Diary Of A Busker Day 360 Thursday May 2nd Winchester High Street (1. opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:03-2:34pm, 2. opposite Bellis’O2, Time: 2:43-4:20pm, 3. opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:40-5:30pm).
I did really well here yesterday, so I thought I’d try the same today: same place, same weather, slightly later start. It was, of course, tempting fate, as they say. Five minutes after I start, there’s some weird sound in the background. I stop…it’s bagpipes, and coming from somewhere down the road, towards the busier part of the street. I step forward a bit to see around the bend in the road…there’s a bloke in a kilt. Oh well, I can’t begrudge the guy – there’s no way you can turn those confounded contraptions down! I wonder if it’s the same guy I met last year. Anyway I try and carry on…very difficult. I manage half an hour then decide to try up at Vodafone. While I’m packing up and while he’s still wailing away, a traffic warden walks by – ‘He won’t last long’, he says.
Up the road, past the piper who I’ve taken a photo of from a distance, I meet George the flower-seller, who says the sound’s giving him a stomach ache. I say it’s a strange instrument: there aren’t any breaks in the music, it’s one continuous noise! Maybe once you start, you can’t stop. Maybe the thing breaks down if you do stop(?)
Carrying on up the road, that tall, white-bearded weirdo suddenly appears and walks alongside me – ‘I reckon Albatross would be on your album of greatest hits, eh?’ ‘It IS – I have a new CD – it’s on it’, I say, knowing he’s not going to buy one. He then starts talking about the noise – ‘You know, the Queen wakes up every morning to the sound of bagpipes when she’s in Balmoral’. I don’t doubt it – she can probably hear this bloke from Balmoral, however, up at Bellis, I can’t hear him at all, or maybe he’s stopped. Or been murdered.
My polite, regular gentleman Ian turns up. He sits on a bench nearby, so I play Bar-B-Q Rag which I learnt from my Merle Travis book – I know he likes that one. Then he comes over and I ask if he’s heard the bagpipes. He pulls a face, then – ‘Don’t mention bagpipes and music in the same sentence. With all respect to our Scots friends – they’re marvellous people, but the music – it’s like a cat’s been killed’. Ha! After some more bagpipe-slagging, he asks what I’m going to play next. I say Borsalino, as it’s a new one and I don’t think he’s heard it, so I start it up, he listens for a bit…then he wanders off! Rather uncharacteristically impolitely!A minute later, my amp dies – the volume goes down really fast and the sound goes all fuzzy, then…nothing. Different makes of batteries obviously die in different ways. These ones were Tesco Extra Long Life. My usual – Duracells, have a much longer, lingering death rattle. I think I prefer the quick death – more humane. It’s a good job I’ve got some newly-born ones with me.
Down at the Vodafone entrance, there’s the lady who runs the newsagents around the corner – she’s here with that little ice-cream cart with the umbrella atop, and on the other corner, a hot dog cart which is just packing up. I’ve noticed it there the last few days. Famous Downs Syndrome actor Tom and his little mate stop by – go on Tom, I know you’re going to do it, go on…yep, he starts brushing my hair back! This is really starting to annoy me but I suppose he can carry on doing it because he’s a nice bloke and I suppose it’s something to do with his condition – I must remember to read up about it.
Maurice – The Shouting Man Of Winchester, pays me a brief visit. He holds out his hand – ‘LOOK, I’ve got ONE PEE HERE! THAT’S ALL I’VE GOT – YOU MAY AS WELL HAVE IT!’, he blasts. I say ‘No, Maurice’. He ignores me and puts his last penny in the bucket – ‘There, now I’ve got NOTHING – NO MONEY!’. You’ve got food, have you?’ I ask. ‘FOOD? OH YES. My fridge is FULL! I’ve got FOOD, I’ve got BACCY, I’ve got the TV. I heard you down there and I was SINGING ALONG, didn’t you HEAR ME?’ ‘No, which is unusual!’
Later on, a man puts a £10 note in – always a humbling experience. That makes two days in a row – dare I expect to make it three on the morrow?!…