Diary Of A Busker Day 522 Saturday March 15th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 1:43-2:28pm, 2. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 2:33-4:03pm, 3. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 4:48-5:49pm).
Mr. Tarrant was playing at the Pavillion spot – I’ll try there later. In the meantime, I can set up around the corner…and so many about, and so little coinage. It was one of those sets – unbelievable. There must be something in it: so many people about, no one takes any notice. It was five songs before the first donation. And an even more depressing moment: Phillip comes up and says he doesn’t think he’ll ever play the guitar again, because of the state of his fingernails. He showed me them – they’re only half grown back. He didn’t stop for long – he never does these days.
But that must be terrible: seeing someone like me playing, and thinking ‘I won’t be able to do that again’. I don’t know…if I’d remembered, I would have told him about Janina Fialowska, who I met last week. She got cancer in her arm and they had to get rid of the cancer, then take a muscle from her back and put it in her arm. For a few years she could only use one hand to play, but she gave piano recitals all over the world while her other arm and hand were getting better. In fact, when I met her after the recital, she asked if I’d noticed that when she went low on the bass end, she had to move her body, as her left arm doesn’t move on its own. And she can still play all that Chopin stuff! I mentioned my Focal Dystonia – she’d never heard of it. So there’s hope for everyone(?) She said ‘What do we do? – we carry on, we have to!’
Anyway, I carry on for 45 minutes, then pack up/count-up: about £4 – half the usual rate. I don’t bother with a break, I set up around the corner as Rick’s now gone. and start with Albatross, Here Comes The Sun…and NO donations, in fact it’s TWENTY minutes before the first one. What’s going on today?! Glen from down the road at Gieves & Hawkes walks by and says hello and I warn him I’ll probably be down there – maybe in a minute, as it’s rubbish today. And then, as if on cue, a quite memorable incident occurs. During When I’m Sixty-Four, a man comes up and says ‘I was a friend of George Harrison’s’. I say ‘Sorry?’ He says ‘I was a friend of George Harrison – you played earlier’. I say ‘Oh yeah, Here Comes The Sun’. He says ‘Yes, I knew him very well, in Henley’. I say ‘Really?’ He says ‘And Fleetwood Mac, what was it?’ Me – ‘Oh…(I’m momentarily stumped, as I’ve never met a ‘good friend’ of anyone really famous, especially a Beatle)…Albatross’. ‘Yes’.
Then he walks off with his wife(?) into the alleyway, while I try and finish When I’m Sixty-Four…then I have a brainwave, before he disappears, I go into While My Guitar Gently Weeps…but he doesn’t look back, he carries on. Anyway, I can believe he might have been a friend. He looked about 70 and he looked rich, and rich people only associate with others of the same ilk. Well, you never know who you’ll meet. (When I told Doll, she said ‘Well, anyone could say that: I could come up and say “I know Postman Pat”‘)
…and then, during said While My Guitar, a man dropped a £5 note in the bucket, thereby making it Song Of The Day, instantly. So that whole episode cheered me up, even with The Bitch working across the way, who, weirdly enough, didn’t shut the door on me today…maybe someone else in there likes me.
After one and a half hours – half an hour longer than what I was going to do – I take a toilet/Waterstones break and look at books about The Kinks and David Bowie, then it’s back out…and I reckon it’s time I returned to the new spot, at the other end of the street I was just on. I did warn Glen, after all.
Scouser Chris drops by, carrying some bags of shopping on his way to the cathedral grounds. He does his usual requests – Wonderful Land (not Wonderful World, as I said and apologised for), or Apache, or ‘that one by Glen Campbell’. I help him out – ‘Wichita Lineman?’ ‘Yeah, that one’, he says. No, sorry – it’ll have to be Apache, which I do while he stands there…then it’s ‘What about Ferry Cross The Mersey?’ Ah, no…although this presents me with a reason to tell my ‘I met a bloke who said he was a friend of George Harrison’ story.
Actually, I HAVE met a good friend of G.H. years before now! Oh yes, indeed! I tell him about the two times I met Gerry Marsden. The first being in 1979 at the Brighton Dome, when he was the main guy on the Liverpool Explosion tour. Wait, no…I didn’t actually MEET him then, but I did, a few years ago up in Liverpool at some hotel near the Mersey. The cabaret group I was doing a dep for were on the same bill as Gerry, and earlier, me and Paul were at the back of the room listening to his sound-check: just him – Gerry with his guitar and a backing track, and after he did How Do You Do It, we clapped and he told us to ‘Fuck off’! I think he thought we were taking the piss. A bit later on, I bumped into him and made sure he knew I really WAS a fan – ‘I saw you in Brighton in 1979, Gerry – I’m a fan!’ Ha!
Anyway, back to Ferry Cross The Mersey. I’m able to play the opening bars – I must have worked it out bloody years (decades?) ago. When I get to the verse, Chris opens his mouth to sing it, then decides otherwise – humble chap! Then Glen shuts up shop and comes across for a chat – it turns out he knows Chris. I tell Glen the High Street’s overrated – I make more money here and there’s alot less people, etc…in fact, I really have a good moan about the High Street. Glen then goes off, then Chris says goodbye and starts off across the cathedral grounds, so I start Girl, which I know he loves. Sure enough, he stops, puts down his bags and has a listen – for a polite length of time: a minute and a half, before he picks up his bags and carries on.