Diary Of A Busker Day 577 Sunday June 22nd 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 12:55-1:55pm, 2. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:09-4:29pm).
The door of Pavilion is open wide and that dark-haired miserable bitch doesn’t seem to be there today, so I reckon they’ll keep the door open. Things go OK for almost 45 minutes…a man sitting with his wife and year old daughter comes over and puts a fiver in saying, ‘It’s alot better than some of the stuff around here’.
Then some idiot in a van reverses right in front of me and stays in his seat, 4 feet in front of me and he never got out to deliver anything! I thought if I say something, I might lose my temper, so I stopped after 5 minutes and dragged my stuff 10 feet to the left, which put me just clear of the back of his van and right next to the barrier, beyond which are the tables of The Slug & Lettuce. In short, the place where I used to set up. Predictably, the van buggered off a few minutes later. I stayed there to fill out the hour…and got only one donation, and that was when I was packing up.
Break time. I had a look up and down the High Street, starting at The Butter Cross where there’s a singer/guitarist. Halfway down to Vodafone, a young dreadlocked guy tuning up with an amp like mine…at Vodafone, 2 kids doing manic dancing on a big mat. One kid’s about 16, the other about 8. Very confident they are, to do that in front of a load of people, no doubt about that. At the spot facing Gieves & Hawkes, there’s an ambulance and alot of soldiers in posh army gear. I found out later it was a First World War commemoration thing. And besides all that, the cathedral bells are going like there’s no tomorrow, so I wouldn’t have been heard, anyway!
I reckon I might as well go down to Oxfam, as I haven’t been there in ages. Philip walks by as I’m finishing the first song, Blowin’ In The Wind. He says he thinks it sounds great, so by way of thanks, as he’s walking off, I start up the Gymnopedie, which makes him turn and smile. He looks OK, in fact he looks pretty well, considering.
Across the way, there’s a woman – early 60’s, I reckon. She really likes what I play and stays for a long time. I’ve noticed that whenever someone sits down near her, including an old lady resting in her frame next to the bench, she’ll strike up a conversation straight away. She’s got quite long hair and I think she must have looked pretty good 30 years ago. Why do women in their 60’s still go around in black leggings and thigh-length boots?! Because it’s a FREE COUNTRY, I suppose.
A waitress from Maison Blanc comes across with a tray of very small things in paper. Also in the tray is a normal sized chocolate eclair. She says ‘That’s for entertaining us’, and I think she’s going to give me the chocolate eclair. But no, she points to the small things in the paper, which look like a blob of brown cream. That’s all they are – blobs about an inch long! So I take one, thank her, she goes off and I take a photo of this blob because I can’t believe it’s so small, like a chocolate!
Two minutes later, I notice this waitress is going up to everyone, and they’re all getting one of these things. She’s even going up to blokes looking in the windows of the shops next door to the restaurant! So, I got mine ‘for entertaining’. What have these blokes got their’s for? Looking in shop windows?! – that really amuses me.
I then notice that the woman who had seemed to enjoy my playing so much, is gone…and she never even contributed…not even a penny! But 10 minutes later, she’s suddenly sitting on the ground, right next to me! She starts mumbling (I think she’s had a few) about how she used to tune engines for Formula 1, eight cylinders and all that. I say I can only tune a guitar. Then she says ‘I know Steve Winwood’, and I think BINGO! – Steve Winwood = Traffic = John Barleycorn Must Die album (containing the song John Barleycorn with capo on the 7th fret) – I happen to have the capo already in the correct position, doing Here Comes The Sun, now what are the chances of that?!
So I do John Barleycorn and she doesn’t seem to recognise it. Come on, that’s one of Winwood’s finest! Then I say, ‘You know, I give guitar lessons to a boy named Oliver Winwood, and he’s a relation’. She ignores me because she must be the kind of person who’s only interested in what SHE’S saying. Anyway, folks are giving her (and possibly me) strange looks as they walk by. I hope they don’t think she’s my wife. I say to her, ‘I bet people think you’re my groupie’, to which she replies by mumbling, and because of this mumbling, I keep having to say ‘sorry?’, which starts to annoy her. So I say, ‘Look, I’m a bit deaf’, and point to my hearing-aid. After 20 minutes she says, ‘I have to go’, and goes, still without contributing. So, what did I find out?…she’s just moved to Winchester, her name’s Christin Christine, or something like that. I couldn’t make it out due to the mumbling.
The session’s a long one: 2 hours and 20 minutes, so that’s pushed the total past the MORE THAN THREE HOURS DANGER ZONE.
On the way back, I pass Mandolin John singing where the flower-seller usually is (I reckon John’s off his head), then up to Pavilion, where, as there are alot of people, it crosses my mind to set up again, but then I think, no way. I mean, 3 hours and 20 minutes I’ve done. DANGER ZONE, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER ZONE!
In the alleyway to The Butter Cross, there’s Otto, sitting against the wall of the West Cornwall Pasty Company shop. He looks up and says, ‘Give us a blast o’ Chuck Berry’, and I think ‘Is that all he likes? – Chuck Berry and Earth Angel?’ I say, ‘Sorry Otto, I’ve got to go home now’.
Earnings: £42.26p (+ one 1984 Australian 50p)
The price of local celebrity: On Monday, I went to buy something at the craft shop opposite Pavilion. When I paid, the Chinese girl behind the counter said, ‘Thanks Marvin’, so I said, ‘How do you know my name?’ and she said, ‘Everyone knows your name’. I said, ‘Oh my goodness, local celebrity, am I?’ Now, I can see how people would recognise the music – that’s blasting out, sort on on display, but my name? How do they know that?’
Then, as I was getting on my bike to go, that tall, bearded nutter was walking past and he said, ‘What does the B stand for in your name? Anything unusual?’ I said, ‘No, only Brian’. Local celebrity, indeed.