Diary Of A Busker Day 650 Friday October 17th 2014 Winchester (1. Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:54-4:01pm, 2. Opposite Vodafone, Time: 4:15-5:35pm).
I’d been practising Sukiyaki so much, I decided to debut it: 3rd song in, so I must have been pretty confident. Of course, I know I can always rely on the bloody buses to cover up any bum notes, which they did. In fact, I played it for around 10 minutes, going back and forth between the key change from C to E. Nothing like practising in public! No one cares.
Fellow Chet Atkins lover George walks by. I haven’t seen him in ages. He’s with a rather attractive girl in her 20’s. He doesn’t stop (I don’t blame him), but he says, ‘Marvellous, as usual’. Someone else from way back, Barry, who I will forever remember for falling down dead drunk and bleeding on the pavement near The Butter Cross – he turns up and donates £2. Amazing. He’s sort of avoided socialising with me since that day.
I spot Delia across the road – it’s Friday, after all. She stops a man with his son, says something to them (I bet I know what it is), and they come across. The man puts a pound in the bucket and says, ‘Delia says she has to get the bus, she’ll see you next week’. Ha! She got a stranger to come across with her traditional donation and a message.
George came by again. This time he was on his own and he stopped and stood by while I played Je Te Veux. Afterwards we talked about the usual (Chet Atkins), and then I enquired after his companion of earlier, was she his daughter? He said, ‘No, I wish. That was Alexandria. She’s an actress from Estonia’. ‘Very nice’, I said. As George went off, I then started another 10 minute Sukiyaki.
In between sets, I had a chat with Mick who was sitting outside one of the coffee places on The Pentice. I said, ‘Here you are, Mick, in your usual habitat’, because whenever I see him, it seems he’s always on his way to have his coffee. He asks if I’ve learnt the chords for God Only Knows yet. I say I haven’t but I know Wouldn’t It Be Nice and California Girls. He dismissed Wouldn’t It Be Nice, saying it’s a three chord wonder. I said it wasn’t as easy as that, and there’s a complicated – by mid-60’s pop music standards – middle section, and a key change.
He said, ‘There’s 7 or 8 key changes in Penny Lane’, which I disagreed with so we had an argument. Mick – ‘Yeah, it starts in C, then E minor down to…’ Me – ‘C? It’s in A, then goes to B’. Mick – ‘Well, I used to play it in C…I always knew you were a barbarian’. And he called me a barbarian again, a few minutes later, and I was starting to get a bit annoyed so I made my excuses and left. I did notice his head shaking a bit, though – right from the start (before the argument), like he had Parkinson’s, which was something I hadn’t noticed before.
A few seconds after, an old lady stopped me and said, ‘Can I just say how nice it is to hear you play in the High Street…’, which was very nice after my argument with Mick. So I thanked her and gave her a bit of a history lesson – my ‘I had to stop playing in loud rock bands…going deaf…’ part of the Hard Luck Story. I think I bored her! She interrupted me and said, ‘Well, anyway, thank you’, and left!
A bit further down, a dad and his little boy. The boy, who’s not more than 2, is fascinated by me. He stands in front, right up close, his shoe almost touching mine. He’s there for a couple of songs and it gets alot of people looking – usually old ladies, who stop, point and smile. I reckon it could just as easily be a dog in front of me. They’d still stop and smile, I bet. They think it’s really cute. The dad gives the kid 20p to put in the bucket (20p – generous), but the kid hasn’t got a clue what to do with it. And then he tries to kick the bucket over. Yeah, really cute. In fact, the bucket does indeed topple over. The dad puts it right but doesn’t apologise.
Then a young guy comes up. He says he’s heard me for the last 3 years, but it won’t be for much longer as he’s graduating this week. He says, ‘Yeah, your playing…really smooth. It must be good to come and chill out in the street’, as if I do this for recreation purposes. This amuses me greatly. Speaking of graduation, there’s been loads of them, walking about with all that graduation garb on. Quite alot of short skirts. A lot of mutton dressed as lamb, I have to say. And some of the women are just as bad…