Diary Of A Busker Day 585 Saturday July 5th 2014 Basingstoke: Basingstoke Busking Festival (1. Location 3: outside Halifax, Wote Street, Time: 11-11:45am, 2. Location 2: The Malls, Central Square by red planter, Time: 12-1:00pm).
The day of the Basingstoke Busking Festival. The first spot they’ve got me down for is in the Old Town. A young lady, Jess, is holding a pole with some sort of a flag on top. She gives me a form to sign, then I set up while listening to a bunch of people (unseen) somewhere nearby singing Old Lang Syne! It sounds like it’s from a pub, so I ask Jess if there’s one around – she thinks there are a couple. Just across from me, and near one of the entrances to the huge shopping mall, are some benches. Jess says, ‘you might get a few listening there’.
Well, when I start, there is literally two men and a dog. That really made me laugh. A few songs in, one of the organisers asked if he could get a shot of me talking with a local councillor – a woman a bit younger than me, in a big red skirt. He was giving instructions – he obviously had the ‘perfect shot’ in mind. I had to turn my guitar and myself toward him, on my right, but look like I was talking to the councillor, on my left, so I was a bit contorted. Anyway, as I was supposed to talk to her – for the purposes of the shot, I’d never met her before, so all I could think of saying was, ‘So…do you come here often?’! I can’t remember what she said now, but at least she laughed. The shot was for her portfolio, or something.
The organiser then took some shots for a local paper. I had to leave after 45 minutes to be at the next place in time to start at midday, so I quickly packed up and said goodbye to Jess and her helper Andy – who really liked CaliforniaN (as he said) Girls. Both very nice, polite young people. I think I made about £15 – not bad, but then there’s the train fare of £8.90p to consider in the equation!
The next spot was the big open space, not far from the entrance, near the train station. The guy on before me, Ian Kimber, was just finishing up. A one man band: he played a 12-string guitar, had a small bass drum attached to him, and also a weird device: two small pulleys on his shoes, with ropes going god knows where! I remarked on the ingenuity of his contraption, and he pointed to two small, slightly discoloured circles on the upper part of his shoes and said, ‘Those were an experiment that went wrong!’ It looked like he’d tried to drill through his shoes, the mad bugger.
Once I started, it was pretty obvious it wasn’t the place for me: too many people, too much noise. It would have suited a performer who can do all the chat and get a crowd built up. That sort of Hat Fair rubbish, which incidentally is this weekend, back home…I’m relieved I’m here! Anyway, no one was giving any money. It didn’t help there being two weird women in small rotating carts. The women were, apart from their heads sticking out, completely covered. Their faces were painted, they had witches hats, and were going around making strange noises, so of course, they were getting on my nerves.
After 40 minutes, the organiser asked me how it was going, so I said, ‘Not very good’, and explained that this was the wrong sort of place for me. I said the other place was better , being more intimate, and asked if there was any way I could go somewhere else, maybe not today, but tomorrow, as they’ve got me down at this spot from 1-2 o’clock, but they’ve got me down for the other place from 3-4 o’clock, which means I’ll have an hour to kill. (Because I’ll be here, I’m going to miss The Photograph on The Sunday Selection, which is from 4-6 o’clock, although I can hear it on the ‘listen again’ thing, but I would have liked to hear it ‘live’!)
Anyway, the woman said she’d see if I could switch with the guy who’ll be playing near the mall entrance, which is a much narrower space, probably better suited for me, not like this. But they can’t switch with someone else today, as it’s taken ages to get it all sorted out. Mind, there’s no guarantee I’ll make any more coinage anywhere else.
For the last 5 minutes, they had the idea to move me a few feet to the right, nearer to a bunch of benches (bunch of benches – good name for…something!), which I agreed was better than me facing the big space. And…I got not one donation! At least it was only 5 minutes.
Oh well, the organisers liked me, and one of the women had a few other ideas for me, for stuff in the future. But then she mentioned this bloody ‘personal liability insurance’, which I said I couldn’t afford. In fact, weirdly enough, the last time I heard of that was here in Basingstoke, when Kai was going on about it. You need it to busk in the mall. Anyway, when I said it was too expensive, that was the end of that.
Earnings: £19.96p – £8.90p (train fare) = £11.06p profit.