Day 2194 Saturday July 15th 2023 The Buttercross, Winchester High Street
I stupidly windy day, so much I have to keep my right foot on the end of the case so it doesn’t blow away, which means I have to lean forward a bit, resulting in some musical casualties such as Cavatina, which breaks down because I’m concentrating on keeping everything on the ground instead of the music. I bet John bloody Williams never had to do this.
And then there’s the rain; I had put the guitar in the case, shut it, move all the other stuff close together, unfurl the brolly and try and keep everything dry, which was impossible. The second time I had to do it, the rain was too much and a man sheltering at the end of The Pentice came over to ask if I needed help in dragging the stuff undercover. I accepted the offer gratefully, saying “this is the worse job in the world, sometimes”, forgetting the Sonderkommandos job in Auschwitz. Fifteen minutes later I’m back playing.
Six young drunk women all in four inch heels and tight black dresses just about covering their fannies, stop and terrorise me. They shout they want Coldplay and other rubbish far too modern for me. I get this quite a lot on a Friday or Saturday late afternoon and usually resort to playing the chorus of Can’t Get My Eyes Off You, which EVERYONE knows, so I wheel it out now, repeating it ad infinitum while they scream it, every one of them holding their phones above their faces (to get the most flattering image) while they film themselves. Dear god, if it was just one of them, I’d be drowned out. Imagine SIX. It’s carnage. And then, they beckon a passing hen party to join in. Dear god again, I’ve never heard anything like it. During the ordeal a man come over laughing and puts a tenner in the case – I have to stop playing to grab it and save it from the wind – no matter, it makes no difference to the volume.
When they tire of me, they all move off, leaving a scene of devastation but thankfully, silence…apart from the screaming babies, barking dogs, a far off siren, shouting, laughing people, but silence compared to what I’ve just been through.
Near the end of 4 1/2 hours of playing, an American couple chat with me. I mention the women – they’d seen them earlier, and also a bunch of drunk blokes. The wife says “they were all hugging each other and saying ‘I love you, man!’ and I was thinking how strange it is that they have to get drunk to say something really important like that – they probably never say it when they’re sober.” They’re off on a big cruise ship tomorrow – one of the NCL (Norwegian Cruise Line) ones, maybe even one of the ones I was on almost 10 years ago. They’ve never been on a cruise before and they’re on it for 9 days. I offer my worldly view – “It’s weird but the longer you’re on the ship, the smaller it gets. Not literally, of course!”