Diary Of A Busker Day 226

Diary Of A Busker Day 226 Thursday April 19th 2012 Winchester High Street Opposite Vodafone. Time: 1:45-3:25pm
On the way down the high street I pass a young man playing a vibraphone – unusual for here. He has a card in front which says RUSSIAN STUDENT. He’s just down from The Buttercross so I can still hear him a bit at the crossroads, but it doesn’t bother me or put me off as once I start playing I don’t hear him. …I get a £5 note from a lady who stops near me and spends quite awhile fiddling inside her purse…maybe she didn’t have any change. I thank her – profusely, of course. This great event occurs during Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, which also manages to collect a bit more – a one pound coin, so it’s Song Of The Day.
I’ve noticed two people – a man with a big camera and a woman with one of those big, furry microphones – down the road a bit, talking to people and now they stop in front of me. The woman, obviously a reporter, asks if I know a song from Les Miserables – which I don’t and say so. ‘Why?’ I ask, being on occasion a curious sort of person. ‘Because they’re shooting a scene in the cathedral close for the film. They’ve got it all Parisian. Russel Crowe, Anne Hathaway and someone or other Jackman are in it and we’re getting people to give their opinions – we thought you might know a song from it.’ ‘Oh, sorry (then, trying to think quick)…I can do La Vie En Rose – that’s French!’ No, that’s not good enough, apparently. I ask if they’re with the local paper. No, they’re with the BBC – South Today. Damn, I’ve missed out again!
…a bloke almost knocks me over, running around the corner at high speed (it’s dangerous out here)…followed by two other men who I reckon are shop people and this guy’s stolen something. That’s what I think, anyway.
A woman gives a pound, I thank her, then she leans in, right close to me and says, ‘You won’t buy DRINK, will you?’ ‘I’m not a tramp, you know!’ The affrontery! An old couple stop. They’re in with The methodist church in London and start telling me about how there’s no work over here for organists – all the musicians they know have had to go to America. ‘Oh well, you’ve got to get work where you can get it,’ I say, adding that I’m looking for work, too. The lady says, ‘Couldn’t you work, playing in a CREMATORIUM?’ ‘What? A crematorium? Play the guitar, you mean?’ ‘No, an organ – as an organist. Can you play the piano?’ ‘Well, a bit.’ How the mighty have fallen: 1987 – Wembley Arena, 2012 – crematorium… No, you’re alright.
It starts to rain, which has been the order of the last two weeks, so I pack up and walk around a bit…it stopped two minutes later, of course. Still, I’ll give the guys in Vodafone a break. They’ve been pretty tolerant of me – I’ve been here a lot lately, but there’s no telling when one of them, or all of them, might crack. Up at The Buttercross, the Russian has set up at a different spot, further up from where he was. He’s taking a break so I go up to introduce myself and interrogate him. His name’s Alexey, he’s from St. Petersburg and he’s in England for one month. How is he getting on? ‘That man – Timpson, he esk me to move, he say, “you are not allowed emplifier.” He say he doesn’t like guitar player, too…maybe he mean you?’ ‘Yeah, probably. I know who you mean. He hates everyone – especially buskers. There are two blokes working there, one’s alright, but the other one…’ ‘Yes, I want to kill him!’ says Alexey, a very (understandably) angry Russian vibraphonist. I don’t blame him – ‘I don’t blame you! Maybe you should call the KGB, or whatever it’s called now.’ ‘Yees! I make the phone call!’ ‘Yeah, and while you’re at it, there’s a girl who works down in the jewellery shop, just down the road…’ Alexey’s travelled thousands of miles – to get told off by a guy in a shoe shop. Welcome to Winchester. What a shame – he’s a great player. I suggest he goes down to where I was as they’re pretty tolerant down there, and I’ll set up around here, but he’s fine here, he says. It’s quite a bit to move around – the whole vibraphone kit and I understand he doesn’t want to move it more than he has to. So I go back to the crossroads for a second session (those poor Vodafone guys)…but it starts to rain again, and doesn’t stop this time, as I find out after spending fifteen minutes sheltering in the doorway of Monsoon, the shop I play in front of. Sod this, I’m going home…I pass Alexey, trying to shelter himself and his beloved vibraphone, against the wall of the Nat West bank. Welcome to England.
Earnings: £21.16

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