Diary Of A Busker Day 422 Tuesday July 30th Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 4:39-5:30pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 5:40-6:25pm).
I have a brief chat with Big Issue seller/part-time evening shift busker Simon, during the course of which I say I’ve been out a lot: 4 hours actual playing time, 3 days in a row. He said, ‘You must get fed up doing the same songs – how many d’you do – ten?’ (Ten!!??) He says, ‘Yeah, you do James Bond, the other one…the man…’ I help him – ‘The Third Man’. ‘Yeah’. But he’s in need of some correction: I tell him I do a lot more then 10 songs. In fact, I’ve just reached the point where I can do 2 hours and not repeat anything. But I say that a lot of the stuff I do might sound the same to him. Maybe some of the Travis picking songs sound similar to him. Actually, they must do to a lot of people, so they probably do to him. Of course they do – I’m talking to a caveman! This is the guy who also plays The Third Man, but his arrangement consists of just the 3-note melody. And all 3 notes are next to each other. A monkey could do that! Ten songs – give me a break.
Down at Oxfam, my blood boils for a few seconds when a woman with her two sprogs in a double-decker sort of pram, stops, and the little girl in the lower deck puts two 2p coins in the bucket. This shrapnel situation is really starting to get to me, of late. I can feel my face going red…then the mother puts a pound coin in. Phew! – you hath redeemed yourself, woman, but still have not set a very good EXAMPLE to your CHILDREN.
Phillip comes by, again on his own, and puts 50p in, and of course I say he doesn’t have to give me anything. This is during Danny Boy/Londonderry Air. He notes the clever key change: from B to C, via a G7 chord. The melody note of B, at the end of the second (B) section, runs through the G7 and becomes the first note of the melody in the next (C) section…I think. Anyway, that’s Chet for you! Phillip listens to the ‘C’ section – he really likes it. There are some great chords – quite jazzy, but not too much that way, just enough. If it was any more inclined that way, it’d be too difficult for me. It’s still a difficult piece, but I almost get it right today…unlike Georgia, where I have a brain block just after going into the middle bit, and have to abandon it. Very embarrassing.
The whole time I’m here, there’s a Drongo – about 60, I reckon, on the bench opposite. I’ve seen him a few times before sitting there. He never speaks, though, not until today. After Twelve-String Shuffle, he comes over, donates some shrapnel, then says ‘Twelve-String Shuffle – Bert Weedon’, so I congratulate him, like I always do when someone correctly identifies something, Then he says ‘1964’. Wrong! Here is yet someone else in need of CORRECTION, so I say ‘I’m pretty sure it’s 1965 (I’m precisely sure)…but you’re close’. He’s close – and two out of three, etc., and he was only a year off… Then he walks around for a bit, then sits down again.
A beeping noise goes off, from a delivery van just around the corner. I think it does it when it’s reversing, and I’ve heard it many times before but today it gets to me. So what happens is, the first time it goes off, I carry on playing, although it’s excruciatingly ANNOYING. Then it stops – good! I finish the song and start another, and it starts up again. I try to ignore it…it carries on and I want to SCREAM. I stop playing and it stops 30 seconds later. I start playing, it starts beeping and doesn’t stop. I say loudly ‘THIS IS DOING MY HEAD IN, I CAN’T HANDLE IT!’ to the guy on the bench, who’s the only one around, then I pack up as the beeping goes on…AND ON… Then, as I’m walking off… It stops. Aaaagghhh!!!@?>_&%$ I think it’s enough to drive someone – me, in fact, INSANE. I wanted to do an hour but it’s too much. I CAN’T HANDLE IT!
Ten minutes later, up the road, one of a bunch of Americans walking past, stops and says ‘If I give you this 50p (holds coin up), can ya tell me who did Winchester Cathedral?’ ‘You mean the song?’, I say. ‘Yeeah’, so I think for a few seconds, then say ‘The New Vaudeville Minstrels. I’m pretty sure it was that, or something like that’, and I get the 50p. Another few seconds after that, he and the group, who are milling around The Butter Cross, are treated to an improvised – meaning pretty rough – rendition of said well-known 1960s song, and for no extra charge. In fact, I think that’s worth another 50p at least, which would bring their contribution up to the acceptable amount of ONE POUND STERLING. A not unreasonable amount to expect. And that’s between the lot of them. But no one comes over – or even acknowledges my efforts. I don’t know why I bother, sometimes.
There’s some water dripping just to my right, making a wet bit on the pavement. I look up, it’s coming from the hanging plant/flower basket, but wait…those just-watered flowers are suspiciously similar to the flowers those two young folk put in the bucket yesterday. The couple who didn’t have any money.