Diary Of A Busker Day 273 Friday August 24th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:15-2:37pm, 2. opposite Bellis, Time: 3-4:05pm, 3. opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:22-5:35pm).
I’ve forgotten to bring the usual five pound coins to put in the bucket when I start, so it’s there, in front of me, empty…for twenty minutes before the first donation – a mixture of silver and shrapnel grandly totalling 13p, from a Chinese girl – gives it a bit of weight. At one point before this, a woman accidentally knocked the bucket spinning into the road, from where it was returned by another woman.
My old regular Walter comes out of the C & A fabric shop next to me. He tells me about when he used to conduct a seventeen piece dance band – “…they never took a blind bit of notice of me!” he laughs, “in fact one of them, the tenor sax, used to say ‘you’d make a better driver!'” He goes across the road and talks to Eddie – another old regular, who’s been listening to me…and then HE comes over – “It’s not a good spot, this, is it? You’ve got all the buses covering up the sound when they go by!” I agree but tell him it’s usually better than this – the money’s terrible today and the drizzle doesn’t help. I reckon it could pour down any moment. Eddie regales me with more tales of his days as a cabbie in Southampton. The one about Tommy Cooper, he’s told me before, but the one about Benny Hill’s a new one – “I said to him, ‘Why are you not married, Benny?’ and he said ‘Why ‘ave one when I can ‘ave ’em all?’ And I said to him, ‘Why are you down here?’ and he said ‘I’ve got to be somewhere!'” Eddie has a joke for me – “You want to make gold soup? Put nine carrots in!”
I pack up after an hour and a quarter, which is long enough but I’ve made only half the usual hourly amount – very disappointing. After a short break in the cathedral grounds and a visit to the craft shop to get some more paint for the psychedelic guitar, I set up near The Buttercross, so if and when it really starts up, I can move my stuff two feet back under cover.
I meet again, after a long time, the man who told me he was Glen Miller’s godson. “I’ve just turned seventy” he says. “You’re looking well for it.” “It’s the Mediterranean diet – olive oil. I take a little (holds two fingers an inch apart) bit of olive oil every day.” …it finally does start to rain proper so I have to move back a bit. I play Here Comes The Sun and a man says “That’s crazy!” Half an hour later, it’s eased off a bit so I move back out. I play Ne Me Quitte Pas (one half French, the other English – ha!), then another song and after that, a young guy comes up – “What was that you played before – a French song?” (I detect a French accent) “Ah, yes – Ne Me Quitte Pas. I’m not too good at it yet. It’s a new one, Jacques Brel – he’s my favourite.” “Yes, can you play it again, pleese?” (He’s got to be French). Wow, the first time that one’s been requested…and for that reason alone I’ll name it Song Of The Day. “Sure, what’s your name?” “Antoine.” (I knew it).
My third and last spot’s halfway down, at Vodafone…and the drizzle continues, only now, the gradual drip-drip is seeping into my ‘bones’ and guitar neck, making me feel distinctively chilly – the first time in months,and making t difficult to play, as my fingers are sticking to the strings. The chilliness is bad enough as it automatically brings to mind the dreaded prospect of PLAYING THROUGH ANOTHER WINTER.
Cpso Neil comes by on his Smith and Wesson mountain bike (I wonder if they come with a free hand-gun?) “Seen crazy man?” he says, referring to the recent busking session disruptor known to me as The Jerk. “No, I haven’t seen him. Did you go round to his house again?” “Yeah, a couple of times. He wasn’t there. We’ll get him, though.”
On old lady regular – she looks up and says “Oh, you’ll get pee’d on, or rained on soon, won’t you?” “Well, I hope it’s water and not the other.”
Earnings: £39.05p + 1 cd