Diary Of A Busker Day 703 Saturday March 7th 2015 Hythe (In front of Waitrose, Time: 11:30-1:52pm).
Back to Hythe, first time since the winter recess, and I wonder if the kind inhabitants have missed me… A sunny day but the wind was pretty rough on the bike ride and really REALLY rough on the ferry. I got some more good photos of some ships: two P & O liners – a big one whose name was obscured, and The Oceana – and a big rather boring cargo ship – the Autostar from UECC, which must be the company.
But, oh, how I’ve missed Hythe: the long walk along the pier – very cold today – with the names of all the dead people…Big Issue John, there as usual. He even says ‘Hi’ , and leaves out the ‘Big Issue’. Maybe he just learnt ‘Hi’. So on with the procession of visitors, all easily over 65. The first man admires my guitar then says he’s got an Epiphone from 1952: amazing enough but then he says ‘No, that’s when I bought it. I think it was made in 1936’. After I remarked on its potential value, he said ‘Well, I took it to Rare and Ancient Guitars in Bath’ – I corrected him: Vintage and Rare Guitars, although Ancient was quite funny – ‘…and they said it was worth about two grand’. I told him it might be worth more than that then gave him my card in case he ever wanted to sell it, which I doubt he’ll do. But no matter what it’s worth, I’ll never be able to afford it!
During Albatross an old lady pulled up on the curb in her canopy-equipped motorised buggy. They’ve got everything these days, and I was thinking I could do with one myself…the buggy not the old lady. Anyway, she had something in her hand – a bit of paper or something, and made a big effort to get out and walk a couple of steps to me. She said ‘Here, can I hand this to you’, and it was a fiver! She then got back in her buggy – with some effort – and drove off, and I thought how nice that was. I mean, it really was an effort for her. She could have called me over but she obviously wanted to do it on her own. Song Of The Day: Albatross, and Donor Of The Day: old lady in motorised cart.
I forgot to say, on the way here I passed the grizzled guy who busks nearby. I didn’t speak to him then, apart from saying hello, but he came up a bit later to ask how I was doing. I said it was a bit slow, which it was for awhile, then I asked how he’d been doing. He said ‘Yeah, it’s a bit slow. Twelve quid I got for an hour’, so I said ‘Wow, that would be good in Winchester, if I got twelve quid for an hour!’ I then moaned a bit about the coldness. I said I was ‘getting too old for this, with the cold’, and he said ‘I love it, I’ll never be too old for it (he looks 70 but I reckon he’s about my age. In fact, I look 70 but I’m about my age!)…but I really want to go on a cruise, you know’. I think he meant to go on one to relax, not to PLAY on one.
He then said how he preferred to play without an amp, how it was so much less complicated. I said I had to have one – playing the fingerstyle stuff, or no one would hear me, which I think he understood. He then went away but came back 15 minutes later. In between I’d seen him walking about, when I was doing When I’m Sixty-Four. He said ‘I woke up with that song in my head – I always wake up with a song in my head – and this morning it was that one!’ Weird.
My old Hythe mate John turned up, and amazingly (another coincidence) he was playing my first CD in the morning, to test a new CD player. Apparently his daughter and child have moved in with him and he’s moved into the small room because his wife died. Anyway, when I said I’d got a new CD out (still without a proper cover), he had a look at it while I played Wouldn’t It Be Nice, then said ‘Great, I’ll have one, will this be alright?’ and held out a £20 note! I said ‘What, for one CD?’ He said ‘Yeah’. Well, I couldn’t take a £20 for one CD, I just couldn’t do it, so I took the note and gave him two fivers back. That’s still two quid more than what I sell them for (£8). ‘Are you sure?’ he said. Yeah, I’m sure. I’m sure I’m an idiot.
John asked if I’d seen the new Britannia – The Queen’s boat. I said I hadn’t. He said it was at Southampton so I said I’d just been on the ferry and hadn’t seen it and asked him what it looked like. ‘It’s got the Union Jack on the bow – a really big flag, you know, painted on the bow – the front’. Then I thought it must have been one of the ones I took photos of. Those two liners both had Union Jacks on the front, sorry, bow…well, they didn’t look especially royal, they just looked like your usual bog-standard cruise ships. ‘Yeah’, John said, ‘140,000 tons, it weighs. The Queen’s coming along to name it this week’. Name it? I think she’ll be a bit pissed off – it’s already got a name on its side: I’m sure now that I DID see it: Britannia.
Another old guy – well, early 60’s: old enough! – paid a nice compliment as he was walking by – ‘Brightening everyone up this morning, that’s great!’ Yet another old guy said he’d seen me in Romsey so I said that must be about a year ago. He agreed then said he’d got me on film. As he took a sweep from one end of the market to the other, I was in the middle doing ‘something classical’, apparently. And he’s still got the film!
A woman came up and said I did the best version of Albatross ‘apart from the original’, which made me laugh, or chuckle, actually. Well, I had to explain that there are about four guitars on the record but only one of me. She then said she also liked my Elvis one so I said ‘Thank you, it’s one of the best versions around, apart from the original’.
Finally, after 2 hours and 22 minutes I packed up. The last 45 minutes were difficult. I was starting to ‘go’, the hands, that is, not the mind, fortunately. All that was left was to get a Big Issue off John. Oh, he made damn sure I didn’t forget he was there. The minute I was packed up, I look over and there he is, looking at me, eyes aglow, holding up the magazine ‘BIG ISSUE, BIG ISSUE!’ I went over, gave him three quid – I couldn’t be bothered to ask for the 50p back and I bet he wouldn’t have understood – and that was that. ‘Thenk you, thenk you, bye…Big Issue, Big Issue…’
Earnings: £52.72p – £10.10p (train/ferry fare) = £42.62p profit (including 1 CD for £10)