Diary Of A Busker Day 404 Friday July 12th Winchester (1. Next to The Slug And Lettuce, Time: 12:47-2:24pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:40-3:05pm).
In the morning I saw sax-busker Tony working in Sainsbury’s. He was saying I should try out a couple of other places, like Farnborough – near the Carphone Warehouse, Fareham and Weymouth (I’m not going there). He says ‘get a name for yourself’ (why would I want to do that?). Tony’s been trying to get a name for himself via a different route. He entered the Britain’s Got Talent show and got as far as round 3. I asked him how many rounds there were – 12 apparently. Imagine that, going through all that rubbish and possible humiliation all those times! You can do that with the busking…and hopefully make a few measly quid while you’re at it.
2 hours later, and the street’s full of them. There’s a dark-haired strummer trying to sing Imagine at The Buttercross…there’s the levitating hippie a bit further down….there’s Guy’s Threepenny Bit lot, with an accordionist with very long orange hair…so it’s down to the usual – old faithful, but wait – shock and horror! There’s some bloke I’ve never seen before sitting on a stool next to Oxfam, accordioning it up – and it’s not Frank! This has never happened before – I CAN’T GO ANYWHERE. And I have no last resort when the last resort is taken…or do I? My brain needs to start up…where to play…then I’ve got it. There’s only one option – where Rick Tarrant goes, in front of the disused white door between the craft shop and The Slug And Lettuce, out the other end of the alleyway off The Buttercross. In short – The Square.
I’m there – there’s no point in being shy…I set up and start with Albatross, with the volume down to 7 1/2 instead of the usual 11. A man donates £1.50 and says ‘beautifully played’, which is all I need. My confidence goes up, as does the volume – to 8. However, I do La Vie En Rose and 4 others before the next donation, and it’s hot work: I’m not in the shade, as I am with every other place I play. Still, the jacket stays on. Half an hour in, 4 religious blokes lined up outside the cathedral grounds entrance, takes turns to step forward to spout some sort of damnation lecture, lasting a couple of minutes each. They each do it twice then they all go off. I’ve seen them do it before.
I’ve also spotted my polite fan, recently-turned 80, Ian, sitting inside the Cafe Monde diagonally across from me. There’s that one, The Slug on my left and The Gourmet Pizza Company next to the Cafe Monde. Ian’s sitting right by the window, facing me. He must have seen me. He’s a polite guy, I bet he’ll come out and say hello. After awhile, he does. He said he saw me but couldn’t hear me, which is weird as he wasn’t more than 20 feet away. Anyway, as he says – ‘I thought it’d be rude, to not say hello’, then, noticing my shiny brogues, he says ‘those are smart shoes…’ but I’m rude and interrupt him because I bet he thinks I paid a lot for them and I don’t want him to think that, so I say ‘Ian, those were £2.50 from the charity shop – I got them half price!’ ‘No!’ ‘Yeah, and they’re Jones, probably from over there’, I point to the Jones The Shoemaker shop next to the pizza place. ‘Well, they look like you’ve been to a wedding’ he says.
They are nice but when it gets warm, the leather doesn’t expand with my feet, so if it gets any hotter, I’ll be in agony. I tell Ian this, he then excuses himself, as he has to get back. I’ve often wondered where he works – I know it’s somewhere around here. I’ll have to remember to wonder about that when he’s next talking to me, so I can ask him.
After 1 1/2 hours I decide to move on, to see if some other place is free. It’s been OK here, considering it’s a new spot, but my nerves did get the better of me a couple of times and I messed up whatever I was playing: Wheels, for one. I completely forgot the main bit, and also Music To Watch Girls By.
On the way to the toilet I hear a shout – ‘I SAID HELLO TO YOU THIS MORNING AND YOU IGNORED ME!’ It’s Phillip (of course), sitting on a bench. I had to explain that when I’m on the way to get something done – ‘on a mission’, if you will, I’ve got a sort of tunnel vision and I’m not distracted by anything, even him shouting.
He talks about the bloke ‘levitating’, up the road. He doesn’t get how he does it so I tell him: He’s got a square platform covered with a rug and there’s a 3 foot high support pole on one side disguised as a tree branch, and that’s supporting another platform on which sits the ‘hippie’.
At the toilet, the water from the tap is boiling hot – just what I need on a hot day! There’s a man with his 2 year old son and he turns on the tap which is too hot for his son – or any human. I say he should complain about it (to Mr. ‘John’), who’s loitering around the charity stalls outside in the alleyway. He hasn’t spoken to me, ever since he found out I was putting him in my diary. Good. I’m not saying hello to HIM. I’d love to complain about the water but I’m not going to lower myself to speak to him. Ha!
Back on the street, the unknown accordionist walks past with his accordion in a box on a cart. I don’t say hello to him, either – I’m in one of those moods. Anyway, I can now set up and do a short session before the lesson at 4 o’clock.