Diary Of A Busker Day 296 Wednesday October 17th 2012 1. Opposite Bellis, Time: 2:23-3:25pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 3:47-4:59pm
The other day I was approached by Victoria, the manager of the cinema, about playing a laid-back set in the foyer, before the screening of Celebration Day, the film of the 2007 Led Zeppelin concert. There was no money in it (no surprises there) but they’d give me a drink and she said I could see the film for nothing, which I thought was acceptable…and a good excuse to use my double-neck! Of course, this meant I had to brush up on a few songs; The Rain Song, which I’d definitely let get a bit rusty, Black Mountainside, Bron-Y-Aur, Friends, Stairway To Heaven. That’s tonight, so I thought I’d start my session off with The Rain Song, which is pretty appropriate anyway, as it’s threatening. I’m lucky enough to sell a CD, to a young guy who just happens to be wearing a Led Zeppelin T-shirt! But that was one or two songs AFTER The Rain Song. I said to him – ‘I did The Rain Song ten minutes ago.’ But there’s a weird tuning for it and I didn’t have time to re-tune and do it all over again. (He heard me do it a few hours later at the cinema!)
Half an hour in, a woman chats to me. She really likes what I play and has heard me many times before, however she’s just come out of a shop where some young guy who works there was moaning about me – ‘I said to him “there’s that nice guitar player,” and he said, “Oh, he just plays the same six songs over and over,” and I said, “Well I think he plays what people like, doesn’t he? He plays them because people like them.”‘ What a nice lady, and I thank her for defending me and say I can’t believe he said that. I mean, I play a lot more than six songs! These days, if I’m out for an hour or more, I never repeat anything, not unless someone asks me to. I don’t know, maybe they all sound the same to him. Ha! – he would have loved hearing The Rain Song almost twice in a row! But I’m curious; what shop was she in? Vision Express, two doors down from the bakery behind me. I’m actually quite hurt by all this and I think she can tell; she says maybe she shouldn’t have told me what the guy said. I said she was right to, as it’s always interesting to know what people REALLY think, especially the ones working in the shops. Anyway, they get it easy with me as I don’t usually play for more than an hour, an hour and a half at the most…and I’m not that loud. I wonder if he moans about some of the others; Rockin’ Rob, for instance. He sets up camp in front of The Buttercross, just a few feet away, and he’s there for hours. And ten times as loud as me! I think I might go in the shop and have a word…but not today, as the bloke, knowing who I would have heard it from, might say something to the lady if/when she goes back and it might make it awkward for her and I wouldn’t want that.
Someone ignores me – a regular! To my right, in the distance, I see Bryan “with a Y”, who thinks my middle name (with an ‘i’) is common. He’s walking up the road but when he sees me he ducks into The Pentice, which takes him round the back of me. He thinks I don’t know but I ALWAYS know! Well, he won’t get the copy of the photo I took of him last week, the ignorant, ignoring snob. I don’t know what it is, I’ve really got it in for some people today. It’s hearing about the Vision Express bloke, it’s really made me angry…I’ve spent my whole life learning to play all this stuff…you’ll never please everyone, I should know that by now. I bet if John Williams was out here, he’d get people moaning about HIM; “That bloke out there – he’s played that Cavatina thing twice in the last hour and a half.”
Before I leave, a very short woman stops by who I’ve seen around town recently. She pushes a cart stacked up high with all her worldly belongings, wears a hat with big earflaps and has shin pads like what American footballers have, on her knees – an odd character, for sure. She says hello sometimes but we haven’t had a conversation until now. ‘I really like yer playin” – she sounds American. I probe – ‘Are you American?’ ‘Yeah, from Alaska. I’m Granny McFairn, M-C-F-A-I-R-N,’ she spells it out. (I’m holding my notebook and tell her I sometimes write things down in a diary). I say I’d like to take a picture of her. ‘Yeah, there’s another guy, he’s got some pictures of me on Flicker. Go on there, his name’s Alistair Eales, E-A-L-E-S.’ I ask her why she’s over here; Alaska’s a long way away! ‘Yeah, well…I’m on a pilgrimage. London, Winchester and Salisbury. You’re really good, you do alright out here?’ I say if I can get £10 an hour, I’m doing OK. ‘Yeah? I sometimes busk, with a harmonica. I’m not very good, though,’ then she holds up a frying pan tied to the handle of her cart – ‘I use this.’ Her version of my Halloween bucket, I’m assuming. A real character, as they say. But although she calls herself Granny, she doesn’t look that old, maybe 60. It’s hard to tell with some people. I get a picture of her holding her frying pan up. Actually, I don’t care what the young guy in Vision Express thinks, I bet he hasn’t done anything or been anywhere. Granny McFairn likes my playin’ and she’s from Alaska! When she goes away, a man standing nearby says, ‘You meet all sorts of people, eh?’
Earnings: £19.10 + 1 CD