Diary Of A Busker Day 328 Tuesday February 26th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Bellis, Time: 12:50-1:10pm, 2. opposite Vodafone, Time: 2-3:07pm).
My first day in for over a week, as its been so cold. It was a good job I had a proper (ie: paying) gig last weekend, down in Plympton, courtesy of my old mate, Mr. Isbell, drummer and unofficial chauffeur – I reckon he drove me more times down the A 303 than I’ve had hot dinners. He’d recently been left some money by his dad and so, out of kindness (absence makes the heart…) booked me into the lush Boringdon Hall Hotel. Specifically, Room 37, en-suite, no less and next door to Room 35, which is apparently haunted. I was told this in the morning by the cab driver who took me to the station – ‘the maids will only go in there in twos.’ The only other thing of interest in the week was that Jude and I took the train down to Poole so he could do an interview with Lucinda and Siobhan concerning his dad being a busker.
I went into town earlier today and thought it wasn’t quite as cold as its been the last few days, so decided to risk it. Unfortunately things were back to normal and due to a light but very biting breeze, I could manage only 20 minutes at the first spot. In fact my left hand was in severe pain after only 10 minutes. Even so, I accumulated £8.50 – not bad for 20 minutes. Mostly sympathy money, I reckon. I pack up, take a toilet break – the tap water was freezing but the drier was warm, then to the bookshop to thaw out a bit more. I had a look at a new book, about great masterpieces and found out an interesting thing about the Mona Lisa, or La Gioconda, or whatever. One reason it’s so famous is that the lady – she was 24, is looking directly at the viewer – very unusual for the time. In fact I think it was the first painting that had a woman do that – as it was considered immoral, or something. Crazy world.
Back outdoors, I set up at Vodafone and although it seems a bit breezy and I think I’m not going to last longer than the first place, I get through just over an hour, although the rate of money is only half as good. I redeem myself somewhat, after my recent awful rendition of Tommy Emmannuel’s (I’m seeing him next week!) Lady Madonna. I deliver a much more worthy one, as I’ve practised it a bit since then. I also give Theme From A Summer Place a whirl and the main part of She, Charles Aznavour’s 1974 ‘smash’. The verse works OK but the bridge is really difficult to make sound right on a guitar. Tommy could do it. I might just do the verse. I’m only doing it because Doll likes the song.
I finish with The James Bond Theme as three youths I don’t like the look of walk by. One says ‘You should sing the Adele one – that song, you know?’ Give me a break, you idiot. I’ve just remembered, during my hiatus, I came in on an especially cold day only to find Tim Valentine, the stripe-ey jacketed pianist I met in Reading last year, playing in the High Street. Or rather, he’d stopped and was about to go somewhere else. The reason: the guy from Timpsons, aka Premier or Number One Busker-Hater Of Winchester, had come out. ‘He said I wasn’t allowed to sell CDs. He said I wasn’t allowed to play more than an hour.’ I said ‘Don’t listen to him – he’s the number one busker-hater of Winchester and he’s a twat’, adding ‘But I think you’re better off moving somewhere else’ – Tim was pretty much right opposite the bloke’s shop. I suggested he try the C & H fabrics shop, down the other end. Then I noticed he’s got the same upright as I’ve got at home – an Eavestaff. I tell him mine’s from 1961. He says his is a 1967 one but he’s got a 1960 one at home. Oh, get you – you’ve got TWO! I feel sorry for him – it’s really cold! He’s got a kind of hybrid mitten – part fingerless glove but also with a mitten bit flapping away on top. Very bizarre. Tim’s definitely dressed for practicality more than for stylishness today. A padded jacket instead of a striped blazer and a hat with ear flaps, and gone are the shiny, pointed two-tone ‘jazz’ shoes – replaced with heavy duty winter boots.