Diary Of A Busker Day 458

Diary Of A Busker Day 458 Wednesday October 2nd 2013 Chichester (1. In front of HSBC bank, The Cross, Time: 11:45-2:15pm, 2. In front of Marks & Spencer, East Street, Time: 3-5:30pm).

This town certainly has a knack for providing a familiar face to welcome me. Today it’s Kai – the violinist, who I last saw in that huge mall – Festival Place, in Basingstoke. Now he’s in my spot! Actually, he’s not, but he’s pretty damn near it. He’s out in the open bit, the centre of the pedestrian intersection – where all the roads meet. I have a chat with him. He asks if I’m booked here. I say I am. He says he’s booked down North Street but as it was free here (until now), he thought he’d grab it. He’s alright about it, though – he says he’ll move. I notice he’s done really well: he’s stacking up the coins in his case: stacks of 50ps and pound coins. I reckon he’s got between £60 and £80.

I convey my amazement (and admiration – that’s well impressive), and say I never make anything like that. Maybe thirty quid after the train fare’s taken out. Kai says that’s no good – thirty quid! I should be making more than that. In his words ‘You’re presentable – you look nice’. He asks if I’ve played in Basingstoke yet. I say I haven’t, mainly because of the personal liability insurance thing. He says he pays alot for it – ‘it went right up after 9/11′. So some god damn terrorists have stopped me playing inside Festival Place – the jewel of Basingstoke. Bastards…and I was really looking forward to playing in a huge shopping mall, with millions of screaming 2 year olds everywhere.

The first set’s a long one: 2 1/2 hours, but I manage to sell THREE CDs. Two for £8 and one of the old £5 ones. One of the £8 ones was to a lady who wanted one with Yellow Bird, so that’s Song of The Day…followed closely by Over The Rainbow, which secured the sale of the cheaper CD. The lady who bought that one said it was played at her husband’s funeral. This brought to mind old Henry Gray and HIS funeral. I’ll never forget that – I was well nervous before I had to do that.

A man requested Autumn Leaves. I know Chet did a version so I might look into that. When the guy mentioned it, I couldn’t remember the tune, so he hummed it and then I thought – I’ve got Frank Sinatra doing that on an album.

In the break I have the ol’ packed lunch: satsuma, crisps, half a sandwich, a pasta thing in a small container which I have to scoop out with my keyring, as I forgot to bring a plastic spoon or fork. Then to the toilet where I have to scrape of some gum on a shoe. Unbeknownstly, I happened to be tapping my foot in it for the whole 2 1/2 hours. I THOUGHT there was something sticky but when I looked on the ground, there didn’t seem to be anything there – no wonder: after the incessant foot-tapping, it was all transferred onto the shoe!

Back on the street, I head to the second spot (pre-booked, of course), somewhere on East Street…and there he is again: Kai! He asks how I’ve done. Well, I can tell him exactly how I’ve done as I did a count-up during my lunch. The gross is £31.98p. Take off the train fare and it’s about £19. Kai says it’s ‘no good’ and asks where I was. I tell him – next to the HSBC place, against the wall. ‘That’s no good’ – Kai gives me a lecture. ‘You need to set up in the centre (where he was). When you’re at the side, it’s no good, it’s like you’re incidental – not the main attraction. People need to see you. They won’t see you at the side. It’s like you’re ashamed, or you’re apologising. You’ve got your back to the wall, like a battle – “Back to the wall!”, like you’re fighting the whole world. People will ignore you. If you move to the centre, it’s like you’re meant to be there – “look at me”, with the people all around you. At the side, you’re too far away from them. Like here. This is the line of people (he sweeps his arm diagonally across the area)…they pass here, right in front of me’. Kai’s about ten feet out from the shop wall, right at the edge of the road – the pedestrian road.

I know he’s right. I tell him the truth – that’s it’s a confidence thing with me. Like when I first started, way back when, but I got over that initial fear – extreme terror, actually – of setting up in broad daylight, and I reckon I can do it! So I say to Kai – ‘I’m going to do it, Kai – you’re right!’ ‘Yes, I should do that’, he says. Great, that’s settled – I do it…and it’s a bit weird: setting up with no wall behind me, but with people walking past. I’m a bit paranoid at the start, thinking someone’s going to throw something – bonk me on the head from behind, but I forget about it soon enough. And while I’m playing, I decide that next time I’m here, I’m going to set up where Kai does – a few feet in front of The Cross.

So, another 2 1/2 hours playing – that’s 5 hours, easily the longest day I’ve done for ages. In fact I can’t remember when I did anything like that. A few people came up: a couple – the man told me about his guitar collection he’s starting. He’s got an old Stratocaster and a rare double-cutaway Les Paul. Then he started on about a guy who’s played with Joe Brown who owns a £200,000 guitar – ‘You could buy a house with that’, his wife butted in.

And that dancing lady – The Dancing Lady Of Chichester, she turned up a few times. The first time, someone in Boots across the way, came running out and said something about something she had in her bag – The Dancing Thieving Lady Of Chichester(?), and they both went back in the shop. She came out twenty minutes later when I was playing Ne Me Quitte Pas, so I stopped and went into La Vie En Rose, so she could do her little dance. As she went off, she said ‘I’m going to thank God you’re so brilliant!’, then, to a schoolboy ‘Isn’t he good?’

A woman correctly identified Borsalino. That’s never happened before! Well, no one ever asks what it is! It can’t be very well-known, thinking about it, apart from people who’ve seen a very obscure early ’70s film, and/or those who’ve heard Tommy Emmanuel’s and Chet Atkins’s version, which I tell her about: how a friend of Tommy Emmanuel’s turned him on to it, then T.E. played it over the phone to Chet.

At the end, I walk over to The Cross and Kai’s still there! Could he have played more than me today?! He stops to say goodbye and I say I’ll probably be here next Wednesday. He says he won’t be – he doesn’t come here much, just the odd time – and asks how I did at the second spot. I say I don’t know, maybe a bit better than if I had my back against the wall! Actually, the money was about the same, but I’ll definitely give it a go at the centre bit – The Cross, where Kai was, if I’m here next week.

Earnings: £58.01p Expenses: £13 (train fare) Profit: £45.01p

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