Diary Of A Busker Day 461 Wednesday October 9th 2013 Chichester (The Cross, Time: 11:40-1:40pm, 2:35-4:10pm).
Today’s the day I try out Kai’s theory about setting up in the middle of the pedestrian thoroughfare. I remember he was on a round metal bit – like a drain cover, which is where I want to go. However, when I get there, there’s the woman with the mobile burger kiosk about two feet from where the cover is, so I have to set up nearby – what’s a few feet?
A couple, mid-sixties, walk by and then stop and smile, like they know me, and I haven’t got a clue who they are. Then they say they saw me in Winchester a few weeks ago, so I say (lying) – ‘Ah, yes – I recognise your faces’. Chris the RAC idiot is here, too, in East Street, about 50 feet from me. He sees me and nods hello.
During Somewhere Over The Rainbow, a man dressed like Jesus: white robe, sandals, walks by. Oh, I almost forgot – he’s also carrying a rather large wooden cross – it’s bigger than him (perfect for a crucifixion, I’d say), and it’s got names of towns and dates, like Peterborough April 2013, written on in marker pen. I almost stop playing and go over to ask him about it all but decide that’s silly – stopping in the middle of a song. I mean, there might be someone listening! And anyway, old Henry Gray wouldn’t approve of that, I’m sure.
After While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a man contributes and I thank him. He then asks my name, then ‘What’s that you’re playing?’, so I say ‘Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps, do you know it?’ ‘No’, he says, and walks off! Not so fast, pal! Not until I furnish him with more information – ‘From 1968!’, I shout. Twenty minutes later, I look up and he’s back. ‘What’s that?’ he says. ‘Romance de Espana – an old, old song’, I say. ‘I don’t know how you remember it all’, he says. ‘I don’t, sometimes’, I say. ‘Have a good day’, he says, walking off again.
I last two hours before I’ve had enough and start packing up, and then the moment of truth: the count-up. The total is about £18.50p. Oh dear. That’s nothing like what Kai gets for two hours. Hell, it’s even under MY average! Then RAC Chris comes over to see how I’ve done. I say not good and then tell him about Kai, and then think, hmm…maybe he gets more because he makes more of a ‘show’ of it. For a start, he’s standing up. Then he’s waving his violin about. Maybe that’s it: using theatrics to draw attention to himself. I say this to Chris and he says ‘Maybe you should be more visual – wear some flares, dress like Gary Glitter’. I don’t know…it’s a rather high price to pay for a few extra quid…and besides, I’d get stoned! (literally), and not on dope.
I forgot to bring my lunch, I’m really hungry, and it’s a quarter to two, so I bid Chris farewell, then go off to the toilet, then go in search of a pork pie at Marks & Spencer. But on the way to the checkout, armed with my £1 pie, I see a huge queue and I can’t stand those so I ditch the pie on a display of Scottish biscuits and leave. What follows is a half hour walk down East Street – and there are no food shops, so it’s back up to The Cross, down South Street – no food shops, up North Street where I find a pasty shop, but I’m not paying £3.65 for one. At least they were polite: it was ‘Can I help you, sir?’ Sir, not ‘yes mate?’, like it usually is. So I was polite – I said ‘Sorry, no’. Then to the other Marks & Spencer place, but I don’t want a bloody MEAL DEAL, so I buy a big Dairy Milk for a pound – no queue here, then end up back at the first Marks & Spencer, where my ditched pie is STILL THERE (I think that pie must have my name on it…I’ll have to change it to Melton Mobray), so I pay for that – there’s no queue now, and eat most of it just outside the door.
During the food hunt, I kept thinking about Kai and if there were any other reasons – apart from his employment of gesticulations and histrionics – of why he makes more than me, and I reckon it’s because there aren’t many violin buskers – especially Korean ones, but there are millions of guitar players. Hmm…
Back at The Cross, the burger lady’s moved further away, so I can get a bit more central. I can also see what the round metal thing is: a plaque put there in 2000 by The Rotary Club. The Rotary Club – I’ve heard of them for years, what do they do? A sort of social club, I reckon. During Here Comes The Sun, a man said ‘I don’t see it!’ So I said ‘It was Blowin’ In The Wind a few minutes ago – that might be more accurate’. Oh, how we laughed. Which reminds me, I could have a serious ATMOSPHERE set going on: Here Comes The Sun, Over The Rainbow, Blowin’ In The Wind…The Rain Song.
I last just over an hour and a half then decide to go home: a bit early, but the last couple of hours have got a lot colder, and this cough I’ve had since Friday isn’t any better. Still – 3 1/2 hours – I reckon it’s a fair stretch. Seeing me pack up, RAC idiot Chris comes over again, to see how I’ve done. Nothing special, I say, then I ask how he’s done. Apparently, only THREE people spoke to him. I ask if that includes me. No, two were old guys who just wanted someone to talk to, he reckons. He didn’t say about the third one – The Third Man? – hey, I know him!
While Chris is still there, a very tall bloke comes up – an American, and says ‘You play real good, I’ve been listening, I’m in a band, we’re playing here tonight’, so I ask where. ‘The Chichester Inn, I think it’s called. We’re on at eight’. I said I’d go and see them (a lie), but I’ve got to get a train in ten minutes (true). He says ‘Yeah, anyway, our guitarist does some fingerstyle, sometimes, you know – Chet Atkins’. (Once you get into the fingerstyle, there’s no going back, I reckon). I say goodbye to the friendly American, and that I hope he has a good gig and all that rubbish, then say the same to Chris, leaving out the musician bit, who says he’ll see me in Winchester. Thanks for the warning, pal.
On the road to the station, a man walking towards me on the other side sees me and smiles, and I think ‘who’s that?’ – he looks familiar. After wracking my brain, I know who it is – PCSO Sean Trebble, and the reason I didn’t recognise him was because he was in civilian clothes. So, the end of the day…a few familiar faces, but someone I didn’t see – that old Dancing Lady.
Profit (after train fare): £24.08p