Diary Of A Busker – Day 199

Diary Of A Busker Day 199

Tuesday February 21st Winchester High Street (opposite Bellis, Time: 1-2:10pm, 2. corner of Marks And Spencer, Time: 3:05-4:12pm).

My polite regular, Ian, stands nearby and waits untill I’ve finished my capo-on-second-fret songs, namely Can’t Help Falling In Love and Over The Rainbow, then, stroking his chin, in thought and saying(?) “Hmm…”, carries on – “Do you ever, what’s the word…extemporise?” “Extemporise? Is that like improvise?” “Yes, improvise.” “Not really, Ian – I’m not good enough for all that! The thing is, if I learn a good arrangement, I tend to stick with that. If  start jazzing it up, people won’t know recognise it!, but I’m not good enough to do it anyway. Ch Atkins and Les Paul and all those guys, they could do all that, and I’ve got this thing wrong with my hand…”     Recently released from Her Majesty’s “pleasure”, and currently off his face, Scottish Otto staggers up to me, carrying a big bag with a big plastic bottle inside. “Pley some rock ‘n roll – pley Buddy Holly!” Oh dear. I do a burst of Peggy Sue and he starts: “If ye knewwww Peggy Suuuuuee…oh Peggy Suuueee…pley Rave On! Y’ know it, c’mon!” I tell him I know it but I’ve got to get on with my other stuff. “Pley Jimi Hendrix!” “OK, you can have this… (I play the opening for Purple Haze).” He leans on my shoulder, “Yeah, great!…pley Chuck Berry!” “OK, then I’ve got to play something else, OK?” “Yeah! PLay Eddie Cochran!” “No! I don’t mean that!…look (I play a Chuck Berry intro)…now, I’ve got to do my other stuff.” He’s still leaning on me, and looking at me, glazed over. Then he staggers off, into the bakery behind me. Delia, my old Italian lady stops for a chat. Otto returns. I “reluctantly” polite and introduce him to Delia. He looks at her then sways around. Delia says she’s going into WH Smiths. I sit down and start playing, then, a sound behind me. I turn around and Otto’s on the ground, flat out, his bag next to him, with whatever’s in the bottle (I doubt it’s lemonade) running out on the pavement. I carry on playing…a minute later, a hand on my shoulder. “Hello Otto, your bag’s burst all over the pavement, you know that?” I say this not even turning my head to him. “Pley Chuck Berry!” I’ve had enough. “No! No Chuck Berry! No nothing – you’ve got to leave me, Otto – you’ve got to leave me alone, I need to play my stuff! I can’t do this, just leave me!” He hovers/sways around, completely out of it. I pack up, leave and go down the road to the toilet…and am pleased to see there are new hand driers and even soap in the dispensers. I walk back up to where I was, thinking I might do another set but it’s too risky – Otto’s bound to be about and I’ll end up getting really annoyed again – I’m not in a sympathetic mood today. I decide the safest option is to be at the opposite end of the road and head down to the corner of Marks And Spencer, where I haven’t played for months, it seems. It’s getting cold and, being quite exposed, it’s windy, but what of it. For old time’s sake… Ralph, one of my oldest regulars comes by. Actually, this is the second time I’ve seen him – he stopped for a chat (very briefly) during the Otto fiasco, earlier. He’s just come out of hospital, he says. “Well, you look OK, Ralph.” “I’m ninety-three now, born 1919.” “Ninety-three?! Wow, well you’re still going!” He has a request – I Belong To Glasgow, which I’ve never heard but I’ll look into it, I say. Earnings: £26.47p.

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