Diary Of A Busker Day 324 Tuesday February 5th Winchester High Street (opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:38-3:01pm).
Quite a cold day but fortunately the wind’s not too bad – not like up near WH Smiths. I debut my revised arrangement of Norwegian Wood, which is: instead of playing the melody at the bottom of the neck, like on the record – which gets monotonous, I’m occasionally playing it an octave higher to imitate the sitar part. A shrewd move, I think. I also debut another ‘Fab’ song – Tommy Emmannuel’s version of Lady Madonna, with the bass and melody at once. I’ve also been practising his version of Day Tripper, but that’s more difficult, so no airing today. In fact, awhile back a man out here told me T.E. is playing at The Anvil in Basingstoke sometime in March and I’ve been trying to get a ticket but the stupid website doesn’t seem to work and no one answers the box office ‘phone. (On the website, among the SOLD OUT concerts are Jools Holland and Chas & Dave. Tommy Emmannuel isn’t even in the SELLING FAST list. Is there no justice in the world?)
My racist-old-lady-regular Barbara turns up and after the obligatory ‘your hands must be cold’ intro, starts up: ‘There’s all these foreigners around. Three down the road, doing nothing…taking all the jobs.’ I stand up for the job-taking foreign scum – ‘I know of quite a few English people, Barbara, who sit on their arses all day, watching TV, or watching themselves on Jeremy Kyle, smoking and drinking and getting paid by the social security to do it. They’re not foreign, Barbara. They’re white.’ She’s not having it. ‘Well, I don’t like them, coming here, taking the jobs. That’s why there’s no jobs for us.’ I’m not having it! ‘Barbara, I know for a fact there are useless English people who REFUSE to work.’ After another ‘Well, I don’t like them’, she changes the subject – ‘Well, don’t get cold hands (too late). I think you should go home.’ I AM getting pretty cold, but am still able to play OK – it must be about 4 degrees. I’ve been working it out: there must be a certain temperature, and if it goes below that, even ever so slightly, I have to stop after 10 minutes. But if it’s above that, even EVER SO SLIGHTLY!, I can play for however long I want.
Just over an hour in – when I’m thinking of stopping, a woman – early 20s, comes up. After some seconds I realise I know her – it’s Madeleine, the French singer. I ask if she wants to sing here. She says she will, after I’m finished, and asks how its been. I say I don’t know, I’ll have to do a quick coinage count…it’s 8 or 9 pounds. ‘That’s alright, eh?’ she says. I say I suppose so and that I’ll do 2 or 3 more songs, then she can take over. She sits down against the wall to my right. I ask if she likes The Beatles. Yes. I say ‘OK, I’ll do this one for you’, and go into Here Comes The Sun, and during that and the next one, Norwegian Wood (again), I get more coinage than I got for the whole hour before! I reckon it’s because of Madeleine, who’s a lot prettier than me. Or maybe people think she’s my daughter – ‘Oh look, he’s out here in the freezing cold, trying to provide for his family.’ In fact I turn and say to her, ‘I reckon it’s because of you!’ ‘Maybe I’m a good luck charm’, she says.
Two young boys come up. One puts a brand new crisp fiver in the bucket. I ask if they want a cd and I’m not sure they understand but one points to my sign that says CDs £5. I again ask – would they like a CD? They shake their heads. Must be foreign scum – I’ll have to alert Barbara…
Before the last song, I announce to Madeleine that I’m going to do James Bond. She says ‘Which one?’ ‘James Bond – you’ll know.’ She probably thought I was going to do Goldfinger or the new one. She might not even know the original theme! Halfway through Bond, the man with two wives walks by accompanied by one of them. In passing he utters a remark – something about the cold weather. I turn to Madeleine and say, ‘See that guy – he’s got two wives.’ Anyway, at the end she says ‘That’s great!’ – about my Bond theme, that is. I inform her that it’s my own arrangement, I then tell her about the MWTW – how he used to be in Saddam Hussein’s government, how he’s writing a book about it, and under their law, he’s allowed seven wives. Madeleine says, ‘Seven, I thought it was four.’ The case continues…