Diary Of A Busker Day 622 Wednesday August 27th 2014 Chichester (1. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 12:23-2pm, 2. Opposite Marks & Spencer, North Street, Time: 2:23-3:23pm, 3. Opposite Next, East Street, Time: 3:37-4:07pm).
The train at Winchester was 15 minutes late so I just missed the connection at Fareham, which, for once, was on time, which meant I had 45 minutes to kill. So I walked up the road, went to a couple of charity shops and ended up buying a book of Chopin Sonatas, which meant I spent £2.99 before I even started playing! Then, on crossing the road, I was informed, without any prompting, by a man pushing a perambulator that I didn’t need a licence to busk on the seafront at Southsea: all useful information, I suppose. Then, back at the station just before the train came in, a man standing near me tells me his friend has a Gretsch – a Brian Setzer model. Anyway, because of the train business, I was half an hour late starting.
Two men in their 20’s contribute, one with a £2 coin! Then, as they walk off, they say something I couldn’t make out. A few minutes later, one returns and holds out his phone which is playing a video of Metallica doing Nothing Else Matters. He says, ‘Metallica’, and I think that’s all the English he knows. I reckon they’re Polish and I think this is a request, so I say, ‘Metallica, oh right, no, sorry’, which he appears to accept.
A man about 65 comes up and says, ‘Didn’t I see you in Winchester earlier in the year?’ I say, ‘Yeah, you probably did’ (of course he did!) Then he says, ‘Or do you just play in cathedral cities?’ ‘Cathedral cities?’, I say, ‘No, I play anywhere. I live in Winchester, I play alot there but I come here once a week’.
At 2 o’clock – the hour and a half mark, I pack up. I’m booked on North Street from 2 to 4. I thought I’d split it today as when I phoned up yesterday there was no one booked anywhere. So, around the corner, 1st song – Albatross, got nothing…2nd song – La Vie En Rose got a comment from an old guy – ‘Play it again, Sam’, but no donation. I want to call him back and say, ‘Bogart never said that. He said, “You know what I wanna hear. Play it!” and she says, “Play it again, Sam. Play As Time Goes By”‘. Which reminds me, I haven’t done that one in ages…
Then it starts raining, although not proper raining. It’s the type where the droplets are tiny, so it’s slightly more than a drizzle, but I carry on. So naturally I do Here Comes The Sun – always a good idea when there ain’t none! And of course there are loads of donations – ‘Ahh, look at the poor bloke playing Here Comes The Sun in the rain’. Most of the donations are from children, girls mainly. It gets enough to be awarded Song Of The Day status.
At 3 o’clock the rain gets heavier so I have to stop and move the stuff back a foot, so it’s against the vaulted wall of the building behind me. Five minutes later it’s eased off so I move back out. I catch the eye of an old lady (they shouldn’t chuck them about) across the road. She’s walking her bike, an old light blue Ridgeback folding bike, I think. She comes over and contributes. I admire her bike, especially the old front headlamp, like I had on my 1950’s Superbe that got stolen, and which I’m still so mad about. Bastards! The old lady says, ‘The Parkinsons people gave it to me, you know, because I used to do things, help them out, you know’. Nice old lady.
Now, while she’s talking to me, a younger lady has appeared, and after a minute, the old one says, ‘Anyway, you’ve got someone else here’, and goes off. This other lady then says, ‘Is there any chance you could move up, or go to East Street? We’ve got a wedding on in here (building behind me) in a minute. This is the council, civic hall building, we have weddings here. So do you think you could just move up, or onto East Street?’ She’s very polite about it so I don’t mind.
As I’m packing up, another lady buys a CD and says, ‘You’re very good’, to which I say, ‘Thank you’, then moan about how the wet is making the guitar really hard to play. ‘I’d just done Tzena and it was terrible. It makes the neck and especially the strings really sticky- feeling. One shouldn’t play in the rain! That’s another thing – can I get electrocuted from a small battery-powered amp?
As I’m loitering near where I’ve just packed up, and thinking about setting up a bit further up, a couple in their 60’s pass me. The man says, ‘Have you learned Stardust yet?’ It’s the same guy who asked the same thing in Winchester a couple of weeks ago…or was it here a couple of weeks ago? Anyway, the answer is, ‘No, I haven’t learned it’. But what I HAVE learnt, or am learning, is Claes Neeb’s main riff to Norwegian Mountain Song, which I did in the first set, but it needs a lot more work.
I decide to go back to East Street to finish off…and a rather disturbing incident occurs. Three boys come up. Two about 14, one 8 or 10. The older ones stand a few feet away, the younger one comes up, stands in front and thrusts his hips towards me a couple of times in a very sexual manner. I stop playing and stare at him. He then moves to my left, comes closer and appears to do something with his mouth, like he’s working up a spit. I stand up so I’m taller than him, and he says, ‘I love you’. I say, ‘What? What is this?’ He’s still doing the weird thing with his mouth. He then says, ‘Kiss’, and I’m sure he’s about to spit at me. I say again, ‘What? What is this? What are you doing?’ He then walks off to the others and they go off.
What’s all that about? I didn’t like that. I’m a 52 year old man, I can do without all that. Imagine some kid doing that in front of someone like me? It did unnerve me for a bit, even now, writing it down. That’s the down side of this. I make literally a spectacle of myself in front of hundreds of people I don’t know, and there are bound to be some nutters and idiot kids. Doll reckons it might have been a prank. I’m sure he was going to gob on me, the little jerk. Anyway, I did alright in the end, and sold another CD as I was packing up.
Earnings: £63.62 (gross) £50.52p (profit, including 2 CDs)