Diary Of A Busker Day 460 Tuesday October 8th 2013 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:13-2:50pm, 2. Next to The Slug & Lettuce, The Square, Time: 3-3:45pm).
Another full house. Mandolin John’s at the top of the High Street, the old bearded bloke with the flute and toy percussion stuff’s near The Butter Cross, the foreign guy doing the sculpture of the dog lying down (the dog, that is), and now with the addition of a puppy lying next to it, is opposite Timpsons, and Frank’s opposite Vodafone, just about to leave. ‘We’re playing a little game, me and the people in Vodafone’, he says. ‘Whenever I start playing, they shut the door!’ Ah, poor Frank. I tell him about all of them up the road – has he seen the dog bloke? He has – ‘She (Kazoo) thought it was real. She went up and started sniffing’. I ask how long he’s been here and how he’s done. He says he’s made a lot more here in an hour and a half than he had in two hours up at The Butter Cross – TWO quid, he got there – oh dear. I ask if he’s going home now. He says he’s going to hang around a bit. I say he can come back here and play in an hour or so, if he wants to. (I don’t fancy hanging around for a marathon session as I’m a bit under the weather with this cold I’ve had for over a week now). He says he might do that.
One of my old-lady-regulars comes by during Yellow Bird and doesn’t wait for me to stop before launching into a conversation. Firstly, concerning a bloke who sang it years ago – ‘Harry Belafonte?’, I say. ‘No, someone else’. I know who she means – I remember ages ago up the road at The Pentice, someone told me about an earlier version by Henri someone or other – a Haitian or Jamaican singer…I can’t remember the name!* All my good (interrupting) lady knows is – ‘he wasn’t English’. She then tells me all about her recent hospital visit. She fell over and broke a small bone in her forearm. She said the treatment by the staff wasn’t up to much – ‘I got about one second’s attention. It’s like that now…’. Then it’s about giving to charities – ‘If I gave to all of them who come ’round, I’d have nothing for myself!’ Indeed.
After some more minutes, by which time I’ve stopped playing, I sense a creeping presence from my left – it can only be Delia. I know it’s her just by the way she creeps up!…and I’m right! I say hello and then attempt to introduce these two, who appear unacquainted with each other, however, I don’t know the other lady’s name so I have to ask. It’s Nina. Delia says she’ll be off and hands me a pound coin, but before she goes, I say to Nina – ‘I always say to her (Delia) “You don’t have to give me something every time you see me, you know”, but she insists and starts shouting at me!’ Delia says ‘That’s right, now you TAKE IT!’, and then to Nina – ‘I hope you’re going to give him some money…have you?’ Nina says ‘No, not yet’. Delia: ‘Well, make sure you give him some before you leave!’ Nina, obediently: ‘Oh, I will’. Me: ‘For goodness sake, Delia, are you my bouncer or my agent or something?’ Very amusing. Anyway, Nina does as she’s told.
After just over an hour and a half (Frank never came back…and no one shut the door on ME – ha!), I pack up and count up…and it’s disastrous: for all that time I get about £8.50 – half the usual rate. Terrible. And all these people about. One of the few who did contribute was one of the girls at the bank who takes my change on Monday mornings. Last time I went in, she said ‘I do like it when you come in and top up my change’ (a good line for a Carry On film, I reckon), to which I replied ‘It’s nice to be appreciated’.
Just before I packed up, that weird bloke who’s obsessed with my shoe/foot-tapping, turned up and hovered about, but didn’t come up to me. Maybe he’s having an inner struggle to resist. He must have won this time.
After that set, I decided not to have a break. I think I wanted to do another set quickly, to get it over with. So it’s up the road to The Slug & Lettuce for 45 minutes for £6 – again, not very good, but at least the percentage of people walking by who contributed was a lot higher than the other set. And I might have got a gig out of it. An posh 18 year old girl – it was her birthday, came up and asked if I was free to play at her parents house on Saturday. They’d been let down by a swing band or steel band, I can’t remember which. Well, I don’t see much of a connection between me and a swing (or steel) band, but we’ll see**. The girl and her friends had seen me lots of times before and think I’m great.
* Henri Salvador, I think
** I never heard back.