Diary Of A Busker Day 336 Wednesday March 13th Winchester High Street (opposite Bellis, Time: 3:50-4:26pm).
After walking to and fro for a few minutes between the old Vodafone spot and the new one just around the corner on Market Street (for the first time in years I know the name!, thanks to the sign on the wall which I’m facing) – because I can’t make a decision about anything these days, I opt for the new spot, if only because the wind is a tiny bit less ferocious there. Two blokes, early 60s I reckon, give me a load of change, one in particular is quite generous – I’m sure there’s a £2 coin amongst the 1 and 2p shrapnel – I wonder if he realises that? The other bloke says ‘You make it look so easy’, about Albatross. I offer the by-now-standard-reply, namely ‘It helps that it’s in E, so I can play the one bit on the open low string, without having to fret the notes, thereby leaving my left hand free to concentrate on the higher bit, Sir’ He says he’s got an SG and a Marshall amp and this Bad Company guitar video but he just can’t make it sound right so I give another by-now-standard-reply, namely ‘You just have to practise.’ He says he’s also learning some Whitesnake and Black Sabbath – Paranoid. Paranoid’s alright but Whitesnake? ‘You need to start on the easy stuff – not really Whitesnake! You’ve got to build it up, do it in levels’, I say. He says he’s rubbish compared to me. I say that’s how I felt when I saw Tommy Emmanuel last week. He’s never heard of Tommy Emmanuel…or on further enquiry, Chet Atkins, same as those others last week! (Speaking of T.E., I manage to stumble through one of his old ones, Dixie McGuire – a real gem which Chet loved, as I do. I’ve been practising it pretty well non-stop for the past 4 days, ever since I re-discovered it in a T.E. tuition book I’ve had for almost a year. What an idiot!)
I struggle to make an hour, in fact it’s just one minute short, but it’s too cold – my hands are purple and hurting, although my feet are OK, which would be fine if I played the guitar with my feet, etc… I warm my hands up in the guise of book-browsing at Waterstones and I again am aware od something which has materialised over the last month or so: piped music. Why on Earth have piped music in a book shop? – and it’s not instrumental, which would almost be bearable. It’s pop music, with words, and I find it most distracting. For goodness sake, there’s music in every shop you go into – a bookshop should be a place of refuge. Surely it’s the one place unfit for distracting sounds. But now it’s like everywhere else, it seems. I think I will have to say something about this. Anyway, while I was TRYING to concentrate on a book, some posh lady said ‘Are you the gentleman who plays the guitar?’ (I reckon my guitar leaning against a shelf was a dead giveaway). I said ‘Yes, I’m just warming up my hands.’ ‘Oh yes…do you know the girl who sings, the opera singer?’ ‘Yeah, I do. Zemelda, Zemelda Stafford.’ (I got D and Z in Demelza’s name the wrong way around, as usual). ‘Oh do you?’ she says. ‘Yeah.’ ‘Oh, she’s (looks upwards)…she really HAS got a voice!’ And I thought she was going to say how good she thought I was. Ha!
Back on the street, Jeremy likes my Ne Me Quitte Pas, although he mistakenly attributes it to Monsieur Aznavour. Of course, as he is in serious need of correction, I correct him by way of informing him that the writer was the Belgian, Jaques Brel. ‘Ah yes’, he says, ‘Now, there are many who swear by the originals by Brel, although he never sang in English, did he?’ I give my opinion – ‘Yep, I’m one of those who swear by the originals although I can’t understand the words, but it doesn’t matter! – and you’re right, he never sang in English.’ As Jeremy wanders off, I attempt Dixie McGuire again but I mess it up – my hands AND BRAIN, even my feet, now starting to freeze after 15 minutes. I manage 35.