Diary Of A Busker Day 595 Saturday, July 19th 2014 Winchester (1. Corner of Monsoon, Market Street, Time: 2:08-4:20pm, 2. Opposite Pavilion, Time: 4:47-5:05pm, 3. Opposite Bath Travel, Time: 5:17-6:25pm).
An incredible day, money-wise! If only every day was like this. I started off round the corner from the Vodafone spot because Sid the flute Drongo was sitting just up from there, breathing into his flute. I got a nice comment after Albatross from a guy who’d been listening across the way. He came over, contributed and said, ‘Very nice, better than the original’.
Also, for the first time, I spoke to a man who I’ve seen around for awhile. He must be the shortest man in town – not a dwarf or midget (I don’t think), just really short!, about 65, I’d say. He came up and started talking about another busker who he thought was very good. He said he had a P.A. and backing tracks. I said I didn’t really agree with all that backing track stuff (unless you’re an opera singer like Demelza). Then this incredibly short guy says, ‘I’d like to hear you sing’, so I said, ‘No you wouldn’t!’, and I said I just played instrumental guitar stuff out here. Anyway, I couldn’t handle lugging all that P.A. and microphone stuff around.
I attempt – and no too badly – The Sweeney, a couple of times, with the volume turned down a bit, of course. That was OK but one that wasn’t was Dixie McGuire. The verses are always difficult: my thumb seems to want to do only about half of the bass notes, which is no good. The middle was OK, though. So, a long session: 2 hours plus. I wasn’t sure whether to come home – there was about £30 in the bucket, which was pretty good, so I thought about it while I was having a toilet break…and afterwards while I was drinking my squash, by which time, I’d recovered, so I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll do another one, up at Pavilion, and make it up to 3 hours’.
And it was a good job I did, because what happened was, after I’d done 10 minutes, a man came up from outside The Eclipse, said he was Ben, and offered me £20 to come down and play for his table! (I initially thought he was going to tell me to shut up!) Well, I thought about it for 10 seconds – during which he actually gave me the £20 note, which sealed it, I suppose…I mean I couldn’t give it back once he’d given it to me, could I? So I finished up what I was playing, did another one – the 1st Gnossienne, and packed up.
So that was probably the shortest set (lots of short stuff today) ever. Jeremy, who was sitting outside the pizza place came up and asked me what was going on. He probably thought the bloke had asked me to shut up, too. When I told him and showed him the £20 note, he said, ‘Oh well, yes, you’ve got to do that, then’. I do. I mean, that’s what I’m out here to do: make some money.
So I packed up, put the amp on the bike and went down to the pub, about 30 yards down the road. But I didn’t want to set up too near as there were other tables, and I don’t know if anyone else wanted to hear me(!), so I set up right next to the road, just in the shadows. Ben said I could play as long as I wanted: 20 minutes, half an hour. I ended up doing an hour, with the bucket out in front, and at the end there was about £20 in there, including a £5 note.
There was only one bad moment. About 20 minutes in, during La Vie En Rose, I thought I might have to stop playing because, while putting my finger flat across two strings, they suddenly really hurt, and every time I did the bit, it was the same – very painful. In fact, I couldn’t play the bit, it hurt so much. Also, I wasn’t sure when a similar bit would come up in some of the other songs. I’d only know when it was too late! So that freaked me out a bit. And also, I didn’t want to have to stop after 20 minutes, as he’d already given me the £20.
Fortunately I got through it. It was quite funny, though. As the hour progressed and the sun was going down, I kept having to move back towards the road, to stay in the shade, so in the end, I was actually in the road! Ben also bought me a pint, which I had beside me for half an hour, which I had at the end. ‘Down in one’, said some wise-guy at one of the other tables. And when I went over to tell Ben I was stopping, he gave me another note – a £10 one!
So, all totalled, I’d done about 3 and a half hours: no wonder the finger was objecting. That was probably at the 3 hour mark. It knows! So, with Ben’s £30 and the £20 in the bucket, it was £50 for an hour and 15 minutes, meaning there must have been around £40 from the 1st session: very good. When I said goodbye to Ben, I said, ‘So, same time tomorrow?’! Money-wise, unbelievable. Like I said, if only every day…