Diary Of A Busker Day 309 Monday December 17th 2012 Winchester High Street 1. Opposite Oxfam. Time: 2:42-4pm 2. Opposite Vodafone. Time: 4:31-5:39pm
My mission; to provide an alternative to the hordes of pre-pubescent kids blasting out boring Christmas carols, thereby cashing in and stealing MY money! Or at least get a better hourly average than yesterday. Oh yes, I still refuse to follow the trend although I do have one concession. I have learnt my new friend Claes Neeb’s arrangement of Silent Night – as a back-up just in case I get a request for some seasonal rubbish – something that hasn’t happened so far.
Like yesterday, there are several packs of 15-second carol-wielding, out-only-two-weeks-in-December, part-time buskers. So I’m down at Oxfam, where after an hour and a quarter it’s too cold to play and I’ve got barely £8. I have, however, re-introduced into my set, Take Five, thanks to the death (at 92) of Dave Brubeck, and him being in the news, as a consequence. It’s true, every cloud has a silver lining, and Dave’s demise has secured me a pound coin from a woman who was sitting listening at one of the Maison Blanc tables. ‘Dave Brubeck was why I got into music’ she says. I can’t be bothered to ask why – being so cold and near the end of my teather, and I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t the slightest bit interested. I was very interested in her pound, though.
After the break, hanging around the warmest place around – the HMV Shop, I walk up the road and stop near Timpsons Shoes to briefly watch some brass ensemble as they blast out some Christmas garbage in front of the big tree near The Buttercross. Suddenly I hear ‘They’ve been there all day’ – it’s the busker-hater of Winchester, actually attempting to engage me in conversation. Will wonders never cease?! ‘Have they?’ I say, amazed he hasn’t shot them by now. ‘Yeah, and there were a lot out yesterday’ he says. I say ‘Yeah, I know – I was here.’ ‘Yeah, it’ll be like this for the next week or so.’ Yeah? Tell me something I don’t know, my strangely social and communicative busker-hater. (Or maybe it’s not so strange, as what he’s imparting to me is BAD news). He even says ‘goodbye’ as he goes back into his shop.
Although my feet are freezing, I don’t play the guitar with them, my hands are OK so I’m going to do another set, down at Vodafone as there’s no one there…and thankfully I do a lot better. I even get two – yes TWO £5 notes. One’s from Colin, who’s bought a mandolin and has taken it to the music shop where they say they’ll restring it for him for £20 – I tell Colin he should give it to me, I’ll do it for nothing.
The other fiver came from the councillor, all screwed up in a tiny square (the note, not him). So I finish what I’m playing and go into his favourite – Here Comes The Sun, and fat old chance of that.
A woman stops during Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and by coincidence it’s Henry Gray’s daughter and that song is Henry’s favourite. She says it’s really lucky I was playing that but she has some worrying news. Henry’s contracted a bug that’s been going around and he’s in hospital. I say I’m really sorry to hear that and ask her when it’s his 101st. birthday – I know it’s this month. ‘It’s the 30th. I hope he makes it’ she says. So do I.
I attempt another take of Chet’s arrangement of Take Five but I can’t play the main bit as the cold has stopped my left hand fingers from moving fast enough, so I just play the other bit…and I’m rewarded for my trouble and pain. An American girl, age about 10 comes up – ‘I really like yer Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck one, my dad says.’ I say ‘Oh right, great, thanks – sorry I messed up part of it but thank your dad, OK?’ Did she donate? I can’t remember.
Earnings: £52.43 (including 1 CD)