Diary Of A Busker Day 561 Thursday May 15th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 2:25-4:05pm, 2. Opposite Bellis, Time: 4:25-5:40pm).
Fact is stranger than fiction…during the 1st set, an old couple came up and said ‘So did you ever get the £10,000 from that Mrs. Hurst?’*, which threw me for a minute – I thought ‘What? – £10,000?’ So I said ‘Sorry, what do you mean…what?’ So they repeated it and then it hit me…the animated Diary Of A Busker film – they must have seen it and thought it was real! I mean, they said it in all seriousness, I had to explain it was a made-up story.
Harry The Dutchman isn’t dead! He’s suddenly right in front of me: flat cap, teeth glistening (they’ve got to be be dentures). At first, before he says anything, I think it must be a ghost because I’ve heard they can look solid before they slowly evaporate…but it really is him. He’s pleased to see me again and we shake hands. In fact, I even stop playing and stand up. The weird thing is, he thought I’d gone away, as he’s been back here (he lives in Portsmouth) a few times, so we must have missed each other everytime, although he said he hasn’t been out as much, as, due to a problem, he has to go to the toilet every half hour.
He says he’s trying to find a place that sells ‘Prums’, which throws me (again) for a bit – ‘What?’ He says it again – ‘Prums’. ‘Prums?’, I say. ‘Yes, PRUMS, P-R-U-M’, he spells it out. I say I’ve never heard of that, and he says it again – ‘Prum, P-R(he rolls it)-U-M, that you eat’, and then he makes a really funny clicking sound with his mouth! I still don’t get it, then I think he must mean PRUNES. Maybe it’s some weird Dutch thing they have with their m’s and n’s. So I say ‘You mean prunes, P-R-U-N-E’. ‘Yes, prumes!’ – he says it again with an m – ‘that you eat’, and he does that clicking thing again: weird but very funny.
He then tells me his surname, which I write down all wrong so he has to spell it out for me – ‘van – small v, then, separate word – den Braak – small d,e,n, then Braak – capitol B, r (rolls it – I wish I could do that!), a, a – two of them, then k’. Then he says ‘It has two meanings: one good (then he leans in, looks either side of him and then lowers his voice)…and one bad’. ‘Really?’, I say, my curiosity now aroused. ‘Yes, it means land that lays empty – that’s the good one’, and after a few seconds of him not saying anything, I say ‘And what’s the bad one?’ He leans in again, looks either side and says ‘To vomit’.
Harry says he’s 87, which is a mystery as when I checked my photo album – he’s the first photo in the album – the photo from April 2012 says he’s 86, so he should be 88 now. Anyway, I tell him my birthday is in two days – ‘How old will you be?’, he says. ‘Fifty-two’. ‘Oh that’s nothing!’ (I do like these old folks’ attitude to age). After a bit, he puts a pound in, we shake hands again and he says ‘Just in case I don’t see you again!’ I say ‘I’m sure you will, now. Probably in half an hour when you come back’, and off he goes. I resume the song I’d stopped playing, whatever it was, then 30 seconds later go into The Third Man. I look up the road, there he is. He’s stopped, turned round, big smile, and gives me the thumbs-up. What a guy!…and sure enough, 20 minutes later, he’s back, and puts a 50p coin in, saying ‘There, people should see that and come up to you’.
I almost forgot, just before Harry went off the first time, I got him to pose for another photo which, when I compared it, I saw it was taken just a few feet from the first photo, and he’s even got the exact same expression: big smile, head at the same angle, and he’s wearing the same flat cap. So that cheered me up a bit. The inevitable lack of coinage on a busy day had been getting to me, before he came along. In fact, it kept me up for the next two hours. I was so pleased one of my original old people – one of the original fans – hadn’t died!
In the 2nd set, I saw the little autistic boy Ethan again, this time out with just his dad, who spoke to me this time (so he’s forgiven). He said Ethan’s got chicken pox – I could see some red marks on his face, poor kid – and that he wasn’t feeling himself.
Speaking of the imminent birthday, as I was coming into Greenhill Road, a woman was getting out of a car with a baby and some shopping. As I walked by, she said ‘Oh, you have a guitar?’, so I said ‘Yeah, I’m just going home’. She said ‘What’s your name?’, so I said ‘Marvin’, and she said ‘Oh, we’ve got a letter, I think it’s for you. We put the name in Google and it came up about a musician’. She went in her house and came out with my birthday card from the folks over the ocean. They’d put No.5 Greenhill Road instead of No.4, and 5 is nowhere near our bit, strangely enough. The houses at the bottom of the road are 1, 3, 5 and 7 – all old and next to each other, and all the ones where we live are 2, 4 and 6. I hadn’t even realised, after more than 10 years of living here!
So anyway, the woman had written ‘return to sender’ and were going to put it in the postbox, so it was amazing I just happened to walk by when she was getting out of her car. When I said my full name, she said ‘Oh yes, that’s quite a distinctive name – that’s definitely the name on it’.
Song Of The Day – Here Comes The Sun, which was played twice. The 1st time it got a few donations, the 2nd time, nothing.
- They meant Kurst.