Diary Of A Busker Day 410

Diary Of A Busker Day 410 Thursday July 18th Chichester/Winchester (1. Opposite Marks & Spencer, North Street, Chichester, Time: 12:03-12:57pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, High Street, Winchester, Time: 3:14-5:34pm).

I finally took Tony’s advice – ‘travel, make a name for yourself’, and got on the train (that’s one down!) to Chichester. And who is the first person I see as I turn into the main street, or High Street, or whatever it is, near the clock tower? – The Butter Cross of Chichester. It’s Rob Berry, blasting out my favourite of his repertoire – Little Wing. As I walk past him and his wife, he acknowledges me with a little laugh. It’s weird seeing him here – we’ve only ever met in Winchester.

Down the road, almost out of earshot of Rob, is a 6′ 3” hippie playing a violin. He’s wearing a hippie-style shirt, anyway, so for the purposes of this, that’s what he is.  I carry on a few more minutes but it’s pretty dead so I head back…and Rob’s now on A Whiter Shade Of Pale. I turn right and carry on down that road – the streets are very wide here – and I’m just about to set up somewhere, when I hear a saxophone doing the Pink Panther theme opposite Marks & Spencer, so I go up and ask how long he’ll be – it’s a young bloke. He says ‘Only another 10, 15 minutes. I’m booked till 12.’ Booked? Yes indeed, he’s booked. He says you have to get permission from the council. Oh no, my young man, I don’t bother with all that! I say I’ll come back a bit later, but in the meantime, what to do…I come across a pub – The Old Cross, which has a sign saying they have music, so I go in to enquire. The barmaid, who is heavily tattooed, says her boss is away for a while, but if I’d like to leave a ‘demo’, she’ll make sure he gets it. So I leave one of the old Busking In Winchester CDs.

Back on the street, the sax guy is packing up. He’s a bit annoyed about the noise (Rob) from down the road – ‘I can’t compete with that’, he says. I know Rob’s pretty loud sometimes. I think he was asked to turn down in Winchester. I tell Jack – for that’s his name – about busking there, that you don’t need a permit. You will though, soon enough I reckon. Unfortunately, Rob happens to be facing down the street we’re on, so he’s blasting right at us! In Winchester, he’s facing sideways on, so he’s blasting at a building and not down the High Street. Totally different.

Anyway, Jack wishes me luck, and I set up and start.  The first contributor is a little girl out with her mother. Ten minutes later, a lady of about 70, who’s just come out of Marks & Spencers, comes up and says ‘I want to thank you on behalf of Chichester for NOT using amplification which is TOO LOUD! It’s so nice to hear that music – thank you’. A bit later, a man asks me how long I’ve been playing, etc. I tell him I’ve come from Winchester, which is where I usually play. He says ‘Oh, Winchester’s London to us! Chichester’s like a country town!’ I say ‘Winchester’s like London?’ ‘Oh yes. All the people, most of ’em work in London’, he says. I agree – ‘Yep, I think a lot of them do – you’re right’.

I HAVE noticed one big difference: there are no foreign students. And although there are the same amount of people, maybe even more, it seems a lot quieter, apart from Rob down the road, who I can barely hear, where I am. So, two big differences, in fact. Maybe it’s the width of the streets. The sound must be more dispersed here…or something like that.

Then it happens – the inevitable.  A CPSO (or is it PCSO?) approaches from the right and stands next to me, waiting for me to finish the song. At least their polite here. But I don’t bother finishing it – why postpone it? He says he’s had reports of people busking without permits – do I have one? No, I don’t. Then I’ll have to stop, he says. But he’s very helpful. He says I can apply for one at the council offices, just off West Street: turn right at the clock tower, go down a bit… And he writes down a phone number on his card – if I’d prefer to phone, and gives it to me. His name’s on the card, of course. Sean Trebble, Police Community Support Officer (so it’s PCSO) 65190. (‘I am not a number! I am Sean Trebble!!) While we’re having our friendly chat, two cyclists ride by and experience the wrath of Sean Trebble: ‘No riding in the pedestrian area! PLEASE GET OFF YOUR BIKES!’ They ignore him. ‘I don’t think they heard you’, I say. ‘Or they didn’t want to hear’, says Sean Trebble, PCSO 65190. I change the subject and ask him if the fish and chip shop is still here. It was near that theatre I did a gig at, years ago. ‘How long ago?’ he asks. I have to think about this for a few seconds!…’Seventeen years ago, something like that, I think’.  He says, ‘Oh no, that hasn’t been there for years. Nothing like that now’. What a shame. It was really good. (It must have been if I remember it after 17 years!)

Anyway, after giving me the directions to the council place again, because, apart from really good chip shops, my memory’s just terrible, Sean Trebble says he’s now going to check if Rob’s got a permit. So he heads off and I get a photo – looking down the street with Sean Trebble PCSO disappearing in the foreground…and sure enough, a minute later and he’s having a word with Rob’s missus, who now does the thumbs up sign, so Rob must have a license. I really hate it when one of these PCSOs stop me. I think people walking by must think I’m some sort of criminal!

I have to ask a man, but I found the council offices – a very big building. But when I go in, one of the two receptionists says it’s not the right place, however, as I’m reading the number my man Sean Trebble has written out, before I’m finished, the other receptionist has got the right person on the phone to speak to me! Well, I certainly can’t fault West Sussex Council for their efficiency. Very impressive.  So I take the phone and give the woman all my information and then she asks what area I want to busk in, and of course, I don’t know the names of any of the streets, apart from West Street. So she says ‘I’ll just put down East Street. That covers all of the central area’. I say ‘OK, thanks’, and that’s that.

There’s no point in hanging around or trying to set up again. Not on Sean Trebble’s watch, anyway. That guy’s really on the ball: Super PCSO of Chichester town centre. So, as I played for not very long – just under an hour,  I decide to get the train back and walk into Winchester from the station, and do some more ‘time’ there. The money I got in Chichester was the usual rate, so it just covered the train fare: £10.45p. On the way back to the station, Rob’s still there although he’s not playing. I wonder if Sean Trebble had a word about the volume. Maybe that’s what the thumbs up was for. Anyway, I’m getting out of here!

I ate my packed lunch while waiting for the train on platform 2, making good use of time, as life is short and all that. On the first train I have to get, to Fratton, I do a count-up: £13.80p, which means I made a profit of £3.35p on my Chichester debut. About an hour later, going through the ticket hall at Winchester, a woman says ‘You’re brave. Are you going to play in the heat?’ (it’s 27 degrees today) I say ‘Yeah, in the shade, if I can find it’. The heat didn’t bother me in Chichester, as I was in the shade.

At The Butter Cross, there’s some guy with a cropped, dyed white Mohican, putting some things in a bag. I’m told by one of the Wood Green Animal Charity people that, earlier, he was walking a tightrope while playing a violin. That’s an even weirder way of making a living than this thing I do! Anyway, he’s gone off so I set up…and so it’s back ‘home’ with all the screaming language students. There must be thousands of them. I mean, how many language schools are there around here?!

Andrew Rutter turns up. He’s found an old drawing he made for the planners of the bypass, before the motorway was there. It’s several feet long. Quite a find, he says. The only thing is, there’s no date on it, which is a shame – it’s always good to have a date on stuff like that, I reckon. I ask if he knows roundabout when he did it. He says ‘Oh…thirty, fourty years ago’. ‘That long?’ I say. ‘Oh yes,’ he says, ‘must have been 1975. How time passes…must be older than I look!’

One of the animal charity girls isn’t having much luck, the one who’s been dancing around to what I’m playing. Maybe that’s got something to do with it! At one point she says ‘I don’t think they like me’, so, feeling sorry for her, I say ‘I like you’, which I don’t think helps her much. I tell her what Alex Philips said to me the other day, about a job being easy if you’re passionate about it. I’m not sure she agrees – she doesn’t say she doesn’t agree, but maybe she’s just having a bad day. They’re allright – the charity people, and they all contributed just before they went off, which is very nice. They said the music made the time go quicker. One of them – Chris, posed for a photo with his skateboard. I still don’t know how they do it, with all the rebuffs and 99% of everyone trying to avoid them.  And they’re all still so cheerful. You must have to be that kind of person. Definitely NOT me…

Earnings: Chichester:  £13.80p                                                                                                                           Winchester: £32.96p                                                                                                                           Total: £46.76p Expenses: £10.45p (train fare to Chichester)                                                       Profit: £36.31p


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