Diary Of A Busker Day 369 Friday May 17th 2013 Market Place, Romsey. Time: 11:25am -12:55pm
What better way to start my 51st birthday than a spot of busking in a nearby picturesque market town? What better way indeed. I was actually thinking of coming here last Friday but it was raining, and, unlike in Winchester, with The Pentice, there’s no place for cover.
Anyway, it’s always nice to see Bertie and his sidekick from the stall opposite. Bertie says, ‘You look a bit younger…you had a haircut?’ ‘No, although it’s strange you mention that, as it’s my birthday today.’ ‘Hmm…you do look younger, how old are you, 57?’ Bloody cheek. ‘ Anyway, can you play The Sweeney?’ ‘I don’t know it too well Bertie, but I’ll see what I can do.’ Sidekick then starts going on about someone I’ve never heard of; an apparently great guitar player called Doyle Dyke. I say I’ll check him out – I’m assuming it’s a man.
I take up my usual position next to the restaurant door and as I haven’t been here for some time – I can’t remember when, it takes awhile to settle in. I’m also quite conscious of the stationary audience; the market stall people just a few feet away. There’s something else which I’m finding slightly unnerving. I’ve been using a new piece of gear – a combination stool/rucksack acquired for a couple of quid at the car boot sale last week. It’s quite handy as the stool is attached to the back of the rucksack and is part of the frame, and the amp fits (just) into it and then there’s (just) enough room for the bucket to go on top of the amp. The problem is, because the stool’s about two inches higher than the other ones I’ve been using, the frame seems to be putting pressure on the underside of my legs just above my knees and I think it’s cutting off the circulation and giving me a sort of cramp in my feet – mainly my left one, and it’s going dead! So I think the stool is just a bit too high for me to use.
After a bit, Sidekick comes over to ask how I’m getting on. He starts off by suggesting I listen to Paul Weller – Wildwood, English Rose – ‘I’ve got an album without the singing. Just the music. It’s really good – works without the words.’ Not for me it wouldn’t, as I’m not the biggest Weller fan, but I don’t tell him that.
Anyway, I bring up the stool problem. ‘Dead leg, eh?’ says Sidekick, ‘that’s what happens when you get to 51. It’s not the stool!’ Oh good. Cheers. Bertie comes over, again bringing up The Sweeney, and again I say I’ll have a listen, so of course, he pulls out his phone and gets it up so I can have a listen there and then, which is not what I want to do right there and then! Anyway, I manage to work out it’s in Eb, and I work out the first few notes…but I’m leaving it there, and I again say ‘I’ll investigate it later on, Bertie.’ ‘Yeah, maybe you can learn it for next time. Learn a new song every time you come here.’ Yeah, alright.
After an hour and a half which went relatively quick, I stop and pack up and nosey Bertie comes over to see how I’ve done – ‘You want a twenty, ideally, don’t you?’ I do, as I have to take off £6.50 for the bus. I count up and it’s about £17, which is OK. Anyway, I think that’s it – ‘I don’t want to do another set, Bertie, besides I’ve got Ollie’s lesson at 4 o’clock – he’s 14, back in the old town.’ ‘What, you’re going to HAVE one, from a 14 year old, for you?’ Funny guy.
Anyway, I’ve got awhile until the next bus as I’ve just missed one, so I go and have my snack – my birthday snack – near the abbey, then go to all the charity shops…I buy a white silk scarf with tassles at the ends; the kind posh blokes wear with a dinner suit and a black bow-tie. I paid £1.99 for it – a bargain! I go back to say goodbye to Bertie and get a photo – a birthday photo – of me and him. Bertie got the woman at the next stall to take it. I show him my posh scarf – ‘What’s that, is that a hat?’ ‘No!’ says the woman, ‘it’s not a bloody hat! It’s a silk scarf, like what you have with a dinner jacket.’ Bertie says he’ll see me at the Hat Fair in Winchester and buy me a pint, which is good of him, although I never go to the Hat Fair because I’m not into that sort of silliness. The picture the woman took was nice, though, so I tell Bertie I’ll get a copy for him.