Diary Of A Busker Day 597 Monday, July 28th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:20-5:50pm).
I set up near The Butter Cross, locked the bike behind me, sat down and had just tuned up, when I heard a bloody saxophone. There’s a bloke – early 20’s, tall, reddish hair – playing about 40 feet to my right, about 8 columns down. I couldn’t believe it! Sod it, I packed up, unlocked the bike, went down and stood in front of him until he stopped playing. He said, ‘You play the guitar, don’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah, did you not hear me set up there?’ – I pointed to where I was. He said he didn’t, so I said, ‘Next time you might want to have a look around before you start playing – make sure there’s no one else around’, and he said, ‘I did’, so I said, ‘Next time you need to have a better look around’. He mumbled something – probably ‘twat’ – as I went off.
A bit further down, I bumped into Mick, who was having his coffee outside some coffee place. I told him about the guy, who we could hear really loud. Mick said it was a pain listening to people busking with instruments that only do one note at a time, like the saxophone. I had to agree, although it’s possibly more annoying if they’ve got backing tracks going. Mick then went on about complicated songs with weird root notes, chord changes, bar lengths, tempo changes…his usual (favoured) kind of conversation, in other words. But Mick could see I was still fuming about the bloke up the road. I was! I mean, I hadn’t even started playing and I’d been offended! I said I reckoned I just don’t like people – the general public. ‘Oh well, what can you do? C’est la vie – such is life’, he said. Indeed.
Down the arse-end, that weird tall guy stopped while I was setting up. The conversation: He – ‘I’ve decided, if I don’t like someone after 20 minutes, I’m going to tell them I’m a communist (and then, completely changing the subject, as is his wont)…sorry, do you do this for a living?’ Me – ‘This and some other things. All to do with music’. He – ‘You teach?…customers? You have customers? You give lessons?’ Me – ‘Yeah, a few’. He – ‘Someone told me you were a session man’. Me – ‘Well, I played on some things’. He – ‘Really? I bet you’ve played on some hit records’. Me – ‘No, mainly on my own songs, no hits’. He – ‘Really? Someone told me about a guy, he played on hundreds of hits, he just died’. Me – ‘Really? Do you know his name?’ He – ‘Hmm…no, I can’t remember…hundreds of songs, he was on’. Me – ‘Was it Hal Blaine? (he was the only famous session guy I could think of but I’m sure he’s not dead!) Umm…I don’t know’, he said and he just walked off, as usual, in the middle of a conversation. No ‘right, well…see you’, or ‘bye then’. People are strange.
Anyway, it was only going to be half an hour, then an hour, but it ended up an hour and a half. I didn’t keep extending it because the money was good, because it wasn’t – it was below the average. I just couldn’t be bothered packing up and setting up somewhere else, so I put up with all the noise and buses: at one point there were 6, all in a line. I stopped playing as they all crept by at 1 mile an hour.
At 5:30, just after Jesu, Joy Of etc., while I was tuning down for The Rain Song, the bloke from C & H came out to bring in the sign. He said, ‘The Rain Song – that’s in your repertoire, can you do that one?’ (Ha!) I said I was just about to do that one. Now, I pondered this coincidence and arrived at the conclusion that he’s heard me so many times, his brain is conditioned to hearing some things in a certain order, like the order I ALWAYS do some of the songs in. Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring is ALWAYS followed by The Rain Song. So he’s unconsciously expecting it, which is why it must have popped into his head: he’s anticipating the next song. A bit Pavlovian, methinks…perhaps.
I’m booked in at Chichester tomorrow – with a 10 minute break every half hour, as instructed/ordered by the council, who are ‘cracking down’ on all buskers because the people in the shops are fed up hearing non-stop playing for hours on end…according to the woman on the booking line.