Diary Of A Busker Day 366 Friday May 10th Winchester High Street (opposite Bellis/O2, Time: 12:55-2:30pm)
The sky’s cloudy for most of the time but the temperature’s acceptable: 13 degrees (56 Fahrenheit). I set up a few feet from a Red Cross guy collecting money in a plastic bucket. Quite an old guy. These people are amiable enough – I’m sure he won’t mind me setting up!
…I sell a CD! – to a tall scouser wearing sunglasses, about 60 I’d say. I’m not surprised to find he plays in a group – Johnny Kidd, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry stuff. He likes the fingerstyle stuff I do but hesitates somewhat when I tell him the price of my CDs. In fact, because he hesitates JUST THAT ONE SECOND LONGER!!, I say he can have one for £9, not £10. He takes me up on it, handing me a £10 note, saying ‘I’ll give the one pound to The Red Cross’. I reckon he would have succumbed if I’d held out JUST THAT ONE SECOND LONGER!!! I must learn, I MUST learn…
Downs Syndrome actor Tom sees me from across the road and comes over and takes his traditional place, next to me, but I’m not giving him the chance to do ‘it’ – ‘You’re not going to start patting me on the head, Tom, are you?’ No, he’s not. Which is good, as there’s only so much I can take of that. I ask if he knows the song I’m playing, When I’m Sixty-Four. He does, and proceeds to do one of his dances for a minute…then walks off. I wonder if he was offended by my head-patting comment.
Just up a bit, at The Butter Cross, there’s some tour group of elderly folk listening to a guide. One of the ladies comes over and puts a coin in, saying she’d rather listen to ME. Ha! (I was doing Dixie McGuire so I’ll name it Song Of The Day).
Oh yes, people seem to like me today – the money’s a lot better than usual, for once. Also, after I’ve packed up and about to walk off, the Red Cross Guy steps up to me and says ‘You’re not going, are you?’ I say ‘yep, I am’ and he says he enjoyed listening and again asks me if I have to go. I say I do really, so the people in the shops don’t get fed up with me (because I know some of them must do. It’s the law of averages, etc.) But this guy really has enjoyed listening, as he tells me again. Actually, there’s something about him – I think he might be a ‘sandwich short of a full picnic’, to be honest. Oh well…I ask about his work and he says he’s been here since 9 and leaves at 5. I say that’s a long time to stand around. (Maybe that’s it). He says ‘It gets monotonous sometimes, so I really like to hear you’. He says he’s here because someone else couldn’t make it, and he’ll be here tomorrow, so I say I’ll no doubt see him then. He asks if I’ll be at this spot. I say maybe, but not if there’s a band or someone else here. Some get here for 9 o’clock to nab it, but if I’m not here, I’ll be somewhere nearby.
His name’s Marcus and I get a photo of him, holding his big Red Cross banner out. I notice there are some badges sewn on the side of it, which I ask him about. He says he put them there and they’re from all the regiments The Red Cross has served since The First World War. I ask how long he’s been with The Red Cross. ‘In four years, I’ll have done it forty years.’ ‘So, that’s thirty-six years’, I say (using incredible mathematical precision). But then he says ‘In FIVE years, I’ll have done it forty years’. ‘Right, so you’ve been doing it thirty-five years, right?’ ‘Yeah’. ‘A worthy cause, Marcus. I’m very impressed’, I say, and then tell him I’m going to Boots to get the photo developed. I’ll get two done: one for him and one for the album. Nice man. Definitely a screw loose. Lovely bloke, though. One of those people who ‘hasn’t got an unkind bone in their body’, etc.
On the way back, I drop into Help The Aged where I collect a parcel left for me by Eve, who I met yesterday. She works behind the counter – ‘not on Fridays, though’, and when I walked in, she said ‘Oh, are you the gentleman who plays the lovely guitar…’, and she chatted to me for ages…and ages. Anyway, while I was telling her about playing in the cold, she said she’d bring in some things called wristies – woollen bands about two inches wide which, yes indeed – go on your wrists. They’ll keep my hands warm, she says. She also said she’d bring in a scarf and a music book of standards that I might want to learn! Sure enough, the second I walk in, the lady at the counter (not Eve, as it’s Friday) said, ‘You must be Marvin’. I said ‘Marvin, that’s right’. ‘Yes, Eve has left a parcel’, and she went off to the back room and came back with a carrier bag with the parcel, and taped on the parcel, a small envelope containing a card saying what was in it. Very efficient, Eve.
Earnings: £32.19 (including 1 CD).