Diary Of A Busker Day 580 Friday June 27th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 3:05-5:05pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:30-6:30pm).
The reason I came in late was because I got a call from Ollie’s mother saying he’d have to cancel the lesson at 4 o’clock due to him cutting his finger, slicing an avocado. Anyway, the first person I see as I’m setting up is his mother, who tells me more. She took him to the hospital where he had three stitches…they were up there till two in the morning…had to postpone his performance of his original song (the one I’ve been helping him with for months)…
Just before The Butter Cross, there’s a bloke sitting down ‘playing’ a two-string guitar: he’s only got the D and G, and they were – literally, bits of string, like what you tie a parcel with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before!
The little autistic boy, Ethan, came by with his parents. I don’t think they wanted to talk to me today, but I made them! I said, ‘Hello Ethan’, as they were passing and, for a few minutes, he stood staring at my right hand moving on the guitar. I decided to do my good deed of the day. I got one of my last £5 CDs out and gave it to him, saying, ‘You can have this to listen to’. So he takes it, looks at it and throws it to the ground! Of course he does, because he doesn’t know what it is! No wonder. It’s just a blue circle on a bit of plastic.
The embarrassing forgetfulness of song arrangements continues. Today it’s the upbeat chorus part of Ol’ Man River. I get to the bit, can’t remember it so I have to abandon the entire song and go into something else…and I can’t remember what THAT was, either!
An old guy requests Guitar Boogie Shuffle by Arthur ‘Guitar’ Smith, as it was the first record he bought. Unfortunately, I don’t know it – although I suppose I should – but I say I’ll look it up. In the meantime, he can have another Shuffle from around the same period – Mr. Weedon’s Twelve-String Shuffle, which is fair enough, I reckon.
A funny moment. A man walks by with his 2 year old daughter, to whom he’s given a coin to give to me. But she doesn’t want to do that. He has to push her towards me, and she’s trying to go back the other way! Then when he finally gets her to me, he can’t unfold the child’s hand. He has to unfurl the fingers one by one with both his hands! It was really funny. I’ve never seen a fist so clenched.
I get rid of the last of the £5 CDs to a man who came up after the Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring/Black Mountain Rag medley. For this they are awarded joint Song Of The Day status.
I pack up after two hours – a long set, and while I’m doing it, an old lady regular (OLR) turns up. She’s the one who knitted me those fingerless gloves. She’s had a song in her head – Never Smile At A Crocodile, so like with the old guy earlier, I say I’ll look it up.
I’m still trying to sort out the best way to pack up, when I bring the bike in, like today. The main problem’s the coinage. It can’t stay in the bucket, as it gets turned upside down and stuck on the end of the guitar. I tried putting the coins in my trouser pocket but I could feel them and it was annoying, so I’ve decided to decant them into one of the zipped pockets of the gigbag. I’ll get the hang of it, it’s just I had all the packing up down to a fine art: I’d been doing it the same since I started, which will be four years in October. Time flies when you’re having fun…
Next, I had almost half an hour of total indecision…no, indecisiveness(!) I was going to go home but then I thought I should stay, as I needed to make more money, due to the cancelled lesson. But I’d just done two hours straight through, and my head was done in. So I was all packed up and had walked up to Jewry Street with the bike, and I just stood there, trying to decide. What happened, of course, was that the longer I stood, the more my brain was recovering…and after ten minutes, I was all ready for another set!
So I went back down to The Butter Cross – there was no one set up – and I stood there looking at the space where I could play…then I had a look through the alleyway, at the Pavilion spot – there was no one there, either, and I STILL couldn’t decide what to do. There were two Drongos on the Butter Cross steps, really rough-looking, too. In fact, they looked like they were out of a zombie movie, or that Michael Jackson video!
One started talking to me in a Scottish accent – ‘If I were ye, I’d pley over there (nods to the alley)…that space near the cathedral. Ye’ll bring in the money there, no’ in the alleyway, oot the other side, ye’ know?’ I felt like saying, ‘Yeah, but you’re not me’, but I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been there before. I was thinking of going there’. In fact, because they were here, that decided me! The Drongo that was talking to me had loads of white lumps on his fingers – what’s all that aboot?!
Anyway, I went to the Pavilion spot and started to set up, and that tall, white-bearded man (the nutter) came up. In fact, he was near The Butter Cross while I was with the Drongos. He says, ‘Don’t listen to them, Marvin, their brains have gone from drink, don’t listen to them. I once told them where the night shelter was – trying to help, and he got really angry. He said, “If I want to know about a night shelter, I’ll find out myself!” Anyway, have you seen Prince Edward and Sophie?’ (What?!) When I didn’t answer straight away, he said impatiently, ‘Prince Edward – you know who he is, don’t you – a royal!’ I said, Yeah, sure’. Nutter says, ‘Well, he’s in the cathedral. That’s why there’s loads of security there (nods towards cathedral)’. I said, ‘Oh right, I didn’t know’. Nutter – ‘He spoke to me’. ‘Did he?’ ‘Yeah, there (nods towards the High Street)…he was walking by and he looked at me (I’m not surprised) and actually said “Hello” and said “I’ll see you in the pub, later’, and I said “If you’re payin'”‘. And then the nutter just walked off!
I managed an hour. Of course, now, when I set up for a second session, I have to scoop all the coinage from the gigbag pocket, whereas before, it would stay in the bucket, which would be placed upright in the bag. I can see I’m going to have to sort something else out. Anyway, another hour – that makes three, and my head’s REALLY done in!
…and all this on the day The Pirouettist was pitched for it’s first sync…a cheese advert!*
Earnings: £47.82p (+ one USA cent)
*It was rejected.