Diary Of A Busker Day 581 Sunday June 29th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 12:45-1:19pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 1:25-2:35pm, 3. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:43-3:29pm).
I knew – or I suspected – there was something weird about Mandolin John, and now I’m sure. I turned up at the spot and he was a few feet away and was packing up – he’d just put his guitar away. He had a rather large rucksack, like he’d just left home for good. Anyway, I went up and asked if he was leaving and he said he was and that he didn’t want to play too much in one place, as some songs he does, he thinks people might not want to hear again, because after awhile he’ll have to start repeating stuff – ‘Like Consider Yourself. They might not want to hear it too many times. Some songs they might not mind, some songs they do’.
I then asked him about some music coming from the O2 place across the street, and he said, ‘Well, we have an understanding: when I play, they turn off the music’. He said he’d actually gone in and asked if they would. I asked how he’d done – had he made much, and he chuckled and said, ‘Well, enough to scrape by’. He then said again about not playing the songs too many times, and I said, ‘The thing is, most of the people will be tourists and they won’t have heard you before. Don’t worry about the people in the shops. They’re probably bored because they seem to stand around doing nothing, so they like to moan about something’.
I then asked if someone had come out and said something, and he went into a rant, starting with, ‘Well, they’re all 16 to 24 year olds. That’s why they put them in a group – 16 to 24, and I hate them all, I want to get a gun and kill them all, I hate them…’, and he got louder and louder, and this is while he’s still packing up. He went on, ‘…and there’s nothing wrong being gay…now I’m going to have a cup of tea (now he got really loud)…IF IT’S ALRIGHT WITH YOU LOT!’ – he was shouting to the people in the O2 place but people were starting to look. By this time I’d finished setting up/tuning up and had gone into Siboney, trying to ignore him, actually trying to drown out his shouting.
Then he comes and stands right next to me, looks at me and shouts, ‘And I don’t like people taking pictures of me and…do you think you own this pitch?!’ I couldn’t believe it. I stopped playing and said ‘What?’, and he says it again – ‘You think you own this pitch?!’ I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. I asked if you were finished and you said yeah. Don’t have a go at ME’. He says, ‘Oh, I thought you…’, and mumbled something, then started ranting about something else, then stopped and walked off. I think he said ‘sorry’ as he past me. I just said, ‘Bye, John’.
It really put me off. I tried to resume Siboney but couldn’t remember the middle bit: the bit that needs the most concentration, so I gave up and went into something else. It made me quite angry. Maybe he’s having some sort of breakdown – I mean that’s just not normal. I think a rant like that, it’s what you THINK of doing sometimes when you get angry, but you don’t. I also remembered him saying to me ages ago, how he says what he thinks, and it’s got him into trouble a few times. So what is it? A mental problem?, or is he just a jerk?
Whatever it is, I think I’ll avoid him next time I see him about. It really put a downer on the set, which didn’t go well, anyway: I packed up after 35 minutes, with £3.86p. But the area was too loud: there was a young strummer up at the bank, with his guitar and mic coming out of a Cube Street amp, and he was really loud. The music from O2, I could have handled on its own, but not with the guy shouting up the road.
I escaped to the (relative) tranquility of the other side of the alleyway, namely, outside the craft shop, where, after a few tunes, up comes Posh BrYan who says, ‘You’ve brightened my day again’, and he even donates! I tell him about the incident earlier, and I said, ‘I think the guy’s a bit mental’. BrYan leans up and says, ‘I think anyone who sits in the street and plays is a bit…’, and he just smiles and walks off! Yeah, I reckon you’re right, my posh friend! Just after His Poshness leaves, weird Mandolin John walks past and gives a – rather sheepish, I thought – wave, which I ignore. I mean, how dare he behave like he did – mental problem or not – to me?, a 52 year old man trying to earn a decent crust!
A man a bit older than me really loves my Albatross rendition. He says he used to play – ‘But not like you’, which is very nice, but I say, referring to Albatross, that’s it’s not as difficult as he might think, as long as you can get the thumb going on the low string, the rest is pretty easy. In short, all it takes is some practise.
I got a bit worried at one point, when my hand really hurt. This was during the G major 7th chord in Deve Ser Amor, and I don’t know if it was to do with playing the zither – or trying to – last night, but I haven’t felt that since the last time I had a rigorous zither session. Actually, I hope it WAS because of the zither and not something else.
Third and last spot, I cycle down to Oxfam – and past weird John, who’s setting up or packing up at Gieves & Hawkes. I ignore him. I’m relieved I’m on the bike, I mean, if I was walking, I’d have to walk past him and be obliged to speak, perhaps, and I don’t want to do that. Anyway, Oxfam was going a bit slow and then a man bought a CD. He wanted a £5 one but of course there aren’t any left, so he bought a £9 one…for £9, although I DID offer it for £8, because I’m an idiot.
In fact, I might keep the ‘£5 CDs’ sign on the bucket, to lure people who want one, then, when they’re here, say the same thing as I did to this poor guy! – ‘Sorry, I’m completely out of those – I must remember to change the sign…but I’ve got these other ones…’ Song Of The Day: Gymnopedie, as it secured the CD sale…and is not on the CD.
Some nutter woman stood near me, talking very loud, although I couldn’t understand a word. All I did was smile. I thought, ‘I’m not going to stop to hear what she says, I’m just going to smile’. Anyway, I’d heard enough nutters for the day- one’s one too many…but at least she donated a pound! But I always have mixed feelings about this: when weird folks donate. Still, a pound’s a pound. No one at Sainsbury’s is going to say, ‘This pound’s from a weirdo, we’re not going to take it’.
Again, during Albatross, another man, a bit younger than the first one said he really liked the arrangement, so I went through the whole – ‘It’s not as hard as it looks, as long as you keep the thumb going on the low string, etc…’.
One thing I’m definitely not used to, with the new set-up, ie: bringing the bike in, is I keep forgetting I need to put the coinage from each session, in the pocket at the top of the gigbag. And if I open the pocket to put the next session’s coins in, and if the bag isn’t flat on the ground, all the money rolls out, like it did today when I went to put the last session’s coins in. I’d forgot that the last two sessions’ coins were in and the case was at a slight angle, and everything – almost every coin – fell out on the pavement.
Earnings: £31.93p (Including one CD)