Diary Of A Busker Day 490 Wednesday January 8th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Bellis/O2, Time: 3:17-4:55pm).
Another rainy day – actually, it’d been dry until I started walking in – typical! I start with something I’ve never started with before: the 1st. Gnossienne, in keeping with the downcast weather. In fact I keep it pretty much ‘down’ for awhile: Ne Me Quitte Pas, Albatross – a man requests it, then, as I’m tuning up for Yellow Bird, starts going on about how he saw Fleetwood Mac at the O2, without Peter Green, of course. I ask if they did Albatross. He said they did – ‘without the guy who wrote it. He went a bit weird for a year, didn’t he?’, says my man. I say ‘Yes, I believe he did – it was a bit longer than a year, though, wasn’t it?’
Anyway: Albatross – my man says it’s the greatest instrumental ever written. At this, several Chopin pieces spring to mind, like the Opus 10 Etude No.3 in E major, or the Opus 35 Sonata, lest we forget the magnificent First Ballade, Opus 23…and of course the Fourth Ballade, in F Minor, Opus 52…
That little old lady who was going on about letting me have a CD of some song, so I can record a cassette and learn some, comes over. The funny thing about her is I’ve never seen her smile…and she’s got a dodgy eye. She starts going on about the CD again and I say she must bring it in sometime. This is the sort of thing that will go on and on, like poor dead Colin’s banjo. He was always promising to bring it along for me to tune. Now, after talking about the cold, she’s going to knit me some fingerless gloves with an elasticated end that ends just short of the fingers. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’ve already got a pair, from the lady from Help The Aged – called wristies. That’s what SHE called them, anyway.
Just going into La Vie En Rose, I look to my right and there he is: that old bloke with the woollen hat and sunglasses, who gave me the tangerine after playing Blackbird for him yesterday. And he’s just standing there, staring at me – I think, as I can’t see his eyes, of course. Anyway, this cracks me up: something that doesn’t happen much out here…or anywhere else. It’s just really funny. He’s wearing a grey suit and tie: quite sober, but then there’s the sunglasses and the hat, which is very colourful, like a hat a little girl would wear. That’s the funniest thing – the hat!
So I make my way through the song and occasionally look at the guy. He doesn’t move, just stands there, but the hat cracks me up every time! Anyway, I’ve already decided to do his request from yesterday, after this song, which I do, which, after a few bars, brings forth just a trace of a smile from him. At the end he gives a sort of wave, then goes off the way he came. I’ve really got to get a photo of him…
A man puts a coin in and says ‘That’s from Delia, Marvin’. It’s her son. Mark, I think his name was. She’s down the road and must have heard me and sent him up. Wednesday – unusual for her. I ask if she’s alright. He says she is. I haven’t seen her in ages, since well before Christmas. In fact, it must have been before my three weeks away. Anyway, she’s still alive. I WAS wondering.
Just before I stop: I’ve put the guitar away and that dark-skinned scouse bloke turns up. I know he’s told me his name before but I’ve forgotten – oh dear. He asks if I know any Shadows: Wonderful Land, Apache – ‘Yep’, I interrupt, ‘I can do Apache, even though I did it fifteen minutes ago and I’ve put the guitar away’ – a request is a request. Halfway through, a bloke who I believe to be Polish – as he has some sort of Polska badge on his jacket, and also because he starts talking what I believe to be Polish, into his phone – stops in front of me. He’s very exited (in Polish) – a big Shadows fan, possibly? He donates, then he does something a few others have done, and which quite amuses me: he holds the phone to the guitar! I try and say ‘No, the sound’s coming from the amp, not the guitar’, while nodding to the right, where the amp is, but he doesn’t get it.
My scouse friend comes to the rescue. He guides this guy’s phone hand to the amp. After 30 seconds, he starts talking again, then he brings out his wallet, opens it, then drops it on the pavement, open. There’s a photo of a very attractive woman – Polish? – in it, and two 20p coins have fallen out, which he picks up and puts in the bucket. Cheers! Then he waves goodbye and is off. My scouse friend and I have a bit of a laugh, and a couple of others donate for Apache, so I say ‘It was a good job you stopped by, wasn’t it?’
Earnings: £17.64p + a 5 cent euro coin, possibly from my Polish friend.