Diary Of A Busker Day 299 Tuesday October 23rd Winchester High Street (1. opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:29-3:35pm, 2. opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:53-4:36pm).
Coming down the High Street, I notice Monica – late of Romania, now Portsmouth residing Winchester Big Issue seller – and because I’d rather take a detour than walk by her and not buy a paper – like I expect some of my regulars do with me – I veer off a side street and take a parallel street. There’s a man in a suit standing outside the Naomi House announcing everything’s half-price for the next hour and when I walk by, he asks if I’m about to start or if I’ve finished (playing). I say I’m about to start. He says he likes my “column” in the Chronicle, referring to the famed (ha!) articles of last year. I’m still amazed some people remember them. I say he might want to let them know – the office is just down the road. In fact I can see it. I say that a man had come up to me the other day and told me he’d done just that, and I know for a fact that any and every comment is noted down in the reception AND I bet if they had a few more go in and say they liked ‘that article by that busker’, they’d do another feature. So I said to this guy, ‘you never know, you could be the one’, so he said he’d go in.
Actually, it was a good thing I took the detour to avoid Monica, as I ended up getting a fairly decent pair of black brogues, from James The Shoemaker no less, for £4 – half-price!
A bit further down and back on the High Street, I set up at the crossroads. A woman in a wheelchair and the lady pushing her, stop. Wheelchair woman says, ‘What are you saving for?’ ‘What am I saving for?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Food.’ ‘Oh, the essentials.’ ‘Yep, the essentials.’ My famous Downs Syndrome actor friend, Tom, turns up with Katie – also with DS. They’re both in the Blue Apple Theatre company, I think it’s called. ‘You alright, Tom?’ ‘Yeah.’ He fiddles around in his wallet. She fiddles around in hers. ‘So, what are you two up to today?’ Katie: ‘We’re just going to Marks And Spencer.’ ‘Right. Just down there.’ ‘Yeah. He bought me some flowers.’ ‘Really?’ I turn to Tom. ‘Good man!’ ‘Yeah’, says Tom – he’s looking pleased with himself. ‘We’re goin’ out together’ he says. ‘Well, that’s great!’ They then turn their heads away from me and have a short discussion…then each one gives me a penny! New found love hasn’t affected Tom’s generosity, that’s for sure. They say goodbye and walk off, hand in hand.
…half an hour in, and there’s practically nothing in the bucket (cheers Tom), in fact I forgot to put the usual £5 in, so I have to weigh it down with my capo – oh, the humiliation of it all! Alan comes by with his crap cart, looks in the bucket and says ‘Oh, not much there!’ ‘I know. It’s rubbish today, Alan.’ ‘Oh well. I’l give you half a hamburger, if I pick one up – before I give it to the birds!’ ‘Yeah ok, cheers Al. I just might take you up on that if it keeps up like this!’
A local Drongo suddenly stands next to me and shouts ‘GET YOUR BIG ISSUE!’, not to me, to the people walking by. He then heads on up the road…then his dog stops to do something no one can stop a dog from doing and I wonder, hmm…will the Drongo pick it up…and hey! Drongos can be just as civilised as the rest of us! He gets his plastic bag out, looks at me and says ‘You got to be responsible if you’ve got a dog.’ Thank you, responsible Drongo, for (briefly, very briefly) restoring my faith in human nature
I stop after an hour and five minutes and count the money, which doesn’t take too long – barely £6 – terrible. I need a break…to the toilet to warm my hands. It’s not too cold but after an hours’ playing, it certainly seeps in. In fact, I switch the drier on again. After, instead of the traditional cathedral ground sojourn, I stand outside the toilets and have my snack: a bit of juice and a rather delicious green apple. Then, to try my luck down at Oxfam…where I start with the same song I ended with – The Rain Song. I wanted to get on with this set and didn’t even check my tuning before I started(!) and one string is very much out. Very bad, Mr. Naylor, very unPROfessional. One should always check – ALWAYS. After I sort that out, the set goes alot better, money-wise. At least I’ve paid for the shoes. However, I’ve got to do a lesson at 5:30 so I have to pack up after half an hour.
On the way up the road, I chat to George, who is in Bertie’s old place, selling flowers. Apparently George is not well. He’s had chemotherapy treatment for cancer, but he’s not going to sit at home, moping and thinking about it all. He’d rather be out here, doing stuff, he says. I don’t know much about him, apart from that…and he’s pretty cheerful, and he’s 60. I think I’d like a photo of him for my album, but when I ask, he says he doesn’t like people taking pictures of him – ‘The only way is if you take one without me knowing. Like if I’m talking to a customer or selling flowers.’ ‘But you’ll know what I’m doing if you see me sort of lurking about nearby, or across the road, and you’ll know, and you won’t like it!’ But that’s the only way I’ll get one, he says – if he doesn’t know about it. ‘OK’, I say, ‘that’s what I’ll do!’