Diary Of A Busker Day 557 Wednesday May 7th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Santander, Time: 1:55-2:25pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:33-4:03pm).
Just after I leave the house, it starts raining – just a bit, so I was thinking – or hoping, that maybe The Pentice is free…unfortunately Mandolin John’s there, and down at Vodafone, one of the market stalls has got a radio on. This presents a bit of a problem. I mean, I’m not setting up in the wet…however, there’s no one at the other end of The Pentice, that is, the bit nearest to Vodafone. It’s a bit close to Timpsons for my liking, but what the hell…
…so, as I’m about to start, Tony from Sainsbury’s appears and says, about our favourite trumpet busker, ‘Someone asked Colin to move the other day’ (I’m not surprised – he’s so bloody loud!) Apparently, it was the security people at Colin’s usual place, outside Marks & Spencer. Tony said he packed up and went off but came back a bit later.
Next up, just after I start, is someone I recognise straight away but can’t remember his name. He’s one of the Red Cross lot out collecting money in red plastic buckets. He’s dressed in a First World War soldier’s uniform, complete with peaked hat. He says ‘Hello’ to me and I reckon he knows I don’t remember his name, but he’s the guy I met last year with the huge Red Cross banner with all the regiments The Red Cross served with. He says ‘You don’t remember me, do you?’ I say ‘I do, you had the big banner…I’m sorry, what’s your name?’ ‘Marcus’. Of course, Marcus!
Andrew Rutter turns up to say he’s finally got permission to use the upstairs room of Boots to look out and do his sketch of Parchment Street opposite. It took him awhile as there was/is a load of scaffolding, and one bloke didn’t want him up there ‘for health and safety reasons’. But then another guy heard about what Andrew wanted to do and gave permission. I say I’ll look forward to seeing his finished drawing, and that I’m honoured to actually be in not one, but TWO of them! He says ‘Yes, I don’t think you need to be in another one. Someone might say “who is that bloke who’s in all these drawings?”‘ I said ‘Yeah, they’ll think I’m paying you or something so you’ll put me in everything!’
Something really annoying occurs. I’m in the middle of a song when I feel a tapping on my shoulder from behind. I ignore it and carry on playing. It happens again so I stop and turn. It’s a man in a suit, and I recognise the face. I played at some event he was something to do with, last year, but hey, does that give him the right to interrupt?…especially as I didn’t respond to the first taps, you’d think he’d think twice, and work it out.
Two men sitting on the bench opposite get up to leave. One comes over and says ‘Have you got a Rolls Royce parked nearby?’ As I don’t get it, I say ‘What? – a Rolls Royce? – me?’ ‘Ah, I had you there, didn’t I’, he says. Fair play…but I still don’t get it, but at least he donated.
I see Ragtime Phillip – first time in a few weeks, apart from the other day when I was in the car. He says he’s got the same plastic thumbpicks as me, the John Pearse ones. I ask if he’s been playing again and he says ‘Not very well’, gives me a £2 coin and asks for £1 back. He’s a good bloke – I know he’s sick…I play his favourite Gnossienne as he walks off with a lady friend. I don’t think he recognised what I was playing, which I find hard to believe. Maybe he was thinking about something else. In fact, I kept my head down for most of it, as I though if I look up and see him recognise it, I’ll make a lot of mistakes! I mean, the piece is hard enough, as it is.
I’m only there half an hour – I feel a bit uncomfortable halfway up the road…it feels weird. Even so, I’m amazed I’ve got about £10 (£9.56p to be precise) – almost all in £1 coins. That’s double the usual rate. Just before I pack up, Marcus, who for 15 minutes was sitting up the road eating a pasty, comes by to say goodbye, and to donate some shrapnel. I wanted to get a photo of him in his war gear but I wasn’t quick enough.
I finished off with a somewhat disappointing set, coinage-wise, up the road where Mandolin John was earlier, and made £10 in one and a half hours – half the rate of the session before.