Diary Of A Busker Day 467 Saturday November 2nd 2013 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:55-2:55pm, 2. Next to The Slug & Lettuce, The Square, Time: 3:10-4:51pm).
I would have started at 1:45 if it hadn’t been for Shirley giving me the latest news on Eric. He’s slowly ‘getting over’ his heart attack but can’t walk yet, so he can’t have a walking frame like he wants…he’s given his electric guitar to his grandson but he’s still got his Spanish one…he has visitors to the house but they stay too long – hours sometimes, and tire him out. Shirley says she needs to bring him into town – I agree – ‘then he could see people he knows and have short chats with them, like you are now, with me’. She says she’ll give Eric my regards. I was a bit worried before the conversation because she was on her own and I hadn’t seen her for months. I said ‘Hows Eric?’ and she paused for a second and I thought she was going to say ‘he’s died’, but it was ‘Not so good’, which was a relief!
Song Of The Day – the 1st Gnossienne, as it secured a CD sale, albeit a mere £5 one. My hearing really is bad. Firstly, when the couple who eventually bought the CD came up, I thought she said ‘I have one of your CDs’, to which I replied ‘Oh really, do you like it?’ But what she actually said was ‘CAN I have one of your CDs?’ And then I thought she said something about ‘playing at a party’, so I thought maybe there was a gig in it, so I said ‘party?’, to which she replied ‘No, you were playing Satie’. Party/Satie!
Next up, a bunch of students from Southampton, and carrying bits of paper, have to pose with a busker, playing air guitar (them, not me), so can they pose with me, they ask. I say they can…although a small donation would be nice. Of course, being young and happy, they don’t mind donating…so that’s something else they can check off their list. Then, right after that, a couple ask if I would be willing to travel to Four Marks to, wait for it, give a talk on busking at a rotary club! They read the Chronicle article – ‘about three years ago, wasn’t it?’ – yes, I say, ‘we’d pick you up and bring you back’. I don’t know, though. I’d be really nervous and besides, I don’t fancy talking about it – I spend enough time doing it (and writing about it!)
I do exactly one hour then pack up and do a count-up. With the CD sale, it’s about £13, which is OK. I go into the HMV Shop to warm up a bit. The hands aren’t too bad, actually. While I’m in there, I bump into Ollie and thank him for introducing me to Horizons – a very good set addition, as it goes, and I tell him about the young guy who came up and said it was one of his dad’s favourite songs.
After that, I walked up the road…there’s alot of commotion around the Vodafone place: a Rotary stall set up – maybe that’s something to do with the couple earlier? – someone else collecting for charity, and millions of people. In other words, if I play, I’ll just get ignored! – too much going on. I end up next to The Slug & Lettuce…where I get a stomach pain and keep thinking I’ll have to go to the toilet, but it goes after half an hour.
Seven girls of student age come up. One has a bit of paper – I know what it’s all about! I say ‘Don’t tell me, you’re from Southampton and you have to pose, playing air guitars with someone, right?’ Right. ‘Do you mind?’, one says. No, of course I don’t…! They give me some change – looks like a few 5p pieces – shrapnel! One says ‘I’ve only got a cheap Les Paul copy, I’m afraid’, and I think ‘My oh my, how times have changed. I would have given anything to have something like that when I started out!’ Anyway, I say ‘It doesn’t matter, does it?’ Bloody jolly japes…
A 6 year old girl puts something in my case behind me – I’m hoping it’s a £2 coin. I think to myself ‘I’ll have a look in a minute’…a man and his two young sons stand in front. One blows a raspberry at me – I couldn’t believe it. But he gets told off, which really pleases me! Then the man asks if his other kid can play my guitar. He says he knows one song. How can I say no?! I say he can – for ONE minute. I get up, he sits down, I give him the guitar – which looks enormous on him – and he plays the riff to Sunshine Of Your Love, down in the open position. ‘Very good, very good, I recognised that the minute you started playing it…very good, etc…’ To be honest, I needed the rest – to put my hands in my pockets – this was well after playing an hour.
After they go off, I look behind to see what that little girl left on the case. It’s a 2p coin. And shrapnel doesn’t come more heavy and useless as that. Nice one. And there I was, thinking it might be a £2 coin. The folks always said I had ‘delusions of grandeur’. I don’t know. I can’t remember that far back…maybe, but then, don’t most children? Anyway, any such delusions are pretty short-lived out here.
I tune down and do Yellow Bird and Wheels, then down further for Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Whatever. At one point I see a big guy with his arms on the shoulders of his two sons (there’s a lot of fathers out with their two sons today), both in football outfits, all smiling at me, which makes me laugh. After The Rain Song – and tuning down even more, I tune it all back up, and then do only one more – The Third Man, before I call it a day. All that tuning back up, and only one song – ha! But the hands are getting too cold: the fingertips are tingling and I’ve had enough: 1 hour and 40 minutes at this spot.
On the way back, crossing the road to go over the railway bridge, a car stops to let me cross. After I do, the car goes by, slowly. It’s the big bloke with the two football kids! He winds the window down and says ‘we very much enjoyed your playing’. What a nice chap.
Earnings: £34.44p (including 2 CDs)
Note: Some of the old people make me laugh. One lady came up during Somewhere Over The Rainbow, leaned in really close and said very aggressively, ‘That’s OUR kind of music!’ There are a few like that – and mainly women, when I think about it. It really makes me laugh.