Diary Of A Busker Day 2153 Saturday May 20th 2023
Winchester High Street
There’s an infestation of Morris dancers in Winchester. The first lot I came across were at the Buttercross, then another bunch around the corner in The Square. This reduces my options dramatically. I approach one who isn’t “dancing” – he’s in front of the museum, talking to a woman.
I ask how long they’re going to be here.
“Oh, all day.”
The woman interjects “You won’t be playin’ ‘ere today.” I ignore her.
“All day? Are they having any breaks?”
“Right…do you know when and how long?”
“Oh, they have a few breaks, about five minutes (he gets his phone out and looks at the schedule)…there’s some down at Gieves and Hawkes, you know where that is?” I do, it’s down the road, I can see it.
“Well, they’re finishing in fifteen minutes and that’s it for the day.”
I thank him, get on the bike and bomb on down past Gieves and Hawkes and the other Morris lot, and round the corner to have a look if the crossroads spot is free. It’s not, Meeta’s there with her harp. That leaves one option, down the arse end…and there’s a bloke selling stretchy ties where I’d normally set up. Still, I can do it in front of the Gospel House doorway, a few feet from his stall.
I got off to a good start, selling a CD, but the coinage dropped off and at the end I’d got around £25 – that’s really bad for two hours of continuous playing. I’m blaming it on the amount of people; too many, too much noise and no one’s paying attention.
Back home for a break then out again…and the Morris’s are still everywhere. Apart from where Meeta was. She’s usually there all day but I bet she gave up because she’s so quiet I bet she was ignored even more than I was. Anyway, once again the coinage is desperately slow. A high point occurred around an hour in. I was approaching the chorus of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (“I love you baaaybeee, and if it’s quite alright, etc.”) as a Bride To Be party was approaching from Market Street to my left. They took it up, danced around a bit – they’d obviously had a few, constantly pulled at their too short skirts, cheered me at the end and even donated. There were about ten women, collectively donating just under a fiver.
Not long after, that 12 year old keyboard prodigy kid and his seventy-something father walked by, obviously looking for a spot. The kid’s mother was with them a few weeks ago – a tiny Vietnamese or Thai woman not more than forty, that his father must have bought…and brought back! I’m amazed how often I see that sort of thing. Anyway, another two hours of rubbish coinage although there WAS one good moment; Cavatina earned a fiver from a well-dressed woman in her 70s.
I’d totalled four hours of playing but because of the terrible coinage, decided to set up in The Square if it was free, the Morris idiots all having left. However, on my approach, amongst the many people drinking outside The Eclipse, were Rick with his guitar, and the older bloke who plays the banjo. I suppose I could have asked if they wouldn’t mind if I did an hour – and they’re nice blokes and probably wouldn’t have minded – but after doing all that playing, I couldn’t be arsed. I’m hoping tomorrow will be better…and a bloody Morris-free day, to boot!