Diary Of A Busker Day 88 Wednesday April 27th Winchester High Street (1. opposite Marks And Spencers, Time: 1:01-1:45pm, 2. opposite Clarks, Time: 2:00-5:05pm.)
It’s Market Day and no space for me at the usual place due to the fruit and veg stalls which crowd the area but Bertie persuades me to set up near him, on his side and “see how it goes”. After I set up I think maybe I ought to have asked the fruit and veg seller who’s a few feet away if he minds me being there. I go over – “Makes no difference to me, mate – just don’t play too loud” he says. “OK, you let me know if I do.” Doesn’t he know I’m the quietest, most unobtrusive busker in town? I play…and it doesn’t go well – I’ve got just over £2 after three quarters of an hour so I decide to leave. Besides, the F & V guy is getting on my nerves with his relentless shouting of “APARAGUS!” What’s all that about – can’t he pronounce S’s if they’re at the beginnings of words?! I finish up with Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring…and start it up again up the road fifteen minutes later.
I play As Time Goes By and get a virtual torrent of coins – two or more, in other words, so I play it three more times. A man walks by – “All you need now is Judie Dench.” I don’t understand. He explains – “Judie Dench – she was in that series – As Time Goes By.” “Oh, right.” Five minutes later he comes back while I’m playing La Vie En Rose and says “Now you need Piaf!” “Yeah, I’ve got more chance of seeing that Judie Dench walk by, I think.”
Later on, I’ve stopped to write something down and one of my regulars comes up, sees me writing, says he hopes he hasn’t broken my train of thought then tells me of a famous poet, Kubla Khan – he thinks, who was in the middle of writing something of earth-shattering importance, was interupted and never got it back. “…so this is the stuff that gets written down – what’s going on in your life at the moment, is it?” Yes, now please give me some money because I have noticed that you have stopped your contributions these last few weeks!
An old lady in her motorised buggy is heading straight for me…she stops right in front. “Hee, Hee! He’s always playing it – The Third Man!” she says to me! If she’s complaining, she’s doing it with good nature, unlike the guy recently who I lost my temper with after his “don’t you know anything else?” remark. For him I had no patience, for this chuckling old lady I say “It’s the only song I know!” as she bombs off, still chuckling.
After two hours I haven’t made much more than ten pounds and I’m getting cold – there’s a strong wind and it’s gettng colder. I’m thinking it’s been a bit of a waste of time coming out today when a man who looks like Jerry Garcia, the late Grateful Dead main man, puts a £5 note in the bucket and suddenly I can play a bit longer! Then I’m wondering about George from yesterday and the person he was going to bring along today who I would recognise. I’ve been here almost four hours and he hasn’t turned up…but, there’a a man who I see every time I’m out here – tall, bald and always wearing the same tatty multicoloured jumper and always carrying the same Harry Potter dvd which he holds out in front of him to look at for a second, as if he’s consulting a map of the high street. He’s always in a hurry. I’m reminded of these ghosts you read about – forever trapped in a particular place and time, always re-enacting some oft-played action from when they were flesh and blood, oblivious to all else and to our world. Very strange. The next time I see him, I must remember to grab the nearest person and ask them if he really is there…