Jack Potter the travelling showman writing an autobiography

Pictured: Anne Ryan of Cafe Yasou and Ron Seddon with Jack (who is usually to be found in Yasou each morning) admiring the work so far achieved by the duo.
Pictured: Anne Ryan of Cafe Yasou and Ron Seddon with Jack (who is usually to be found in Yasou each morning) admiring the work so far achieved by the duo.

THE final chapters of an extraordinary autobiography are now being written by Jack Potter, now retired and a resident of Northam, with the help of Ron Seddon, who contributes the weekly cartoon for the Avon Valley Advocate.

Potter's life has been largely spent in the style of a travelling showman.

"Jack's stories are fairly graphic and offer plenty of scope for me to expand on the 33 chapters, which cover his travelling up to a million kilometres," Seddon said during their meeting in Cafe Yasou, Northam.

His book, titled Wild Card, tells of his working life and adventures everywhere from Buckingham Palace to New Zealand to Weipa and thousands of points around the outback of Australia from 1975-2009.

His experiences in London include a highly reputable health food store and restaurant about which even the New York Times declared: "This is the only man in London you can trust."

At its peak it was serving up to 800 customers a day.

Coming back to Australia in 1974 Potter performed as Herod in the blockbuster production of Jesus Christ Superstar before packing his wife and small son into a little truck with a tremendous load of staging equipment which was packed down like a Chinese puzzle but when unloaded formed a 25-foot wide full scale setting.

They hit the road and finally after years of considerably testing adventures, came to rest in Northam.

Experiences ranging from hosting the Beatles in his West End apartment to driving through bushfires, floods, around the outback, even hiring a plane and coming down twice in the Simpson Desert make for a colourful read, and at the moment he is involved in producing his own audio book, with Seddon's illustrations, all 28 of them, with evocative music clips from the past, songs he used in his performances during the later years.

During these later years Potter added a feature of memorising the entire audience's names, reaching out to communities to recognise the individuals that made them each special in their own way.

The most he ever remembered at one performance was 380, and he jokingly wonder whether, as his years pass, he would even have the fortitude to try and remember 10 per cent of that number now.

Every performance included an hour's pre-show part with the keg flowing, inducing an Aussie flavour to the proceedings.

The past 18 months has kept Potter and Seddon "working in spasms, usually Thursdays," to augment the material with maps, illustrations and photographs.

Always innovative, Jack has never used media to advertise his performances as he travelled, instead employing a swatch of 15 or so carefully chosen invitations in each town.

They were issued on a Thursday, and surprisingly, generated an audience the following Tuesday.

The audience was composed of those accruing a large group, and vying for a cash prize, a system which was remarkably successful.

"I have come to Northam because it is close to the city, providing all the amenities, and the country atmosphere I recall from my youth when growing up in Texas, Queensland it seems only yesterday," Potter said.

"I have endured every kind of difficulty in order to follow a lifelong dream, to be able to take my work around this country, to see it first hand, and be able to proudly to say I followed my dream and it was all worthwhile."

An eight-minute video on Youtube tells Potter's story Google Jack Potter Wild Card, with comments and Seddon's illustrations.

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