Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Amazing Harry

harry surry hills

Harry is my hero and I want to be like him. I first saw Harry sitting in a doorway on Oxford St one Saturday night singing to people as they walked by in 2003. He wasn’t busking or asking for money he was just singing to everybody and I don’t mean to people in earshot who could hear him singing - oh no! He was passionately serenading everyone who walked by, like every pedestrian meant the world to him.

Harry has lots of friends in Surry Hills and he truly has become one of the great personalities in the area. He can been seen some days walking around in his full army uniform and helmet or his cream dinner jacket and giant heart shaped glasses talking to the sky. I think it depends on his mood.

As you may or may not know Surry Hills is one of Sydney’s most happening villages. It is full of inner city bohemian artists, painters, Musicians and so forth all running around trying to be cool with a don’t give a fuck attitude. But when I watch them walk past Harry on the street it is clear they have failed. Harry doesn’t give a fuck what you think of him he just wants to have a chat and be friendly he doesn’t care what you wear or what you do he just wants to be happy and he would like you to be also.

Everyday in 2006 I would eat lunch at the Belgenny cafe on the corner of Bourke and Campbell St in Surry Hills. Sitting outside with my chicken salad, I would flirt with Anthea the waitress (who is worthy of a post herself) and more often than not Harry would arrive and start flirting with her too. Harry loved Anthea and I understood completely as I loved her to. He would always tell her that when she left the Belgenny Cafe to go on her overseas holiday he would bring her a bottle of scotch. Never really been sure why he chose Scotch. On Anthea’s last day Harry burst into the cafe with a big bunch of flowers a bottle of scotch and surprisingly clean clothes. It made her day and I wished I had thought of it.

anthea Blanco Custard JIm bogspot

Roughly a year later Sam Newman from the AFL Footy show decided to take his five minute weekly segment called Street Talk to the streets of Sydney, Oxford St to be exact and very quickly found Harry. Sam specialises in picking on people or bullying those with mental or intellectual disabilities so he can brashly attempt his humour, the likes of which Benny Hill or ‘HeyHey its Saturday’ would think twice about airing on television. In the interview with Sam, Harry was confused and didn’t know what was going on but you could tell he liked being on TV. Sam was cruel and went out of his way to shame him even more once they had thrown back to the studio. I felt dirty for watching it and found myself punching my lounge in disgust like Charlton Heston in the end of "Planet of the apes". A few days later I saw Harry sitting in the same doorway that he sat in during the Footy show segment. I went out of my way to tell him that he was awesome and he did really well. He said “really cause someone told me that I looked stupid" still looking confused and A bit vulnerable. I said "Nah no way mate you were great and don’t believe anyone who says different." I walked away from that conversation feeling great like I had done a really nice thing but I don’t think Harry cared that much. Sam Newman wasn’t even a speck on Harry's radar. You’re so cool Harry.

Today Harry is in love. This time with a beautiful Greek girl from a beauty salon in Taylor Square her name is Vaia Pappas. She is a friend of mine and is funny and has a kind soul and Harry can see it and likes it. Vaia has a soft spot for Harry, and I think Harry loves her - it seems he can’t wait to see her everyday. He will stand out the front of her salon screaming her name like Marlon Brando In "A Streetcar Named Desire" “VAIA!!!!”” About a month ago Harry’s photo was in The Sydney Telegraph Confidential pages with the Caption "Oxford St doesn’t ever change." A few days later Harry turned up out the front of Vaia's shop with an immaculately tailored white dinner jacket, giant heart shaped sunglasses and a little boom box playing the Split Enz song "What more can a poor boy do".(see youtube video below) When I heard this I can only stop and reflect about my own life and my own behaviour. I wonder what really is important in my life and what does Harry know that I don’t. Even through his insanity he appears to be truly connected to this planet and the people in it. I often think of Harry whenever I talk to those too cool for school Surry Hills bohemians and I am always left thinking how fake that pretence is and how fearful they are of not being cool that they sacrifice themselves completely. I can’t help thinking and sometimes saying at those times sorry but you and me aren’t really cool, have you ever met that guy around here in the army uniform called Harry. Let me tell you about him…

I don’t know about you, but I take comfort in the fact there is a Harry. It’s good knowin' he's out there, old Harry, takin it easy for all us sinners. Shit I sure hope he gets a girlfriend one day I don’t like seeing that look of unrequited love in his eyes. Well that about does it I guess things don’t always end up all neat and tidy but things are pretty good for Harry and he sure has a few good stories when you need one. Well I just say that with all the pain, suffering and poverty in this world it warms my heart knowing that harry is out there spreading his own style of positive energy. See you soon Harry and take care.

The Amazing Harry