Diary Of A Busker
Day 2162 Monday January 9th 2023 Chichester (The Cross. Time 1-5pm)
I was a naughty busker. I couldn’t be bothered waiting for my coveted West Sussex County Council (Permit To Busk) laminate to come through so I went to Chichester WITHOUT ONE. How exciting but the downside is there may be others who have booked legally and so it was…Dean Dyson was at The Cross but he said he was supposed to be in East Street but there was a bloke with a trombone and some backing tracks and he wouldn’t move…and at North Street there was classical guitar guy Glenn, who recently converted me to his way of stooling(!) – that of the portable telescopic variety.
Anyway, Dean was booked from 11-3 down East Street but he couldn’t be bothered arguing with this trombone bloke: I offered to go down and see when he was finishing, so down I went…and waited 5 minutes until he was finished a solo. Dan was his name and would be finished by 1 o’clock. Back to Dean with the news. He’s not having a great day where he is so he’ll move down to East Street at 1, then I can take his place at The Cross. But that’s an hour from now and Glenn isn’t going anywhere – well, he’ll move if his hands get too cold, he says. It’s 7 degrees, which is the red line for me, under which it’s agony for more than 20 minutes. What to do…sit on a bench in North Street and have my packed lunch of a peanut butter sandwich and flask of coffee…go to the bogs round the corner and warm my hands under the dryer – they’re cold half an hour before I even start playing…back to the bench where I can hear Dean and Glenn in equal measure, playing in different keys, which is excruciatingly painful.
At 12:50, back to Dean, who’s had enough and says he’s packing up and heading down the road so I rig up while he’s rigging down. We wish each other luck. I’ll need it as the coinage has been almost non-existent the last two weeks due to all this bloody rain. I can handle the cold (almost) but not the bloody rain. There have been days when I haven’t been able to go out at all or when I have, the confounded drizzle has started up after a few minutes and if I don’t pack up straight away, everything gets wet: the gigbag, amp, CDs, my lovely blingy white and gold Gretsch – it gets more compliments than me – everything.
I’m not sure about this pitch as I’ve only been here once before, years ago, when I started, and it was a bit rubbish. Or maybe it was me who was rubbish. Anyway, it’s fine today and for once I haven’t got to keep looking up to see if there’s a bloody awful dark cloud heading my way. Bloody bliss. Half an hour in, a man stops and fiddles about with his wallet –
“Do you take any sort of coins?” he says.
“Sure, as long as they’re English.”
He fiddles for another minute then drops in a penny. A PENNY! Come on, mate. I mean, it’s a penny more than 99% of the people walking by but really, chum. Song Of The Day – Space Oddity, as it earned a fiver and quite a bit of coinage. Probably from all the Bowie-ites, who knew it was his birthday yesterday. One old lady even blew me a kiss; things are looking up!
Another fiver came from Chris Simmons, who liked my arrangement of Eleanor Rigby and wanted to put it on the card machine, which I have a love/hate relationship with because it’s modern technology. It took me 5 minutes to get it working – Mr Simmons was very patient, then he went and got me a coffee. I said “I wish everyone was like you!” I meant the coinage more than the drink, obviously.
Some weird people about. One bloke leaned in really close and said “You have a gift from God” but contributed zero, not even a penny. Oh well, cheers for the compliment but after two hours the ‘gift’ has got me sitting out in the freezing cold with my hands several shades of purple and my feet going numb with pain, and it’s the feet that take the longest to warm up.
After that two hours, I was thinking of taking a break and warming up in Costa but I knew what would happen. I’d get comfortable and think “sod doing another two hours, I’m buggering off to the train station!” so I resisted the urge, which meant carrying on until 5 bloody o’clock, which is what I did. I didn’t think I’d make it, but after the third hour, with the hands crying out and my mind going blank, I stopped caring and went on autopilot, or autobusker. Still, it was worth the three hours back and forth on the train. Chichester (almost) never disappoints, even after taking off the £13.60 train fare.
Earnings £95.06 (profit)