Extract from Coming Home, by Steve Simms

I sat up on deck enjoying the ride and the company of smiling faces around me, and couldnít resist getting out my little backpacker guitar when someone enquired what was in the little case. Iíd seen and purchased this thing on Ebay for £150 just a short while before my departure.

Several inches shorter than a normal guitar, and with a tiny and strangely triangular-shaped sound box, the whole thing was extremely light and packed into a small padded case. True, it sounded strangely like a banjo, but I could sling the case around my neck at no additional burden. I considered it just perfect for my adventure, for which I had also added to my busking book a couple of local numbers like Waltzing Matilda, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport and a classic by Australian comedian Kevin (Bloody) Wilson entitled I Gave Up Wanking

The sun, the sea, the opera house and the harbour bridge all simultaneously in the background, a little strum was a magical moment indeed, for which I was rewarded with a small round of applause.

As the ferry slowed and prepared to dock, the sign for The Manly Yacht Club on either the port or the starboard side caught my eye and made me snigger. No wimps there then! Was it compulsory for all members to be rippling with muscles? Did they have to all sport hairy chests and drink lots of beer? What was the womenís section like? Was there, I wondered, a Manly Ballet class? A Manly Handbag Store? Or even a Manly feminist society?

It reminded me of a guy I knew when I worked in Harrogate for a while who lived in the Idle district of Bradford. He had once told me that he was a member of the Idle Working Menís Club. Sweet!

We disembarked at the pier and I asked the nearest human for directions to my hostel. I was duly viewed as an alien with a simple unintelligible grunt. Having then initially felt a little lost, I realised that it didnít actually matter and it was great for once in my life to feel unhurried and relaxed about finding my destination. Perhaps I was from outer space? Life can certainly feel surreal sometimes.