Diary Of A Busker Day 415 Tuesday July 23rd Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:32-3:32pm, 2. Opposite Bellis/O2, Time: 3:51-5:05pm).
An amazing occurance: a few songs in, and a couple sitting at the table across the way start clapping. Firstly, after Wouldn’t It Be Nice, then after the next one – Can’t Help Falling In Love, in fact for that one they’re joined by the people at the next table. If it keeps up, well, this is a small town – I could get arrested for inciting a riot, I mean, two outdoor tables clapping. However, I am suspicious: are these clappers foreigners?, because no self-respecting ENGLANDER would do that. And my suspicians bear fruit, because a bit later, after The Third Man, one of the ladies comes over and, apart from getting the impression she loves the song, I can’t understand a word she says! I take an educated guess and say ‘Austria?’ She says a few words I couldn’t understand, then ‘Denmark’, and a few other words I couldn’t get. So Denmark it is. Anyway, it was nice of them to clap. It tailed off, of course – no doubt they got the impression from the disdained looks from the natives that open displays of appreciation aren’t really the done thing over here. Too right. I’m not used to that…made me feel quite self-conscious, it did.
A man comes up in the middle of Albatross and starts talking! How can people do that? It always amazes me. He says, or rather barks, ‘Who’s your favourite guitarist? Who do you listen to?’ Off the top of my head, I say ‘Chet Atkins’. ‘I’ll tell you who was great – Rory Gallagher’, he says. I agree, telling him I used to listen to him a lot when I was a mere boy in the old country. In fact, I remember, I never heard him before I bought the Against The Grain album, which I bought just because of the cover, but when I heard it, I played it to death. I always regret that I never saw him ‘live’. My man goes on: ‘…and something else, he was a lovely person, warm, kind-hearted. Totally unaffected by fame’. A bit like me, then. Ha!
That was a 2 hour stint…I take a 20 minute break and try to get to grips with the automatic hand-wash thing in the toilets near Waterstones. I don’t see any sign that says FOR WATER PRESS BUTTON. I think I’ll just have to hold my hand under the middle area, in between the SOAP and DRY signs, and see what happens. Like in the appalling hell-holes in the trains. The man using the one next to me has to point the button out to me. Another bloke leaves, saying loudly ‘Don’t get your guitar wet (a reference to the weather, which is ‘threatening’, as they say)…you won’t be able to make any money!’
Up near The Butter Cross, a bunch of schoolkids from Henry Beaufort are camped out/climbing over/abusing the great historic monument/famous Winchester landmark and most popular Winchester meeting place. They’re all in a hysterical mood as it’s the last day of school – a half-day, in fact. Oh yes, they’re certainly making one hell of a racket the whole time I’m here, and add to that the noise of all the foreign language students…a serious cacophony, to be sure.
Actually, I feel guilty about something. One of the language students stood by me, quite politely, while I finished a song, then asked if he could play my guitar – he has one at home, he said, and I said no. I said I need to play it myself to get money. I suppose it wouldn’t have hurt for a couple of minutes… Anyway, it was only later on when I was going home when I thought – ‘The poor kid’s just starting out in life, he’s going to get loads of people saying “no” to him for whatever reason, in all the time ahead. Why have some miserable old English bloke say that, when he’s come over here to have a nice time?’ I think he was in charge of some of the younger kids. He and they were hanging about for half an hour afterwards, during which he avoided eye contact with me. Oh dear, maybe I embarrassed him with my refusal. What a miserable old git I am. Learn from your mistakes, Marvin B Naylor, learn from your mistakes…
During another Third Man outing, some of the Henry Beaufort kids come over, stand in front and shout ‘THAT’S SPONGEBOB!’ a few times. I’ve heard this countless times out here and sometimes grow weary of it, so in the end, I am forced to enlighten them as to the origin – ‘It’s a lot older than that, 1949, in fact…(I start going on about the film, Anton Karas, etc…)’. Did they listen? Who knows. Anyway, they’re bored and it’s time for some adolescent high jinks/jollity. One of the boys pulls down another boy’s trousers. That boy then hoiks up his underpants so they’re almost to his chin (none of this is a pretty sight), then another boy tries to pull this poor boy’s pants down, which he succeeds in doing, half-way, this in turn makes the boy ‘moon’ at me. Oh yes, it all happens here at The Butter Cross – Winchester’s famous landmark and meeting place. They drift back to where they were, then after a minute, a couple of the boys return. I decide to have a joke. I ask the name of the ‘mooner’. It’s Oliver White, apparently. I get my pad out, which I was going to do anyway as I’ve decided to finish, so I need to write down the time, weather, bus/coach times, all that stuff. So I write down his name, saying it slowly. The two boys look worried and go away and chat with the mooner – Master White, then return. ‘You’re not going to tell the police, are you?’ (yeah, the police division that deals with mooning schoolboys). I say ‘The police? I don’t know’, and they rush back for another chat and come back – ‘Are you going to phone the police?’ – they’re really worried now. I can’t do it! I say ‘No, I’m only joking’.
Earnings: £45.67p (Including a 1 euro coin, a Beatles Experience guitar pick from Liverpool which was put on my knee by a language student, and a small key).