison Blanc, one of my old regulars who witnessed the incident with The Jerk the other day says some other person told him he thought it was a stunt SET UP BY ME! A STUNT! How cynical can you get?! Anthony drops by and after another fifteen-minutes guitar question and answer session, he asks me about my Focal Dystonia hand condition. I say it’s no better. He asks if I’ve considered colonic irrigation. No. He says it might be something worth trying – ‘Lots of people try it, when they get old and all these things go wrong, like they do when you get old. Princess Diana had it, apparently.’ ‘Really? Something to do with her diet or that Bulimia thing she had?’ ‘Hmm…yes. But it’s quite uncomfortable. I had it once but I had to ask them to stop, I couldn’t go on. I…just don’t fancy having something shoved up my bottom!’ ‘Er…no, that’s all a bit weird, isn’t it?…unless you’re gay!’
Earnings: £37.10 + 3 CDs