Diary Of A Busker Day 340 Tuesday March 9th 2013 Winchester High Street 1. Corner of Marks & Spencer. Time: 12:47-1:12pm 2. Opposite Vodafone. Time: 1:16-2:01pm 3. Opposite Bellis. Time: 2:06-2:13pm A few buskers out today, including – at the middle spot, the Winchester legend known as Frank Williams, so I’m off down to the nether regions, known as the “arse-end” but wait, there’s something happening there; not a busker but a man of about 65, long white hair/beard, holding a tattered bible and speaking in one of those microphones that clip round your ear, like what TV sports presenters and minicab places use. Even so, I can barely hear him, in fact I don’t think he’s actually got it coming out of a speaker. I go up and stand beside him – it’s twenty seconds before he notices me. I decide to seek information; ‘Hello, will you be here long?’ ‘Are you a Christian?’ ‘No, no – none of that!’ He says he’ll be here a matter of minutes. That sounds a bit vague so I inquire – ‘Five minutes? ten?’ ‘Yes’ he says ‘but you’ll be fragmented if you’re not a Christian.’ I say I’m not fragmented. ‘You’ll have no sense of foundation, though.’ I say I have foundation. He says ‘You’ll be ungrounded, without any direction – you could have a breakdown.’ ‘I’ll have a breakdown if I don’t start playing soon.’ ‘Don’t be dismissive, be a Christian’ he says. ‘Nope, I’m having nothing to do with that. I’ll come back in a few minutes, when you’re gone.’ I depart fragmented, direction and foundation less. I set up at the corner of Marks & Spencer; a spot I haven’t played for ages. If I look to my left, I can see where the bible bloke is, so I’ll know when he leaves (in one piece, with secure foundation and in pre- determined direction – the other way, I hope)…after 25 minutes, I get only 2 donations, totalling 24 pence. I reckon that Christian bloke has damned me to eternal coinlessness, or to hell. I wish he would – it might be bloody warmer than this place. Anyway, 24p is less than 1 penny a minute. I pack up in disgust; how mean can people be? No, I won’t make it a question, as I know the answer. I’ll just rephrase it slightly; ‘how mean people can be.’ But really, there are hundreds walking around. Maybe I’d get more if it was colder! Maybe that’s it – “I’ve given him money when it’s been this cold before, I’ll give him some more if it gets colder.” When I walk past George the flower-seller, who’s almost opposite from where I was, he looks at me and I shake my head in total resignation. I decide against going back to where Jesus bloke was – he’s gone now, because I can’t hear Frank anymore so I’m going to where he was instead. I haven’t even started playing when three young Irish blokes stop by, fresh from the pub. One says ‘D’ya know any…Dubliners, do ya? Dubliners?’ Another joins in ‘Yeah, anything Oirish.’ It’s not a question. ‘No, only instrumental stuff.’ ‘What about Danny Boy?’ ‘Danny Boy? No, I play instrumental guitar things, I don’t sing.’ ‘I’ll give ya a ten pound note, if ya sing Danny Boy.’ Well, I’m blown if – even if I knew the words – I’m going to stand in Winchester High Street and sing Danny Boy to three pissed Irishmen, even for a tenner. I persist in my persistence – ‘No, I don’t sing.’ ‘See, ya could’ve had ten pye-inds, if ya did Danny Boy’ and off they go. I carry on here for a bit, have a short chat with Delia who says it’s going to rain…and so it does, just after she goes, so I pack up and decide to go home…and five minutes later change my mind and set up undercover opposite the jewellers, for one of the shortest sets ever; a grand total of SEVEN minutes. I get a couple of quid, though, so it was worth it…wasn’t it? I stop when the rain turns to hail; that’s me done.