Diary Of A Busker Day 351 Sunday April 7th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:33-3:18pm, 2. opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:25-5:15pm).
I would have gone for the middle spot if not for some young strummer right near there. Strangely, I can’t remember what he was crucifying today although it’s just come to me what he was doing the other day up at Barclays even though I couldn’t remember THAT when I was writing about it! It was that English Rose by The Jam, or Paul Weller, I suppose. So, down the road to ‘old faithful’…en route (on route) I walk past 3 blokes with beards and hats, playing an acoustic guitar, ukulele and bass, all going through a small P.A. system. I think maybe THEY think they’re ZZ Top. They don’t sound it – they’re doing Delilah. They’re not too raucous but loud enough to be a constant rumble from where I set up. Hm…I wonder if we can ‘co-exist’, as some idiot official put it to me one time. They were still on Delilah when I started up, which I could handle, but the next one is a fair bit louder – maybe they’re working up to their appearance. I can’t tell what the song is, it’s just a slightly more annoying rumble than the last one. I wonder if they’ve turned up a bit ’cause they could hear ME. I also start to wonder if the din (racket) created by all of us is getting on people’s nerves as no one’s giving me any money, in fact I’m seriously thinking today might be that day: the day I’ve been fearing ever since I started, namely The Day When I Get No Money. Because come it WILL!
…It’s gone half an hour and I’m about to pack up and not one person has stopped – NOT ONE. How? How can this happen in a supposedly ‘civilised’ country. …and then, during Mr. Sandman, 2 kids on bikes stop and one puts a coin in. I thank them – both of them, then look in the bucket. One pence. 1p. After half an hour, I’ve got a penny. If I’d seen what they’d put in I would have given it back. I actually shout out ‘One penny!’ – not to them, to anyone, when I see it, and shake my head. Oh dear. I carry on playing, thinking ‘I’ve got to do at least 45 minutes’…then someone else stops and puts something in. I look – it’s a 5p and another penny – 6p. I carry on till the 45 minutes is done. No one else stops. 7 lousy pence for playing my butt off for 45 minutes. How? I despise people. I despise their meaness. There’s no excuse – how can there be an excuse. I keep saying it in my head – ‘7p for 45 minutes…’ I have to try somewhere else – how can I go home with 7p?
…The Vodafone spot is free and I’m in luck: Ragtime Phillip turns up just after I start and holds A POUND COIN! But I thought too soon. He can’t afford to give me the pound – can I give him 50p back? I look, but don’t have a 50p. Now if he’d wanted to give me 93p, well, I could have accommodated that. He gives me the pound – the whole pound! Great! Now I’ve got £1.07p! What a decent bloke – and I know he’s not loaded. That’s how it is. In fact it gets a bit better – so much better that the 2nd set’s takings make up for the 1st set’s disaster. However, it’s not without it’s offender, in the form of a posh Winchester woman – out with her poor husband. She: ‘Do you play garden parties, that sort of thing?’ Me: ‘Yep, I sure do’. She: ‘Oh good, we’re thinking of having one in the summer, at our house. How much do you charge?’ Me: ‘It depends. How long would you like me to play?’ She: ‘Oh, say four hours?’ (FOUR HOURS?!?) Me: ‘Four hours? Not straight through, though?’ She: ‘Um…no, say four times forty-five minutes’. Me: OK, and it’s here, is it? Your house?’ She: ‘Oh yes, just up the hill, um…do you play classical?’ Now, and for the only time, He speaks: ‘Course he does – that’s what he’s playing!’ Not quite – it was Ol’ Man River but if that’s what he thinks, fine. Me: ‘Well, yeah, it’s all fingerstyle, I mean, you want background music, like a wedding drinks party, that sort of thing, right?’ She: ‘Yes, so how much would you charge?’ Me: ‘Well…say £200’. She, reeling back in horror: ‘Oh my goodness! Um, I wasn’t thinking anything like that, um…’. (She’s obviously totally ignorant of what a ‘normal’ function soloist costs: £200 is a bloody bargain!) Me, because I’m desperate: ‘Right, well…say £150?’ She, still reeling but not so much: ‘Um…well, we were just thinking of…you know, if we had a party before my daughter and some students came around and danced a bit’. Me, getting fed-up: ‘The thing is, if you go on the computer – the internet, you won’t find any guitarist for less than £250. or ANY function musician. You won’t. You’re welcome to look (or get the servant to) but I’m saying you won’t get anyone, now, I do this for a living (I sound like Michael Caine) – forget what’s in the bucket, I usually get a lot more. But anyway, I’ll give you my card (get card from guitar case and hand it to her)…and my name’s Marvin’. She: ‘I’m Juliet – OK, thanks, we’ll discuss it and phone you’*. And off they go: Juliet in her posh Winchester gilet – sleeveless, quilted jacket thing, and the virtually-silent Mr. Juliet (or the unluckiest Romeo that ever was), poor bloke.
After Twelve-String Shuffle, a woman in a wheelchair and wearing dark glasses and a burgundy coat like Marie-Therese’s but a bit shorter, says in a loud voice ‘Well, I LIKE IT!’, seeing no one had given any money.
Earnings: £25.86p (including 1 CD) All, apart from 7p, from the 2nd set.
* They never did.