Diary Of A Busker Day 611 Thursday August 14th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:38-4:08pm, 2. Corner of Monsoon, Time: 4:14-5:49pm).
On the way down the High Street there were two young strummers banging it out at Vodafone. I carried on walking!…and had a depressing start: a half hour down the arse-end in which I got three donations, for a grand total of £1.40p. And what is it with the Chinese and shrapnel?! They only ever give 1 and 2p coins. About 20 minutes in, this woman and her 10 year old daughter turn up, all smiles. The girl gets out 3p to give me then stands beside me while the mother takes a photo.
Well, I’ve never forced a smile so much in my life. I mean, I was in a foul frame of mind BEFORE they turned up. I was thinking ‘Someone’s having a laugh here’, and I was really getting pissed off, then these two turn up with their 3p and posing with me for a picture! You gotta laugh…but I wasn’t. So after the half hour mark, I packed up and left in disgust. Even the family sitting opposite never came over to donate, and they were there almost the whole time. Even when I shook my head after looking in the bucket – and they saw me do it, nothing.
Things were alot better up the road, thanks to Monsieur Satie and a bloke listening across the street, who clapped after the first song. He was then joined by another bloke, and they both clapped after the second one. Then the second bloke came over and said, ‘Don’t suppose you know any Dire Straits?’ I’ve seen this guy before – he came up and said the same thing then. I said I didn’t, he left leaving the first bloke…who came up after La Vie En Rose and asked about the song before: the 1st Gnossienne. So I told him what it was and who wrote it, and he wrote it down in a notebook.
He then asked if I did this professionally, then talked about his son who was a singer in a rock band – ‘He played The Cavern and some other places till it all imploded and now he does covers…’. He then went back to his bench so I did the Gymnopedie and shouted over, ‘This is another Erik Satie one, Gymnopedie…the first one!’
He was then joined by his wife(?) – they were both mid-sixties, I reckon – and they both sang along to California Girls, which I’ve never had before. Then they come over and he says, ‘This is my son’s mother-in-law. It’s quite a confusing story…’ and it certainly was! Then he asks for the Gnossienne again. He said they ‘live in different places and don’t often get the chance to be together’. Actually, I was happy to play it again, as over the last 15 minutes, he and then she, had donated around £5 in coinage.
So I go into the Gnossienne and at the end a man comes over and says in a foreign tongue – French, I think, ‘James Satie, yes’. I replied, ‘Oui’ (I didn’t argue about the James bit) and he puts a £5 note in the bucket! He said, ‘I’ve not even heard Satie on the guitar’. So because of my guardian angel and his friend (son’s mother-in-law, or whatever she was) and his Satie request, I got a £5 note, some more coinage from him (and her) and a couple of other donations to boot. So, Gnossienne No.1: Song Of The Day, without any question.
Even Frank stopped, with his two dogs. Also, Mick, who was hanging around the market stalls, came over. I told Mick about the disastrous first session and he said, ‘And for that (£1.40p), you slaved all your life, hunched over a guitar’. Indeed, Mick. Now, what song was he going on about?…one he’d gone on about before – ‘An A, then a B minor with an A bass…then a G7 with an A bass (I play it)…no, that doesn’t sound right…the notes are A, F, B, D (I play the chord)…yeah!’ It IS a most interesting chord, I have to admit.
After all this, about half an hour in, the two Vodafone strummers walked by and one was holding his acoustic guitar with the headstock broken clean off it! I gave the obligatory horrified look as they glanced at me.