Diary Of A Busker Day 321 Thursday January 31st Winchester High Street (1. opposite Bellis, Time: 12:54-2:30pm, 2. opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:32-5pm).
My polite/always complimentary, but now opera-busker Demelza Stafford groupie, Ian, turns up, standing to my left. When I finish the song I’m playing, I turn on him. ‘Ah, Ian. I saw you yesterday. You’re now a Demelza groupie.’ He defends himself, ‘Well, I was talking to her and thought – she has to stand here and look after her table with her CDs and whatever, so I offered to mind it so she could take a, you know “tea break”, because she never seems able to take one, you know.’ Oh well, fair enough. ‘Oh right – yes, very good of you. Well, I don’t mind if you’re a Demelza groupie, Ian, I mean she looks better than me.’ ‘Oh, I’m still a Marvin groupie, you know!’ Ha.
I mention to Ian that Demelza said she found it quite hard to judge how loud she was when it’s windy, so she tends to sometimes over-do it, which isn’t good for her voice. (I remember I could hear her down at Vodafone yesterday). Ian says, ‘Well, I understand they use the cavities in their head. Demelza says that’s why sopranos are so stupid, because of the spaces!’
Later on, I’ve got my head down and I hear a ‘You always play the same song’ line, and before I even look up, I’ve got my hand in my pocket to get my phone to dial 101, just like what the PCSO said. As my hand’s in there I look up and it’s a bloke with a dog but it’s not the one who was harassing me the other day. This one is like a cleaned-up version. After a second or two I realise it’s Brian the Geordie, the guy who was WITH the harasser. He speaks: ‘Sorry about that other bloke. ‘E had no right to say that to you (thanks for sticking up for me at the time, pal), it’s none of his business what you play. You’re not here playin’ for him.’ ‘Oh right, OK.’ ‘Ah just want you to know, Ah don’t want it to reflect on me – I mean we’ve always got on alreet, you and me, haven’t we? – we say hello, like.’ Hm, I suppose there’s some sort of logic there, if saying “hello” once every 6 months is ‘getting on alright’. ‘Yeah, sure (I momentarily forget his name)…Brian, isn’t it?’ ‘Yeah, anyway, like I said, there’s no reflection of me, you know. A mean, ah know yer out here playin’ – none of us have much money, like.’ ‘Yeah, and that guy – I remember he once said I was some millionaire who lived on a house on the hill. I’m scraping to make a living. I wouldn’t be out here if I wasn’t’, I say, stopping myself from going further into my ‘hard-luck story.’ ‘Yeah, reet – well, just to make it clear, I don’t want what he said the other day ta reflect badly on me, like. He’s nothin’ to do with me, OK?’ I should have asked why was he walking with him if he was nothing to do with him. I reckon he must have said something like “leave him alone” to the guy, just before they went off, which is fair enough – if he did. I suppose I’ll have to forgive him his association.
During the last half hour my left hand thumb joint starts to ache – I’ve probably played too long (I hour and 35 minutes). Unfortunately, it’s almost a waste of time – there’s barely £9, terrible.
Down the road at Oxfam, ex-cruise guitarist, Mick, sits at one of the outside tables and makes arm movements, acknowledging/indicating my vibrato-bar usage. He really thinks it’s funny when I use the vibrato, especially in Apache. After he finishes his drink (always coffee – I even know some of my regular’s diet) he comes over to engage me in his usual topics: the current state of the bargain food shelf at Sainsbury’s and complicated guitar music. But firstly I ask if he can guess what I was just playing, in fact, what I’m actually still playing (The Rain Song). ‘Hmm, sounds like something from the seventies.’ I tell him he’s right, but he can’t guess it so in the end I tell him, ‘Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, The Rain Song.’ He rather likes it, although I completely mess up, trying to talk and play at once. I say, ‘It’s got words but it sounds OK just as a guitar piece, I think.’ Mick agrees. Anyway, when I played it earlier it made me a pound – from a man who, upon being asked, incorrectly identified it as No Quarter, so – right album, wrong song.
As far as the bargain food shelf goes: ‘I picked up a load of stuff – they’d made the pounds into PENNIES!’ says Mick, moving his face, contorted with delight, frighteningly close to mine. ‘…so if it was eight pound, ninety pence, it was EIGHTY NINE PEE!’ ‘Wow’, I say. ‘…so I bought LOADS OF STUFF! – filled the fridge!’ And, any music he thinks I should hear? Borodin’s – Steps Of Central Asia.
Earnings: £28.09p (including 2 CDs. Profit of £3.25 each)