Diary Of A Busker Day 481 Saturday November 30th 2013 Winchester (Market Square, Time: 1:15-3:17pm).
The order of play: 1. In front of the disused JB Sports shop: two loud shouting strummers. 2. The Butter Cross: man singing and playing blues/boogie-woogie piano. 3. Next to The Slug & Lettuce: My old mate from the open-mic days, now residing in Salisbury – Kanan Keenan, playing guitar. 4. Opposite Vodafone: Loud folk and blues group. 5. Opposite Oxfam: Mandolin John.
After seeing all this lot (apart from the last) and saying hello to Kanan, I think ‘Well, it looks like I’ll have to go down to Oxfam, as surely THERE WON’T BE ANYONE THERE’ – because there never is. But when I got there, via the backstreet – it’s impossible to move, on the High Street – John’s there with his mandolin! I should never have told him about that spot. I remember saying – ‘If everywhere else is full up, go down the road. No one EVER goes down there’. He bloody remembered, too. I should keep my mouth shut, sometimes.
So, what to do…I decide to go back up and ask Kanan how long he’ll be. He might have been there a couple of hours or he might want to take a break, who knows, not I. So I go back up to see what’s happening – it’s really busy, too – and now, in addition to Kanan, who’s doing Classical Gas – at the cathedral grounds entrance there are those two bible blokes who take it in turns to read/shout stuff, and in addition to that, there’s the noise from a helluvalotta people. Not to mention the church bells going. What a racket!
Kanan’s not quite in the same place as where I usually go. He’s more to the right, facing the road, which is good, I suppose, as more people can hear and see him. I haven’t got any money so I give him a thumbpick. This is after my greeting, which is ‘Every motherfucker’s out today!’ I reckon that’s what happens if you spend too much time listening to Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads. But Kanan doesn’t use thumbpicks. He has ‘a great big thumbnail instead’. Anyway, he’s a good bloke – he asks if I want to play. He says he’s done an hour and doesn’t mind taking a break to get some coffee. So I say I’ll play for an hour, if it’s OK. Great. Before he goes off, he tells me a good place to busk – Portobello Market in London. He went up there, got there about 10 o’clock in the morning, and made almost £100 in half an hour! And the whole thing was different – ‘People weren’t just walking by. They were staying to listen, like it was more of a performance’.
After an hour, Kanan hasn’t come back, so I just carry on, although an hour’s enough as it’s pretty cold… Another fifteen minutes and he still hasn’t come back. A man, his wife(?) and another woman stop. The man says ‘Hello Marvin, how are you?’ and I don’t know who he is – something he must have realised straight away, as he says we met when we were both playing at a Sarah Savile gig at The Goblet (I think), a few years ago. I vaguely remember the name, but nothing else. Oh dear. No matter…they’ve just come back from the Christmas Market, round the other side of the cathedral, where he said they had to queue to get in, and they’ve even got all the security blokes there – ‘Not very Christmassy, is it?’ my un-named acquaintance remarked. I said it wasn’t, but they’ve got security blokes on the doors of every bloody pub in the city centre on Fridays and Saturdays, now. It’s crazy!
…I ended up doing two hours (and a couple of minutes). Kanan never came back! It was too long, really: the cold was setting in and the thumb was really starting to hurt. I should have stopped after an hour – someone drag that idiot away! So, what to do…I can’t play anymore – not without a long break – but I don’t want to hang around: millions of people – the throng of stinking humanity – get on my nerves. I decide to look around for Kanan to tell him I’m done. I reckon he’s probably somewhere on the dreaded High Street…
…in front of the bakery, ‘manning’ the doughnut table – I’m sure it’s her: that bitch who said I should learn some more songs. I walk past real slow and glare at her and see the name badge – Leanne. She sees me glaring – she can’t miss it, it’s like a LASER BEAM OF JUSTICE! God, I hope it’s her. I’m 99% sure but people look a bit different from another point of view. Before, I was looking up at her, now I’m looking down at her – literally and metaphorically – the bitch. I reckon it’s got to be the same one, so I keep on glaring like a bloody psycho. She says something like ‘What…what’s that for?’ I walk on – I can’t have a conflagration here, even if she is an insulting idiot bitch.
A bit further down, I run into Pierre the balloon maker and ask how it’s going. There’s so many kids about, he must have done OK. He says it’s been OK – nothing out of the ordinary. I suggest he tries round the corner, where I was, just before I freaked out Leanne. He asks if there are any kids there. I say there are loads of them, just like here. He says he’s going.
I walk around a bit more and still can’t find Kanan. Strange. I wonder what happened to him. Anyway, I’ve definitely decided I’m not playing anymore, so I’m off home, which is probably what Kanan did – to his place in Salisbury, that is, not mine – ha!