Diary Of A Busker Day 424 Saturday August 3rd Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:05-4:10pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:45-5:44pm).
Before starting the usual slog, I go into O’Neill’s to play for a bit. This came about last week when I was having the annual 2 pints of Guinness during the annual evening out, while Doll and Jude are off on the annual camping trip. One of the owners came up and asked if I would come in and play for a bit: 10, 20 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours – up to me. Charity, but he said I could sell my CDs, if I wanted, so I said OK, I’d pop in on my way to the High Street. So I set up on the stage, they turned off the piped music, and I started: Albatross, La Vie En Rose, Here Comes The Sun, The Third Man – all High Street favourites. I played to about twenty people on five or six tables for 45 minutes, and for the whole time not one person clapped. Actually, it quite upset me. Not ONE person. In fact I don’t know how I stuck it for that long. So I packed up and left, or maybe fled’s a better word. At the door, I turned around and said in a loud voice, to everyone and no one ‘Thanks alot’.
I couldn’t believe it – I felt disgusted with those people. How can all of them sit there and not one of them show any sign of acknowledgement to someone who’s just played for 45 minutes? And it’s not as if I’ve just been strumming a load of crap. I put it down to it being England, southern England in particular, being the place you find the most disrespectful ‘audiences’ in the world, and a place where maybe I’ve lived for too long. So of course it put me in a bad mood, which is an unfortunate place to be, just before a session.
Anyway, Sam’s at The Butter Cross, and Guy and his Threepenny Piece lot are at the crossroads, so it’s down to Oxfam for me…where things are a bit slow…until during Girl, when a couple walk by and the man drops a £20 note in. Wow! Song Of The Day. I say ‘Oh thank you, sir!’, but he doesn’t turn his head and they keep walking, which I think’s abit rude but he’s forgiven! It’s a lot of money, but it’s still not enough to rid my mind of bad thoughts and offensive people.
It’s a windy day and there’s lots of dirty napkins blowing around my stuff, which is really doing my head in. Stuff getting stuck to the front of the bucket where it says CDs – £10, so I have to stop, uncover it, and then there’s some cellophane blowing about…in fact, at one point a woman comes over from one of the tables, to contribute – I thought, but it’s to pick up a napkin that’s blown over from her table. Then there’s the buses creeping past at 1 mile an hour, and I can’t hear anything because they’re so noisy, so I stop playing. Once, I got so frustrated, I shouted ‘COME ON!’. Oh yes, I shouted at a bus. I don’t know, I think all this busking is doing my head in. The O’Neill’s thing didn’t help, though. It keeps coming into my mind: 45 minutes and not ONE person clapped…
I mess up the middle bit of the Elvis song because I got distracted, or bored, or depressed, or it was the buses. Anyway, Mr. Hayward’s ex – Christine, heard it and comes over and makes a joke remark about it so I have a moan to her about what happened earlier, and she gives me a coin ‘so you’ll be happy’.
Then, possibly the main offence of the day occurs. I’m back doing Can’t Help Falling In Love and two women cross over and stand next to me. I’m sure I’ve seen them before, in fact I’m sure this whole thing has happened before. So one of them starts singing the song in an operatic voice, so I stop playing. I think before, I might have gone with it, as I would have been in a better mood, but not today. She carries on for a few seconds, then stops, and then there’s a load of clapping from all the tables on the other side of the road. The very same ones that have been more or less ignoring me for the past two hours. Then the two women walk off without saying a word to me. How can anyone do that? Just hijack a song – god damn it – a performance?! So, for the second time today, I shout ‘THANKS A LOT!’, this time to all the bloody useless people over the road.
I resume the song, finish it, and of course there’s no response from the bloody useless lot over the road, so sod the lot of them – I’m packing up. I’m hoping to catch up the two women so I can say ‘Don’t ever do that again. If you see me playing, don’t ever come up and start singing’, but I don’t see them. But I DO see Mick, for the first time in ages. So he isn’t dead! He’s sitting outside one of the coffee places, ubiquitous cheroot hanging out his mouth. I actually say I’m pleased he’s still alive(!), and then I have a big moan about what’s just happened down the road. After a few minutes, I calm down a bit – just a bit! But enough to go for another session, near The Butter Cross.
As I’m about to start, Sam appears, with two girls carrying his amp and guitar. I don’t know, some people have all the luck! I ask him if he wants to play here but he says no, he’s tired and he was up at 10 o’clock to get here. He’s living in Brighton now, which I didn’t know. Anyway, I have a moan to HIM about what’s happened down the road! He says that happens a lot when he busks at night in Brighton. Alcohol, that’s all it is, he says. My goodness, how can he put up with that? Maybe it’s different if it’s in the evening, with drunk people. I mean, you sort of expect it. There’s no excuse for it with sober people in broad daylight, though. And certainly not in THIS one-horse town.