Diary Of A Busker Day 198 Monday February 20th Winchester High Street (opposite Vodafone, Time: 1:35-2:45pm).
Walking through the Westgate, I can hear the unmistakable thunp, thump/fiddle-de-de sound that can only be from Guy and his folk franchise. And a two minutes later I pass him, at The Buttercross (we nod to each other) and I carry on down to the crossroads. More from him later. It’s a bit cold today and the crossroads is in an exposed area, where the High Street widens, but it’ll do for a bit.
Not long in, two young ladies stop to say how much they like my Elvis Can’t Help Falling In Love With You. They’re German – from Berlin, and in England for two weeks. I ask them how they like it here, it’s cold, isn’t it? Not as cold as in Germany, where it’s minus twenty and people are dying. “You mean old people?” “No, people on the street”, says Jasmin. And what do they like about Winchester, I ask. The buildings – they’re very old-fashioned. have they seen the two things everyone sees when they visit – the King Alfred statue and the round table? “You mean the one with the names on it?” Yes. “Oh ya, ve hev.” Tomorrow they’re off to Torquay. They want to know what it’s like, “Is it very beautiful? Vat is it like?” Oh dear. I ask if they’ve been to Brighton – they have. I tell them it’s a bit like that – an English sea-side town. They look confused, or concerned. They’re joined by a few more of their group and soon they have to meet two more groups at the cathedral – the other place where evryone goes when in Winchester. But before that they want to do some more shopping (they love the shops, too). I get them to write their names on my pad: Jasmin, Josi, Anne, Keara, Mirenda, Annabelle, Maxi, Sophia and Karo – and a more un-German bunch of names I’ve never seen. They disappear into the Laura Ashley shop across the way.
I’ve been playing just under an hour and my fingers are getting cold – I’m thinking of stopping soon and having a break, maybe even going home, when a CPSO (Community police support officer – a not-quite-a-proper-police-officer-person) comes up with a young lady in civillian clothes. He bends his knees, lowers himself down to my level, hands clasped. He says, I’m sorry but we’ve had a couple of complaints about the volume, from shops up there (points up the street towards The Buttercross) and I’m going to have to ask you to pack up and leave.” I’m quite surprised – complaints? From up there? “Complaints? About me?” “Yes, well, no. About the people up there (Guy and his lot)…I’ve asked them to move on, so I have to ask you to, as well.” “But no one’s complained about ME?” “No – do you know the code on buskers?” “Go on.” “Well, if we move one person on we have to move everyone on, to be fair on everyone.” “What! So if someone up there is too loud, I have to move as well?” “Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I personally really like what you play (ta, copper)but that’s the rule. I’ll give you ten, fifteen minutes to finish up – you can move further down the road, you just have to move from here.” “Right, OK.” I still can’t believe it – “But no one’s complained about ME?” “No, it’s them up there.” “But that’s crazy”, I say again. I feel a bit sorry for him and he looks a bit embarrassed. I say I’ll pack up in a few minutes and they both goe off, him with this girl, maybe she’s a “rookie”. Maybe he’s showing her the ropes. I wonder if she’s impressed. Still, I was about to go, anyway. I carry on with Yellow Bird, Wheels and Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring…then the culprit(s) walk by – Guy and his too-loud-faux-folk criminals. He looks over at me, somewhat sheepishly I thought – as well you might, sir – I’ve been asked to move because of you – I wonder if the copper told him that. I could have got angry, especially if he’d come up to me just after I started playing, but, such is life (as the French say), live and let live, or whatever. I can’t wait to tell Frank about this – what a stupid “rule” – I have to leave because someone else is too loud.