Diary Of A Busker Day 629 Saturday September 13th 2014 The Italian Market, Hythe (Outside Waitrose, Time: 12-1:50pm, 2:16-2:57pm).
Off to somewhere new, courtesy of Chris Bradford, without whom my Ballad In E Major, dating from 2002, would not have been recorded, and so, for whom, I’m exceedingly grateful. His friend, Helen’s got something to do with the council and they’ve had other people come over to play before, so Chris put my name forward a couple of weeks ago.
I set up opposite a cafe – Harvey’s, with a row of Italian food stalls on both sides of me. A week ago, Chris asked if I knew any Italian tunes. I didn’t then and I don’t now! I haven’t had time to learn any so I’ll just play what I know, with an Italian accent…?! It starts well. I sell a CD after the first song – Albatross, to a man who thought it was something called Sleepy Lagoon. Maybe I’ll look that up. And then, someone I met in Winchester a few weeks ago: the guy who said he’d contribute after he’d been to the dentist! I’d forgotten his face but he remembered me. I said this was my first time here – ‘I’m a Hythe virgin’. ‘You’re the only one, then!’, he said.
I sold two more CDs! One to someone else who’d seen me back in the old town. He wanted a £5 one, then when I said there were only the £9 ones but he could have one for £8, he said, ‘Oh well, can I have it for £6?, as I gave you a pound in Winchester and I’ve just given you one, here’. Well, I had to admire the cheek, not to mention logic, but I said he could have it for £7. Imagine that – ‘I gave you a pound in Winchester’, like he was paying for it in instalments!
The other bloke who bought a CD also did a drawing of me. He sat nearby on my right and took about half an hour doing it and it’s quite frightening. I look like The Picture Of Dorian Grey, at the end! I took a photo of it which I may not show to anyone, although I’m hoping that as I look worse and worse through the years, the drawing will look better and better. When I took the photo, I asked if the guy would write his name on the opposite page, so I’d get a photo of the drawing and him holding his sketch pad open. So he wrote his name – Ivor, outlining the letters really big, then started to fill them in, and it took half a minute for each letter! When he got to the ‘R’, it was almost two minutes later, so I asked if he was going to fill them all in (of course he was), as I had to get back to playing. He said he was (of course). Anyway, I got the photo.*
A mother and daughter of about 8, turn up. She (the daughter) wants to have a go on the guitar, and since I’d sold THREE CDs and got more coinage for an hour than if I’d been anywhere else, which put me in a good frame of mind – contented, even, I let her. She couldn’t play anything, just brushed her fingers across the strings a few times. I also let her sit on my stool. I MUST have been in a good mood!
After an hour and 50 minutes, I took a break to have my lunch, find a toilet, and wander about a bit. Down the road, I passed a bloke playing an acoustic guitar but he was gone 15 minutes later when I came back. Hythe isn’t a big place, there’s lots of old buildings and houses, and it reminds me of some old fishing village. Lots of pubs! Very friendly people and lots of compliments.
Back playing, the mother and 8 year old come by again, and yes, she wants another go on the guitar, so I let her…then find out her name: Kerry. But I think she’s confused about something. I think she thought that if you just touched the guitar, you’d get an instant Chet Atkins fingerstyle arrangement coming out, because after twanging the strings, she looks at the amp and says, ‘Make the sound come out of there’. I think that’s what she thought was going to happen. I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth: about the years of hard graft, possibly resulting in a neurological ailment, rendering one or more fingers useless and thereby making the task of playing many passages impossible. Poor child – you don’t want to know!
Chris wanted to leave at 3 o’clock so I packed up just before then. I was well pleased for once: 4 CDs sold (In fact, it might have been 5, which would be the first time I’ve lost count) and a load of coinage, and Chris got £20 expenses from Helen and gave me £10 of that. I might see about coming back here, but I’m not sure if I need Helen’s or the council’s permission. If I did come back, on my own steam, as it were, it would mean getting the train to Southampton, walking half an hour to the ferry port and getting the ferry, which takes about 15 minutes to get to Hythe. It would take about an hour and 20 minutes and cost around £12: a bit less than getting to Chichester and the same amount of time. So why not? And not counting the £10 from Chris, I made over £50 in 2 1/2 hours, which is pretty amazing.
Earnings: £57.41p (Including 4 CDs) + £10 = £67.41p
- Later on, he sent me an email, asking me to send him the photo, which I did. Then I looked him up. He’s got a website with about 10 oil paintings, some of York Cathedral, and they’re quite good. He’s also written a paragraph about himself and said he’s had a few breakdowns, but art is his life…
- Chris died from cancer, September 2016.