Diary Of A Busker Day 514 Saturday March 1st 2014 Winchester (Opposite Pavillion, The Square, Time: 12:40-2:10pm, 2:55-4:36pm).
The first day of spring – as I was reminded by an old guy outside the craft shop when I was setting up. He was waiting for his wife to come out – ‘Nice sunny spot…to stand…can be hot or cold, eh? – in the spring’. I said ‘Yep’. ‘Like the autumn’, he added, to which I replied ‘Yeah, that’s right…could be wet…or dry’.
In fact, it’s so warm – I’m in the sun, of course – that I toy with the notion of REMOVING THE JUMPER, but I’d have to stop playing, take my coat off, all that. Speaking of playing, I was thinking on the way in – I didn’t play Albatross yesterday! Must have been the only time I haven’t, so I make it the first one today. The hour and a half goes quite fast, probably because, for once, I’m not freezing.
Just before I stop, Guitar man Chris from yesterday walks by with his guitar and amp, so I say he can take over. He says he was just in Southampton and made FIFTY QUID IN TWENTY MINUTES! I say ‘You’re joking – that’s good. I played there when I started and it was bloody awful’, which is the main part of my The Terrible Time I Had In Southampton When I Started Busking Lecture. He said ‘Yeah, you just gotta get it when the mood’s right – it can be pretty terrible there’. I mustn’t have ever got the mood right.
I walk down the road, turn left…there’s that rockabilly lot blasting out at the crossroads…I go to Waterstones and look through a book: Art Deco Postcards. On the way back, I bump into Posh BrYan coming down the High Street. I forgot to say he was at his usual table outside his posh pub/restaurant while I was playing, earlier. I don’t usually see his face so close-up. It’s really red – he’s a proper posh drinker, is Posh BrYan. He says ‘A young man took over from you (that makes me feel really old)…well, I’ve never heard such a fucking racket!’ Ha! – he’s talking about Chris and his lightning-fast tapping! I said ‘Ah, that’s Chris – yeah, he plays in a…slightly different style than me’. Posh BrYan says ‘Well, I didn’t know you’d gone – I thought you’d had a brainstorm!’
BrYan goes off and not ten seconds later, I bump into the man himself – Chris. He mustn’t have done more than half an hour up there. Maybe he didn’t get the mood right – ha! Anyway, because there’s a bloke with a puppet at The Butter Cross and the Rockabilly Billies (I’ll call them that – I don’t know their real name) are still at the crossroads – on a break, I end up back where I was.
At 3:50, During Here Comes The Sun, a man about 60 comes up, holds out a grubby hand, holding a grubby £5 note – ‘Hey, I really like what you play, I’ve seen you a few times, I’ve been at The Eclipse, all…’ – he’s well-sozzled and I was going to say, finishing his sentence – ‘All your life?’, but said ‘All day?’ instead. ‘Yeah…anyway, I really like…you play good music…here’ – and he shoves the grubby note at me. I say ‘Really?’ and he seems to get slightly annoyed – ‘Yeah, why not? – you deserve it’. ‘Well, thank you, sir’. ‘Wha? – don’t call me sir, you don’t have to call me sir’. ‘OK, well thank you…Fred, if your mane’s Fred, or whatever it is…what’s your name?’ ‘Bob’. ‘OK, Bob – that’s very kind of you’. ‘No…you play good music…now, that one you do – The Third Man, that’s…I love that one…that’s my favourite’. ‘Right, I’ll do that, just after this one’. ‘No, eh…you don’t have to do it now…but that’s my favourite’. ‘It’s no problem, Bob. I played it half an hour ago, I can play it again’. Bob walks off, I finish Here Comes The Sun and go into The Third Man – Bob’s disappearing in the alleyway. He looks back, holds his thumb up. Now, when Bob gave me the £5 note, and as I put it in my trouser pocket, I cut the side of my middle finger on the zip, so I kept having to stop and wipe the blood off the cut. It really hurt, because, of course, my pain threshold is extremely low.
After Yellow Bird, five minutes before the end, a woman with incredibly white teeth comes up and says ‘Could you play something more upbeat?’ and I notice she’s got a badge on: Rohan – the shop next to The Eclipse. I explain that I did my ‘up-tempo’ set not long ago: James Bond, Apache, Music To Watch Girls By. She says ‘You know any Harry Belafonte?’ I say ‘Well, he did Yellow Bird – that’s the one I’ve just done’ – how can she not know that, being a Belafonte fan?! She says ‘Um…you know Turn The World Around by Harry Belafonte?’ I say ‘No – I’ll look it up, though. Actually, I’ll write it down (I do), cause sometimes people come up and suggest things that are good, that I don’t know, you know’. ‘Yes, um…do you know that one he did with The Muppets?’ (I’m a bloody muppet, for listening to her). ‘No’. ‘When Jim Henson died – he went on The Muppets and they did a song, hmm…(starts humming it)…’ Me – ‘No, I don’t know’. She – ‘OK, well we’re in the shop, we turned our music off and opened the door so we could hear you. Every Saturday, we’re here’. Oh well, makes a change from that frosty bitch in Pavillion shutting the door tight. I don’t think she’s here on weekends – good.
(Later, when I told Doll about the ‘could you play more up-tempo songs’ comment, she said ‘I hate it when they say things like that to you. You should have said ‘Do you think you could change your window display once in awhile, so I don’t have to keep looking at the same ones?!)
Something I feel a bit bad about. Near the end, a woman was trying to get her sick teenage daughter into a car parked between me and the outside restaurant tables – about 15 feet from me. I don’t know what was wrong with the daughter, but she could barely walk, and the woman was trying to open the passenger door – on my side, while trying to hold up the daughter, and I was too slow to help. In fact, a woman sitting at one of the tables helped her – and she was much further away from the mother than I was. But I was thinking that, in the time it’ll take me to put the guitar down and go over, someone else will do it, but no one did. Hold on – maybe THEY should feel bad, as well…
Earnings: £56.87p (Including 2 CDs)