Copyright © Paul Buckberry ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Deptford used to be a major ship building dock in London. The area sits on the South-East banks of the Thames in the borough of Lewisham. I was born there. My Dad was a Londoner born within the sound of Bow Bells, and so in reproach a Cockney. Mum came from The New Cross Ward South up The Old Kent Road. In 1966, amidst high post-war unemployment, a lot of Deptford’s riverside industries closed down or went bust. At the time the British Government’s assisted package scheme was in place, which meant adults could travel to Australia for ten pound. Children travelled free. The only catch was you had to remain in Australia for a minimum of two years. Dad thought it was a good opportunity. He scoured the “Bring out a Briton” section of the papers and found a sponsor. We moved to Australia that year and he started to work for a furniture removalist in Adelaide when I was a kid. Adelaide in 1966 had a brand new University named Flinders. Adelaide had a pie cart at the GPO Victoria Square that stayed open all Friday and Saturday night. Adelaide had a red light district known as Hindley Street. Adelaide had red and white taxi cabs and one solitary tram line that ran to Glenelg beach. Adelaide was basically – and still is – a sleepy, conservative town where strange crimes routinely occurred. We arrived in September when a psychic named Gerard Croiset was assisting police in locating the Beaumont children who had vanished without a trace earlier in the year. Adelaide was a big country town where nothing much happened. In all the 36 alternatives that Adelaide offered me while I was growing up, running away was by far the very best. The first poem I ever wrote was about running away and I called it “Running Away”. I wrote that in the back of the family station wagon and the dog ate it. I smoked my first cigarette at eleven because I heard the Eric Burden song “When I Was Young” and thought that I was a late bloomer. No one in my family played any musical instruments, but when they were tipsy Mum & Dad liked singing and my only (older) sister used to buy a lot of records. When I dropped out of high school at the age of 14 and began a series of horrible labouring jobs I bought a lot of records too. Music became a sound-track to the mundaneness and apparent meaninglessness of my life. I worked at Metro Meats skinning division amongst the blood and maggots and the sounds of AC/DC and Uriah Heep. I also worked at The Royal Adelaide Show spinning rides like the Cha Cha, Gee Whiz, and Zipper, which rocked out to the sounds of Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and T-Rex. I cleaned cars and cranked Top 40 radio up over the vacuum cleaner. A quick mouth affiliated me with the Rostrevor Rockers. They had A Clockwork Orange agenda and I punked out until one of the gang was arrested for murder. I moved in with a girl from Campbelltown in a two bedroom flat with a big TV tuned to Countdown or Sounds Unlimited. I flame cut mild steel, detailed cars for Avis, started my own detailing business before selling out to sell used cars complete with white shoes and Sonny Bono moustache. I snorted the 80s wet dream for a spell and ended up on the VIP list at Adelaide Casino with a motley crew of models and harlequins pole dancing to a Hindley Street dawn…and a first name basis breakfast at the GPO pie cart. That pretty much covers my Adelaide years. They ended one night at Memorial Drive. I went to see Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and decided I was going to write and sing and play guitar for the rest of my life. I traded everything I owned for a back pack and a steel string guitar. After that, I busked my way round Australia, hitch-hiking and tenting on the old camp grounds from Eden to Kakadu and back again. By the time the 90s arrived I'd walked and crawled on every Australian highway worth criss-crossing, Perth to Cooks Town - almost Tasmania, but not quite. I cohabitated with the Cable Beach hippies in Broome and life was perfect, which is why I eventually left. I just didn't fit in. I busked my way thru the bluesy red earth of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, to the dueling banjos of Northern Queensland, Mt. Isa with my guitar case out, my blood-shot eyes wide, my ears soaking up every lick and stuffing it under my hat. I was living hand to mouth, day to day, in one hand and out the other. Paying my dues coz I wanted to sing the blues. I got picked up by travelers seeking comedy relief. I entertained bored truck drivers for a lift. I used my quick mouth to dodge the bullets. Sometimes I took some part-time work, bought a bus ticket and rode in style. It took me six year to cover all the routes, A thru C, the primary highways or M routes, and most of the D routes including the Gunbarrel. I even met British backpacker Paul Onions who suggested we travel South together – but he was leaving Sydney, and I was just ambling in. And as it turned out staying a while. Six years of travelling makes anyone lonely. When you actually get on the streets, it’s a very lonely sometimes scary place. Just you and the crowd. But I got into the Sydney busking scene all right. Got jamming with some like minded people. Got work in coffee shops, pizza bars and pubs. Got married too. Somewhere in the midst of marriage I stopped busking. Somewhere in the midst of marriage I became a Dad. Somewhere in the midst of marriage I drove semi-trailers for a crust. But I never did stop picking and playing and singing and writing. Though after ten years of marriage a dolt is all that was left of the busker, coz the nerve had been extracted. So when I’m asked about how I got back into the live music scene, I normally shake my head and stroke my chin and spell: “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” – From sweet, silent domesticated man back to raucous, rollicking busker with one scribble of ink. I had my guitar and busking rig and a car which I slept in. And I was fine with showering at the old truck stops. It took a little while to update the old routines, to figure on the best spots to play and which libraries didn’t mind me recharging my busking amp. In winter, I drove North and followed the sun to Queensland. I slowly wended my way back to New South Wales, and by Spring I was entertaining truck drivers again and making the scene at folk festivals. It’s been a fast ride and I’m still holding onto that guitar with one hand and anything else I can grab with the other; hoping that the roof will stay on while always striving to be the best I can be, to be useful, audacious, a maven, a connector. Don’t think I’ll ever satisfactorily spell out just how important Bob Dylan is to me; trying makes me happy though so I’ll keep at it: I wasn’t born happy, but I did myself (and others) a good turn by making myself happy in the work I do, the love I make, the art I craft and the understanding I share. I try not to lose sight of the power to listen. Seems it’s easy to abandon a pleasure but really hard to let go of misery. Seems like no one realises that without first teetering on the brink of disaster. And when you’re back from the brink a word to the wise isn’t needed. It’s the unwise who need wisdom and generally they won’t take it. But wise or unwise, when you’re standing at a crossroad, it’s a great equaliser – which way to go? One can go left or right or straight ahead, or one can go back (although going back is often harder than trying a new route). No doubt, one road will bear more contentment than regret. But the older I get, regret and contentment seem to arrive in equal proportion. That’s why I like doing a few pointless things once in a while – life isn’t worth living unless you do. So try some new food for the hell of it, consider some customs foreign to your own, fear no religion (yours or others) and don’t avoid people. If I had, I may still be driving round Adelaide wondering why nothing much happened. In all the 36 alternatives that Adelaide offered me while I was growing up, running away was by far the very best.