poor old 'One-Note'
too late I learn
my favourite busker's nickname
One-Note Willy was an old guy I used to see around town for years. In many ways he fitted a northern stereotype with his jacket and flat cap. You could imagine him in a pigeon loft or an allotment shed. Or patiently stopping on a park path with a whippet tearing about him in circles.
Not our guy though. He would sit out his retirement in his regular spot outside one of the department stores on the market where he'd sit and play harmonica, glancing sidelong at passers by.
He had a unique style: animatedly playing the top end of the scale and so quietly you'd wonder at how, in a town full of ex-miners, out of breath he might be in real life. You really had to get up close to hear him.
With the odd note squeaking out he would bat the other end of his instrument, jews-harp style, to produce wobbles and inflections in his work. But it must've paid well because he kept doing it.
I used to live in London with it's professional street entertainers. And while you could marvel at how un-blinkingly still the human statues were and be amazed at how they would burst into life at the drop of a coin. Or you could laugh at the one-liners belted out by the unicycling machete jugglers. I don't miss them one bit. Not like I do One-Note.
Those guys I can see in any big tourist-trap city in the developed world. One Note Willy was one of a kind. A true eccentric with the depth of character to play for a few coins to buy a pint of mild in a backstreet pub or a bet at the bookies.
His absence is the town's loss and I hope his end was a peaceful painless one.