Diary Of A Busker Day 433 Sunday August 18th, Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:10-2:15pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:45-3:45pm, 3. In front of The Butter Cross, Time: 3:55-5:06pm).
At The Butter Cross: two young blokes banging on small drums, and down at the crossroads: the legend known as Frank. Down at Oxfam, I pass an almost bus-free hour, as it’s Sunday. And a much more pleasant and much less frustrating hour it is, because of that.
Song Of The Day: Borsalino, as it gets a few donations. After an hour, it starts raining – just a tiny bit, so I carry on for five minutes until it gets worse, then pack up. I walk up the road and shelter in the alleyway where I find Frank, who’s not had a good time up the road. He says he might head home as he’s hardly made anything, and it’s too much hassle to cover up his cart and everything when it starts raining, to which I inform him how lucky I am: it takes me not even one minute to ‘rig down’, just to make him feel better – ha!
Frank’s not very chatty so I bid him farewell and head off to the Brooks Centre to have my tuna and cucumber sandwich and Hula Hoops that Doll packed. While I’m there munching away outside Primark, Marcus and that short lady he’s always with, turn up. He says the rain’ll be gone in a few minutes, and anyway we’re supposed to be getting another heat-wave, starting tomorrow and going through to September…
…Ten minutes later, he’s right: it’s stopped, I’m out, there’s no one at Vodafone where the legend known as Frank was, and I’m going to set up…Ten minutes later, Frank comes by! – who I feel sorry for now, as I’ve nicked his spot. In fact I feel so sorry, I say he can play here if he wants, because, as he now knows, it’s no hassle for me to pack up! He says he’ll have a look up the road at The Butter Cross, and if it’s free, he’ll play there and if it’s not, he’ll take me up on the offer. It must have been free, as the next time I see him is an hour later, yet again sheltering (yet again raining). This time he’s just up the road, in The Pentice. Local legend Frank says he got a bit more this time, but he’s off home now, or whenever it stops…
I think I can handle one more session: three will make a tidy three hours, and if I can get The Butter Cross – Frank’s just left, it’ll work out geographically rather neatly: from one end of the High Street to the other. The usual spot’s out, as it’s too near the market stalls – they get wound up, those market folk…so I set up in front of the legendary, world famous, ancient, Winchester monument and meeting place (such as it is), which is weird – it takes a while getting used to: out in the open, making a spectacle of myself, as it were, and people taking photos – not of me but the thing behind me, which is even weirder.
After Albatross, a man wants to tell me about Peter Green: ‘D’you know the bloke who wrote that? They found ‘im cleanin’ toilets in London’. ‘What – Peter Green?’ I say. ‘Yeah…well whoever wrote that. Yeah, ‘ee got fed up bein’ famous, went cleanin’ toilets in London’. Again I say ‘What – Peter Green?’ Again he says ‘Yeah…well, the bloke who wrote that. Funny innit?’ ‘Yeah, I never knew that’. I don’t know if Peter Green knew that, either! Is that what he did?
A couple a bit older than me are pushing an old lady in a wheelchair – one of their mothers, I’m reckoning. They stop while I’m doing Chinatown, and the old woman sings along, or tries to. I think she’s had a stroke (not because of me, I hope!) At the end, the man says ‘Thank you for bringing a moment of joy’, which really gets to me. He helps her hand to put a coin in the bucket, then they go and sit outside the pastie shop just to the left.
Two ladies contribute, go off, then return. One wants to look at the song list on the CDs… yes, she’ll have it – she says she’ll listen to it on her iPlayer, whatever that is. I’ve heard of them.
The stroke lady’s (supposed) daughter or daughter-in-law, comes over. Do I know anything from Les Miserables? Sorry, no. I don’t even know the names of any of the songs. What a shame…what to do…I know – I’ll play La Vie En Rose – I mean, at least it’s French!, and some other stuff from the same period: Moulin Rouge, Yellow Bird, As Time Goes By…actually there all from different times!, but it’s all old stuff, anyway. Then, after an hour – because I’ve had enough, and Mick’s turned up to ask (again) if I’ve learnt Libertango – I do Chinatown again, for the poor old stroke lady, after which they come up and contribute again, which I don’t want, but they insist.
Mick, who’s still here, relates his latest gripe – with John Lewis. He had a mattress delivered but he had to send them a ‘sky’ because there was a charcoal mark on it. They said they would get him another one – on the 27th. ‘Where am I gonna sleep till then?’ I haven’t got a clue, Mick. On your bedroom floor.
The young bloke comes out to announce the cut-price, end-of-the-day pasties, and gets tongue-tied – ‘One pound twenty for a pastie at Pasty Presto…one pound and twenty a pastRY at pastING PestRO, uh…’
Earnings: £58.91p (Including 1 CD)
(Why are pasties spelt like that but Pasty Presto spell it different?)