Diary Of A Busker Day 252

Diary Of A Busker Day 252 Tuesday June 26th 2012 Reading, Broad Street  Opposite Mobile Phone & Handbag Shop, Time: 10:33am-12:38pm, 1:15-2:23pm
Back in Reading for my 2nd visit to the College Of Integrated Chinese Medicine, I set up near where lounge pianist Tim Valentine was last week, where there are a lot of benches nearby with a lot of people sitting on them…and a lot of them are old so they might like me. There are also a few mothers with small children – I’m popular (usually) with them, too. After listening for a bit – I suppose they can’t help it, as long as they’re sitting there, two of the small children come over and one, all nervous and clasping her hands and wobbling about, asks if I can play Puff The Magic Dragon. That’s a first; I’ve had Postman Pat and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star before but not Puff; but of course I can – just the melody, though. Not all the chords and whatever. But you don’t need all that stuff with these old folk melodies. So I play it and I don’t make any mistakes which makes me feel quite proud of myself and they love it and go back to their mothers, then come back to me and say ‘thank you’ all shy like before, then go back again to their mothers. They hang around a bit longer then get up to go, so I give them PTMD again, as they’re walking off.
I play Albatross near the end of the first set. A woman walks by, stops and comes back. About 5′ 6″, emaciated, badly dyed blonde hair, sunglasses. ‘You play Albatross,’ she says, like it’s a statement, not a request. Anyway, I’ve just played it! When she says it, I notice her two front teeth are missing. ‘Yeah, this is Albatross…so you recognise it?’ ‘I should do, I’m old enough…Marianne Faithfull’s mother taught me ballet.’ Well, what can you say to that…apart from, ‘Really?’ ‘Yeah. Baroness Erisso, that was ‘er mother, taught me ballet.’ Again, what can you say to that, apart from, ‘Wow, really?’ ‘Yeah. You can look it up…that’s what she’s called.’ ‘Right, well…yeah, I’ll write it down (I get pad and pencil), how do you spell it?’ ‘What, Baroness?’ ‘No, Erisso.’ She starts to look confused so I say I’ll look it up. She gets three 2p coins out of her purse – ‘Sorry, it’s all the change I got. I drank all my money.’ ‘That’s OK, thanks.’ She wants to talk more – ‘Yeah, and I used to work next door to Ronnie Wood’s mother, y’know.’ Now, what can you say to that, apart from repeat the statement, but as a question, just to confirm it’s actually true. ‘You used to work next door to Ronnie Wood’s mother?’ ‘Yeah.’ A pause…’You know ‘oo ‘ee is, don’tcha? Ronnie Wood?’ ‘Well, yeah… he’s in The Rolling Stones…his mother must be…old now, must be dead, eh?’ ‘Yeah, an’ ‘ees old, yeah, all them – Swagger Jagger, Keef Richards.’ Long pause…’Rod Stewart, ‘ee was a little urchin, no wonder Britt Eckland (turns head and mumbles something)…’ Then she suddenly becomes aware of her missing teeth and covers her mouth – ‘Oh, I’ve lost me front tooth.’ ‘Oh…it’s not on the pavement, somewhere around here, is it? I mean, you didn’t just loose it, did you?’ ‘No, in me ‘ouse. In me backyard.’ ‘Oh well…so…you’ve met all these people then?’ ‘Um…yeah,’ and she mumbles something and with that, she’s off. Interesting. I wonder if I looked through some  Stones books, I might see her in some pictures, circa 1975. But how would I know? I mean, there must be loads of women with blonde hair and sunglasses in some of those photos…and she would have had her teeth then. There’s no way they’d hang out with women without front teeth, even though Keith Richards’ were in a fine state around then. Junkie’s teeth. My word, she looked rough; a rock chick casualty if there ever was one. I suppose she’s lucky to be alive. I wonder if it was Anita Pallenberg? I’ll have to look it up. Dear, oh dear. Generous though – I believe her when she said she gave me all the change she had.
Anyway, not long after my meeting with Anita, I take a break and venture into the labyrinth that is the Oracle shopping centre, in search of the nearest public conveniences. After what seems like an hour, I’m back out on Broad Street. I thought I’d take the air and have a short walk about before another session. On the opposite side and down a bit from where I was busking, there’s an old guy wearing a flatcap, with a music stand set up. He’s playing a penny whistle and has a collection bucket for Save The Children. I catch some of his set which consists of a few songs, all in all about a minute and a half in length – they’re very short! So we get The Flintstones theme, Oh Susanna, Last Of The Summer Wine, which I notice has the same or very similar opening notes as the Moulin Rouge theme. After a bit, I resume the toilet search…I eventually found one in the House Of Fraser. Back out, I set up and start. I’m quite near the old guy but there’s so much noise from all the people, not to mention the street cleaners atop their Big Green Machine(s), that I can’t hear him at all.
Later on I meet Andy, a man in his fifties, who stops and compliments me on my guitar – ‘I bet that cost a few hundred quid, eh?’ Nosey Andy! ‘Not as much as you might think…it’s quite a cheap one. Korean, not American.’ Andy tells me about a young band he’s managing, from Southampton. He thinks they’re going to be big and he’s taking no chances; he’s going to copyright their name – ‘It’s a great one,’ he says. I ask him what it is but he seems reluctant and evasive and starts talking about where they rehearse. I persist – ‘So, what’s the name?’ ‘Um, I don’t want to say. Not before I get it copyrighted. So no one can steal it.’ ‘Oh go on – what’s the name?’ ‘I don’t want to say, anyway, it’s just a name, y’know.’ Just a name? – but he just said it was a GREAT name, not ‘just a name.’ Well, near the end of a busking day, I’m often low on patience and can’t be bothered with silliness such as this – and I’m nearing the end of a day now. ‘Look, what’s the big deal? – you think I’m going to leave here and immediately form a group and call it the same name as your one? Go on – what’s the name?!’ ‘Well, it’s only a name, er…The Cunning Wizards. Just a name.’ There he goes, almost apologising again – he’ll never be a good manager, will Andy. He goes on, ‘yeah, they’re going to be big.’ And he’s written some songs, too, has Handy Andy. I ask if he’s recorded any. No, he hasn’t. ‘Well, you need to get them recorded,’ I tell him. Andy asks me about myself; have I been in any groups? ‘Yeah, loads of them…and I’ve been through all that record deal stuff, too, years ago.’ ‘Oh right…any name groups?’ ‘Nope, none you would have heard of.’ ‘Oh, what were the names?’ ‘I’m not going to say!’ (Haha! See if YOU like it, my entrepreneurial friend)…you’d never have heard of them and then I’d be embarrassed, so that’s why I don’t tell people anymore! I used to, if they kept asking, then I’d say, “but you won’t have heard of them,” and they’d say “I might have – I know a lot about music,” then after I tell them, they say, “no, never heard the name,” which made me feel like an idiot sometimes, so I don’t bother now.’ Andy bigs up his Cunning Wizards for a bit longer then says he’ll leave me ‘to it’. He glances at my bucket which I deliberately keep a few feet away from me; a tip from Colin – apparently more people donate if they haven’t got to go right up to the busker. ‘I’d keep that a bit closer to you, there’s a lot of toerags ’round here,’ says Andy. ‘Yeah? It’s alright, I keep my eye on it, you know.’ ‘Yeah, well they won’t think twice about that. Well, goodbye.’ Andy walks off then turns around, still clearly concerned about my bucket – ‘Desperados,’ he says. A few minutes after Andy leaves, I pack up. I reckon I’ve made back the train fare and also the acupuncture fee of £15…so I’m off, before the toerags and desperados get me.
Earnings: £36.42 Expenses: £15.50 (train fare), doctors – £15.00. Total: £30.50

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