Diary Of A Busker Day 676 Wednesday December 24th 2014 Winchester (Opposite Oxfam, Time: 2:30-4:30pm).
I was going to come in yesterday, which was a few crucial degrees warmer than today, but it was drizzling pretty much all day so I didn’t bother. Anyway, I haven’t been in for over two weeks…I wonder how rusty I’ll be…for rusty I will definitely be. In fact, the last time I busked was in Istanbul! Anyway, it’s really cold from the word go. Cold hands and feet but mainly the hands. Temperature: 7 degrees – right on the line.
Everywhere’s taken, even Pavilion. Young Sam’s there, so it’s down to ‘old faithful’…and it starts off really well. Albatross gets a £2 coin then two 20p coins…then a five pound note! The donor? A bloke who says ‘Everyone should play Peter Green’. But if they did, this bloke would be broke! Then, after La Vie En Rose, a man comes forward with his daughter and says ‘She’s been admiring your playing’. This prompted me to impart some information on Chet Atkins: ie, it was his arrangement, he was an American guitarist from the 50’s and 60’s and she might like to check him out. The dad says ‘She only knows one chord’, which prompted me to say ‘That’s OK, once Chet Atkins only knew one chord. One chord is good. Then you can learn another one, then another one. That’s how it goes, etc.’
I must have been there 45 minutes when Posh BrYan turned up, by which time I really was getting cold, which wouldn’t have helped things. I was playing the 1st Gnossienne and he says ‘Oh, same old stuff. Haven’t you learned anything new?’ Indeed, I sort of lost it. I said ‘Goodbye Bryan’ (I should have emphasised the Y, really, as he loves it so much)…goodbye, if you’re not going to say nice things’, and I stretched my arm out and pointed to my right, which was the direction he was headed.
Poor BrYan looked a bit shocked and I could already feel myself feeling a bit sorry for him, the poor posh stuck-up snob. Anyway, by way of apology, he said ‘Oh no, I ALWAYS enjoy your playing…now let me give you some money’, and he had a dig around for some coinage, then he asked why I hadn’t been about so I told him about the cruise. ‘And do they feed you?’ he said. Yes, BrYan, they fed me. BrYan put in a request for Bob Dylan so I did Blowin’ In The Wind again (I did it 20 minutes before).
Ron turned up. Of course, he’s a star now, being on the telly and all that, because of his dancing with all the buskers. However, it seems it wasn’t welcomed somewhere up the road today. He said a bunch of people busking outside a bank told him not to dance! Can you believe that? Telling an 87 year old – and a local legend, to boot – to stop dancing! He said ‘They said people wouldn’t give as much. I said they would – they would probably give more’. Yeah, alright Ron, don’t get all full of yourself just cause you’ve been on the TV!
Anyway, I invited him to do it down here but Ron said it was cold. (Of course it is, that’s why I’m bloody well out here, because I love playing in the bloody freezing cold). I said dancing would warm him up, wouldn’t it? So he took his scarf off and started up and of course the usual happened. People stop, smile – laugh even, take photos – videos even…but no money! Even the little guy himself said ‘It’s not making them come forward, is it?’ Nope. It had been a bit barren before he’d turned up so maybe it wasn’t his fault. He even pointed at the bucket once or twice whenever he caught the eye of anyone who was watching.
But no matter, because soon after he’d gone, at about the hour and 20 minute mark, my guardian angel arrived, in the shape of a 30-ish man who stopped, unfolded a note and put it in the bucket without even looking at me. It was a £20 pounder. Now, that alone would have been enough for two hours. And right after came a £5 note from a woman who earlier had been standing nearby with her one year old daughter in a perambulator (the daughter, not the mother). So all totalled up, that made £30 in notes!
And the song – and therefor Song Of The Day – which secured The Big Note? The Third Man Theme, no less. And that was it – I did a full two hours, spurred on by The Big Note. But it was really starting to get bad by then: really cold, couldn’t hold the flatpick right, to do James Bond, because I could barely FEEL the pick. And I was hitting the strings too hard with the right hand – again, because I couldn’t feel anything because it was too bloody freezing cold.
But a worthy return. A man requested Dirty Old Town. I don’t think he was at all surprised I didn’t know it. All I did was laugh and say ‘That’s what THIS is’.