Diary Of A Busker Day 401 Tuesday July 9th Winchester High Street (Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:02-4:30pm).
A bloke who looks like an old rocker, and his wife or girlfriend (or whatever %$&! she is!) walk by as I finish Jesu with a slow ascending arpeggio. He says ‘I don’t remember Bach doing that’. I say no, but I do, and inform him that the arranger is Leo Kottke, who they’re familiar with, and we wonder what he’s up to now as we haven’t heard much from him lately. I assume he’s probably playing somewhere – probably America. Anyway, this old rocker says he has a friend – a guitarist named Woody Mann, who’s on tour right now. He says he was taught by the Reverend Gary Davis. I haven’t heard of Woody Mann but I’ve heard of Gary Davis. I take it their friend Woody is of the blues persuasion and say I’ll look into him.
A bizarre thing happens. A duck emerges from Market Street, followed by her five ducklings. She(?) crosses the High Street and carries on the other side! – on the way to the river near the recreation ground, I’m reckoning. Lots of people stop to take photos, including a bunch of foreign language students, of which there are a seemingly endless supply of today. In fact, they are unusually generous – I reckon they account for at least half the takings. I often wonder if some of the schools tell them not to give anything to beggars, homeless…and buskers, because sometimes an enormous line of them will go past and not one will contribute. Getting back to the ducks, I almost stop and put down the guitar, get my camera out and rush to get a photo like everyone else, but it would mean I’d have to stop halfway through a song (a crime!) and anyway, I’m not out here to take pictures of bloody ducklings! Interesting though. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that – like something out of Thomas Hardy. Then again, here we are in the capitol of Wessex.
One of the friendlier Drongos – the one who recently said he didn’t know whether to throttle or applaud me when he hears me do The Third Man – is suddenly beside me. He tells me he’s heard there’s going to be a stage production of TTM in London. Probably an Andrew Lloyd Webber kind of thing, he says. If so, I’ll have to make sure I miss it. He asks me if I think they’d use the original music. I say I don’t know, not if it’s a ALW thing – those guys use all their own songs, don’t they? Anyway, how can they do TTM without the famous tune? The Drongo walks off then walks by a few minutes later, when I’m doing Here Comes The Sun. He laughs and – because it’s a sunny day – says, ‘You really are taking advantage of the situation, aren’t you?’ Yeah, why not. The thing is, over the 2 1/2 hours I’m here, I play it 3 times so that’s once every 50 minutes or so. Well, this guy just happens to be walking by the SECOND time I play it, too! He starts laughing again and says ‘Now you really are taking the piss!’
No I’m not…but there really are millions of foreign students about – mainly girls, oddly enough…maybe they’re better at English than the blokes?! They’re a funny lot, though. There’s a bunch of them standing up from me, and when they see one of the litter/street cleaner blokes with his McDonalds cart, they beckon him over and get him to take his cap and ‘high-visibility’ waistcoat off. Then one of them puts them on and poses next to the blokes’ cart and the others take a photo. Then, while they’re doing that, Alan turns up and they then do the same with him. How strange. Don’t they have street litter blokes in Italy?
Afterwards I ask Alan about it and he says ‘They probably think I’m a rear admiral or something, with this hat. They don’t know I’m the lowest of the low!’ ‘Al’, I say, ‘you’re not the lowest of the low!’ ‘Well it doesn’t get any lower than a litter picker!, he says, without a molecule of bitterness. Al’s a happy guy – I know he loves it out here and he doesn’t care about the job, really. What he loves is meeting people. I know – I remember him saying that when he came back after his operation and retirement. He couldn’t handle not being out here. What a guy, I wish I was like that! And he’s got the most wrinkled face I’ve ever seen. I must get another photo of him. He says ‘and the Chinese students call me SIR, with an ‘h’ after the ‘s’ – “hello, sher”‘.
Earnings: £39.21p (+ 1 euro coin and a 20 cent euro coin)