Diary Of A Busker Day 465 Sunday October 27th 2013 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 12:50-1:50pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:20-3:12pm, 3. Next to The Slug & Lettuce, Time: 3:16-4:17pm).
A landmark day, or rather it would have been if it was yesterday – the 26th, as that was the 3rd anniversary of my busking debut. But I had forgotten about yesterday, and anyway, there’s no real cause for celebration…or even, dare I say, remembrance.
There’s a big storm heading, so it’s getting windy but it’s fairly dry. Still, it’s been a week since I was last out, so I’m a bit out of practice, apart from a few tunes I went over in my cabin – or ‘stateroom’, on the ship last week, namely Dixie McGuire, Windy & Warm, and Horizons – the Steve Hackett one. I started doing Horizons because young Ollie down the road wanted to learn it so I started helping him with it. I had never heard it before but it’s a good one: quite short with a somewhat Bachian flavour. And more to the point, anyone who knows Genesis is bound to recognise it…surely(?)
In the High Street near The Butter Cross I could hear some not-so-distant drumming, so I had a good look and could see a cymbal down near Vodafone, so I thought I better stay where I was! Then suddenly someone shouts my name. It’s Mandolin John. He comes running up to ask if I mind him setting up here. He’s been up the road and he says no one can hear him as the wind’s dispersing the sound. He’s made 20p in half an hour, poor bloke. 20p! Anyway, he can have the place.
I walk down and the drumming gets louder (of course)…it’s two blokes hitting a bucket. I carry on down to the far end, it starts drizzling then stops, so I take the precaution and set up in front of the Gospel Hall doorway. It’s very windy so I kick off with Blowin’ In The Wind – the newest addition to the ‘atmospheric set’. Then, while I’m still doing it, it starts raining properly. I finish and move into the doorway. I’ve only moved back one foot – and it’s just a normal sized doorway – but the sound’s completely different: the bass end really comes out. It’s really good, like there’s a proper bass guitar!
I do a couple of more songs and a couple sit down on the other side of the street. I’m not sure what the relationship is. It’s a woman – mid-fifties, long hair, ugly, fat, and a younger man, her son maybe? I’ve seen them around recently. She seems to shout and swear alot. I don’t know, maybe I would if I looked like that. When the wind picks up a bit, they get up to leave and her umbrella blows inside out so she starts cursing – ‘Oh for f**** sake’, which I have to admit really amuses me. They go off, the rain stops, I carry on…a man stops and tells me about a guitarist – Eric Bidd, and a song – Saucer And Cup with dropped-D tuning. He thinks I’d like it so I say I’ll check it out.
I do the ‘new’ songs: Horizons’s OK. I think it’ll work out fine but I’ll need the music on the ground for awhile, that’s for sure. The money’s slow so I pack up after an hour and do a count-up: exactly £4 – rubbish! Though I suppose John would be grateful for that. A half-hour toilet/bookshop break…then set up under cover near The Butter Cross. I reckon to give it an hour here, too. I do all the new songs again and really mess up a section of Horizons. My hands are – god forbid – getting that old feeling: cold. As is my brain. Here we go, another winter…
After 45 minutes, the couple from down the road turn up and, again, sit opposite. An argument seems to have developed in the preceeding minutes. She starts – ‘You f*****’ callin’ me a liar?’ He – ‘No’. She – ‘Yes you did!…f*****’ say I’m lyin”. She’s louder than me! Anyway, after a minute of this, I’ve had enough. Actually, I think it’s quite rude to drown out a SERIOUS performance (hers’ or mine?), so I just stop mid-song, give the bloke a withering look – he sees it but it doesn’t register or he doesn’t care or both, then I think ‘Sod it, I’m packing up’…and then she starts crying(!) and carries on shouting and swearing. Welcome home, Marvin B! So that was it. The desired hour became 50 minutes, but I couldn’t bear playing against all that silliness.
I was in two minds: go home or set up around the corner among the restaurants, but as I haven’t made much, I decide to…PLAY ON! Anyway, it’s often better around the corner because of the toursists coming from the cathedral, and there’s a lot less people – a good thing, I reckon. They don’t all get caught up in the massive throng and the relentless movement forward – very bad for my ‘trade’.
I saw Rick Tarrant – not playing, he was out with his girlfriend (or daughter – she looked quite abit younger, anyway), and he invited me to his birthday ‘do’ at The Hythe Tavern on the 30th. He said I could come along and ‘do that one you’re playing – Windy & Warm, if you like’, so I said I might do that. He contributed – Rick’s a nice chap. Very quiet player.
An old guy came up and talked about Chet Atkins and said he (the old guy) tried for years to get the technique right: the alternate bass/thumb thing, but he couldn’t get it. So I told him about my hand condition – I didn’t go on about it – but said it was all down to practice. He went off but I noticed him later, standing near the cathedral grounds entrance with a young guy – his son? Thinking about it, I’m sure I’ve met them before.
Two young guys having a pint at the table next to the one next to me come up and say they like my stuff and ask if I do my own music. I said I did but not out here – I’m not singing out here! This is stuff people know – easy listening music, although I hate to say it.
…so, the 3rd anniversary – almost. The weather is definitely getting colder…but not as bad as it was exactly (almost) a year ago, on that bloody awful bridge in London. That was terrible, oh yes, I remember it well, I was saying ‘never again’…