Home > Words > Pied Piper's Swan Song

Pied Piper's Swan Song

Angela sent this clipping from the April 15th 1972 edition of The Otago Daily Times, titled Pied Piper's Swan Song. What a blast from the past!

I'd been to the Cambridge Summer Music School in the North Island of New Zealand and decided to go further north to check out Auckland. I had quite an adventure meeting new people and visiting new places. Then I had to travel home to Dunedin, it's quite a way, and I can't remember how I ended up with no money, but in order to raise some cash, I went to Vulcan Lane, where there was a little shopping arcade, I sat my self down on the corner and started playing Ian Anderson tunes and others on my flute. Quite a large crowd assembled and money was being thrown in the hat. After 15 minutes, several plain police cars pulled up and bundled me into the back of a grey car. One policeman asked me something like, "what do you think you're doing?". I said, "Busking". I thought he was going to hit me, clearly he had not heard the term 'busking' before. On arriving at Police Headquarters, several furtive detectives who it turns out they were part of the Vice Squad, were looking through case history books from NZ and Australia for a charge to charge me with. They found a case in 1958 in Queensland, of a woman playing an accordian on a street corner, she had been successfully charged with being Idle And Disorderly, in that she was 'begging' for alms.

Within an hour I was in court facing up to a hearing. There were loads of people in the court, seems I had generated a popular following from playing my flute for 15 minutes! The judge heard my side of the story and I was referred to a local charity who would see that I got back to Dunedin. I was bought a train ticket for an adventure on The Highlander, a Japanese built train that looked very modern but couldn't do anything but a snails pace due to the state of the tracks. I was bound over by the court to report to a police station in Dunedin and the case was referred to the Dunedin Courts for a later hearing.

My solicitor in Dunedin offered that I play the flute in court to demonstrate my skill and prove that I was not 'begging' but 'busking', that my playing was worthy of payment.

I can only assume, people now busk in Auckland without a problem.

> Full article click here
> also see Interview with ... by Sam Hunt
> World Buskers Festival


Copyright © John Wesley Barker. All rights reserved.