Blog: A homeless man, Robert Doyle, and the injury of 2WD Chunky Chunk the Challenger

A homeless man sat on The Purse outside Melbourne’s General Post Office, as he listened to me sing on the street. I smiled at him and continued to play guitar. After a while the man got up and put his spare change into my busking case, smiled and shuffled off into the stream of people, busy with their day.

The homeless man had put his spare change in my busking case….
I was humbled…
Busking Bourke St Mall

Photo by Tony Brown

On the opposing end of the spectrum, I got into an elevator with a group of buskers with instruments and amps, and a sophisticated man in a suit and tie. Claustrophobic, we stood pressed against each other as the elevator took us up to the floor where our weekly buskers’ ballet is held (so we could secure our week’s busking spots in the Bourke St Mall). A fellow busker breaks the awkward silence “Gee it’s an elevator full of buskers…. “
I turned to the man in the suit, who stands out like a sore thumb amidst the buskers, and I ask “And are YOU a busker too?”
“No no,” says the man, “That’s above and beyond me. I’ll leave that to the talented.”
He got off at level 2 while we continued to level 4. After his exit, Nik, a fellow busker says “Well that was a bit of humour.”
“Why?” I ask, naive….
“Cos that was Robert Doyle, the Mayor of Melbourne.”
Somehow…I don’t think I’ll live that down in the weekly busking meetings.
I was interviewed for the AGE in the lead up to the Melbourne’s Best Busking Competition. They asked me what I thought of Robert Doyle’s idea to audition buskers as part of the applying for a permit, in order to filter out the “bad” buskers and raise the quality of the busking activities in Melbourne. I told them I disagreed in the idea of auditioning. That quality and art is subjective, and although some buskers may be regarded as less than average, they are often out to help themselves, be productive, and have purpose. It keeps some people off the streets (so to speak…). But after a half our interview with the AGE, the ONE quote they used from me was “like Robert Doyle… Jenny Biddle also agrees there are bad buskers”.
And here I was, standing in an elevator of buskers, asking Robert Doyle, man in a suit, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, if he was a busker too….
I wonder if he was humbled….
In other news, my portable busking PA, 2WD Chunky Chunk the Challenger has been injured embarking on its last challenge. Almost a year since I moved to Melbourne and began my busking side-career with Barnie (my Maton guitar, for those who haven’t met her) and 2WD Chunky Chunk the Challenger. Barnie, 2WD Chunky Chunk the Challenger and I have trudged kilometres upon kilometres to bring music to the streets of Melbourne, Sydney, Tamworth, woop woop. And I believe we’ve crossed one too many tram lines, been on a few too many 4WD tracks (oh such an ampitious amp, *cough* excuse the shocking pun), jumped train platforms, been sat on by my bum, and rolled around the boot of the Yarismuster a few too many times….. he is no longer 2WD Chunky Chunk the Challenger, but instead he shall be named: 1WD Clunky Junk the Challenged…..
My mission tomorrow is to attempt a MAKESHIFT trolley/wheel design so that 1WD Clunky Junk the Challenged will conquer Melbourne tram tracks, trains, bums, and cars like never before. We will not be defeated!