Diary Of A Busker Day 637 Friday September 26th Romsey (Old bank doorway, opposite Romsey Market, Time: 10:17am-12:36pm), Winchester (1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:50-5:35pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 5:43-5:50pm, 3. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 5:55-6:23pm).
The day got off to an odd start. As I got on the bus at the train station, I heard a ‘hello’. I looked down the bus and it was one of the Drongos – one of the older ones – I see most days in town. I said ‘hello’ back, the bus driver smiled and shook her head, and the Drongo said hello again, then, ‘I was normal once!’
On arrival in Romsey, one of the market blokes – Darren, I think – came up as I was setting up and said I should set up at the old place (where I was evicted from), and really wind the Bradbeers owner up. I thought about it for a second but it’s not my thing. I mean, I’ve written about the bastard: it’s all been noted! Anyway, I said I’d see how it went at the new spot.
The young market guy who sells the fruit and veg was in fine voice today. He was holding up bowls of oranges and limes and shouting, ‘C’mon, oranges, limes…Vitamin C – good for hangovers, you ladies’ – there were two 30-ish women near me, ‘…going out tonight? Hangover tomorrow mornin’, girls? You want these! All for a pound…anyone fancy a G & T?…’
The 1st hour was pretty bad: about £6, which barely covers the bus fare. I did have a guy come up, donate, then tell me about a pub – The Shoe Inn, at Plaitford, where he thinks I’d go down well. He gave me the number, so I might ring them…after looking up where it is. I think it’s out in the country, which might be a problem, especially if the money’s not good. Money – ha! There probably isn’t any! Not if they can get away with it.
The 2nd half got a bit better. A woman put a fiver in, and I sold a CD to a woman who says she writes poetry – ‘I’ve written one about Dolly Parton. We’re only two days apart. She’s pear-shaped and I’m an apple. She’s enhanced, I’m natural’. Apart from her hair which she said was dyed.
A man – John, came up and said that after seeing me recently, he’d bought the same amp as mine! We got talking about the Bradbeers offender and I said he’d stopped me from playing at the other place. John said, ‘Oh, you should just play there. If there’s a ruckus, The Romsey Advertiser is just across the road. You’ll get in the papers. Imagine the headline – BUSKER TURFED FROM SPOT! He’s not very well liked here’. I said, ‘I know. I don’t like him and none of the market people do, either’. ‘No, he’s a prick’, John said.
Bertie came across to request a song – ‘It’s really difficult: Drink That Bottle Down – Stray Cats’ (really difficult? has he tried to learn it?! I’LL be the judge of how difficult something is, if you don’t mind). And a bit later, a woman donates and says, ‘That man, Bertie, said I had to put something in your pot!’ I laughed and said, ‘Bertie’s a very persuasive man’, and looked over as he winks at me.
The money picked up a bit but wasn’t nearly as plentiful as the time before, but the place wasn’t as busy. Bertie said something about it being a 5-week month, so people didn’t have as much money.
Near the end, I repeated a couple of songs, including Albatross – noted by the fruit and veg guy, halfway through his routine – ‘You need this for a hangover…hand over your money! Vitamin C…anyone for a G & T…THAT’S MARKS & SPENCERS! C’mon, a pound a bowl…you goin’ out tonight? (to an old man), you want this for a hangover, etc…’ I think maybe HE might have had the hangover. Anyway, he kept me amused for for pretty much the whole time. I even bought a bowl of oranges. Actually, not oranges, something else – sweeter. They looked like oranges, though. Nine for £1 – can’t beat that!
Then I said goodbye to Bertie, the guy who works with him, who said it had rained when they set the stall up at 6 o’clock, and Darren, and got the bus in seconds flat, as the song goes.
Earnings: £33.58 (gross), £26.98p (profit) Including 1 CD.
…because the money wasn’t very good, after a few hours recuperation, I decided to head into Winchester. I had a chat with an unusually besuited Chris, my old friend from the open-mic days, who’s doing some temping work nearby, hence the suit. We were discussing the different attitude toward musicians in different countries. He said in Paris, if you’re a busker and you get ill, you get dole money. I said in that case, I might move there. Imagine that over here. It would never happen, but then, as Chris said, over there, the arts/culture has always been regarded so much more highly than here, monsieur.
He said he was going to do a gig in a pub in Bristol. His friend had recommended him and he was speaking on the phone to the landlord. After a bit, Chris told him the fee would be £120, and the landlord said, ‘Oh, I didn’t think you would charge anything!’ The usual. Unbelievable. Would the landlord work for nothing? I said the same thing I’ve said to others – no wonder there’s so many buskers now. You’ve got more chance of making money on the street than in a pub. Because anything is better than nothing! We talked for a good 10 minutes: quite long for me, but Chris is a nice guy!
Two offensive things during the 1st set. Firstly, a fire alarm that kept going…and going. At one point, I stopped what I was playing and tried to emulate the alarm by sliding up and down a string (my hand, not my entire self). Then, after another song, I said, ‘I give up’ to the people on the bench opposite.
Then there was Drongo Sid, who was sitting down on the other side ‘playing’ his flute, or rather breathing into it and producing one note. Just the one constant note. In fact, I won’t even call it a note. And because he’s doing that, he’s officially a busker and allowed to stay where he is. Hmm…now how would they deal with that in Paris…
The Christian woman who put her husband in a nursing home, came by and donated and said the CD she bought from me two years ago – one of the old ones – didn’t play. I felt so bad I gave her a new one, free of charge, and she said she’d try and remember to bring the old one back to me.
Stop #2, way down the arse-end, and because there was nothing going on, I got bored and packed up after 7 minutes! The only coinage: a pound from an old couple who were listening across the road, unbeknownst to me. These people must hide away only to present themselves as I’m packing up.
Third and final stop, up the other end at Pavilion…and there are quite a few about: outside the restaurants on either side of me and outside the pub down the road in front. And what was the yield for a half hour of, by this time, very well rehearsed fingerstyle guitar playing? Two measly pounds. And those were from people coming from the cathedral grounds. Not one coin from all those who’d been listening nearby, albeit possibly against their wishes, or control.
Total earnings (profit): £41.48p (Including 1 CD)