Diary Of A Busker Day 326 Friday February 8th Winchester High Street (opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:30-2:45pm).
Another bitter(ly cold) day. I have a chat with Janet halfway through. I hadn’t seen her since well before Christmas and was fearing the worst for her, along with some of my other regulars I haven’t seen, although at 63, Janet’s one of the younger ones. She says how cold it is and asks if I can get some other work, inside. I tell her that awhile back I did go to all the places around here but no one wanted a solo guitarist, including the pizza place down the other end, which she mentions. Or they weren’t willing to pay. Or there are some pubs that have live music (open-mic nights) but, of course, there’s no money there, either. I’m increasingly becoming more offended by this whole open-mic thing, as regards pub owners: free entertainment without them having to pay out. I tell Janet I went to a lot of them a few years ago but got bored with the whole routine: having to wait my turn, drinkless, listening to a bunch of idiot students, and so-called musicians who shouldn’t have been let anywhere near a stage. Sometimes it was unbelievable. People taking five minutes to tune up (onstage) their guitar. Five minutes – or more, to tune six strings. Or one string. And a fair share of ‘I just wrote this last night’ remarks, before ‘playing’ something that wasn’t anything. In fact, they hadn’t written anything last night – they were writing it there and then! And the same people, including me, every week.
‘What about The Railway’, says Janet. Apparently Jet Harris tried to get a gig there and if I’m not mistaken, she said he wanted £800 for it. After she goes, regular old guy Eddie drops by (better than dropping dead), making himself comfortable on my right, next to the bin. He says I need a hat to keep me warm, which is at least a change from his usual: I need a hat so I can be Orson Welles when I’m doing The Third Man, or Humphrey Bogart when I’m doing As Time Goes By. I explain, ‘The thing is, a hat won’t keep my hands warm, Eddie.’ I tell him I’m going home after a couple of more songs as my fingers are hurting, but as usual – because I like playing in pain, I do a bit more. Eddie stays for ten more minutes, says ‘bye’ and I manage another ten minutes, then I’m off – too cold!