Diary Of A Busker Day 496

Diary Of A Busker Day 496 Saturday January 18th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 12:45-2:15pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:05-4:35pm).

There’s the bloke who’s replaced young Sam – who I haven’t seen in ages – at The Butter Cross, banging out Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door…Bangin’ On Heaven’s Door, more like! And there are some other young buskers all the way down the road. I go back to The Square, where I was for two hours the other day, and I’m not even done the first song, Albatross, when Ragtime Phillip walks up with a woman who I’ve seen before but can’t quite place. He starts talking about the 5th Gnossienne – he says ‘It’s HER favourite, as well’ – oh dear, I say I’ll play it but I’m a bit rusty, which is a serious understatement. I really must do it at home a few (hundred) times. That’s all it would take, same as Danny Boy/Londonderry Air, or whatever it is. I think I’m getting lazy in my old age. Anyway, I get through the Gnossienne – it wasn’t very good, so I play some of the much easier 1st Gnossienne as compensation, although I still apologise for the rather weak ‘A’ section (actually B flat) – not my fault, though: on the piano, the low note is two octaves lower than on the guitar. Very dramatic it is, too – on the piano, that is. Of course, I inform Phillip of all this – I think I might call this my Low ‘A’ Note In The Middle Of Satie’s First Gnossienne Lecture – and at the end he says ‘Well, you certainly know your stuff’, to which I reply ‘I make it my job to'(!)

Phillip’s woman then says she must go, and goes to open the door of the craft shop to my right, and that’s it, I know where I’ve seen her before – she works there: I’ve paid her for tubes of paint! Just before Phillip goes off, I’m presented with a cup of coffee from a young bloke in a colourful Hawaiian-style shirt, who I also vaguely recognise…him, not the shirt. I thank him and ask where he’s from and he says ‘I work at Le Monde’ – of course, that’s where I know him – he’s a waiter at the place right across from me!

At the entrance to the cathedral grounds, there’s a guy reading some rubbish from the Bible in a loud voice. It looks like he’s got his children in on it, too. His daughter’s handing out leaflets and his two small sons are sitting on the bench behind her. I ignore him and play over the racket…after a bit, they all come towards me and I think ‘They better not drop a religious leaflet in my bucket’, then one of the sons puts a pound coin in – how wrong can you be?!

After 1 1/2 hours, although it’s not too cold, my hands have had enough – it’s starting to seep in. In any case, 1 1/2 hours is long enough…and I’m relieved that woman from Pavillion isn’t working there today. I almost forgot, I took a photo of my view, looking down the road of the posh shops. Included in the view was The Eclipse pub, with Legless Brian sitting outside facing me, having his pint!

Break time: Waterstones, where I spend rather too long a time in a new book – The Last Full Measure: How Soldiers Die In Battle. In particular, the bit on artillery. Apparently, more than 300,000 British and British Empire soldiers died by artillery fire, and 40% of those were never found. They were either obliterated or churned into the earth by ‘remorseless’ artillery fire. Bloody hell…and it sure must have been. A fascinating book although somewhat depressing(!), which stayed with me for awhile afterwards.

Back outside, the Vodafone spot was free…and I managed a CD sale: to a young couple who have heard me loads of times. In fact they’re getting married and asked if I’d play at their wedding, to which I replied ‘Of course’ and gave them my card. They didn’t say when it would be, though…or anything about money. I wonder if they’ll phone… Before they went, the guy – the imminent groom(?) – asked if I knew any Pink Floyd, so I played the only thing I know: the four-note riff to Shine On You Crazy Diamond. I said ‘That’s all I know. In fact I went off them after Wish You Were Here, in ’75, but I like the early stuff with Syd Barrett’. I can give my opinion, can’t I? I mean, it’s a free country and all that… isn’t it?! He says ‘Yeah, I like that, and being from Cambridge, where he lived’.

Now, when he said that, I was that far (a tiny bit) from mentioning something I found out just after Syd Barrett died. After retiring from the music scene in the early ’70s, he moved back with his mother in Hills Road in Cambridge. When I looked this up on the map, I found it was just around the corner from where Uncle Ivor lived, where we used to visit every summer in the ’70s. If I’d known one of my idols was just around the corner…!

I get through another 1 1/2 hours – a bit longer than what I planned. Too long, really. My hands are getting cold again and I’m starting to go a bit loopy – I’m sure my face was contorting into odd expressions. So, THREE HOURS of playing – like the old days. Too long! – I’ll be messing up the hand again.

That’s about it, apart from something I’ve just remembered from the first session. During My Old Kentucky Home – another one I’ve neglected – two Drongos come up. One says ‘He’s good, in’t he? What’s that you’re playin’?’ After I tell him, he says ‘Hey, could you…we’ve no money for food, we’re hungry and soaking wet’, which he is, or rather his coat is, although I can’t work out why, as it hasn’t rained today. I say ‘No, sorry’. I mean, I don’t know, it’s a bit of a nerve – they’ve come up looking for money from someone who’s got a bucket in front of them!

Earnings: £48.92p (Including one £8 CD)

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