Diary Of A Busker Day 450 Wednesday September 18th 2013 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:17-2:57pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:35-5:05pm).
I’m always super-grateful – even sociable – to any day’s first contributors. One of today’s is a man munching on a hot dog as he contributes. I say ‘That looks tasty’, and he doesn’t reply, he just walks off. Maybe he thinks I was aiming for a bite, like I’m homeless and/or hungry, because I’m not and I’m not. But I felt embarrassed by it, which is wrong – I shouldn’t be. It’s not my fault someone might have thought the wrong thing!
A bunch of school kids walk by, and one says hello. It’s Tom, my Monday pupil. He puts a coin in, which (again) makes me feel embarrassed because I don’t like kids giving me money, especially ones whose parents pay me for lessons. So I say to him ‘You don’t need to do that, Tom’, but all that happens is his mates start putting coins in!
A man in his early 30s who I’ve seen before, crosses the road and donates. He keeps his head down and sort of lingers for a couple of minutes which makes me think he wants a chat, or ask a question, or (hopefully) buy a CD! But after the end of the song, he doesn’t say anything or approach, he just sort of lingers some more. Eventually he goes off, but then he returns a few minutes later, stands in front of me and looks at the ground, and I think ‘What’s going on here?’ Then he bends down and points his finger at my right foot, which is tapping along with the song, like it usually is. I notice his fingers, which he keeps just above my shoe, are a bit twisted. I suddenly realise there must be something wrong with him, as when I speak to him – I ask if he’s allright – he doesn’t answer.
After a bit, he stops pointing but then puts one of his feet right in front of my tapping one, as if to do the same. By this time a couple of women walking by have noticed and have stopped a few feet to my left. One says ‘Do you know him?’, and this is right near the guy, who doesn’t respond. I say ‘No’ and shrug. What else can you do? – he seems happy enough! – and I suppose he’s harmless enough. The women walk off and then this guy goes away. I wonder what he was thinking. Maybe he couldn’t work out why I was tapping my foot. Maybe he didn’t like it. Maybe he did? Who knows…and who will ever know…
I wanted to keep it to an hour but the usual happened and I ended up doing another 40 minutes. I then packed up, went to the toilet near Waterstones, then up to Waterstones where I looked through some books: one on Spanish cooking – there’s almost a whole wall of cooking books, it just like the telly these days, how boring! – and one about a Spitfire pilot – his memoirs. I tried to see if there was one on crop circles but there wasn’t. I then suddenly got really hungry so I bought a Cadbury chocolate bar (not from Waterstones!) from Smiths, up the road. Quite a big one, too: special offer – £1. On the way down to Vodafone I had a brief chat with Monica but I’m not buying any more Big Issues off her as I found out she’s got a home in Portsmouth.
I managed to sell a £5 CD, although the man had a look at the other one which, as I explained, is more than TWICE as long and has almost THREE times the amount of songs AND doesn’t have the sound of buses in the background BUT is only £3 more. But he won’t be persuaded, and I think ‘Only a fool would not be persuaded’ and then think ‘My £5 CDs are owned by many fools!’
I’ve been a bit concerned the last few weeks, having not seen Phillip, and I know he’s got cancer. However, he comes by today. He’s unaccompanied and doesn’t look too bad, all things considered. He seems quite cheerful, too. I ask him about the Gnossienne he said he really likes. Is it this one? – I play the first bit of No.5 – it is, he loves it! I play a bit more but then stop before I get to a bit I’m sure I’m going to mess up, and we talk about the Gnossiennes and Satie’s weird performance instructions and how there’s no bar markings.
We both agree the 5th Gnossienne’s the best one and I said that when I heard it, I just had to work it out – with the help of a Greek guitarist on youtube, who’s name I’ve forgotten. But it’s firmly in my repertoire, thanks to Phillip. In fact I played it ten minutes before he turned up, and also earlier at Oxfam. Phillip said some interesting things. He said ‘It reminds you of some (he pauses then looks up)…breeze, blowing through lace curtains, you know. It’s just got that…Victorian or French atmosphere’. He also observed that it’s one of those pieces that sounds good on another instrument, apart from the one it was written on, and for.
While Phillip and I are talking, one of the young blokes working at Vodafone holds up one of those tablet things. It has some writing on the screen which I can’t make out so I point it out to Phillip and he walks across – hobbling a bit, poor bloke – to see what it says. He comes back and says ‘Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody’. Hey, with a sense of humour like that, I can see why he’s working at Vodafone!