ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
THE LAST THING STEPHEN VICKER slid into the top of his suitcase was Paul Kelly’s Greatest Hits.
A couple months earlier, he’d sorted out his Youth Mobility Visa and a one-way ticket to London, thinking he was about to embark on the adventure of his young life.
When he arrived in London, he quickly found a job in a small marketing agency on the edge of Zone 1. It was even easier to find a place to rest his head – a place he found through a mate’s cousin who’d made the move a year prior.
The 27-year-old traded his Manly apartment for a ground floor broom closet in Shepherd’s Bush, a pill he said he was prepared to swallow.
It was all a breeze, far less difficult than he’d thought. But as he rides bleary-eyed on the tube to work each morning, he tells himself he made the right decision.
Because if he didn’t, he’d be on the next flight home.
“On my bad days, I just put on that Paul Kelly CD and lie face down on my bed,” he said.
“But I have good days, like meeting up with my travelling friends at Camden Markets or something. Taking my friend Harry on a walking tour of Notting Hill and Portobello Road last week was fun.”
On the whole, most of the time Stephen has spent in London has been great, albeit a few rather unpleasant times when the thoughts of home crept into his head.
Recalling an incident from Australia Day this year, he was handed the aux cord late in the evening, just when the drugs began wearing out. Rather than put something smooth and contemporary and smooth to round the edges out, he put on some Kev Carmody.
“Droving Woman brings the house down at home,” he said. “Not in London.”
“People were saying: ‘What is this shit?’ and ‘Somebody change it!’ I almost cried.”
His mum calls every Sunday night like clockwork. They speak for half an hour about things he used to find trivial and mundane, but now it’s the only thing he honestly looks forward to each week.
“The last time I spoke to Mum, I promised that I’d try to find time to come home for Christmas this year,” he said.
“I’ve already booked the ticket, but it’s a return.”