Diary Of A Busker Day 661 Thursday October 30th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:25-2:35pm).
I’d only done three songs and was halfway through the fourth – Here Comes The Sun, before I was rudely interrupted in the highest degree by the biggest offender I’ve had the displeasure to come across in my, now, 4 + years out here. This man comes round the corner from Colebrook Street, on the right, picks up the camera case from the bucket and rummages around the change. At this, I stop playing, and he says ‘You don’t pay any rent – I want your rent money’, and very aggressive he is. I say ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, who are you, what is this?’ He leans in to me – I can smell he’s been drinking – and says ‘I’m the person who’s going to smash your guitar’.
Straight away I put the guitar behind me, against the C & H Fabrics window, stand up and say ‘No you’re not’. This makes him more aggressive and this starts to worry me, so I reach in the gigbag, get my phone out and dial 101, like the CPSO told me to after the incident with THE JERK, up the road. So now I’m standing up in front of him and I tell him to leave me alone and that I’m going to phone the police, and again I ask him who he is and again he says he’s the person who’s going to smash up my guitar and again I say ‘No you’re not’. By this time, there’s quite a few people watching, mainly from across the road and at the tables of the two restaurants. Then a woman with scraped back dark hair appears and she starts talking to this nutter. She tells him to leave me alone and that I’m her neighbour (I’m not), and then this guy lunges at me with his fist clenched and grabs my coat shoulder so I lean to the right, where the guitar is resting. He recoils and the woman’s talking to him again. I’ve now got my camera out and I take a photo of him.
Meanwhile, another woman has appeared and she says ‘Leave him alone!’, then this guy walks off, just as I’ve got through to the police. He walks round the corner – Colebrook Street – where he came from. The whole thing probably lasted about three minutes but seemed a hell of a lot longer, and when he was there, I was starting to shake a bit because I had no idea what was going to happen. I mean, this guy says he’s going to smash my guitar – and he said it twice, then he took a lunge at me.
There were two people who came over. I later found out they were Shane and Chrissie – I see Shane around alot, Chrissie – his girlfriend, was in a wheelchair. Chrissie, seeing me on the phone, said she was already on the phone to the police, so I took her’s and spoke to a woman: told her where I was and what had happened. She said they’d send someone around. Chrissie, who kept calling me Melvin, went a bit over the top in her concern, actually, and then said ‘Just think, if it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t be here!’ She then told me about when she’d been assaulted in her wheelchair by some bloke in Southampton.
Then a woman sitting at the new coffee place came over and wrote her email address down and said she was willing to be a witness…and another woman came over from Cafe Blanc with her two children and said SHE’D be willing to be a witness, too – ‘It’s not the kind of thing you want your children to see, at all’. No, I don’t suppose it is.
The police bloke turned up at precisely 3:08 (I wrote it down), so it took long enough! I forgot, while waiting, I resumed Here Comes The Sun and did two more songs, including The Third Man. Chrissie kept saying ‘Are you alright?’ I said I was and that I might well do a couple of songs instead of standing doing nothing. Shane and Chrissie then went across the road…then another woman came up and asked if I was alright and said she loved hearing me. Then, when I started The Third Man, a young woman I’ve seen around – dyed white/pink hair, she was over the road and started laughing. She came over, donated and said ‘That’s really cheered me up, thanks’, which was nice. To be honest, when she started laughing, I thought she might be taking the piss, as it were, but I was wrong – damn it, I think I can be excused for feeling somewhat sensitive!
Anyway, the cop turned up, asked me all about it, I showed him the photo, and they’d already got the bloke, just around the corner. They’d handcuffed him and taken him to Southampton, which, despite me having to wait for them to turn up, was pretty efficient! He asked if I knew where the police station was, as I’d have to go there and make a statement. He asked if I’d be willing to prosecute the guy. I said I definitely would: you can’t have people going around doing that. So he left and I said I’d definitely be around to the station after I packed up.
Then the bloke who works in C & H comes out and says he’s seen something start up when he was behind his desk just inside the shop. He’d got his remote control and turned one of the two cameras on to where I was. Then there are two CCTV cameras on the top of poles at the junction to the right. One’s pointing up towards the Guildhall and the other – the one he turned on – points up the High Street. So the police have got it – or most of it – on the CCTV…plus my photo, of course. A good bit of daring do, that!
I remarked to the C & H bloke, who’s seen me loads of times, that I was doing Here Comes The Sun when the arsehole turned up. C & H guy says ‘Maybe he was a Monkees fan’. Funny guy. But where was he when it was all going on? In fact, it was all women who came over, phoned the police, asked me how I was, etc. No men came over, and there were plenty of them about.
Anyway, I go to the station, waited 15 minutes and was then taken in to a room and spent an hour giving a statement – a ‘witness report’ – to PC Dominic Doyle – PC No. 24242 (Targeted Patrol Team), who I thought was a very nice chap. He wrote down everything I said in police language: the arsehole was ‘the male’, and ‘I believe he was intent on causing damage to my possesions, etc.’ And my photo went down well: PC Doyle thought it was great I got the shot. He downloaded it onto their files, first asking if I had any intimate photos (on my camera) I might not want them to see. He asked me this as he covered the computer screen where all the photos were coming up! I mean, really…I’m a 52 year old man of decency, not some adolescent idiot!
And when he asked for a description of the twat, well, there he was on the photo: black baseball cap with Nike logo, dark hoodie with blue shirt underneath, black shorts – what idiot wear shorts at the end of October? PC Doyle, who had an inquisitive nature, pondered ‘Why do we say A PAIR OF SHORTS, I mean, it’s one piece of clothing, not like a pair of socks’. I said ‘True, and trousers – A PAIR OF TROUSERS’. Why not just TROUSER? I suppose a trouser must be just the one leg(?) Weird. Anyway, he was a good bloke – PC Doyle, No. 24242, and had no problem with me using his name and number in this account!
So, as I said to a number of people who came up to me back at the scene of the crime, maybe I’ve been lucky this hasn’t happened before. I mean, four years now: that’s a long time: hundreds and hundreds of ‘Days’ – 661 to be exact. Maybe I HAVE been lucky. What a twat, though. I was OK, although I did get quite frightened when he was going on about smashing my guitar, and then he lunged at me. I can do without that happening ever again.
Linda Holtby – one of the women who said she’d be a witness.