Diary Of A Busker Day 366 Friday May 10th 2013 Winchester High Street, opposite Bellis/O2. Time: 12:55-2:30pm
The sky’s cloudy for most of the time but the temperature is acceptable; 13 degrees (56 Fahrenheit). I set up a few feet from a Red Cross guy collecting money in a plastic bucket. Quite an old guy. These people are amiable enough so I’m sure he won’t mind me setting up.
I sell a CD! – to a tall scouser of about 60, wearing sunglasses. I’m not surprised to find he plays in a group; Johnny Kidd, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry stuff. He likes the fingerstyle I do but hesitates somewhat when I tell him the price of my CDs. In fact, because he hesitates JUST THAT ONE SECOND LONGER, I say he can have one for £9 – that’s a pound off. He takes me up on it, handing me a tenner, saying ‘I’ll give the one pound to The Red Cross.’ I reckon he would have succumbed if I’d held out JUST THAT ONE SECOND LONGER! I must learn, I MUST learn…
Tom the actor sees me from across the road and comes over and takes his traditional place, next to me, but I’m not giving him the chance to do what I know he’s going to do – ‘You’re not going to start patting me on the head, Tom, are you?’ No, he’s not. Which is good, as there’s only so much I can take of that. I ask if he knows the song I’m playing, When I’m Sixty-Four. He does, and proceeds to do one of his dances for a minute…then walks off. I hope he wasn’t offended by my head-patting comment.
Just up a bit, at The Buttercross, there’s some tour group of elderly folk listening to a guide. One of the women comes over and puts a coin in, saying she’d rather listen to ME. Ha! I was doing Dixie McGuire so I’ll name it Song Of The Day.
Oh yes, people seem to like me today – the money’s a lot better than usual, for once. Also, after I’ve packed up and about to walk off, the Red Cross guy steps up to me and says ‘you’re not going, are you?’ I say ‘yeah, I am’ and he says he enjoyed listening and again asks me if I have to go. I say I really do, so the people in the shops don’t get fed up with me because I know some of them must do. It’s the law of averages, that sort of thing. But this guy really has enjoyed listening, as he tells me again. Actually, there’s something odd about him…in fact, I think he might be a sandwich short of a full picnic. Anyway, I ask about his work and he says he’s been here since 9 and leaves at 5. I say ‘that’s a long time to stand around.’ ‘It gets monotonous sometimes, so I really like to hear you…I’m here because someone else couldn’t make it, and I’ll be here tomorrow, as well.’ ‘No doubt I’ll see you then.’ ‘Will you be at this spot?’ ‘Maybe, but not if there’s a band or someone else here. Some get here for 9 o’clock to nab it, but if I’m not here I’ll be somewhere nearby.’
His name’s Marcus and I get a photo of him, holding his big Red Cross banner out. I notice there are some badges sewn on the side of it, which I ask him about. He says he put them there and they’re from all the regiments The Red Cross has served since The First World War. I ask how long he’s been with The Red Cross. ‘In four years, I’ll have done it forty years.’ ‘So, that’s…thirty-six years.’ – my mathematical precision is very impressive. But then he says ‘In FIVE years, I’ll have done it forty years’. ‘Right, so you’ve been doing it thirty-five years, right?’ ‘Yeah’. ‘A worthy cause, Marcus. I’m very impressed.’ I tell him I’m going to Boots to get the photo developed and I’ll get two done; one for him and one for the album. Nice man. One of those people who hasn’t got an unkind bone in their body…definitely a screw lose, though!
On the way back, I drop into Help The Aged where I collect a parcel left for me by Eve, who I met yesterday. She works behind the counter – ‘not on Fridays, though,’ and when I walked in, she said ‘Oh, are you the gentleman who plays the lovely guitar?’ and she chatted to me for ages…and ages. Anyway, while I was telling her about playing in the cold, she said she’d bring in some things called wristies – woollen bands about two inches wide which, yes indeed – go on your wrists. They’ll keep my hands warm, she says. She also said she’d bring in a scarf and a music book of standards that I might want to learn. Sure enough, the second I walk in, the woman at the counter (not Eve, as it’s Friday) said, ‘You must be Marvin.’ I said ‘Marvin, that’s right.’ ‘Yes, Eve has left a parcel,’ and she went off to the back room and came back with a carrier bag with said parcel, and taped on it was a small envelope containing a card saying what was in it.
Earnings: £32.19 (including one CD)