Diary Of A Busker Day 379 Thursday May 30th 2013 Winchester High Street 1. Opposite Oxfam. Time: 4:27-5:13pm 2. Opposite Vodafone. Time: 5:25-6:08pm
There’s a man setting up a puppet busker(!) near The Buttercross, and Mike(?) and his mandolin around the corner from Vodafone, so I go down the road…when I’m going past the TINC shop, I can see the short bloke’s working today – the one who I’m sure doesn’t like me – he switches some music on whenever I start up. It’s a FACT, it’s not my imagination! Anyway, I start setting up and a minute later I look up and he’s at the shop doorway looking at me. When he sees me see HIM, he quickly disappears back in his shop…and there it is, he’s switched on the music! Not nearly as loud as he sometimes does, but it’s there.
I decide not to stay here too long just in case he comes across. This is the guy the Scottish piper said came out and told him to fuck off, as I recall. I hope he doesn’t do that to me. If I get angry, I might lose my temper and he wouldn’t like that. He DOES come out during my stint, to put something in the rubbish bin a few steps in front of the shop, and when he does, he looks at me, turns to go back and throws his arms wide to someone standing outside the shop next to his. Yeah, you gesticulate all you want, just don’t come over. No, I’m definitely not imagining it. No, he doesn’t like buskers (or at least those that play bagpipes or fingerstyle guitar). Maybe he’s Son of Timpson Man!
Oh well, I’m leaving. I’ve hardly made anything, anyway; £1.80 for 40 minutes – terrible. In fact it’s worse than terrible. Before I go off, the drongo on the bench opposite (he clapped after the last song – The Rain Song) comes over. Noticing the scantness of the coinage, he dispenses his worldly advice – ‘You want to get a bigger bucket, y’know. You’ve just got that little thing and you want to put yourself out a bit further – come out a bit…and you need to be up the other end, where they all go, at The Buttercross, blah, blah…’That’s just what I need; to play for forty minutes for £1.80 and then have some drongo tell me how to do my job…even though he’s probably right!
A minute later, I bump into Ragtime Phillip and we exchange promised tabs. He gets the one I’ve done for Girl and I get the one he’s done for Killing Me Softly, the song he did on my guitar a few months ago near The Buttercross. Then, a bit further up, Big Issue Simon asks how I’ve done. I tell him the truth – ‘Not very well, but I came out late.’ ‘What’s that one you do…do do do, do dooo, do dooo,’ – he’s do-doing The Third Man. The truth again – ‘The Third Man. It’s from a film from 1949.’ ‘Oh right. I do that one as well (I can’t remember the last time I saw him with a guitar, not playing one, anyway. He had one slung over his shoulder a couple of years ago)…not like you, though. I just do the notes – do do do, do dooo.’ ‘Ah, you do the melody, the three notes next to each other.’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Oh well, that’s the main thing. That’s what everyone knows.’
A bit further up, Mike (if that’s his name) has gone, so I set up…and almost make up for the money I didn’t make down the road. At 5:57, the guy from TINC passes me, glancing very briefly at me, expressionless.
Earlier in the day, I happened to be in Basingstoke (the hub of the western world) and came across Korean violinist Kai busking in Festival Place – the shopping mall. He was on a break and he showed me a photo of a poster he’d done for an air tattoo, with loads of planes on it and I’m sure I’ve seen the poster. He said he’d presented some of the paintings to the pilots and been invited to a special event marking the 50th anniversary of something or other. He told me a story of an old Second World War veteran, who years later went to Berlin to try to find where his friend’s plane was shot down, and he found the place, and after excavation, they found the body!
Anyway, Kai gave me the number of the woman in charge of the busking activity in the mall so when I got back, I phoned and left a message. I thought I’d give it a go as it would make a change from Winchester, once in a while. I managed to get hold of her after days of phoning but the personal liability insurance was so much, I didn’t bother pursuing it. Maybe it was for the best – it might have been warmer but I didn’t fancy being stuck in one place in a shopping mall…in Basingstoke!