|Interviewer: Robin Hughes
Recorded: May 5, 1998
This is a transcript of the complete original interview conducted for the Australian Biography project. Each transcript page covers one videotape (approximately 35 minutes). There is also QuickTime video of the full interview available. To play the video, click on the icon in the right hand column. In addition, each question in the transcript is linked to the video. Clicking on a question will play the video from that point. (Help with this feature.) Optionally, you can download the video file for offline viewing (approx. 10MB).
The interview has been left it in its original state so that you can get a sense of how the conversation developed. The repetition of some questions, or a question followed by another question, is often due to the end of a particular tape or some other interruption, and has been indicated at the appropriate place in the text. There has been minimal tidying up of the text so that the flavour of the encounter has been kept.
Putting yourself back into that period of your life, can you remember what it was like for you inside your head, how you were reacting to racism and racist taunts and racist behaviour among your school mates?
Yes. I ... my childhood, from the time I left Alice Springs 'til the time I was about twenty-two, I hated every minute of it, and that was in the prime of my youth. I hated every minute of it. The only consolation I had was the fellowship and the comfort of the boys in the home. But being chased down the street as a nigger when I didn't even know what a nigger was; to be never invited, as I never was, to a birthday party of any of the kids in any of the schools - in primary school and in secondary school, as many of the other boys weren't invited; to never really have a girlfriend who would meet you in the daylight, talk to you in daylight; to be never invited to anybody's home, ever, as a friend; to go to school without with even a pair of sand shoes at times ... I played in the semi-finals of the tennis tournament at the technical school, high school, with bare feet 'til somebody loaned me a pair of sand shoes and a racquet, and I'd never played tennis in my life and I got to the semi-finals. To never have a decent lunch at school, where nobody is prepared to swap with you, because your lunch was so bad, and to have not really any good clothes that you feel you can go out with, anywhere, well that scars you for life. All of those experiences. And I always declare myself not a bitter person and I don't think I am, because I think bitterness churns you up and makes ... distracts you from, you know, your goals and the reality and your relationships, but I never forget. And I really can't forgive Australian society, and I know lots of other kids were put in the same situation, that's ... and I don't deny that. But I'm only talking about myself and my experiences, and I carry the scars and I will carry them to my grave. But it makes you feel inferior, that every day you feel, you know, that people are putting it on you and they are trying to put you down, and I always felt, no, no bastard's ever going to put me down, and I'm not going to take no shit from nobody. And if I don't agree with anything well I'm going to tell them. And I always felt that right from the very beginning of my life, you know, that that is the way it was going to be with me, and I got into all sorts of strife, and I got more hidings than I can recollect. I got denied meals at night, told to go to bed without having a meal, weren't allowed to go to pictures or outings because I was insolent or disobedient. Insubordinate, was the word often used, and I was. So all these things created a youth for me, a childhood and a teenage and a young person's life that ... that leaves me with no good memories. I have no good memories. Somebody's taken ... I feel white Australia's taken my life from me.
Given that you were punished so much for this spirit that you maintained, why didn't you do what so many of the other boys I think did, which was to just give up and surrender to their way and learn to say, 'Yes sir, no sir three bags full sir'. Why didn't you do that?
Well, I think the boys adapted in different ways. I adapted in the way that I knew how, that I felt was the way to go, and they did it ... they didn't really agree with it either, but they sort of went around it, and worked the system out to suit. And they didn't sort of ... not all of them submitted to it all and just gave up. No, quite the contrary they sort of, you know, they decided they weren't going agree with that but they were going to handle it different than me. And they did, and quite successfully so. But they had a different nature to me, you know. Everybody is different and we handle problems in different ways. Well, my way of handling it, which is not necessarily any of the other boys' way of handling it, was to say, 'Well, look stuff it, you know. I'm not going to cop this'. And I used to look the priest or the superintendent in the eye, and I used to get it as a consequence. And I used to get my chest poked in all the time with their fingers and they used to take me in the room and belt the daylights out of me with a big stick, just because I wouldn't say 'yes' to them, I wouldn't say 'yes sir' to them. And I think that was a bit unfair. But that's the way it was.
What was happening for you at school academically?
Nothing. A waste of time. I never learnt very much at all. I failed everything, every class I think. The only time that ... the only reason I got from one grade to the other was, as they say, the saying goes, your eye outgrew the seats. But I just got the basic pass and then went on to the next level and went on to the next level. And I was a miserable academic because I didn't ... nobody really encouraged me to learn anything, I couldn't see the point of learning. Nobody ever said to me, 'Now listen, learn all of this because this is what you'll get as a consequence of achieving good academic scores, or having this information in your mind about you know the way things operate'. You know, there was no father figure around you see - nobody you could turn to. Now the priests were all good at, in that sense they did what they had to do, particularly Father Smith. He was good you know. He helped you with your homework and so on. But when he was gone after two years, and before that, there was nobody you could turn to, to say, 'Listen, why should I do my homework? Am I doing my homework right?' so there were times when I hardly did any homework and I never took an interest in the studies at all. And I was always down the bottom of the class because I just didn't know what it was about.
Was there also an expectation that the boys from St. Francis weren't going to do very well at things?
Oh yeah, well everybody had an expectation of that nature about us, that you know, we were good at sports: we could fight, we could run, we could jump, we could kick a football, we could do everything. And we could. We could fight everybody in the school and belt them all up. Not me, because I wasn't a great fighter but the other lads could, and they could run fast, play football good, any sport, and we were good at all of that you see. So we got our satisfaction out of that, but in the academic sense none of us did very well at all, because nobody really took an interest in us in terms of academic achievement, which is ... which is ... you know, shows up today, because I'm an uneducated person and most of us haven't got a really good basic education.
But later you made up for it, and we'll come to that later. But what ... what I wanted to ask you too, was how did you discover sport?
Well, it came to us naturally. You know, we just played sport, and when a bloke says, 'Kick a football', you just grab it and you kick it, and you kick it further and better than anybody else. And somebody says, 'Where did you learn that from?' and he said, 'Well I just kicked it'. And the same with soccer. When I ... soccer's been my ... Aboriginal Affairs and soccer have been my passions, have been where I could work out my problems, through both of those two things. Soccer because I could relate to the ... to all the ethnic groups and migrants, where I got my relationships, where I got my fellowship, where I got my satisfaction, where I developed my lifestyle. Not with the ordinary Australians. I hardly knew any ordinary Australians. You know they didn't want to know me so I didn't want to know them. But the migrants usually did. And then soccer was where I got my other great satisfaction from, my fulfilment. Previously it was Aussie Rules, I was good at that ...
I would have thought in Adelaide you would have been taught Aussie Rules or one of the rugby games rather than ...
Aussie Rules, Aussie Rules was the one. Yeah, well I was good at Aussie Rules. I could have played for Port Adelaide. I could have been a good Aussie Rules player. My nephews and my cousins were all ... played for the top teams. And you know, we could play any sport. Every type of sport we played rugby union, rugby league, Aussie Rules, we beat all the white kids hands down, no trouble at all. And it just came to us naturally. And I was sitting one day, when I was about fourteen at the boys' home, and we were on a big stone fence just in front of the house - about twenty or thirty of us sitting and watching these lads, and somebody said to me, 'They're playing soccer. And you know watch what they do, they hit it with their heads. In a minute they put it on top and hit it with their heads'. And we waited for that and we thought it was really funny that these people bounce the ball off their heads. And then they were playing with the ball and I thought geese it looks interesting to me, and I ... They came over to us and said, 'Listen, we want to play with someone. Would you boys form the other team for us? We're the under-eighteen team'. They were, and we said, 'Yeah, we'll play'. So we played them, and they were the state under-eighteen team, all ready, trained ready to go, and so we formed a team and I said, 'Well, where do we stand and what do we do?' They said, 'You get the ball. Don't touch it with your hands, and you kick it in the net'. 'Oh', we said, 'That's easy'. So we beat them about eight nil. And they said, 'You know that's so easy'. And I enjoyed the game. And I said, 'Well, look, what else do we do?' They said, 'Well you can go now because we want to get on with our training. You're not supposed to beat us, we're the top team'. So our lads were good, and I said ... from that day on, I said, 'Well, I'm not playing Aussie Rules anymore. I'm going to playing soccer', because I really enjoyed it. And from then on, the next year, I played in the juniors and the year after that I was the youngest person ever to play in the first division in South Australia. And I enjoyed it. It was great. But it brought me into the migrant community, where I found great satisfaction and no prejudice, no history of bad relations, no sort of embarrassing conversations, no derogatory remarks, and they just welcomed me into the fold and I've been there ever since.
Who did you play for?
Oh Port Adelaide was the team, Port Thistle, in the Port. And I grew up in the Port you see, in that sense, and that's why I'm a Port Adelaide Aussie Rules supporter, and I still am today, after all these years. Once you're in the Port you grow up in the Port, you stay with the Port, you know, the Port area, and Port Adelaide. It's a tough area, very tough, you know, but we sort of made a lot of good friends there, you know, in amongst the white people and all the people we went to school with. They're all pretty good to us and we're good to them, and we relate to each other in a sense. And, so I have a great feeling for Port Adelaide and for anything that comes from Port Adelaide and that's where I started my football career - soccer career.
So, the day you were put on the road outside the home with your bag and told to go, were you still at school or had you finished school then?
I'd finished school then I think. I must have been a bit older. Must have been fifteen. Must have been in my first year of my apprenticeship, yeah.
And what apprenticeship was that? How did you ...
As a fitter and turner.
Right, I'll ask that again so we get it clear. How did you decide what you were going to do when you left school?
Well the teacher at school told me. He said, 'Charles', he said, 'Charlie Perkins', he said, 'Come here I want to talk to you'. He said, 'Look, you're pretty dumb'. He said, 'You're not very good at school. You're marks are very poor because you haven't got much brains'. This is what he said to me. He said, 'You all ought to do some trade'. Everybody was told to do a trade in those times of course. He said, 'But you won't be able to do some of the high level trades because you haven't got the intelligence for that', and I was going, 'Yes, yes that's right. Yeah. True', you know. I was agreeing with it all. I thought well he must know, he's a teacher, I'm not, and he knows my marks are very poor, as I knew they were, so he said, 'We'll see if we can get you in as a fitter and turner'. So I went. They communicated with the priest and the priest took me to one of the industries there and they got me in as a fitter and turner, but after a lot of hard bargaining, you know, to get me in, and I hated every minute of that trade, that I was put in to. Every minute, I hated. Now, I don't want to ... I'm not rubbishing the firm or the other premises that I worked with or the people in the factory, but it wasn't me, you know. I mean why wasn't I asked to be an artist, or an airline pilot or a dentist, or a sweeper in the streets or something else, you know, but I was put into something that I obviously disliked. But I did it though, I did the whole five years. But when they turfed me out of that boys' home, it would have been in the first year of that apprenticeship, of a five year apprenticeship. And I was earning about three and a half pounds a week and I had nowhere to go. So I walked to the bus stop and I thought will I go to the left or will I go to the right, so I went to the right. And I went to a place called Rosewater, which is still in the Port. And there was a big boarding house there. So I knocked on the boarding house, [looking for a] room, and I knew there was an Aboriginal lad in there and I thought, I'll see if I can come in with him because I know he's staying here. So I went in there and the lady, a pretty rough lady, pretty rough boarding house ... they were mostly all drunks, so I said, 'Can you give me a room?' and so she worked out to take three pounds out of my three pound ten shillings a week, and so I had ten shillings a week to sort of get my lunches and all the rest of it. So I had to cycle nearly seven miles to work and to cycle seven miles back. And I hated what I went to and I hated what I came back to. So what an enjoyable life! And ...
Did you have any pleasures at all during that period when you were an apprentice?
No, only in soccer. Only in soccer. Nothing else. I find ... and the white Australian girls, I didn't like them at all. I thought they were ... when they get good looking and they've been successful, they get really snobbish, you know. And that's why I still think ... they are the same today, I think. I haven't got much regard for white Australian girls.
In the sense of ... in the sense of, you know, I can relate, I can talk, I can appreciate them, but I keep going back to those years when I was a young person, between the ages of fifteen to twenty-one, twenty-two, and I'll tell you why in a minute. They ... they treated me, and all Aboriginal kids and people very badly indeed. Maybe they treated everybody else the same, I don't know. But ...
Did you go out to social occasions, dances, that sort of thing at all?
Very rarely, because I didn't have any money. I used to walk nearly three miles to go to a picture theatre, but I couldn't buy any drinks because I didn't have any money. And, you know, I was an apprentice and I only had ten shillings, so I used to go out once a week and I ... I remember celebrating my birthday with a bottle of coke and a packet of sultana biscuits by myself on the bed. And you know, so all of my life, between the ages of ... I'd say between the ages of twelve and twenty-two, has been taken away from me by white Australians. They took it from me. There was no happiness in all that. And being in that boarding house was a real unnerving experience. If it wasn't for my ignorance I wouldn't have been able to put up with it. But you know, when you're ignorant, you don't know, you put up with things, don't you? In your ignorance, and it's a great saving thing quite frankly. And so in the boarding house most of them were drunks and so on, and this lady used to lock the fridge up. If you weren't there at a certain time you'd get no meals. So you can't buy anything because you haven't got any money, so you'd just go without. And when you've got a broken-down old bike and you've got to travel seven miles to work and seven miles back, often it's raining, and if the bike tyre punctures, and you got no money to buy an extra tyre, you walk. So it's pretty hard. And who do you turn to? There's nobody to turn to. None of your family or nothing there.
Why didn't you pack it in and go back to Alice Springs?
Well, I don't know really. I've often wondered about that. I thought, why shouldn't I pack it in, but I felt you know obliged to follow something through. I thought this may be my ... this may be helpful to me later on in life, to get the trade. Everybody was saying, 'Get a trade, get a trade, get a trade, then you can go anywhere'. And I thought, well why not, but nobody was able to tell me 'Well don't get a trade because you're no good at it anyhow and you don't like it. Why don't you take up soccer full time, professionally, because you're good at that and go overseas to England now when you're sixteen or seventeen. Go over there and try your luck out', which I should have done. That's what I should have done. And nobody told me that until later on when I was finishing my apprenticeship, an old man by the name of Bob Hall, said to me, 'Charlie', he said, 'You should have been over in England three years ago, four years ago. You can still go over there now, but you should have been over there three years ago'. I said, 'Bob, I should have met you three years ago'. And he was a great old Scotch man, he was. I had a lot of Scotch friends you know. Most of them that I mixed with were Scotch and English and Irish. I never mixed with Australians. You know they didn't want to know me and I didn't want to know them. I didn't like their attitude to Aborigines you see. Even, you know, different ... the sporting clubs they treat you differently. When I was playing cricket for a club in Adelaide - I won't say the name of the club - but it was a just an average district club you know with ... where you have a number of good teams in the district. It wasn't at the highest level. I was the best cricketer in the team. I used to score all the runs. I used to bowl everybody out and so on. But when we used to go to the hotels, and I wasn't a drinker, you know, I was too young to drink in many cases I, they'd serve me through the window. Everybody else was inside drinking up, but they wouldn't allow me to go in because I wasn't allowed to go in because I was an Aborigine. So I had to stand on the footpath and they'd hand me a glass of lemonade through the ... with the publican's permission, through the window and I wasn't allowed to come in the door. And you sort of ... It gets at you a bit after a while, you know. Sort of annoys you a bit. But I sort of think, I thought, oh well that's the way it is, I don't want anyone into trouble, but then I didn't turn up to that anymore. I just said, 'I'm not going to go and have a drink. See you later fellows'. So I used to just play cricket with them and they'd go one and I'd go the other. We lived in different worlds.
Did the any of the whites that you worked with object to this? I mean, when you were playing with them, didn't they say, 'Oh Charlie, you know, let him in, he's one of us'. Did they ever try?
They weren't allowed to because it was against the law. You know, that was the law, and at that time you had to carry a passbook with your photograph and your fingerprints and two recommendations - one from a policeman, and one from priest, to say you can walk the streets. That's not South Africa, this is Australia. That's why I always say to people, and they really annoy me, is when they say, 'We're not going to have this black arm band history carried into the future', like John Howard says and a few others. It's all right for them to forget about history because they've never had that. They don't have to worry about it. They can pick it up or leave it as they choose, but we had to live that you see, and you get started with all of that and you can't help but carry some of that with you today and possibly into the future. It was very difficult.
When you're describing the difficult things that you had to endure, there are two elements to them: one was the part that had to do with you being an Aborigine and being restricted and limited because of that, the other was the extreme poverty which, of course, you shared with very poor whites as well. Of those two, which hurt most?
I think they both hurt the same. One sort of was heaped upon the other. You know, it's an indignity for anybody to live in poverty stricken circumstances. It's much more difficult when you're a young person, striving for something and you're restricted by funds, from exposing your youthful potential in whatever direction you want to. And you just ... so you bury your youth with the expectation, well all things will come to you when you've finished your apprenticeship, or you're into the twenties, or whatever. And so you waste those wonderful years between the ages of twenty to twenty-one. And lots of people have probably have had that same experience. So it's a lost youth. It's all gone for what? Really for nothing, for nothing. And you know, to have the experience of people relating you ... to you in an inferior way, looking down upon you all the time, and being embarrassed by your company, and talking to you in a derogatory manner, you know why do you have to put up with that? You know, and we had to put up with that in Australia because we didn't know any different, and white Australians didn't know any different, because that was the way, that was the way it was, and they thought, well what's different, why shouldn't we? He's only a nigger, or he's an abo, or he's a 'boong', so we've got to treat them in a certain way. Don't invite them to birthday parties. Don't be seen with them in public or, you know, don't take him into your own home because it will be embarrassing for you. That was a way of life, and you know, but if I had somebody, a father, or somebody that was older that could talk to me, that was an adult, that was my friend, he could have just said to me, 'Don't worry about this. Go to England, go to Europe, go to Africa, go somewhere else, go to South America, and then be yourself'. And what I regret most of all is not allowing myself to come out, you know, to be what I want to be, to experience things in my youth that would have guided me in my adult life, and put me on the path earlier. Who knows what a person could have been. One of the things I regret most of all, is that never having a good education. I'm not an educated man, a very uneducated man, but I regret not having a good education, because I love the power that education gives you. I think it's great and that's why I went to university because I felt that I couldn't express myself. I didn't understand concepts. I didn't have ... I couldn't associate ideas. I couldn't talk to people eyeball to eyeball. I always used to look on the ground most of the time and shuffle my feet, because I felt I wasn't a competent person. I felt what they were trying to make me all the time was an inferior person, and so I had to act in that way. So I played their game to suit them and not myself, whereas if I'd had somebody to come to me and say to me, 'Listen here's your ticket, go to South America and live there for a year and then you'll see, you'll discover yourself', I would really have appreciated that.
But finally you did meet this Scotsman who told you that you should go and play soccer in England. Did you take his advice?
I did. You know it was a bit late. I should have ... I should have broken off my apprenticeship. Maybe I should have gone years before. I should have said, 'Stuff this, who wants to be a fitter and turner?' Sure lots of people did. Good luck to them but not me. I'm not good at it anyhow. And I should have gone. But I met a lot of Scotch and Irish people, Ferguson, McCabe - they were really good to me. They didn't have anything themselves but what ever they had, we shared, so I found fellowship and comfort within them, you see. And they were good to me. They treated me as an equal. They just treated me as they found me which I loved, you know. And that's why I still find that I mix mainly with Irish and English and Scotch people because ... and migrants, because they treat me as they find me. And I think that's good. But when you mix with white Australians they qualify the relationship all the time. It's always qualified, they know. You can feel it in their minds, you can feel it in their vibes. It's there in the air. It's there in the words. It's there in too much kindness, too patronising or too abrasive or too stand-offish, RSL stand-offish, you know, 'We rule the world and you know, you'll all do as we say'. And so that was the sort of atmosphere which I was brought up in which is very unhealthy. And you know, it's not healthy at all. It's not good. But my saving grace was, two [things]: one my ... my soccer and then mixing in the migrant world.
So when you went to England how old were you and how did that all happen?
I finished my apprenticeship. I think I was about twenty-two when I took off for England, but it was under circumstances that weren't very good. Everton Soccer Club invited me for trials over there, paid my way over by boat. By the time you get over there it was a month, you know, you're not fit. So I got over to England when I wasn't fit. I didn't know anybody in England, but I said to my friend Bob Hall, who by that time had gone back to England, I said, 'Meet me at the London railway station'. Well the London railway station - there's fifteen of them and they're all huge like Central Railway Station only more: fifteen or twenty or whatever. So we had to work that out when I got off the boat and travelled there. I had all my ... I had most of my bags stolen in Paris, by some Arabs. They said, 'Oh, we'll help you across the road', you know. And I said, 'Oh, what good blokes'. I got across to the other side but nobody else was there. You know with the busy traffic. I had my first experience of, you know, don't trust everybody. So they took off with all my bags, which wasn't very much anyhow. They didn't have much to share amongst themselves. I only had one shirt and it had only one arm, a white shirt with one arm, so I had to keep my coat on all the time.
The sleeve had come off.
Yeah, the sleeve had come off. I'd lost it somewhere or other. So I was pretty badly off and when I got to Liverpool, when they took me up there, I didn't have proper boots. I didn't have proper training gear, and when I got to the training ground, they were all super fit and I wasn't. So I had to get fit. So I ... I really ... See there was nobody there to advise me and that has been the story of my life. Nobody's been able to say, 'Excuse me, don't go to England until you get fit', or 'Don't do this', or 'Make sure you get a good education', or 'Don't go in to be a fitter and turner, do something else. Go and be a rock climber or, you know, a park ranger or neurosurgeon or something else'. And so when I got to England I was unfit, and I started training with the boys there and so on, they were all Scousers you know, Liverpool Scouse, and they were a pretty tough lot, and I was working on the Mersey River, you know, in the shipyard, on a boat called British Justice of all things and that's what they never gave you: British justice. But at least I was there, and they didn't care and when I said, 'Look I'm an Aborigine'. They said, 'Well what's that?' Nobody wanted to know about it and nobody knew what it meant. They said, a couple of them were talking and they said, 'No, that's them people from New Zealand, they call them Maoris'. I said, 'No, I'm not a Maori. I'm an Aborigine'. But you know it was too hard for them, they just didn't understand. So I just didn't bother. And I used to work for them there and they used to drop ... when you have a welding rod, you weld until just a little bit of it is left in the ... and you break it off and you get another sort of stick in there and you weld away again, if you follow what I mean. And they used to drop it on me, when I was down below, playing games. So I said to them, 'If you carry on like that, you know, we're going to have an argument here', and it's a good thing we never had an argument because they would have given me a hiding, because they could all fight you know. But I was prepared to stand up for myself. I wasn't going to take that shit from, doesn't matter who they were. And so we come to an arrangement. But with the soccer, when I was training with them, when I finished work and all, it was a bit hard, because they were all pretty well full time pros and I got friendly with most of the first team lads and I used to train with them more often during the day time. But their skills were far better than mine, you know, because I was never coached in my life in soccer. I just picked it up naturally. You know I just played and they said, 'Kick it in the net', and so I kicked it in the net and nobody said, 'Do it this way because it's easier or you do a dummy', and all that sort of thing. I never had those coaching techniques that were shown to me. But there in England ... but what happened to me was I was playing in the second team one day against Birmingham City, I think it was, and the coach from the side line was yelling out to me and the ground was bogged. It was just a quagmire, and I ... he was yelling out to me, 'Come on you kangaroo bastard'. He was yelling at me all these sorts of things you see. Kangaroo something and kangaroo this you know, making a gig out of me. So you know, while the game was still going on I just went over to the side line, and grabbed him by the collar, and I said, 'You say another word and I'm going to flatten you'. Well you never do that, in those times it was 1960s, you never did that. Nobody ever did that. When the ... they call them gaffers, you see, bosses. You never answer back. You never say anything to them that will cause them any displeasure and you certainly don't threaten them. Well I grabbed him by the collar and I said, 'You sit down and you shut your mouth, or I'm going to belt you one'. So he sat down and shut his mouth. But he dobbed me in to the big manager called ... a bloke called Ian Buckham, so when we went back to the Everton, Guddeson Park in Everton, he called me and he said, 'What are you doing?' And I said, 'Look nobody talks to anybody like that. I'm not going to take that crap from him'. You know I said, 'That's not right'. I said, 'I'm just getting ... well going now and it will take me another month before I'm fit'. He said, 'Oh you'll have to apologise to him'. I said, 'I'm not going to apologise to him'. I said, 'I'll flatten him again if he wants to carry on with it'. So the bloke came up and I said, 'You just behave yourself, talk nice to people. If you want me to anything I'll do it'. So he apologised to me. And you know that was a bit new. Nobody had ever had that happen. So he said, 'Look I'm sorry about that'. And I said, 'No that's all right but, you know, you tell me what to do and I'll do it, but don't carry on like you were doing out there'. And so Buckham said to me, 'We'll give you a term. You can play part time'. And I said, 'Nah, I'm going. I don't like you people'. I said, 'Not after how you've treated me here'. I said, 'I don't like your attitude'. But the attitude was the same everywhere, only I didn't know. So I said, 'I'm going,' and they said, 'Where are you going?' and I said, 'I don't know'. I didn't know no bastard at all. I didn't know anybody. And so I said, 'I'll just leave'. So I grabbed my gear, got out of the people's place that I was lodging with, near that racecourse, Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool and I took off for a place called Wigan. And I bumped into a coal mining family there and they asked me to come and live with them, so I went and stayed with them. And they were really wonderful, wonderful. They lived in a humble little cottage with rows and rows of coal miners houses, you know, with no verandahs, just doors about ten yards apart, you know and about sixty of them and sixty on the other side and another seven streets like that. Well I used to keep going to the wrong one all the time, and I used to come home at night and I'd open the door and walk in, and I'd say, 'What's going on here?' And they'd say, 'Well who are you?' and I'd said, 'Well where's Mr Tilly's place?' 'Oh well they're three streets over'. They used to get used to me walking into the wrong place because it's dark a lot you see. It's dark and misty and foggy and you'd get mixed up. And so as to make sure I used to look up the street sign and then I'd be right, but they all looked the same to me. They're all the same houses, all the same curtains on the windows as well and they all polished their doorsteps, you know. And I used to always remark that they're really clever, kind, clean people, who keep cleaning the doorsteps all the time but I used to skip over it. But they are wonderful people and I love the English people. I just ... I mean a lot of people in Australia denigrate the English, you know, but look, the English were the first people that gave me the hand of friendship when I was over there. They didn't worry about Aborigines, didn't worry about who you were. They just took you as they found you, and I ... that was the first time in my life, when I went over there, regardless of the football, that I felt you know, I'm myself. I met Charlie Perkins.
[end of tape]