Diary Of A Busker Day 2145 Tuesday May 9th 2023
Winchester High Street. 1. Outside the Nat West Bank, 2. In front of Debenhams.
I managed 10 minutes before rain stopped play, literally. I didn’t mind as I needed the loo…left the bike against the wall of Starbucks and popped into the Pret place opposite. Outside, the rain had stopped but I didn’t fancy going back up the road – I opted for the safe option and set up next to the disused Debenhams doorway, just in case the rain started up again (which it would) and I could quickly drag my stuff into the doorway.
A slow start, coinage-wise, sweet FA for 20 minutes then a bunch of schoolkids come by, one is holding a bit of paper with a list of things with a small box next to each one.
After a few donations, one said “Can we take your photo please?” “Who are you?” “We’re foreign language students.” As they were polite and donated, I let them. They tick the box and go off…five minutes later, another bunch came up, donated and said the same thing as the first lot, adding “Can we dance to you?” “Yes, you can.” They dance like maniacs and get their box ticked.
Ten minutes later, another bunch but they don’t leave anything! Five minutes after them, another bunch – “Can we take your photo?”
I’m wise now – “Of course you can…if you give me some money!” So I got some coinage and got one to take my picture.
A man about 75 stops by, donates and says “My father was the principal cellist for the BBC.” “Really?” “Yes, he played when he was in the forces in the war then joined the BBC at the end of it. He retired when he was 92 and sold his cello to Julian Lloyd Webber…you know him?” “Well, I don’t know him but I’ve heard of him.” “He’s the brother of Andrew Lloyd Webber.” “Yeah, I know!” “Well, he then decided to return to playing so he bought a cello from a place in Bath – a really nice cello – and joined the orchestra again and played till he was 98 – his last performance was a concert on television. He died two months later.” “Wow, what your father’s name, if you don’t mind me asking.” “Charles Woodford.”
Anyway, the son of Charles Woodford stood by and listened to me while waiting for his wife…meanwhile, another man in his 70s comes by with a couple. He’s brought them to see me, as I’m a stable fixture of this place – like a part of the furniture (that needs upholstering, if you ask me). The other man asks if I know any Rolling Stones, so he gets the Brown Sugar riff for a few seconds but there’s only so many times you can play a riff so I ask if he likes any Beatles – “I do While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Eleanor Rigby, Here Comes The Sun – how about that one, as it’s probably going to rain in a minute.” “Oh yeah, that’ll do !” At the end, they donate some Canadian coinage – no good to me, as the banks won’t take foreign coins. When I tell them that, they produce a nice British fiver – “That’ll do, cheers!”
I was lucky to get through two hours and forty minutes before the bloody rain started again. Looking up at the sky, it wasn’t about to end so I moved the stuff into the doorway and packed up. As I was loading the bike, a woman who I’m sure has donated a couple of times, comes up and asks how I am. I say I’m fine and about to head off. Then she says “Are you local?” “I am, here’s my bike, I live about ten minutes away…are YOU from here?” I know she isn’t because I detect a foreign tongue, although I can’t place it. “I’m Ukrainian.” “Oh really…how are you getting on?” “I’m in the resettlement scheme.” “Right ok, so how are you getting on? Are you alright?” “Can a person be alright if their country’s at war?”