Diary Of A Busker Day 529 Wednesday March 26th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 1:30-2:55pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:13-5:18pm).
Approaching The Butter Cross, I see Mandolin John’s there with guitar, so I take one of the side streets, and another one and come out near the craft shop, which is where I wanted to set up but there’s a big brown UPS van parked right where I usually play and no sign of the driver so…down to the other end of the road, namely Gieves & Hawkes…but I decide not to set up there just yet, so I go across to Vodafone…but there are two young strummers there!, so it’s back up to the craft shop…and the van’s still there. Even so, I start to unpack my stuff, thinking the driver’ll be along any minute…but he’s not, so I pack up and head back down to Gieves & Hawkes…and wouldn’t you know it, 30 seconds down the road, just before I get there, I turn around and the bloody van’s leaving. Typical!
No matter, though. The first song – Albatross, gets two donations. In fact, the whole set goes OK, certainly as good, money-wise, as anywhere else. I fact, a couple of pounds above the usual. The percentage of people walking by who contribute is so much higher than on the High Street. I’m now even more convinced that this place and the one up the road are far better for me, and not least in a psychological way. I’d rather be ignored by 50% of the people than 99.9999999etc.% of the people.
I also wonder if people seeing a busker in a more or less deserted corner are more likely to feel more – dare I say, sorry for him, than if he was in the High Street with millions of people about. I mean, in the High Street, a lot of people must think ‘He must make a fortune here, with all these people about, I won’t bother giving him anything!’, as opposed to ‘Oh, look at the lonely busker, poor chap…let’s give him a pound!’ That’s my theory anyway, and I’m sticking with it.
I mess up a couple of songs: Ol’ Man River, which I’ve almost completely forgotten. I abandon it barely into the first verse. I’ll have to sort that out. And the fifth Gnossienne – I lost where I was (I still need the music on the ground), but managed to finish it. Also, I did My Way – only the second time I’ve done it out here. There’s a great bit at the end, which I didn’t do, where instead of the D, D major 7th, and D 7th chords – as used in the preceding verses, they turn the descending notes within the chords, into whole major chords of D,C#, and C. Very good, very dramatic. I always wondered about that bit…and now I know!
Mr. Rutter comes by as I’m about to finish, in fact he comes by 10 minutes before I intended to finish (making the session 1 1/2 hours) but by the time he’s done talking, it’s 20 minutes later, so I packed up. Anyway, he shows me a brilliant sketch he’s done for a book he’s writing on Winchester. It’a a view from where Vodafone is, looking down Market Street, towards where I am now. It’s a really big, wide drawing, about 2ft. by 4ft., and there on the right side, in front of Monsoon, is ME, sitting down playing my guitar! It’s so great – I’m really quite chuffed to be in another of his drawings – immortalised again! I get a photo, three actually. One of Mr. Rutter holding the drawing, another of just the drawing, and a third – a close-up of the bit with me – why not!
It really is a superb depiction of the view, and he’s got a lot of umbrellas in it, all different sizes and designs. He’s got his portfolio with him too, and he brings out some of the other ones he’s done: a big one of the Roman excavation near the city centre – St. Giles Church (?) which he said he had to get permission to sketch. It took him a few days until he got through to the right bloke, who said ‘You’re very persistent’, and then he was allowed only two hours to do it. So he got the basics done – outlines of buildings, and filled the rest in later. ALL his sketches are great, and very natural-looking. For instance, in the excavation one, he’s got builder’s fences and vehicle tyre marks.
He told me a good story about the Laura Ashley shop – one of the buildings he actually designed part of – the facade. It used to be a phone shop, and because it’s above an underground river – or part of the Itchen, the basement used to get flooded quite often, and they had a small boat that they’d use to row about the room to get things hanging from the walls and ceiling! He said ‘You wouldn’t believe that, would you? – looking at it now, it just looks like a normal shop, but the manager told me that, and he was a normal, intelligent man – he wouldn’t have made that up’.
He then told me another story(!) – a quite incredible one about a tribe from the Congo. There was a British military settlement (I can’t remember when he said this was) and they were friendly with one of two warring tribes, and the one they were friendly with got hold of the military band’s instruments, learnt how to play their own music, went marching to the enemy tribe, playing, and the enemy tribe was so frightened hearing their enemy’s music – war music, played in such an alien way, that they surrendered straight away!
When Andrew felt he’d stopped me playing long enough, he said he’d be off so I said ‘Goodbye Andrew’, and he said ‘Oh, what’s your name, by the way?’ I gave him my card and looking at it, he said ‘Ah, Naylor – that was the name of one of the last Quakers’, and he started telling me another story! – about this other Naylor – ‘Apparently, he was captured and tortured and they held him for ages, then when they let him go, he had no hatred for them, his captors, you know? – which is incredible, isn’t it? I mean, there’s enough hatred in this world’. Indeed, Mr. Rutter, there is. A fascinating man, who knows the worth of his work: as he says, if he doesn’t make a record of these scenes, they’ll be lost forever. And of the people he puts in them? – ‘People make it come alive. Without people, it’d be just a lot of buildings. The people are life’.
It was weird, just after I packed up, I went to the usual – Waterstones, and the first book I saw on one of the tables was A Map Of The World According To Illustrators & Story Tellers, and inside there many drawings very similar to Andrew’s.