‘I used to be a high school teacher in maths and geography. 30 odd years ago I went to England and I was teaching over there for a long time – long enough to get married, have a daughter, get divorced. You know…the usual story. When I came back they’ve changed the rules on me. I’m no longer qualified. They consider me a new starter. I haven’t got a specialist teaching qualification so despite the fact that I’ve got 30 years’ experience including head of department I can’t teach without going back to uni for another year. I can’t afford that so I’m making scarves to keep myself above the streets rather than below them.’

‘If I sell a few scarves a week, I’m happy. The first couple of scarves buys all the wool I need. The next one buys me food for the week and the next one puts some petrol in my home.’

What’s been your biggest challenge in life?

‘Doing my first degree when I was 38 which I loved and sailed through and I got a first. I studied Drama.’

What advice would you give to your 20 year old self?

‘Aim for RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London) – do the degree early! That is where I wanted to go but my parents wouldn’t let me. I became a registered nurse when I was 18 instead.

‘I’ve only stopped performing on stage in the last five years because I’ve had a lot of problems with my teeth and I won’t go on stage with no teeth. I can’t annunciate properly but I’ll have new teeth in soon.’

Will you go back to stage then?

‘Only to do cabaret – I love cabaret. I didn’t find cabaret until I was actually doing my finals project. I love singing and dancing. I shall return!’

‘The first practice we did without Jay was really difficult. We weren’t expecting that – just his non-presence there was tough.

‘Pat my brother was in town from Tasmania for the funeral. Pat will be filling in for Jay at this Saturday’s Smallworld Festival. We wanted to introduce Pat to the songs and that gave him two weeks to rehearse them and try to get them as close to the way that Jay used to play them.

‘It was the day after the funeral. We were all a bit exhausted. We’d all had the night out the night before at the pub that Jay used to drink at. We thought we’d jumped over this big hurdle in getting through the funeral and then all of a sudden, we had to go through a band practice without him being there.

‘This will be our first gig since his passing. If the gigs hadn’t been booked we probably wouldn’t have played for an extended period. It was Jay’s funeral we wanted to pay for.

‘We’ve also got a couple of gigs booked in Melbourne and my other brother will fill in on one of those plus another bass player who Jay taught how to play bass and he’s very close to us.

‘We’re not getting a replacement bass player. He’s not being replaced. People who are close to him are filling his shoes in remembrance. Once all these shows are done we’re going to take a long time off and who knows? For the time being I don’t even want to think about it.

‘On Saturday we are chucking in Acid Rain in the set because that was a song that Jay wrote. Just us being there and doing the gig is a tribute to Jay in itself. Same with the audience – he’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.

‘Every now and then you realise he’s not there. It comes in waves. Sometimes when you least expect it.’

Tumbleweed’s Lenny Curley about his brother Jay who passed away suddenly last month.

Tickets to Smallworld Festival are on sale at http://www.younghenrys.com/smallworld/.

Limited edition t-shirts to fundraise for Jay’s three year old son, Max, will be available for purchase on the day for $25.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt about yourself while you’ve been studying psychology?

‘I’m not that different to everyone else. When I was young I had traumatic experiences. I have a complex traumatic disorder and so for a long time I was such a depressed person. I’d get anxious and feel like I was so weird and so different and didn’t fit in.

‘But just about everyone has their own issues and problems. It’s just about how those problems combine together and that means that some people are depressed and some people are just sad sometimes.

‘I think everyone’s a little socially anxious. I’m probably more socially anxious than a lot of people I know. In the same way I would reserve judgement when meeting someone else, I try to reserve judgement about their judgement. I try to assume they’re not judging.’

‘Once you get to a certain age, you’re not so consumed about looking around for how people perceive you. You start perceiving yourself in a different kind of way and start trying to expand who you are.

‘Sometimes I feel like I’m behind. I have friends who are in corporate jobs. Fluorescent lights are nice but I’d much rather have my hands in the dirt. I’ve embrace an artistic lifestyle and I have no fear that money will come. It doesn’t really matter.

‘It feels liberating in a way. You’re more in tune with things. You see things and you draw creativity from it and that fulfils you – it’s the best. It’s frightening too. You have to make something from it because you have no other choice. You have to go forward.’

‘I felt totally useless because what could I do? I couldn’t do a thing. All I could do was hold my wife’s hand. It was the first in my life that I felt completely useless. One minute it’s just the two of you and the next minute there is another being with a personality and character just out there. That’s the most amazing thing about it. The miracle of the whole thing is just amazing. When he was born, it was like looking at a picture of myself as a child.

‘Before you just lived life for yourself and your partner and all of a sudden you stop and live life for someone else and try to make a future for them.’

‘We were together for five years. We moved here from New Zealand and then he left me. I’m very family orientated so for me just to not pack it all up and go back home for a boy, that was really challenging.

‘I had to look within myself and think was it worth giving it all up for a guy because he leaves you or do you want to further yourself? When I looked deeper within myself, I found somebody who’s very outgoing and spontaneous. I learnt that I shouldn’t be defined by what somebody else makes me. I saw myself as a bigger entity than in a relationship.’

‘I spent too much time being angry. I spent a good couple of years being really, really angry at someone that showed no remorse, never apologised, never even looked at me. But karma gets you at the end of the day. It is what it is. He’s living his life and I’m living mine. I try not to think about it.

‘My biggest challenge is removing the stigma that people in chairs just stay at home and do nothing. Also being socially accepted and being able to access all gig venues and general locations independently. Not have to plan whether I can go and see a band or meet up with friends at a café that I can’t get into.

‘Life’s too short. I don’t have time for negativity. Don’t worry about the small things. I just want to live. Stay true to yourself. Just love who you are and love life.’