Diary Of A Busker Day 678 Wednesday December 31st 2014 (Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:46-4:50pm).
At 8 degrees, the temperature’s up a couple of degrees since three days ago, so I thought I’d venture out…maybe people are more generous on New Year’s Eve…I don’t know. I checked the diary and I was out last year and got £26 in an hour and a half: better than the usual average.
Second song in and that guy and his wife who always mention Yellow Bird turn up. I know his face but still can’t remember his name. He says ‘Remember me? Yellow Bird?’ I said ‘Yeah, I saw you last (thinks…) a few months ago, and before then, probably about a year ago. I’ll just tune down and do Yellow Bird…it’ll take a minute’. He says he’ll hear it on their way down the street. So I do it, then Wheels, then the zither-style Third Man which is very taxing because I usually tune down for all that stuff but only after some considerable time warming up, and today, at 8 degrees(!), it’s at least an hour.
Then, someone who I’ve had correspondence with via the diary website but never met in-person, turns up. It’s Calvin, and I tell him he’s lucky – if you want to call it that – to find me, as I haven’t been out much lately. I stand up to stretch, as it were, and we have a chat for awhile. I don’t mind just this once – Calvin’s a nice bloke and he buys both CDs – the fingerstyle one and the original album. I must get a pen that writes well on CD covers. Calvin gave me one that I think might be on its way out.
Another good bloke – Philip – came by after, and he must have known what my first words were going to be because before I could say anything, it was ‘I’m pretty bad today. Pumped full of drugs…I’m sort of on the line between pain and cheerfulness’. He was really swaying about: all the drugs, he said. I said I hope he has a better year next year, and he said ‘I hope you do. I hope you make a lot of money’, then he was off.
Just over an hour in and I was starting to flag a bit. The hands had had enough. I was losing the feeling in the fingers, especially in the right thumb, as the pick was cutting off the circulation. One thing I’ve noticed – and I’m sure I’m not imagining it – if I play a few songs with the capo on, especially if it’s high up like on the 7th fret, like Blowin’ In The Wind and Here Comes The Sun, the hands warm up a bit, and it must be because the hand is much nearer the body – and warmth! than when it’s playing further down in open position. I’m sure of it. I mean, it’s not rocket science, as they say.
A man about 70 stands in front during the second airing of Albatross, then says how much he likes it and can he have a look at the CD. So after apologising for playing not too well (due to the cold) I give one to him and say he can have it for £8. But he says he’s ‘a bit tight tonight’ – doesn’t that mean he’s admitting he’s mean? How can anyone admit that?! Or does he mean he hasn’t got a lot on him right now. Anyway, because he’s heaped loads of compliments on me, I say he can have it for £7. But no, apparently that’s still too much. He asks if I’ll be here later and I say maybe another 10 minutes as I’m getting really cold.
He then starts chatting, asking me how long I’ve been playing, so I give him a condensed version of the Hard Luck Story, ie: been playing this stuff for 5 years, had to stop playing what I was playing before for 35 years in groups, all of that. He said ‘Oh, that’s terrible…any bands I might have heard of?’ I don’t want to get into all that so I say ‘No, just lots of different ones’. He then says ‘Well, I used to play, but my brother-in-law Nicky, he’s in Pink Floyd. He’s the drummer’. (What, Nick Mason?!) ‘Really?’ I say. ”Yeah, I’m married to his sister so…yeah, he’s my brother-in-law. And Dave Gilmour told me a few stories about…Barrett. Have you heard of Syd Barrett?’ (Have I heard of Syd Barrett?! REALLY?!) Indeed I have, I say.
He says ‘Well, Dave Gilmour told me a couple of stories – I don’t read the books or whatever ’cause I hear about it…I don’t know if they’re true or not. Anyway, he (Barrett) just got…you know, and he’d just play one chord for twenty minutes’. I said ‘Yeah, I’ve heard that one’. He went on ‘And he wouldn’t turn up for gigs and one time they were waiting for him, in Cambridge, to go somewhere – the four of them’ – here I interrupted ‘Ah, there was a short time when they both – Gilmour and Syd Barrett – were playing in the group’. He says ‘Yeah, and Syd Barrett just didn’t turn up and in the end Gilmour said “Oh, sod this, let’s just go”, and they went without him’. I said I’d heard that one, too (an adolescent spent researching rock groups) and as far as I know, it was all true.
Anyway, the brother-in-law once again told me how great he thought I was, and once again I apologised for the rather under-the-weather playing, and then we said our goodbyes and that was it. But I don’t care who it is – brother-in-law of the famous Nick Mason or whatever – I’m not giving CDs away free! I don’t know where he went, I think it was to a restaurant to meet some people, but I was there for another half hour and he never came back. So I DID give him a chance, but I couldn’t play anymore. It was getting like it was a few days ago – I could hardly feel anything. In fact, I had a job changing the hearing-aid battery when one went ten minutes before the end because it’s quite a fiddly operation.
Also, I had to be back by 5:30 as I was expecting a call from Dr. Fitzgerald-Barron about arranging a prostate cancer blood test – a PSA or something.
Earnings: £38.67p + £15 Calvin gave for the 2 CDs (a profit of £10) = £48.67p