Diary Of A Busker Day 213

Diary Of A Busker Day 213 Thursday March 22nd 2012 Winchester High Street Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:40-4:02pm, 4:45-6:03pm
Frank’s made himself comfortable up at his usual spot in front of The Buttercross, which is where I wanted to be today, just to give the folks at the Vodafone shop a break, but it’s not to be. I arrive to find the old street cleaner, Alan, having a rest right where I usually set up. I spoke to him the other day, the first time I’d seen him since his operation some months ago. In fact I had been fearing the worst as he had a tumour behind his eye. It turned out successful, though, and his sight got back to normal. The trouble was that, having retired, he became bored and missed working on the street and ‘meeting the people, having a chat,’ so he went to McDonalds and they gave him a part time job collecting rubbish with a cart with a huge M on it with “i’m lovin’ it” underneath. ‘I see you’re saving my spot for me,’ I say. ‘Yes, but I’m charging you commission – one hundred per-cent of what you make,’ says Alan. I say that 100% of not much isn’t much. He tells me an incredible story, unfortunately true. Apparently some council worker had come up to him while he was working and told him about a street cleaner who had ‘been observed on the CCTV cameras looking at girls’ legs while going up and down the street.’ After awhile, Alan realised this guy had been sent out to warn HIM that it was HE they were watching and he better be careful or he’d be up for being a dirty old man. ‘They thought I was a perv – me! I mean I’ve been married fifty years!’ He realised what they were watching was nothing like what they thought – ‘When I see children in the street with crisp or food wrappers, I always stop to see what they do with them, because they often just throw them on the ground, and if they do that, I go up to them and I say to them “Can you pick that up? – it’s an offence to litter, you know,” and I always stop to look at them, to see if they do it. Well, if someone is watching me from one of these cameras, I suppose it looks like I’m looking down at peoples’ legs, so they think I’m some dirty old man.’ I can believe it – in these days of guilty until proven innocent. ‘There you are, Alan, going about your job and some creep in a building somewhere thinks you’re perving at girl’s legs. I reckon it’s the bloke watching who’s got the sick mind, but there you go and I’m not surprised, these days in this country.’ ‘I know – I could lose my job over something like that. It suddenly clicked when he was talking to me – he’d been sent out to warn me.’
It’s a warm sunny day and there’s more than the usual number of parents out with very young children, which is good for me as a lot of them stop and gawp at me – they can’t work out how the sound is coming out! – so the parents have to stop, give the sprog a coin – usually a 10p, 20p or if I’m lucky, a 50p coin (rarely a pound coin) to put in the bucket, before the kids will let them move on. After putting the coin in the bucket, quite a few of the kids attempt to pick it up and carry it off with them. Of course, they are stopped from doing this – never by me, always by the parents.
A nice, memorable moment occurs. An old man in a motorised buggy pulls up. He used to live in Cape Town and his son who, like me, plays the guitar, sends him tapes of himself playing. This man loves my sound, in fact he says ‘Hearing you play is a highlight of my life.’ Naturally, this is an extremely humbling comment. I ask if he’s heard me before because I don’t recognise him. Most people come up and say something if they really like what I play. ‘Oh yes – many times, but I don’t like to make a fuss – I’m very discreet, I usually go over there (points to the Laura Ashley shop, diagonally across from here) and listen.’ Wow – a highlight of a life (poor sod), I don’t think anyone’s ever said that! The only thing I can think of saying is that ‘Hearing that is…well, a highlight of MY life! Thank you!’ Highlight or not, I reckon the blokes in the Vodafone shop need a break, so I take a break, and it’s to the cathedral grounds, a place I haven’t been to for ages, to smoke a bowl of Kendal Black Cherry, eat a small apple and count the takings…which are very plentiful, being about one and a half the usual hourly rate. Because of this, I decide to definitely do another set, in the hope that the phenomenon may be repeated. I’d rather go to a different spot but as Frank’s still at The Buttercross, I end up back opposite the Vodafone shop …and unfortunately the money phenomenon is not quite repeated, although it’s still just above the usual rate. Song Of The Day has got to be Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love, as no less than five groups of people (all with children) contribute during this. And just as I finish, Frank passes by, saying, ‘I must put that in my set – a good one…Plaisir d’Amour.’ ‘Oh, is it French then, Frank?’ ‘Yeah, from…(he goes on about something or other).’ ‘Oh well, I didn’t know that but… I’m playing the German version!’
So, I’ve had a good few hours here, even the ice-cream man who’s been outside the Vodafone shop the whole day, asks if I’d like an ice-cream before he leaves. I decline the offer – I never, ever eat or drink anything while I’m out here. Besides, I’m on a diet.
Earnings: £34.37

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