THE last busker to get money from us was playing the harp, and he earned every one of those 50 cents. So haunting.
But most of the time we’re hard to impress. Many who embark on careers in the Hunter Street mall make fatal errors, like downing a bottle of gin or missing the high notes in We Are The Champions.
Which is why we’ve invited country music star Catherine Britt to advise any busking hopefuls.
Britt’s Tips for Successful Busking:
1. Sing like you belong, and sing like you are in front of a stadium of fans.
2. Stand out from the crowd and do something to get people’s attention. But be you.
3. Look at it as good practice for your future career.
4. Learn what audiences love and sing your best songs.
5. Don’t take it too seriously and have some fun.
Britt will busk in Woolworths at Charlestown Square today to raise money for Camp Quality, and to launch the centre’s community busking program.
Call me Cain
THIS week we checked in with a Peter Bogan, a Tom Jones and others with names that elicit giggles. Now we’ve heard from Michael Cain.
Not Michael Caine, mind you. Michael Cain, an NBN reporter who lives in Newcastle and works on the Central Coast.
‘‘Let me tell you, I’ve heard them all,’’ he says. Michael says his family name has variations like Kane, Kain, Kaine and Kayne, and everyone adds an ‘‘E’’ to the end of his name, perhaps because they’re used to seeing it that way in movie credits.
‘‘I still go to castings for commercials and the director’s face when he hears that Michael Cain is up next is priceless,’’ says Michael.
‘‘You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!’’
He didn’t say that last bit. Rainer Wolfgang Guerke, meanwhile, says if anyone gets to complain it’s him. He started school in 1945, when Australian kids weren’t exactly thrilled to have a classmate with a German name.
‘‘I was named after a philosopher, who I’m sure one of my well-meaning parents was reading at the time, but I learnt very early to get on with it,’’ says the Warabrook resident.
‘‘Though sometimes a girl would say, ‘I think it’s a nice name’ and I’d think, ‘I’m in here’.’’
Hunter pros and cons
IF there’s one thing we’re good at in the Hunter, it’s talking the place down. If there’s a second thing, it’s remembering when things were better.
So let’s do it properly and compare the eras. When exactly was the Hunter’s Golden Age?
We’ll start with a heavyweight.
In the beige corner, shrouded in a mist of nostalgia, it’s revered, it’s polite, it’s ... the 1950s.
If we had a dollar for every time a reader of a certain age has pined for the ’50s we’d have, um, about 20 bucks. Let’s glance at the stats.*
The Hunter in the 1950s
● Taking in refugees.
About 100,000 people passed through the Greta Migrant Camp in the decade. They and their descendants have made a hefty contribution to the Hunter.
● Being more equitable with Sydney.
By 1957, the state government had spent 7 million pounds on Hunter works and services in a century, about a fifth of what went to Sydney.
● Keeping louts in check (or so we’re told by some readers).
Police had more power to put a scare up a wayward youth.
The Maitland Flood killed 25 people, ruined hundreds of homes and is considered one of Australia’s worst natural disasters.
Contrary to popular belief, statewide crime rates soared in the ’50s compared to, say, the end of the ’30s. It’s worth mentioning that the stats include ‘‘crimes’’ like abortion.
● Staying out drinking.
There were far more pubs back then, but until 1955 they had to shut at 6pm. This precipitated the infamous six o’clock swill.
What say you, dear reader? What else was good and bad about the Hunter in the 1950s?
* Hunter Valley Research Foundation nudged us in the right direction.