Two months after 9/11 I found myself in the UK singing for my supper. I lost a bet and had to door-to-door busk my way around the Motherland mid-winter and make enough money to fly home to New Zealand. The result was a book – UK on a G-String.
A number of years have passed. Yet recently the trip came up in conversation when a girl at a party asked me what it was like to appear on the Richard and Judy Show.
‘It was bloody great,’ I said. ‘There was the ride there in a brand new Merc as well as copious amounts of food and drink in the green room with Enrique Iglesias. But there was also the moment Richard and Judy duped me on national television.’
Here’s what happened. I sang on the couch for the famous couple, at the end of which they pulled out a crisp, white envelope. Richard smiled.
‘Here is an open return ticket to New Zealand,’ he said.
I was speechless.
‘So when are you going back?’ Judy asked.
‘Well, when’s it for?’ I asked.
‘It’s open,’ said Richard. ‘Anytime you like.’
I could not believe my luck. After knocking on doors from Wembley to Wales and having them repeatedly slammed in my face, here was a free ticket back to New Zealand!
Only it wasn’t.
As I write this I can’t quite believe what eventuated. As I said my goodbyes and had a drink in the green room, I boarded the train to Liverpool, the last place I had busked. And when I opened that envelope, a dirty old boarding pass fell out.
The good guys! The decent couple! The generous TV stars! I had been duped.
The girl at the dinner party suggested I try and track down Graham Barley through Facebook, which I thought was a sound idea. Anyone know him?