Dear Inner Circle,

David Wenham called in the other day. What an honour to have such a friend. David has been an ambassador for Wayside for a long time. Watching this humble man has taught me that the life of a “star” is 99% hard work. Actors practice their craft to the best of their ability but are always at the mercy of so many other professionals as well as the whim of public taste. There are few who can pay the price and even fewer who succeed. David’s success is a testament to a good man with a giant work ethic and to an extraordinary wife and family. If you’re interested, look up his episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” and you will see that David’s goodness was seeded and nurtured from the deep pool of virtue that was his father. On the very same day I had an email exchange with Claudia Karvan, another humble, grounded human being and another Wayside ambassador. How blessed are we? To top off an extraordinary day, I had a visit from Toni Lamond. Golly gosh, if you don’t know who Toni is, you should google her. Toni was on TV most nights when I was in school. She is Australian entertainment royalty. Toni was born into the world of entertainment and her whole life she’s walked an interesting and often difficult path, always making sure that someone’s show went on, no matter the cost to her personally. Talking with Toni for just minutes is a rare honour. In her late age and with plenty of health issues, she’s still working!

On Monday, we bade farewell to one of our all-time characters. Our dear friend had been a feature of Kings Cross for longer than anyone could remember. It seems he’s been around here since the 1960s. We know he had a mother from a few obscure stories but in all these years he’s been a ‘loner’. Wayside has been his family. The dear man through all these years preferred to live on the streets. He had certain routines that made him predictable, although none of his routines involved showering. We tried for years to get him into a shower and often times, we deliberately burned toast to overcome the odour that our dear friend brought with him into the café. He never had any identification and he had no ability or desire to negotiate the modern world. The staff at the Commonwealth Bank at Potts Point exercised extraordinary kindness over many years. He appeared every morning at 9:30am at the bank and the staff there issued him with $20. It was all the money he needed to live adequately. His food as well as his family came from Wayside. A generous soul, always shared what he had with others. He loved our volunteers but had a preference for women with red hair. He offered fashion advice from time to time. He died with $50,000 in the bank and I’m so grateful that other street dwellers only ever thought his net worth was $20. When I first met this fellow, he asked, “Should I call you ‘Minister’ or ‘Reverend’ or ‘Father’ or ‘Pastor’?” I said, “Why don’t you call me, Graham?” He seemed relieved and said, “OK, thanks Father!” On his death bed, he stipulated that we were ‘not to make a fuss’ so we ran a “No Fuss Farewell”. We just gathered and told stories of fun and suffering and love and we realised that we were all better off because this dear man had been part of our lives.

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