Diary Of A Busker Day 429 Tuesday August 13th Winchester (Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:15-6pm).
On the way down the High Street I bump into Sam carrying his amp and guitar so I ask if he’s about to set up somewhere. He says he’s going home (good!), then he points out the dilapidated state of his gigbag. He’s on the way to the music shop to see about getting a new one. He says they’re not cheap these days (I know) so he’s hoping they’ll do him a deal, if he buys some picks and some strings. He’ll be lucky, I say.
A debut of a new song: Chet Atkins’ arrangement of Tzena Tzena Tzena from a great album – The Other Chet Atkins, which I bought on a really cheap CD – £2.95 – a bargain!, which saves me wearing out the 1960 album. I reckon it’s his best, and he does it all on a nylon string job. There are four pieces for solo guitar on it and Tzena’s one of them. It’s not too difficult…apart from a very short bit near the end where there’s a fast run: hands in contrary motion – typical! But it’s an upbeat, cheery number and I need some more of them.
Opera singer Mr. Kendall stops by on his bike like mine. I ask if he knows the year of manufacture. 1956, he says, and he would like me to play ‘the Casablanca song’ – As Time Goes By, so I start it and he starts to sing along – not full-voice but he’s definitely revving up, then someone he knows comes up and distracts him for a bit. Actually, I don’t mind too much if he starts up again, as I quite like him. I think he’s a likeable fellow. Not like those two old bags who hijacked the Elvis number the other day. However, he’s still talking when I get to the end of the song so I go into another…finish that one, and then his friend walks off.
I think he’s a bit down. He says something about going to get some money – ‘It takes six months to get paid’. I say ‘Really?’ He says ‘Yes, and I make my living as a singer, but that’s not as bad as a lawyer or barrister – it takes two years sometimes. That’s why they’re all in debt’. I say I didn’t know that. He goes off, and true to his word – because he said he would, he comes back a few minutes later and makes a donation. Well, I hope he gets paid soon – I notice his bike tyres have had it (no treads), he can get some new ones!
I vary the song order so I get the greatest contrast – quite a good little game to alleviate the boredom, I find. So I do Ne Me Quitte Pas followed by The James Bond Theme, then Chinatown, My Chinatown, which I do extra fast this time – about 500 beats per minute, followed by the 1st Gnossienne, which, after Chinatown, sounds like a funeral march, and then Somewhere Over The Rainbow followed by Bert Weedon’s Twelve-String Shuffle! A good little game.
Across the way, I notice ‘Mr. John’, who hates me and doesn’t speak to me anymore, spending rather a long time in conversation with the ice-cream vendor. Now, I KNOW I’m pretty paranoid, but I can’t help thinking what he might be saying – ‘That bloke on the guitar over there. Stay clear of him, don’t tell him anything’. Vendor: ‘Why’s that?’ ‘He’s got this diary, he’ll write stuff and slag you off…’
Apart from Let’s Play Songs Of Great Contrast One After The Other Day, it’s also a day of coincidences, such as: during Wouldn’t It Be Nice, the man whose son’s 30th I played at, walks by and says hello, and the reason I learned the song was because his mother – who organised to ‘do’, asked me a few weeks before if I knew any Beach Boys songs…then, during Here Comes The Sun, a girl walks by wearing an Abbey Road t-shirt, but of course, no acknowledgement. I bet she’s one of these who wears something for the sole reason that it’s ‘trendy’. I bet if you asked her where that album was recorded, she wouldn’t know. It’s on the bloody t-shirt you idiot! Then right at the end, when I’m in the middle of The Entertainer, a family walk by and the father is carrying a huge bag with the words THE ENTERTAINER – TOY SHOP. And I swear I wasn’t influenced subconsciously, like maybe I could have seen something out the corner of my eye. No way, I was a couple of minutes into all the songs when they all walked by. So, a day of contrasts and coincidences.