Seniors blame 'fidgety feet' for world-wide busking tour

Seniors blame 'fidgety feet' for world-wide busking tour

When the kids grow up and leave home, many couples seize the opportunity to downsize and travel.

Michael and Mary Hodges took that concept to the extreme when they hit their 50s. 

They abandoned their music careers in England and hit the road in a van with plans to busk their way around the world.

'We wanted to see if we could make a living by doing that," Mary Hodges said.

"And we did."

For three decades they ranged from Europe to Australia and Canada, supporting themselves with the proceeds of street performances and sleeping in their van.  

This week they're launching a book about their experiences, titled Fidgety Feet, at a seniors' centre near their Victoria home.

The Hodges' adventures included a stint in Germany amid the euphoria following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"There were so many wonderful musicians on the street," she said. "They'd even bring pianos out and xylophones, it was just absolutely wonderful. 

"We were received very, very well," Mary Hodges said. "They were good years, the 80s and 90s…because people weren't worried about safety particularly."

As they moved on through Europe, to Australia and later to Quebec they defied their family's predictions about their mid-life career and lifestyle change.

"They said we'd be back within a month," Mary said. "We fooled them."

The couple ended their travels and settled in Victoria in 2011 when Mary turned 81 and Michael became ill with cancer.

During a reporter's visit they rehearsed some familiar tunes for the first time in years. The former opera singer's voice and Michael's ukulele accompaniment remained clear and strong through La Vie en Rose. 

"I think we'll carry on like this and maybe do some playing around for old people like ourselves," Mary Hodges said. "Share our experience a bit. If we're able we'll do a few of the homes around town."

With files from Nicole Crescenzi

To listen to the interview with Mary and Michael Hodges go to the upper left-hand link: Seniors with 'fidgety feet' busk their way around world.