”I learnt to play the guitar so I could stay up late.”
It was my cousin Lucky who got me into busking. He knew I could play and said I should give it a try. I wasn’t interested at first. But Lucky goes “Come on Cuz, watch how people throw money at us!” So I went and we made $800 bucks that day.
After that I started going out on my own. I play all over the place, now. Newtown, Stokes Valley, in the tunnel at the Railway Station. I sing everything from the 30s up to today. Sometimes I enter Karaoke competitions. Good money if you win. Once a month I go out to the Woburn Hospice and play for the whānau out there. I got my gold card so it’s free to take the train.
Why’d I learn to sing? Cos the kids who didn’t know how to sing got sent to bed. Closing time was 6’clock in those days. Friday nights there’d be flagons lined up against the walls, enough beer to last all weekend. Pay day, par-tay! When the aunties and uncles came home, they’d say to us, “Oi, can you sing? Can you play the guitar? No? Then off you go to bed.”
So I learnt to play the guitar so I could stay up late. Played at parties all over the neighbourhood. Except at our Mormon grandparents. They didn’t drink, so we sang hymns over at their place.
When I was working in carpentry I cut the tip of my left finger off with a lathe. I was looking out the window at the girls. Hah! True story. So after that they sent me to work with the bricks, but then I crushed the other hand under some bricks. Haha!
I can still play, though. Went up to compete in Hōmai Te Pakipaki in 2010. I ended up coming third. Yeah, that was pretty neat.