Diary Of A Busker Day 382 Sunday June 2nd 2013 Winchester High Street 1. The Buttercross. Time: 1:02-1:32pm, 1:58-2:50pm, 3:16-4pm, 4:25-5:10pm
A landmark day because for the first time, I actually set up in front of one of the most, if not THE most, famous Winchester landmarks, namely The Buttercross, just like I’ve seen all the others do; Rob, Frank, Woody the Scotsman, Guy and his Threepenny Bit franchise, Young Sam…the list is almost endless. Of course, it was only out of necessity – everywhere else being full up. I couldn’t believe it; even down at the one place I can always rely on – the arse-end, there was some guy on a saxophone in the doorway of the closed-down Jessops shop. In fact, I didn’t recognise him – he must have been from out of town – a bloody foreigner! He must be, or he wouldn’t have set up there…he wouldn’t dare!
Also, the bloke from TINC, two doors down from him, would have come out…but wait, I walk past the shop but it’s the other guy, the dark-haired one who’s there today. The saxophone bloke’s lucky!
The middle spot at Vodafone is taken by Rob, so it’s up the street I go…and at The Buttercross, it’s Demelza, who’s on a break. When she sees me, she beckons me over. She’s just finished a set so I can play for half an hour if I want, until 1:30 when, as her NEXT PERFORMANCE sign says, she’ll be starting up again. She says she’s had a bit of a hassle with one of the market people – the one who runs the jewellery stall a few yards away. They’ve had a go at her but she says Rob’s helped her out and she’s alright now. Good guy Rob. Anyway, I don’t fancy setting up at the usual place in The Pentice, as it’s right near that stall, so I take up Demelza’s offer and set up in front of The Buttercross, next to her CDs and speakers, which are tiny but they really do blast it out.
Anyway, it’s not too bad. I was worried I might get stuff thrown at my head from the kids on the steps behind me, but there was no trouble and I soon forgot about them – or where I was – at the famous Winchester landmark!
So, a short set, and afterwards I make a deal with Demelza; I can stay set up and play in between her sets, which is a fine arrangement – the playing in between bit, that is. I’m not leaving my stuff set up, though. I’m not hanging around the High Street if I’m not playing. I pack up and go to the cathedral grounds, which is handily just around the corner. During the break I count the coinage; £8:15 for a half hour, which is OK.
I return to the world-famous landmark just before 2 o’clock for a second set – a bit longer than the first as Demelza’s not booked to sing until 2:45. In fact, by the time she sorts herself out, I’m able to go right through to 2:50 – yes, another FIVE minutes! That resulted in a coinage count of £11:02 for 50 minutes – again not bad. Well, not bad for ME. For Demelza, who does well here, it would have been terrible.
After another break, I’m back for 45 minutes – until 4 o’clock, and that’s about £10. By this time, I can’t be bothered to note down exactly to the penny, how much it is. And I was visited by Mick, again obsessing about some piece of music, this time something by Albeniz, with a complicated time signature – 5/8, I think he said. ‘I’ll let you into a secret,’ Mick says, moving his head closer, ‘always reminds me of HER.’
Before she starts up again, Demelza says this will be her 6th set. That’s about two hours of singing, and opera singing at that! I don’t think she ever does more than that. She’s almost finished her bottles of water, which weigh a lot so it’s an incentive to finish them as she doesn’t have to carry them off. In fact, I bought a huge plastic water bottle from Sainsbury’s during one of my breaks, ridiculously cheap at 17p but I’d had enough of it after traipsing it around in my gigbag for awhile. It weighed a ton!
During my last set, Demelza packs her stuff up and even sings along to three songs – Edelweiss, Can’t Help Falling In Love and Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Very nice – I’ve never been accompanied by a professional opera singer, but there’s hardly anyone about, in fact I make about £3 for the whole 45 minutes. I probably wouldn’t even have made THAT if it wasn’t for her.
I might have to resurrect Merle Travis’ Cannonball Rag as it got some applause from some people on the bench opposite when I did it near the end. I don’t usually do it and I only did because it was fresh in my mind after attempting it on Saturday at Mrs. Hope’s son’s birthday party, in posh St. Cross. I played in a tent in her and her husband’s back yard, her husband being my one avid listener; for most of my 2 hours and 10 minutes stint he sat in a chair in front of me.
Note: People really do love Demelza, here. After she finished one set, I lost count of all the “Thank you, thank you VERY much”s she gave to people who came up. And one bloke, in his enthusiasm and emotion, looked like he was crying, or just about to, and it looked like it was affecting Demelza, too – like SHE was about to burst out. All I heard her say was ‘Thank you so much, that means the world to me, I really mean it, thank you SO much.’ I’ll have to ask her what he said.