Diary Of A Busker Day 539 Wednesday April 9th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 2:15-2:47pm, 2. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:55-3:59pm, 3. Opposite Pavillion, Time: 4:32-5:32pm).
There’s yet another person banging out Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door at The Butter Cross – they all do that one! – and those two ukelele girls are at down Vodafone – one’s on a tuba today. I do a half hour back up the road – things are pretty slow: nothing for three songs, then a bit of coinage…then that big brown UPS van turns up and parks right in front of me and that’s it – I’m not hanging around waiting for it to go, like the other day.
I give it five minutes, during which, after The Third Man, an old lady who’s been standing outside the craft shop (loitering – these old ladies are a menace) comes up to say she ‘knows that one’. She’s been waiting for her husband to turn up, which he does – ‘see, he always does, although I keep trying to lose him!’ Then the van guy turns up, so I ask if he’s going. He says he isn’t, so I pack up and head down the road. I did a quick count-up before leaving: about £10 – very good for half an hour.
Down at Gieves & Hawkes…Song Of The Day is definitely Albatross, as it picked up at least £7, and a few compliments, too – ‘You’re like Peter Green but with more hair’ – is that a compliment? – I suppose it is. One man comes up – ‘Oh, what’s that called?’ ‘Albatross’. ‘Ah right…um, who did that?’ ‘Fleetwood Mac did it’. ‘Ah, Fleetwood Mac…when was’ – here I interrupt – ‘1968’. A load of questions, a load of answers!’
After the toilet it’s…Break-Time At Waterstones! I look at a couple of books then spot the cover of the Bradley Wiggins one, and am amazed at how much he looks like Pete Townshend, whose book’s on the table round the corner!
For the 3rd and final set – although the Vodafone spot’s vacant, I take a chance and head back up to the 1st spot. I only did half an hour there and that was a couple of hours ago, so why not? A cab (Wessex Cabs) pulls up, the driver gives me the thumbs up, then holds something up. I carry on playing – I don’t know what he’s holding but I’m not stopping to get up to see what it is. Then he gets out, comes across and donates…he was holding a pound coin! The guy actually got out of his cab to donate – I was impressed. He says ‘I like your style’ – do I detect a foreign accent? Anyway, I say ‘I’ve never had that before’ – true.
A man asks for my card, and do I know Santo Pati(?) by Santana. I give the usual – ‘No, but I’ll look into it’, which is a lie, really, as if I’m going to do something by Santana. He then has a look at my song list and asks if I can play Blackbird – ‘But only when my wife comes up the road…I’ll tell you when’. Fair enough, so I carry on with La Vie En Rose with him standing beside me, then he walks off, gets in a car and drives off! I don’t know if his wife was in the car. Strange,
During While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a young couple sitting at one of the tables, come over. They say they had a bet I would play Here Comes The Sun as the next song. I didn’t, although as I pointed out, it wasn’t too far off. She won and he lost a fiver.
I keep it to one hour – I’ve had enough by then. It’s not a cold day but the hands are gradually getting colder…and colder. Nothing like a month ago, though: I’m really glad the winter’s over! As I’m about to pack up, one of the old-lady-regulars comes to talk to me…for TWENTY minutes! She imparts much information: her son who runs the Bang & Olufsen shop down from here was awarded Top Company In Europe, 2nd year running…her grandson also works there. She lost her husband to Parkinson’s in ’02 and had her ‘fall’ in ’06.
She tells me the story: She fell down in her flat (found/bought for her by her son) around the corner, was on the floor (a wooden one) for an hour before she could drag herself (on her bottom) to the chair where the phone was (it was usually on the chair nearer her, but not on this day) and call her grandson at Bang & Olufsen – ‘I said “Now listen, it’s your granny”, and he said they were very busy in the shop, then I said “I’ve fallen down”, and he was here in less than a minute, you know, but they couldn’t get in because the door was locked, so they got the fire brigade and they had to smash the glass to get in…I don’t know who paid for the glass’ – (I do). She used to live in Bournemouth, on the 3rd floor of a place, but it got too much, so her son moved her here, near where they work.
She misses her friends from her old place but her son brings them over to visit once a month. She used to enjoy the church get-togethers, with the singing at Christmas, and the cups of tea ‘for the oldsters’. She remembers looking out the window with her husband, at the golf course at Kenton, and him saying ‘Oh look, there’s Jack (walking across) – he gets whiter every time I see him!’ She sees some of the people she used to know, quite often at funerals.
She says she’ll let me ‘get on my way’ about four times, then starts on about something else – ‘I can’t lift my leg, so I can’t get on trains to go to Bournemouth’. I say they have ramps to help people – she waves away all that. She’s quite shaky – I don’t know what that is: alot of them are like that. At the (final!) end, she says ‘Well, it’s nice to have a chat’, and off she goes. That’s what it is: her husband’s gone, she lives on her own, most of her friends are in another town. Twenty minutes is a serious length of time for a chat, but that could have been her ‘fix’ for today. I wonder what her name is? – I should have asked.
(When she first came up, she asked if I’d been back to Swindon – a place I’ve never busked, so I say she might be thinking of Romsey, but she was sure it was Swindon. But there’s no way – she must have been thinking of someone else).