Diary Of A Busker Day 399 Sunday July 7th Winchester High Street (Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:15-5:35pm).
Just a ‘short’ hour and fifteen minutes session as I was out for awhile yesterday. There’s not nearly the same amount of people today. The reason, which I found out later, was that a lot would have been inside watching the tennis final. They’re still queueing up for the ice-creams across the way, though. At least today I can hear myself, so I can go through Londonderry Air/Danny Boy, as I’ve now learnt the ‘C’ section. In fact I’ve almost memorised it but still need the TAB on the ground.
After Yellow Bird, a man comes up and says ‘I always wanted to play Hawaiian guitar like that’ – I think he means Caribbean. Colin the trumpeter, who’s finished down at Marks & Spencer, drops by. He says he’s been hear since 10 o’clock and has made £150 – ‘at least’.
At just after 5 o’clock, the lady ice-cream vendor shouts across – would I like an ice-cream? In fact, she has to shout it three times, as I’m half-deaf. And it’s FREE! So I say yes, I would like one. Her husband brings it over, complete with 99 flake. I now, however, have a problem. Because I don’t want to take 10 minutes off to have it all in one go, I will have to devour it gradually, which means I will have to store it somewhere. But it’s an ice-cream cone so it won’t balance anywhere. Using my incredible brain (for once), I find the only solution: I can hold the cone between my knees and play at the same time. I’m quite proud I thought of that – so much so, I take a photo to show exactly how it’s done, my hands, of course, being free to hold the camera…
At 5:30, there’s almost no one about, but there IS another busker, down at the entrance to the alleyway, opposite from where Colin was. It’s the ‘bloke’ from yesterday who was terrorised in Bath last week by that cruel, awful Mr. Millhouse. And like yesterday, he’s dressed as a girl. The whole thing is confusing me so I decide to investigate and so discover the truth. As I approach, I get my camera out and film him, and when I get to him I put the camera away and stand a few feet in front. There’s hardly anyone about apart from the fruit and veg guy loading his van and a bunch of Drongos on a bench and a Big Issue woman who I saw earlier talking to Frank.
After a couple of songs, I go up and say I know who he is – the guy from the Bath video. I ask him how he’s been getting on since then. He says not very well. The abuse (by the monster Millhouse) has really depressed him and he thought about suicide, but he’s had a lot of support from people. I enquire after his disability, which I still can’t work out (apart from if it’s to do with having a penchant for freakish disguises) and then suddenly notice that one of his eyes looks a bit wonky. It doesn’t seem to move – maybe that’s it. And, yes – he says something about his eye, and on top of that, he’s also got cerebral palsy which he’s had since he was born. There it is then.
I ask his name. It’s Alex. I ask where he’s from. He says the name of the town that instinctively inspires horror and loathing into any so-called civilised person – Weymouth, and now I really do feel for him. It’s weird, as he speaks with a slight Scottish accent, so I’m assuming he was either: taken to Weymouth against his will, or voluntarily moved and stayed there, which is even weirder.
I ask if he does this for a living. He does, and tomorrow he’s playing in Bournemouth at something called Born Free. What’s that? It’s a gathering/celebration/festival of trans-gender people. And this is what’s happening with him. He tells me he’s in ‘transition’, which, being so obvious, I miss it. Of course, it means he’s changing from a man to a woman. And then it all becomes clear: why he’s in girl’s clothes: why (and how) he’s singing Abba songs in the original key. I mean, A Man After Midnight, for goodness sake. I really am stupid! He seems a nice bloke/lady, anyway – and I do feel for him/her and I’m just going to refer to him/her in the male sense, or Alex, now, for brevity reasons…and anyway I feel a bit guilty for thinking it might be all an act. He’s got a cardboard collecting box with hardly any money in so I donate a £2 coin, then we shake hands and I say I hope he gets on alright. Alex says again, the whole episode really got to him and all I can think of saying is that it will get better from now on – a bit of time, etc. And what about Millhouse, I ask him. Alex says he’s had a police caution and been banned from busking in Cosham.