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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 12:33 GMT
Last ditch busk for pop glory
Gordon Haskell (left) accompanied by saxophonist Paul Yeung sings his song How Wonderful You Are outside HMV in Oxford Street, London
Gordon Haskell hopes to make Christmas number one
Little-known singer Gordon Haskell made a last-gasp push for a Christmas number one - by busking in central London.

The pub crooner - who has just signed a lucrative record deal reportedly worth 2.4m - has emerged as an unlikely challenger to Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman for the coveted top spot.

Bemused shoppers looked on as the grey-haired singer performed his single How Wonderful You Are in front of HMV's flagship store in Oxford Street.

Still, it's enough for a cup of tea

Gordon Haskell after earning 84p busking

Haskell said he hoped the stunt would help him leapfrog the Williams-Kidman duet Somethin' Stupid, which is favourite to hit number one when the Christmas pop charts are announced on Sunday.

Wearing old blue jeans and a battered overcoat he looked a typical busker as he strummed his guitar and sang the song that he wrote as he walked around a supermarket with his 82-year-old mother.

"I've done a bit of this in the past so I feel I know what I'm doing," he said.

"I reckon I can make number one. Who knows?"

Shoppers seemed less confident, giving him only 84p for his hard work.

Gordon Haskell (left) accompanied by saxophonist Paul Yeung
Haskell's busking earnt him less than 1
"Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead," Haskell joked as he counted the cash.

"Still, it's enough for a cup of tea."

He did succeed in winning one new fan, Peter Adonri, who took a break from his Christmas shopping to watch the performance.

"It's wonderful. I'm definitely going to buy the single," he said.

Tight race

The former King Crimson band member, who has more recently been playing pub gigs, was a few thousand sales behind Williams at the midweek stage.

But chart expert Gennaro Castaldo of HMV said it was too close to call.

"This is the tightest race for the Christmas number one for many years.

"Today is the busiest shopping day of the year for record shops and we think many more of Haskell's fans may be out, so anything could happen."

The BBC's Geraint Vincent
"Until very recently, the smart money was on 'Somethin' Stupid'"
See also:

05 Sep 01 | Music
Robbie thrills at Kidman duet
25 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Bob is Christmas winner
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