Diary Of A Busker Day 325 Wednesday February 6th 2013 Winchester High Street, opposite Vodafone. Time: 1:04-1:33pm, 4:20-4:50pm
Another very cold day; the wind, as usual, but I have an appointment to keep with two college girls, Lucinda and Siobhan, who are travelling from Brighton and Bournemouth, respectively, to interview me for a project they’re doing about busking. I am to meet them at 1 o’clock at The Buttercross, so I get there a bit early. Just up from there, Demelza’s set up with her CDs and CD player; she’s on a break. Frank’s there as well, with accordion, cart and dog. Why not join them uninvited, I say to myself. Why not? Apparently, Frank’s done two hours down at Vodafone and is heading home and Demelza is about to do another set. Also, just joining us, is a guitar busker I don’t know who has asked Demelza if he can do ten minutes before she starts. Yes, he can. Demelza says she wants to take it easy as the cold air affects her voice. She says it’s quite bad for it, and she’s singing in Madame Butterfly in a few days. The guitar guy starts up. He plays it on his lap and with a slide. He plays very fast – very proficient but everything’s a million miles an hour. Frank stands next to him, studying it all.
My two college girls turn up and explain their plan; they would like me to set up down the road and start playing and they’ll come down in a few minutes because they’ve got a little recording device and want to record their walk down to me, capturing all the sounds encountered on the way. That sounds fine as I reckon I can get through twenty minutes before I’ll have to shut down. The wind!…the girls turn up in ten minutes and stand next to me and right on cue someone drops a coin – my first one, as I inform the girls, who still have their machine switched on. I manage to play half an hour; ten minutes on my own, twenty with them with me, then I say ‘That’s it, I’m too cold. We better go off and do the interview!’ I try and think of some place quiet enough and all I can think of is the basement of a café on the next road, so I tell them that’s where we should go…but just as I’m getting up from my stool, Marie-Therese turns up, so I say I’ll do a bit of her favourite, La Vie En Rose and of course she loves it and sings along – ‘Oh, I’m going to cry!’ she says. ‘No, don’t do that’ ‘Ah, do you know what that means La Vie En Rose?’ ‘No, I don’t.’ ‘Oh!…it means I want to hold you and love you – you make my life like a rose!’ I ask her to take a photo of me with the girls. She takes one but has missed out Siobhan so I instead take one of her – Marie-Therese – with the girls on either side. A good photo. I say to the girls, ‘Now you’ve met Marie-Therese, and Frank…and Demelza, you’ll know who they are when you see them in my photo album’ which, naturally, I’ve got with me, making my guitar case twice as heavy. I tell them that after the interview we can go into Boots and I’ll get the photo developed and they can have a copy. So, to the café…
…and downstairs we’re practically the only ones there, which is good for them as they don’t want any background noise. It’s good for me because it’s warm. I get a small microphone clipped on my coat lapel, like they do on the telly, then they start the interview…one and a half hours later and they think they’ve got enough, in fact, way too much and they’ll have to edit it down to half an hour. Good luck! They seem pleased with it. I’m glad they’ve got enough – my voice was getting sore, unaccustomed to public speaking, as I am, and I don’t like talking, so it’s quite a relief it’s over. We go and get the photo developed and the girls get one each and Karen, the woman at the checkout who often chats to me about her ukulele, tells them how great she thinks I am! ‘I’ll pay you for that later’ I say. Then, my interviewers are off for some sightseeing. I suggest they go up the road a bit and visit the Great Hall, which they’ve never seen, or there’s the King Alfred statue – ‘It’s been in Winchester over a hundred years now, you can just see it from here, down the far end.’
We say goodbye and I head down to Vodafone again and manage another half hour, which is definitely enough; my fingers are in pain.
P.S. When I was showing the girls my photo album, I forgot I’d also put in the Boudoir Blush flyer with the picture of the scantily-clad model. All of a sudden, there it was, alongside the photo of me with the two shirtless young blokes who were handing the flyers out. Those two girls must have thought I was a right old dirty sod.