Diary Of A Busker Day 634 Saturday September 20th 2014 Hythe (In front of Waitrose/Opposite Harvey’s Sandwich Bar, Time: 11am-1:18pm).
Off to Hythe again, this time on my own steam…plus the ferry’s and train’s steam, of course. It took awhile to find the ferry port, after a 25 minute walk from the train station at Southampton, but I got there OK. I found a desk with an official-looking bloke sitting down behind it and waited for him to say ‘Can I help you?’ or ‘Hello’, but he never did, he just sat there looking at me. He eventually said ‘Hello’, because I wasn’t going to say anything until HE did! I mean, these people are supposed to serve us. Anyway, I asked about the ferry tickets and he pointed to the ticket machine just outside the door. I went to it but must have looked confused because he came out and explained how to use it.
Apart from single and returns, you can also buy a £22 ticket, which is good for 10 return trips in a year. Good value, I thought. My ticket was £5.60p. This bloke turned out to be quite an entertainer: telling me about the Independence Of The Seas – the humongous cruise boat, sorry, ship – which was moored nearby. For a minute I thought it was the one I was on last year for the cabaret gig but that was the Liberty Of The Seas. This guy didn’t think much of the port of Southampton – ‘Look where we are…I mean, they haven’t painted it in forty years. And look what you see’ – he pointed to the rather bleak cargo containers across the shore – ‘who’d want to see this! Now, I’ve been to Tokyo, Osaka. Well, it’s like a five star hotel! And you sit down in a lounge and they come for your passports. THEY come to YOU, you don’t have to stand in a queue…mind, I was travelling first class’. There you go, then.
He went on a cruise with his wife, it had 27 excursions!, which I think started to bore him. The cruise ship I got from Lisbon had only 2: Cadiz and Barcelona. I told him about the ones I’d been to: Venice was one. He said, ‘I hated Venice. I’ve been there a few times. Too many people, and it was over a hundred degrees’. He went in the summer, though. What do you expect? I went in April…or was it October? Whenever it was, the temperature was perfect. My man said his wife brought 17 suitcases with her…or while they were away she bought them, I’m not sure now! Anyway, they weighed them and they came to 750 kgs!
He said, while they were on the cruise, all drinks were free: bottles of whiskey, and all the room service was free, all day, all night. I told him it was a bit different for me, as a ‘guest entertainer’ – no free booze, and you couldn’t bring any back on board from the places you went to. I think that’s terrible. No Ouzo from Athens, Cognac(?) from Cadiz, or whatever it is they drink there.
I bid my new friend farewell and said I might see him on the way back. I got the 10:30 ferry – a very small vessel, and I was the only one one! The bloke – a sailor, I suppose? – on the boat said I could do a song if I wanted. I declined his kind offer. But it was definitely weird, being the only one there apart from the guy turning the big wheel. Oh, and two other blokes. One was coiling up a fireman’s hose sort of thing.
On arrival, after a walk down a very long pier – the famous Hythe Pier, apparently – I got to the place I was at last week and started bang on 11 o’clock. There weren’t as many people about as last week, and no Italian Market. But there were a few stalls to my right: cakes and stuff. There was a fireman collecting money about 15 feet to my right, who had his two children – a boy and girl about 8 and 10 – helping him. I’m not sure he liked me being there, but he never came up and said anything, The thing is, if someone’s going to give money to him, they’ll do it, or if they want to give it to me, they’ll do it! He was getting a lot more than me, anyway. I don’t think I was taking anything off him.
Early on, a woman started writing on a pad. This was during the 1st. Gnossienne and I thought, ‘I bet she’s going to show me the pad and I bet it says’ “What’s that you’re playing?”‘ Well, I finished and she came over, and although she didn’t show me the pad, I could see some writing and a big question mark on it! And that’s what she did. She said, ‘I’ve been trying to find out for years what that is’. So I said, ‘Well, you’re in luck’, and told her what it was, who wrote it, how to spell Gnossienne: silent G and all that. She said she thought it was a Spanish piece, especially the A Minor section, and started going on about a film with water dripping, that the music was in. She asked if it was on my CD. I said it wasn’t, but it’s on a youtube video. She wrote down – U tube and said, ‘Oh, I don’t…I haven’t heard about that. My daughter will know, though’. Well, she didn’t buy a CD, and she didn’t donate, either. After all that! Me stopping my playing to tell her about the Gnossienne and Satie, and she just walks off!
I saw the bloke who sketched me last week – Ivor Minard. I saw him out the corner of my eye on my right as he was going into Waitrose, behind me, and he definitely saw me. How could he not? You can certainly hear me, all right! He never came up, though, to say hello or welcome me back. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and suggest he has dementia or at the least, a crap memory. Perhaps I expect too much of folk.
A old woman came up after the zither-style Third Man and said, ‘That takes me back’, so I said I did another arrangement, from 1960, which led to her saying, ‘I lived in London then…’, which led to her telling me she lived in West Ham, moved down here with her first husband, he died, she got a second one, he died. I said, ‘Maybe there’ll be a number three’. She said, ‘Oh no, I’ve had two good ones, I don’t want any more’. She said she likes coming out. Her daughter says she should get out to meet people – it’s good for her. She lives on her own now. She then went off, but I noticed she stopped as I resumed The Third Man, and listened till the end. Then she started talking to another old lady, then pointed at me…then came back and put another coin in! I told her it was my second time here, I’ve come from Winchester, etc., and I’d probably see her again, maybe even next week. A date – husband No.3!
Another woman!, Sue, came over from one of the stalls and asked if I might like to play at a woman’s club meeting. I said of course and gave her my card and she gave me a carrot and orange cake, price £1.80, but I got it free, which is pretty good exchange, I reckon! I did meet a few friendly ladies today – like last week, in fact. There was one at the end while I was doing La Vie En Rose (2nd time, as I’d run out of stuff on the 2 hour mark), well, she loved me! And she bought a CD, after she went to the cashpoint. Then I did Albatross and she loved that, too! Then Wouldn’t It Be Nice, which I’d forgotten about. I said it was from 1966 and she said, ‘Oh, I was 13’. I said, ‘I was 4. Can’t remember anything about it!’ Actually, I sold THREE CDs. One woman gave a £10 note and didn’t want any change. That’s a £9 profit, which almost covers the cost of getting here and back.
I had a couple of requests I couldn’t do: Annie’s Song/John Denver, something I’ve no intention of learning, and Twelve-String Rag, from a woman who wasn’t very specific. She couldn’t remember who did it but she didn’t mean Twelve-String Shuffle because I played a bit of it and it wasn’t that. I played OK through most of it, considering the hand problem. The only bad moment: Music To Watch Girls By, near the end, where I completely forgot some parts, due to being self-conscious, I think. Very embarrassing.
I might consider the ten round trips for £22 deal. The only thing about playing here is I’ve got to check with Chris’s friend Helen to see there’s no one else booked. Because if I turn up and, say, Guy’s Threepenny Bit are here, there’s nowhere else to go – the place is so small! Apparently, they (Threepenny Bit) sold 27 CDs when they were here recently. The other thing is the walk from the train station to the harbour: 25 minutes each way. It might be better if I brought the bike. I could lock it up with the ‘D’ lock outside the ferry terminal, where there’s a bike locking place. But it’s worth it: £50 profit for 2 1/4 hours playing. That’s better than anywhere else. Friendly people, too.
Earnings: £61.35p gross, £50.90p profit (Including 3 CDs)