Diary Of A Busker Day 2310 Sunday February 11th 2024 Winchester High Street
At the top spot, a man who has been coming by for the past year or so, shows up. In fact he was about yesterday. I don’t know his name but he likes the faster numbers and seems to get a kick out of dancing about. Not only that, he tries to get anyone else who happens to be passing, to join him. Well, it’s mainly women it has to be said, but he will often approach a small group standing nearby and enjoin anyone – man or woman, to join him in a bop.
Anyway, he was sitting on the bench for a bit, then he comes over and hands me a tenner, saying how much he enjoys the playing. He also said it was his birthday yesterday – he’s 74. Well, to be given a tenner is always an amazing and humbling thing so my thanks were plentiful. He then went off for a bit, came back, bopped about a bit more, sat down again then came over and handed me a fiver, which, according to basic mathematics means he’s now donated £15, which is even more amazing.
I do feel a bit sorry for him though. I mean, I don’t really know him; all I know is he’s always on his own and he’s always trying to get people to dance with him. He reminds me a bit of that woman who used to come up from Southampton, and she was always on her own and always bopping about and talking to other people, saying how good she thought I was. And then she stopped turning up and the last time I saw her was in Southampton with a carer and she barely recognised me, which makes me think some of these people – especially the older ones, have become a bit unhinged!
A girl of 7 came up, I know she was 7 because she told me.
She said ‘Is that a Les Paul?’
‘No, it’s a Gretsch Electromatic. A Les Paul is what’s known as a single cutaway, so the bottom bit near the neck is cut out but the top bit isn’t. This had got both bits cut out so it’s a double cutaway.’
‘I’ve got an Explorer.’
‘Yes…and I want one like Kurt Cobain had.’
‘Ah yes, a Jazzmaster…with the dials and switches on.’
‘Yes. I’ve got four Stratocasters.’
‘What? You’ve got FOUR Stratocasters?’
‘Really? Are they Mexican or are they American.’
‘Oh my goodness, are you a millionaire?!’
At this point her mother comes up and I have to say she looks like she’s had some “work” done on her top lip so I’m guessing SHE’S the millionaire and any money left over from buying the kid a load of guitars is spent on some Botox.
Anyway, I’m not going to be trumped by this girl. ‘So, do you have any 12-string guitars?’ I say.
‘Right, well I’VE got a 12-string Rickenbacker, an original Baldwin Double-Six, two reissue Double-Sixes, THREE acoustic 12-strings, a Johnson travel 12-string – that’s little one, a psychedelic double-neck; that’s a 6-string neck and a 12-string neck on one guitar…’
After an hour and a half the hands were getting cold and Gareth turned up so I was relieved to stop (I also needed to relieve myself down the road at Pret). While I was packing up, Gareth opened his mouth to reveal hardly any teeth ‘I’ve had them all taken out, the rotten ones, see? None at the front. I’m getting some more put in. £32,000 it’s gonna cost me. Ceramic. But it’s got to be done. My mouth is my…everything comes out of it, those things I stick down my throat with flames, all the chat I do. I’ve got to sort it out. And I do some big gigs, the Edinburgh Festival, Fringe; I’ve had 800 people in front of me, you know, and stuff all over the world. I mean, this, playing places like this, I just do it to keep my hand in, to keep me in top form, but the serious stuff – the money, all that’s in other places, all around the world. I’m even thinking of doing the cruise ships.’
I said I’d done some of those 10 years ago and you can make a good living if you don’t mind being stuck on a massive boat. I mean, I was only ever one one for a week at the most but if you’re a resident musician, you’re there for something like 8 months!