Diary Of A Busker Day 689 Wednesday February 11th 2015 Winchester (Opposite Bellis, Time: 3:10-4:52pm).
Temperature: 6 degrees, cold but no wind. A man about 65 donates in the first song and says ‘Sorry it’s not much’. Not much but whatever it was, it was more than anything I got for the next three songs, which was zero. It got better, though. Another man, a bit older, came over after La Vie En Rose from the bench opposite, donated and said ‘Great, Chet Atkins!’, to which I replied ‘Well, spotted, sir’. He said, ‘Well, I was up there (points up the road) and I thought “That’s Chet Atkins!”‘, to which I replied ‘You’re too kind’.
He then asked if I’d ever been to Nashville. I said no but maybe someday, when I can afford the plane fare. ‘Oh, you’d love it. We went to the Nashville Hall Of Fame’, he said, to which I exhibited – somewhat falsely – astonishment. ‘Yeah’, he said, ‘and there was a guy going round playing Wildwood Flower’. So I tried to remember how it goes, only partly successfully, but he recognised it – ‘Yeah, that’s it, you should go over there, they won’t let you leave!’, to which etc., ‘Ah, you’re too kind!’ Then his wife came along and they were off.
I don’t know why people do this: walk past – not stopping – and saying the name of someone they’re a fan of. In this case, a bloke too old for a pony tail, and his utterance ‘Santana’. Why not pause for a few seconds so I can respond or to see if I can play said suggestion – because that’s clearly what it is. I think people just want you to know what music they like!
I debut my 12-string version of Moon River which I spent alot of time on at home. The main verse is based on Ed Gerhard’s arrangement although I’ve changed quite a bit and added my own intro and outro. It doesn’t sound as good on the 6-string, although it’s recognisable…and I get a donation, so it’s past the litmus test, if that’s the right expression. I just have to remember to tune the 6th string down to C, or if I do it as part of the dropped tuning set – Yellow Bird/Wheels, remember to bring the A string back up to normal and drop the E further down. This is too complicated!
After Moon River, the Nashville bloke appeared again. This time to say he’d seen Tommy Emmanuel recently. He likes him although he has a tendency to get a bit ‘jazzy’ – something I have to agree with. Not really my kind of thing. He also goes a bit over the top with the harmonics, but there you go, if you’re Tommy Emmanuel and you can do all that stuff, you’re going to do it! The bloke asks if I do any concerts, so I tell him – only the odd wedding or birthday party (nothing less than a 70th) for people who see me out here. He asks if I have a card. Of course I do! I say he should definitely let me know if anything comes up.
After his second departure I do my Tommy songs (Tommy Tune Time) – Borsalino and Dixie McGuire, and afterwards get a donation from Jude’s old football coach, Mr McCallum, who says ‘Still the best tunes on the street!’ Next up, ex-cruise man Mick, during the Gymnopedie. ‘Ah, there’s more to Satie than meets the eye!’ He then asks what I’ve been up to since Christmas. I ask if it’s really that long since we last met. (In fact, the other day I was thinking he might have died!) Mick says it is and asks how my Christmas was. I said it was OK, then gave him the run down – ‘I got the usual: bottle of whisky, some top notch Cuban cigars’. ‘Romeo y Juliet?’ asked Mick. ‘Oh yes, Romeo y Juliet – the best, and Cohiba’. Mick looked confused – ‘Eh?’ So I repeated it – ‘Cohiba’. ‘Cuban?’ asks Mick. ‘Oh yeah, very good…and a Bolivar, too’.
Then I suddenly saw he had one of those e-cigarette devices. I couldn’t believe it – I’ve never seen Mick with anything but a cheroot! So I said in a horrified manner ‘Mick, what’s all that about!’ He said ‘Well, they’re very cheap’. I said ‘Are they?’ He said ‘Well, it’s the liquid. If you get it from a proper shop – twenty quid! But I get mine (he leans in close for one of his top secret statements)…from the POUND SHOP!’ I asked if the mixture’s the same. ‘Oh, it’s all the same!’, he said.
An annoying event. My generous councillor walks by, dropping a folded note in the bucket. It looks like a fiver so I say ‘Thank you, Ian’. But on closer inspection, it’s £20. I couldn’t believe it because if I’d known that I would have expressed my thanks in a much more emotional (and exaggerated) way. Wow, it’s been awhile since one of those came my way…no, wait, that bloke just before Christmas. But the councillor, well, he’s put in at least one other £20, a couple of tens and some fivers. It must be about £100 he’s given me.
Last up, the old lady with the trolley who comes by with song suggestions. When she comes up today, I stop playing and put my hands in my pockets. In fact this is the first time I haven’t got annoyed when someone comes up and starts talking in the middle of a song, as I can stop and warm the hands up. A couple of minutes and they’re almost fine again, because it really IS cold these days! And when I lose all sensation in the left forefinger, that’s a sign to take a couple of minutes off. So today I’ve done it a few times: with the Chet bloke, with Mick, and now this lady…who tells me about something she loves – ‘Legend Of The Glass Mountain…ooh, it’s…you know that Torvill…’ She gets stuck – I assist – ‘Torvill and Dean’. ‘Yes, what was it…Bolero?’ ‘Yes, I think so’, I say. ‘Yes, it’s a bit like that…this man, he goes up a mountain with this lady…and it’s so…emotional, you know, Legend Of The Glass Mountain’. I say the usual – ‘I’ll write it down in my pad here…and I’ll look it up when I get home, OK?’
So, a good hour and 40 minutes, above average without the councillor’s £20, in fact.
Legend Of The Glass Mountain – I looked it up. A 1949 film about an RAF bloke who crashed in the Dolomites and was nursed back to health by a nun, who, in the course of which, he (naturally) fell in love with…although he was married (naturally). He became a composer and had to choose between the nurse – his muse, and his wife. The music? In the same vein as The Warsaw Concerto but not as memorable. In fact the start is almost identical.