Diary Of A Busker Day 620 Saturday August 23rd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:25-5:05pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:25-6:45pm).
I meet the two Brians just after starting up with Albatross. First: Posh BrYan, who said, ‘Hellaaooww (like a cat’s Meow), how are you?’ I said I was OK, and that I was just warming up. ‘Ah, just tuning up’, said His Poshness. I said, ‘No, warming up. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m tuning up…does it?’ Posh BrYan laughed and went on his posh way.
Then, 80 year old Brian popped by, and lo, he did admire my bicycle! He thought it had been refurbished. I had to tell him it hadn’t, it’s all in original condition. Two previous owners: the first had it for 27 years and he didn’t do alot of miles on it. Brian thinks his bike is from the 60’s. I informed him on how to accurately date it via the rear hub, and told him mine says 82-12, so December 1982. Brian said his bike used to be a 4-speed but it only works on one speed now. I said, ‘Oh well, you only need three speeds’. He said, ‘You only need one speed where I live!’
There then followed a period of no donations. Very depressing…and then some kids came up – the parents were standing near the C & H entrance – and they donated a few things: some silver – nothing too extravagant. Then an older one, a boy, came back and said, ‘I really like your music’, and donated more. I asked if he’d heard me before and did he live here. He said he lived in London, and that they were down here visiting ‘my dad’s father’. The he said, ‘Do you know the Hat Fair?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know it. I don’t go to it, though’. He said there was some guy supposed to be walking on water, but he didn’t think he was very good. Then he said, ‘Well, I hope you can buy something nice with your money’, which, of course, was very sweet, and which, of course, made me feel instantly thankful to be out here.
After the toilet break, I went up to Pavilion and arrived as Young Sam (who’s back in town) was on his way to the cathedral grounds to relax. He said he’d done well today – I didn’t ask how much he’d made – and that he was here earlier. I had a moan about the Pavilion Bitch. I said, ‘I guarantee that the door’ll be shut on me in less than a minute after I start playing’. Then I asked how HE’D found her. He said, ‘Fine, they even bought a CD’. Well, that confirms it: it’s ME they don’t like! (Sure enough, just after starting Albatross – a good opener, the door was shut. But not by The Bitch: by a man who came from upstairs. The owner, I reckon).
Sam the Younger said he was going to The Willow later – he’d got a gig there. I said, ‘What, a paid one?’ ‘No’, he said. We then bemoaned the whole thing about live music, ie: no one pays. All the pub owners get free entertainment these days. (Mind, some of it I wouldn’t want to pay for!) Sam said Brighton’s the same: he can’t get a paid gig. He won’t as long as people are willing to play for nothing. No wonder there are so many out busking now.
Sam then went on about open-mics. He says I should do some. This brought to mind, oddly enough, The Willow. A while back, someone who works there persuaded me, against my better judgement, to go along. But when I got there, I found a few similarly-aged people waiting to do sound checks, and it was two hours before any music was going to start, and I thought, ‘I’m not doing this: hanging around for hours, to play a couple of my own songs that no one will get, and not drinking anything because I don’t want to give the tight-fisted bar owner £3.50, which is £3.50 more than what they’re giving anyone to play.
And that’s apart from having to listen and pretend to like any of the other “performers” for an interminable length. I’ve done all that, as I told Sam, millions of times (not literally but it feels like it) and I can’t be doing with it all again! It’s OK if you’re a sociable sort of chap, but I’m not. I had a bit of a rant, actually. At the end, Sam said, ‘You sound like my dad!’ I said, ‘Well, that’s what it’s like when you get older. You can’t be bothered with all that stuff. You just change. You think differently. You’re a different person to what you were ten years ago, aren’t you?’ Yes, he was, he said. (I sound like his dad – I bet I’m older than his dad! Some of these youngsters forget how old I really am, I reckon) Anyway, Sam’s a nice lad. I wonder how he’ll get on in the wider world of music…
I had an amazing thing happen around the halfway mark. In the middle of a song, two blokes about 60 come up and one starts asking about something to do with a wedding. So, thinking it must be about having me play at a wedding, I stop playing and say, ‘Sorry, a wedding?’, and the bloke says, ‘Where can you buy cards for a wedding, you know?’ Well, of course, I was FURIOUS (I really was), and I just looked somewhere else. Then he said it again – ‘Wedding cards, you know?, from around here?’ I said, ‘You better ask someone else’, and they went off. Good. Fuck off. It completely threw me. I couldn’t even remember the song I was playing. I just hit a couple of loud chords – not even chords, just open strings! I was pretending it was his head, I think.
At 6:30 – after an hour, I was about to pack it in, when a man comes up from outside The Eclipse, donates a pound and says, ‘I was going to put this in the jukebox but I thought I’d give it to you instead!’, which was nice, so I felt obliged to carry on for another 15 minutes!