Diary Of A Busker Day 639 Sunday September 28th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Gieves & Hawkes, Time: 2:35-3:05pm, 3:09-3:13pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:20-4:45pm).
Five minutes into the set, in the middle of Blowin’ In The Wind (appropriate today), I could hear something in the background. All was revealed soon enough: those bloody bells from the cathedral. I forgot it was Sunday and this was probably the worst place to set up. Anyway, I thought, ‘I’m not going to be beaten by them this time’, so I soldiered on…until 3:05, when I could bear it no longer, and was in fact, beaten. I stuck it for 25 minutes.
So I started to pack up…and the bells stopped, of course. I thought, ‘That’s just typical, isn’t it?!’ I was halfway packed up, so decided to unpack and try again. I had no idea how long the bloody bells would remain silent, or if they’d even start up again…so I sat down again and started up Albatross…and right on cue, after no more than 20 seconds, the bloody bells start up. I stopped and held my arms up in exasperation, to the great amusement of an old couple across the road outside the pub, who’d been watching me since before I’d stopped the first time. I thought, ‘That’s it, this is ridiculous. It’s like some sort of musical chairs. And a really annoying one…with bells!’ I’d done OK, though: £8.76p. So I packed up and bombed down the backstreet to Oxfam.
A man was hanging around with a shopping trolley with some bags in it and a big sign on the side saying: I WANT MY STOLEN PROPERTY BACK FROM WINCHESTER POLICE, and in small letters: Age 70. This guy sat on the bench for a bit, then wandered off…
A few minutes after, and he’s back – not Trolley Man, but Ron! He must have some inner sense because he’s turning up now, every time I’m here! So the usual happens: he starts dancing about, stands next to me for a couple of minutes, dances again…then Trolley Man appears and sits on the bench. Ron, standing next to me, says something about the trolley but he’s got quite a quiet and croaky voice and I can’t tell what he’s saying. And besides, I’m playing a song – or a piece, rather: the 1st Gnossienne. Anyway, the next thing I know, Ron’s gone across to Trolley Man and is having an argument with him. Trolley Man stands up, Ron tries to get the trolley, Trolley Man won’t let him…Ron takes two bags out of the trolley and with renewed vigour, tries to get the trolley again, but Trolley Man won’t let him have it…but he finally relents and Ron takes the rest of the bags out, rips the bloke’s sign off and takes the trolley off, down towards the town!
The whole thing didn’t last long, maybe two minutes. I was still playing the Gnossienne at the end of it. But I was thinking, it was a pretty heated argument, what if Trolley Man, who was twice the height of Ron, pushed him over? I’d have have to have stopped and gone across. Or someone else would have stepped in. There were a few around, watching. But it didn’t get to that, in fact, it was all a bit comical: two old blokes, one’s a midget, wrestling with a shopping trolley, against the very mournful soundtrack of the Gnossienne, a very popular piece for film drama, as I’ve been informed.
Fifteen minutes later, Ron returns, so I asked him if he knew the other guy, and what was it all about. He says, ‘I saw him this morning with that trolley and I said, “Are you going to return it to the shop?”, and he said he would. Well, he obviously hasn’t, so he was lying. He’s new in Winchester. I don’t think he’s got any money, or if he had some, or if he’s on the dole’.
Oh well, a bit of excitement…and drama. You don’t often get that in these parts. A warning for out-of-towners: if you come here thinking about liberating shopping trolleys, you’ll have to contend with a 4 foot dancing man named Ronald. And he doesn’t care how big you are.
Ron left at 4 o’clock. He asked if I was staying on, as if my being here almost depended on HIM! I said I’d stay on a few more minutes…it turned out to be another 45. At the end, the bloke handing out Jesus flyers outside the Gospel Hall on my right, came over and said, ‘What was that altercation about?’, so he saw it, too. I told him, then I mentioned Ron and his dancing routine. This guy said he sees him dance with all the entertainers, so not just me. Well, I’m jealous now! He said, ‘There was an opera singer up the road (Demelza?), and he was dancing around her. You know, a woman singing serious opera and Ron’s doing his dance!’ I can just see it: Demelza’s quite a big lady – not fat, but quite tall and large in stature, and Ron’s tiny. That must be funnier than when he’s with me. I must ask Demelza about that when I see her. I haven’t seen her in ages…maybe she’s had a good break.
Anyway, Jesus-flyer man said about Ron, ‘He used to run an electrical shop in City Road, but now seems to have taken up dancing’, and he laughed at that.
Earnings: £21.54p (+ 1 euro cent)