Diary Of A Busker Day 519 Saturday March 8th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 1:15-2:15pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:30-3:30pm, 3. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 3:45-4:45pm).
I’m in a good mood! The weather’s fine…unfortunately the whole street’s full up: a shouting strummer at The Butter Cross, a 10 year old boy with a music stand and classical guitar a bit further down – raking it in, of course…Mandolin John with guitar, three girls singing down at Vodafone. Even the Pavillion spot is gone – Rick Tarrant, of course. And even – EVEN the other one down the road at the other cathedral entrance is taken – there’s a folk duo there.
So it’s down to old faithful, and I’m still in a good mood, or I was until I’m totally ignored. So much so that, despite all the hundreds about, it’s no less than 33 minutes before I get anything. THIRTY-THREE MINUTES. I can’t believe it. I go through all the usual ‘I can’t believe people are so mean’ routine, in my head. It’s really bad – I get more and more depressed. It has a really bad effect on my brain…and I can feel a terrible look of desperation on my face. I really can’t believe it. In fact, I almost phoned Doll to say ‘I’ve been here half an hour and no one’s given me any money’ – I’ve never wanted to do that before.
At 12:48, a man and his little girl who’s been sitting at the tables across the way come over and I even say ‘You know, I’ve been here since quarter past one and you’re the only people who’ve come over’. Anyway, I’m cheered up by this for five minutes, then sink back into the depression…until Chris the scouser, sees me from across the street, comes over and donates. I say to him ‘You know, Chris, you’re the SECOND person who’s come over, and I’ve been here since a quarter past one!’ Well, he digs in his pockets for some more coins (maybe I should do that a bit more often!) but I say he doesn’t have to give me anything.
Chris can’t believe it, either: that no one (apart from him and the other bloke) have donated. I say ‘I don’t know what it is…maybe it’s my playing, I don’t know’. Chris asks for Wonderful Land. I say I keep forgetting that one, so he says Apache, which I’m able to do for him, as he sits across the road. I’m so unhinged, I mess up an easy bit, but at the end, Chris claps loudly, comes over and says ‘That was great, and there’s nothing wrong with your playing!’ – that really cheered me up. For goodness sake, I’ve got to get a grip on myself…man!
Oh, there was another cheery thing. That TINC guy came out of his shop and I’m sure he smiled at me while nodding his head to Albatross. Maybe he likes me, after all. Maybe I’m psychotically paranoid, after all. But it’s not enough to stop the weird depression, especially after the count-up: £4.50p for an hour’s playing. All I want to do is go and set up somewhere else, so I skip the break and go somewhere I’ve never been before – the other end of the Pavillion street – the other cathedral grounds entrance where the folk duo were, facing the posh Gieves & Hawkes shop.
I keep the volume down a bit, as I notice the two Gieves & Hawkes blokes looking at me. I reckon one’ll be out to tell me off – the young one shut the door just after I started. Sure enough, 15 minutes later, the young guy comes out and comes over…but he doesn’t tell me off! No, he puts a coin in and says I’m a lot better than ‘those two that were here before – I didn’t like them. You can stay as long as you want – please do!’ Unbelievable! I really am psychotically paranoid. Yeah, he really likes what I do. He says he plays, too – he even does the one I was doing – Windy & Warm. We shake hands, I ask his name – Glen, then I express my admiration for his very nice three-piece suit. He says they’ve got a sale on – why don’t I have a look? I say I WAS in there a year ago, when I was thinking of buying a suit to travel to Japan for a gig, but the gig fell through.
After the 1st. Gymnopedie, a woman contributes and says ‘I enjoy Satie on a Saturday’, to which I reply ‘Nice bit of alliteration’ – an inspired retort, I thort. I forgot to say, during the first set, another of the few contributors were a couple, about 60. He was a classical guitarist – something I was pleased he disclosed only AFTER I’d played something! Anyway, they’re suddenly here in front of me. He says ‘There’s a guy just like you around the corner! – ha. He also tells me he’s got a Val Doonican guitar. I ask if it was one Val actually owned – he says it was and he’s got all the documentation, verification, substantiation and all that.
Ragtime Phillip donates but doesn’t stop to chat, apart from saying ‘It sounds really good’. I think he’s becoming more ill – it looked like he was limping a bit. I think maybe if he stops, he’ll start talking about what’s wrong with him – something I don’t think he wants to do, so that’s how he’s stopping himself.
Chris – the tapping guitar guy, comes by and asks how it’s been, so I tell him – it was terrible at the first place. He says he knew it was bad when he got off the train (these out-of-towners, coming here, taking all the jobs!) and outside the station, a Drongo said ‘The town is full up with beggars and buskers!’
I pack up after an hour but I’m glad I stopped here. I now know they’ll probably not complain at the place across the road – that counts for alot. Maybe it’s good in one way -that the town’s full up, or I never would have set up here. So all I do now is walk up the road and set up at the other end – there’s no one there now.
I ended up doing another hour – probably a bit much, especially as I had no real break. So that’s THREE hours almost straight through. My hand held out, so to speak(!), which surprised me, but my mind was really going, at the end. I was messing up the simplest of things. As I was heading home, the Drongo sitting down in the alleyway – who I’d passed a few times during the day and must have moaned at, after the first set – said ‘How’d you do in the end?’ I said ‘OK, I think’. He said ‘I got £1.20. I usually make £10. It’s that busker (at The Butter Cross, earlier)…mind he was good, I’ll give him his dues’, then he starts coughing – ‘Chest infection…I’ll make it to the car park (where the shelter is) tonight though, get me head down’. I gave him 60p, poor bloke. What the hell am I moaning about…