Diary Of A Busker Day 86 Saturday April 23rd Winchester High Street (corner of Marks And Spencer, Time: 12:17-3:44pm.)
A hot day and yet the omnipresent stage jacket shall not be shed. Fortunately there is a breeze – a light one but just enough to disperse the heat somewhat. After an hour a lady comes up and asks if I would like a cold drink, presumably from the ice lolly kiosk which has suddenly appeared across the pavement. I say thanks but no thanks as I’ll have my small plum soon – one of the bunch given to me by Maurice the other day. I again dare to attempt my newest recruit to the set – Vincent, and make a few mistakes. I also have to stop for a few seconds to turn the page, having not memorised it yet, but this is getting embarrassing as page three is on the reverse of page two. I can see I’m going to have to separate them all. Even so, a woman gives me a pound but I apologise – “Sorry, I haven’t got that quite right yet!” She says she’s a singer so knows all about making mistakes in public – “you just have to carry on, don’t you?” “Yeah. At least you know it’ll be all over in a few minutes, I suppose.” A little while later another lady comes up after I’ve made another mistake in a song. I apologise to her as well. She tells me that when she took piano lessons, if she played a wrong note, it would hurt. I was thinking she may have meant she got a wrap on the knuckles from her teacher – she was about sixty so she might have been taking lessons fifty years ago – piano teachers may have been able to get away with that sort of corporal musical punishment back then. Anyway, I’m curious – “It hurt?” “Yes. The vibrations that a wrong note causes would hurt me because they were the wrong vibrations!” Very interesting. I’ve never heard anyone say that before. If that were the case for everyone, quite a few people I’ve played with would have passed out with the pain years ago. Come to think of it, after my attempt at Vincent, I’d be none too comfortable myself.
My banjo-less regular arrives on the scene – “I still won’t be playing the banjo for awhile” he says, looking at his be-slinged arm. I think he was knocked down while he was crossing the road recently. I believe he may have been in a state of quite severe intoxication. I remind him of his party in July for which he wanted me to play – for a not unsubstantial amount. Is he still having his party? “I’ll keep you informed.” Hmm. He takes up a semi-permanent position just to my right. In fact, he has plopped a £5 note in my bucket and so is entitled to a few requests – and to stay for awhile. So, any requests? “I would really like to hear Harry Lime.” Right you are, my good man. I play Harry Lime, aka The Theme From The Third Man…or just The Third Man. He, my requester, claps. Anything else, I ask. “No, you just play what you want, I’ll just listen.” Good man. I believe I shall continue with…La Vie En Rose – I always think they go well together – that and TTM – same era, same guitar arranger, same key even. While I’m playing, I notice a tall man wearing a baseball cap standing nearby and taking a photo, although he’s taking his time with it. For a minute I think this is the tall guy who walked by me the other day who complained that I was “always playing the same song”, but why would he be taking a photo of me? To give to the police? It’s strange what goes through the mind, anyway this man looked much cleaner than the brute from the other day. I dismiss this silly thought. However, the odd time I get a camera pointing at me, I find quite distracting so I sometimes keep my head down to take my mind off it. When I look a minute later he’s still there, taking the picture…but wait – I notice his camera has a black fuzzy thing attached to it – a microphone? Is this a video camera perhaps? I finish the tune and he comes up and asks me if I mind him putting me on his youtube site – he gives me his card. His name’s John and his site is called Daft Not Stupid. No, of course I wouldn’t mind, but then I think – I made a couple of mistakes (ouch, ouch) in that song, I really should do another one – maybe The Third Man? After all I’ve just played it not more than ten minutes ago – I’m well rehearsed! “Sure, you play it!” says John. So be it and the performance is certainly better, although I STILL manage to fluff a note at the end. Pride comes… Whilst John is filming me, my seventy-three year old regular, Mabel, is walking towards me. I’m sure she’s going to start talking to me – please Mabel, not now! However she sees the man with the camera and instead walks up past him, on film, puts some change in the bucket, smiles and walks off. After she walks away I’m thinking – has she cleaned my handkerchief I loaned her after she decided to clean all the street grills with her bare fingers?…
Before I pack up, my always smartly dressed regular – “I’ll have to become a tax exile, you’re draining me of all my money!” – who I usually see up the other end of the road comes by. He’s dressed more casually today but still smart in beige slacks and light blue casual shirt. “You know, I like a man who who can dress casually but still look smart” I say. “Oh yes, thank you” he says, then apologises – “I’m afraid I have nothing to give you today but my admiration!” Smooth.