Diary Of A Busker Day 367 Saturday May 11th 2013 Winchester High Street 1. Opposite Vodafone. Time: 11:55-12:35pm 2. Opposite Oxfam. Time: 1:26-3pm 3. Opposite Bellis. Time: 3:48-5:23pm
And there he is, like he said he would be – Marcus and his big Red Cross banner with his stitched on regiment badges, and today he’s wearing his full camouflage combat gear; different shades of tan, for a desert war – he’s in completely the wrong place, here – there ain’t no sand and it’s raining all the time. He looks pleased to see me and shakes my hand but unfortunately I’m not going to be able to set up there. The reason? Tony’s blowing his sax and backing tracks through a speaker in front of The Buttercross, also raising money for The Red Cross and he makes sure I know, by looking at me and mouthing ‘It’s for charity,’ so I tell Marcus I’ll come back a bit later, assuming Tony’s not going to be there all day, that is. It seems to be what most do, when they set up at The Buttercross; it’s an all day affair.
Down at the middle spot, I do three songs before anything goes in the bucket, and then, after a couple of donations, during Can’t Help Falling In Love, a man puts a £10 note in…and that’s Song Of The Day status awarded INSTANTLY.
Just after 12:30, during As Time Goes By, it starts to rain so I pack up and head off to Waterstones (I’m going to have to start paying rent), then, as it’s still raining, I have my snack; sausage roll, ham and coleslaw in pita bread, small chocolate sponge thing – under the overhanging canopy outside Sainsbury’s…then walk back to The Buttercross…and yes, Tony’s still there, although he’s not actually playing. No, he’s not playing but he’s still got his backing track blasting out his speaker.
Marcus shakes my hand again…and again…and again I say I’ll see him later, and again I’m walking back down the road, way down to Oxfam, where I have a short chat with Andrew Rutter, who crosses the street to see me. He’s had his leg operation – it was six weeks ago, and he feels a lot better – ‘It’s marvellous,’ he says. He’s still got his stick, though. I ask if he now just has it to ward off undesirables. No, he still uses it to get up hills. ‘It’s good I didn’t have to have a knee operation as that’s a different thing altogether…oh well, must get back to the drawing.’ The councillor drops another Cohiba Robustos in the bucket. I wonder where he gets them from… Maybe I should add PREMIUM QUALITY CUBAN CIGARS ALSO ACCEPTED on my CD sign. I might get a few more – not meaning from the councillor, from anyone!
At 3 o’clock it starts raining again but utilising my incredible sense of prescience, I’d taken the precaution of setting up right next to the Gospel Hall doorway, so after it started spitting I just had to drag my stuff a foot or so and I was alright…for one minute of the next song, and then it really got bad and the doorway was no protection at all so I packed up. While I was standing there, working out what to do, the councillor turned up again and said ‘Have you seen Alistair Campbell?’ Now, all I know about him is he’s some political guy but I think I’ve seen pictures of him, anyway I say I haven’t seen him and then the councillor says ‘He’s been walking up and down calling himself Mr. Weston.’ What’s all that about, I ask myself.
When I got home, I was informed that Mr. Campbell lives in Winchester – well, all I can say is, if he’s ever been by me, he’s never contributed and I’m 100% sure of that. Actually, when the councillor first mentioned him, I thought he might have meant Alistair Stewart, the news guy, because I’ve definitely seen HIM about. In fact, about a year ago, I found myself walking behind him on the path to the Arbor. I remember because he was attired in a way I find quite offensive, especially for a man. He had a sweater – and a pink one, at that – draped over his shoulders with the sleeves hanging in front of his chest. I bet he had them TIED TOGETHER, too. NO!!!
Anyway, while I’m talking with the councillor, I notice the drongo who listens to me a lot, and because I know the councillor knows a lot of the High Street people, I ask if he knows this guy. He says he doesn’t know his name but he reckons he’s one of the homeless blokes, probably quite shy, a ‘gentle soul,’ he says. I think I agree. Shy? – probably, as he’s only just started to acknowledge me, by a nod or the vaguest of smiles. He’s never spoken to me though…then again, I’ve never spoken to him.
Third time lucky. I’m able to get a spot near The Buttercross, which really pleases Marcus, who shakes my hand yet again. And I get another photo of him – two actually, because on the first one, his right arm’s chopped off and I don’t think he’s too thrilled about that, so I get another one, but that one’s got his feet chopped off, but he doesn’t mind – he likes that one. So after I’ve been in and out of Boots, getting all this developed and paid for, it’s another fifteen minutes before I set up. I sit down and tell Marcus I’ll start playing just after I tune up. He says ‘Oh, will that take long?’ I say it won’t because I’m a PROFESSIONAL!
Half an hour in, it starts raining again but I’m OK as I can pull my stuff in so I’m under the canopy bit – the pentice, which is on The Pentice because that’s what the name of this part of the High Street is called! But The Red Cross people are in the middle of the street so they decide to take cover across the way in Nero’s. One of the women comes over to get Marcus, who says goodbye to me. We’ve said goodbye SIX times today!
An hour later, I see them milling about the outside and Marcus comes across to say goodbye again as they’re going off now. He goes back, then one of the women comes over and says, ‘Thanks for keeping an eye on him.’ Ah, I knew there was something odd. Anyway, I say, ‘it’s alright, he’s a lovely guy…and he really liked my playing.’ She said, ‘Yeah, but when you’ve had two days of him – he never stops!’ Thinking about it, I don’t think he said much to me while I was playing. Maybe he talks a lot if he’s not listening to something. Anyway, she thanks me again and asks for one of my cards, which I’m running out of.
After The Moulin Rouge Theme, just before I pack up, a man in his fifties comes up and asks what I just played. After I tell him, he says, ‘I’ve always wanted to know that. My brother’s Brian – he runs the guitar shop near the station but my mother – she’s dead – had a little music box thing, and it played that, what was it?’ I tell him again, this time with more information – ‘The Theme From The Moulin Rouge. From the film – 1953, I think. It’s actually called Where Is Your Heart?’ ‘Yeah, I’ve always wondered what it was called.’ ‘Yeah, it’s a good little melody. It’s probably in a lot of music boxes…well, now you know!’