Diary Of A Busker Day 510 Thursday February 20th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 3:35-4:15pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:45-5:20pm, 3. Opposite Bellis/O2, Time: 5:27-5:53pm).
Day three of the shoulder ache. It got off to an OK start: a donation during the first song – Albatross, from an elderly couple – is ELDERLY polite for OLD? Is OLD impolite? – anyway, the old/elderly couple were emerging from the cathedral grounds. The donation was followed by a bit of chat: the lady – ‘What’s this?’ (the song). Me – ‘It’s called Albatross’. She – ‘Ah, yes’. Me – ‘From 1969’. She – ‘Was that when you were born?’ Me – ‘No, very kind of you, though’. She, nodding to husband – ‘He’s eighty’. Now some cliched, patronising banter from me – ‘He doesn’t look eighty – he must be doing SOMETHING right…must be YOU!’ She – ‘Well, I’ll be eighty, soon’. Me, continuing in the patronising banter vein – ‘NOoo!’ He, who speaketh for the first time – ‘She’ll be here all day, you know!’ Me – ‘Well, you’re welcome to!’
Yes, they really liked me, as opposed to that miserable, dark-haired bitch across the way in Pavillion. I mean, I’ve just started the second set and there she is, making sure the door’s shut tight, with a mean-spirited glance at me. I mustn’t let this wind me up, I mustn’t let this mind me up, I mustn’t…,etc…but it does, and the thought crosses my mind: I want to go in there with my pad and say ‘Right, if you can let me know what days you’re here, I’ll make a note of them and I won’t play here, OK?’ She clearly doesn’t appreciate the finer points of 1950s fingerstyle playing…or maybe she does! Bitch. I mean, I’m not here all day, and I try and limit it to an hour…usually. In fact, today I leave after forty minutes, as I can’t be doing with all that nonsense. I’ll be back, though, bitch!
I almost forgot, earlier in the set, a blue van turned the corner on my right and the guy in the passenger seat gave me the thumbs-up. At least I think it was a thumb. I don’t know for sure, but it looked like Scully, the strumming and shouting northern busker I used to see about. I don’t know who else it could have been. Haven’t seen him in ages – maybe he saw the light.
During the break…at Vodafone, there’s a female Drongo ‘playing’ a penny whistle. It’s easy, all you do is breath into it. Ha. That’s how they get around it: as long as they’re seen to be ‘playing’ an instrument, the police let them stay. At Waterstones, I look through a book – The Grace Of The Cat. Grace? Yesterday, I looked out the front window and saw the ‘grace’ of the cat, in full display in the front garden: One from down the road was being graceful (doggy-style) with another, all this being watched by two others on our doorstep. Graceful? DISgraceful, more like!
By the time I’m back out, the penny whistle Drongo (Drongette?) is gone, so I can set up…and a couple of things got me angry and depressed during this set. One: Three boys dancing in front, pulling faces at me, then dropping shrapnel in the bucket. I fear I can no longer cope with this, and the humiliation, and in future will ask to see the coinage before the deposition. Oh yes, and after one of them looks in the bucket, another says ‘How much?’, and he says ‘About 3p’.
Then, just as I’m getting over that, a fire alarm goes off up the road and wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t play over it so I put the guitar on my lap. A man walked by and said ‘You can’t compete with that’. True. And it just wouldn’t stop, so I packed up. On the pad, I wrote FIRE ALARM, ANGRY, SMASH UP GUITAR – something I definitely didn’t do, but I must have thought about it or I wouldn’t have written it down. I wasn’t going to set up again: the alarm was still going – I passed it at River Island, but by the time I’d got to The Butter Cross, it’d stopped, so I thought I’d do another set – a short one…which turned out better than the one I’d just done, when I’d got not more than £2 for the 35 minutes.