Diary Of A Busker Day 277 Friday August 31st Winchester High Street (1. opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:55-2:54pm, 2. opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:02-4:24pm).
Young Sam’s at The Buttercross – I’ve come to the conclusion that, for a young guy, he’s pretty good. His voice is quite nice and he does alot of finger picking – his performance of Anjie is very acceptable. A bit further down, the Vodafone spot is free so I ‘nab’ it – it’ll be a change from starting opposite Oxfam. …it doesn’t go well, though. It’s five songs in before I get my first contribution, which isn’t always a prediction of doom, however it doesn’t get much better – at the end of an hour, the total is £5.75p. Terrible. All that hard playing for almost nothing. And with so many people about, which, as well I know, is no guarantee of anything. Sod it! – I pack up and start a few minutes later down the road…and it’s immediately much better – first donation during the first song. Jeremy drops by – he who occasionally ignores me by darting behind me when I’m up at The Pentice. I always know, though – approaching objects moving steadily, I don’t notice. It’s when one of them suddenly deviates from it’s trajectory. Today he chooses to speak to me – “So here you are, gracing us, etc… …so how is it today?” So I tell him about my disastrous first session and he says “It’s not all about money, I mean here you are, refining your art…” I inform him that, actually, it’s pretty much about money and would HE work for £5 an hour? Well, he volunteers up at the hospital, he says. Oh well, fair enough! But even so, I’m not out here for the good of my health.
I pack up after almost an hour and a half – long enough, and also, the joint in my thumb is starting to hurt – that means I’ve been playing too long. As I’m packing up, I suddenly wonder about Ralph. I haven’t seen him for weeks and I know he wasn’t too well. I wonder if… Someone else I fear the worst for is Harry ‘The Dutchman’. The last time I saw him was in April, when I took his photo – the first one in my busker photo album. And I keep thinking about what he was saying to me and the more I thnk about it, the more I’m convinced he was saying goodbye. He was eighty-six and he wasn’t well, either.
I take a break and ponder what to do next – do another set or go home? Hm… While I’m pondering, I’m also pondering whether to bring my monster double-neck guitar in soon, maybe even tomorrow. I’ve been going over a few things at home – switching between the necks during songs, like in Ne Me Quitte Pas, where I can get a C major 7th chord on the 12-string neck, while playing the C major melody on the six-string one, and The Moulin Rouge Theme, where the middle bit sounds quite good on the 12-string neck, and also here Comes The Sun – the 12-string sounds good on the middle bit of that. Also, it might get me some more money – it’s got to attract some attention, anyway. I mean, how many psychedelic double-neck guitars are there in Winchester? In England? The world??!! Surely lots of kids will see it from afar and drag their parents over and this equals money. Surely…?
However, it’s not without it’s drawbacks. Firstly, it weighs A TON! My 6-string is heavy enough, especially at the end of A Hard Day’s Busking, walking back home, uphill pretty much all the way, but this thing is about 1 1/2 times heavier. Secondly, instead of six strngs, I’ll have eighteen to check the tuning every so often. Thirdly, the vibrato unit’s arm is too high from the guitar’s body which makes it difficult to manoeuvre quickly during a song, unlike the one on my Epiphone, which is perfectly set to my EXACT REQUIREMENTS! Not to mention the cost (apart from the £35 customs charge, after being sent from the USA) of all the things I’ve had done to it, like the vibrato unit – a ‘cheap’ £35 one, Epiphone 12-string saddle – £10, four cans of sonic blue spray paint and lacquer – £45, and in the end, after I’d sprayed it and put the black pickups on, it just looked cheap! That’s why me and Doll painted it. I spent all that money and time coating, re-coating, waiting two weeks to varnish it…and ended up painting over the lot! Damn, I gotta get this thing to start paying for itself! I wonder how it will cope with life out here, I mean, my Epiphone is brilliant. It’s never once broken down – my amp’s broken down, I think I’VE even broken down a couple of times but the Epiphone’s great, In fact, thinking about it, I’ve only ever had one string break and that was after almost two years – TWO YEARS! In fact, I never even changed the strings til one broke, the other day. Two years on one set of strngs! …at the end of my pondering, I’ve decided to come home as two and a half hours is long enough to play with a poorly thumb. I walk through the alleyway, come out near The Buttercross and past young Sam, playing Summertime – he’s still there..and raking it in – he must have at least £70 of coinage in his gigbag.