I Slept Next To Keith Urban

Shhhhh. Girlie Secret. I’ve got this thing for Keith Urban. Yes, the country singer from Oz who married Our Nic after that fiasco with Toy Man.

Keith is really, really cute. Like a kewpie doll on a stick that you used to be able to purchase from the Easter Show. Do you remember those? I never had a doll on a stick of course. Far too whimsical. My parents usually bought me the Nock and Kirby (Hardware) Sample Bag, and my sister the Shelleys Glue Sample Bag. That was back in the day when Show Bags were Sample Bags and contained exactly what the name suggests – samples.

So for the past three years my treat to myself for the new year has been to see Keith perform live at the Barn. Or as some call it, the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. My friend Tash and I make a night of it with dinner and drinks and then fantasise about taking Keith home with us. Separately. Not together. No wrong ideas, please. This really is a positive way to commence the new year..

Keith and Our Nic bring the cherubs home to Sydney for Christmas with the fam, head back to Nashville for New Years Concerts, and then return to the farm on the Southern Highlands of NSW for rest and recuperation. Of course, our definition of farm may differ slightly but that’s okay……

Being interstate this year meant I missed young Keith Urban. I have to admit I’m impressed by a self made man who wagged Maths classes for two years.

But did I miss him?

Let me tell you about the night I slept next to Keith Urban.

Driving home along the New England Highway in the middle of summer and school holidays can be tiresome. I wish I could wiggle my nose like Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched and just “go” places.

We’d been on the road most of the day and it was nearing Wine O’Clock, so agreed to find a motel in the next town. Tamworth. Home of The Golden Guitar. Personally, not a big fan but the drive had been hard going. Ten klicks out the billboards are welcoming us to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. A big festival of ten days duration and starting that very day.

Holy Guacamole. CMF is Big Business and we know the town will be full of
Utes with bull bars, grey nomads, campers, line dancers, and God help me, yodellers. So we pull over at the first vacancy we come across : a newly constructed Conference and Wedding Reception set up. Suits me fine. No self respecting yodeller would be seen dead in a place so refined.

A good meal, local plonk, and we crash for the night thinking it odd that the car park is virtually vacant.

Up with the sparrows next morning and readying to exit a sexy little silver car drives in to the car park next to ours. Sorry, no further details about the vehicle. Cars are not my thing. But it is sleek, is silver, and is sexy.

Who sneaks in to a motel at 6am in the morning, I have to ask?

A country entertainer who has to perform that very night, that’s who.

And that’s my “ I Slept Next To Keith Urban” Story.

Don’t make me change it to a Chad Morgan (The Shiek from Scrubby Creek) Story, okay.

Happy Birthday, Vera Lynn

Received a lovely surprise in the mail this morning, validating my parenting role. “Errol is good for the soul”. The old soul does require a little soothing so I’m not going to argue with the prescribed medicine.

Dame Vera Lynn, the Forces Sweetheart, celebrated her 102nd birthday yesterday, the 20th of March.

At a funeral, of all places, I spoke with a fella with a Pink Floyd obsession. Pink Floyd : that LP that was played at every party throughout the 1970’s.

The Wall was Pink Floyd’s 11th recorded album and a concept piece. It’s story explores Pink, a jaded rockstar that bassist Roger Waters modeled after himself and band founder Syd Barrett. Pink’s life begins with the loss of his father during the Second World War and continues with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother, and the breakdown of his marriage; all contribute to his eventual self-imposed isolation from society, symbolised by a wall.

I’ve finally had a chance to listen to The Wall and found a song dedicated to Dame Vera, with the most popular interpretation being :”As he drifts farther from reality, Pink yearns for ideas of home and reconnecting with his personal roots, recalling the hope that Vera Lynn – a World War II era singer – instilled within a country torn apart by war and loss”.

Unfortunately, it’s a reminder that you’re getting old when you attend a Pink Floyd Tribute Concert and the light show gives you a shocking headache……

Hope you enjoyed a piece of cake with a cuppa on your birthday, young Vera.

Another family favourite. Thankfully never accompanied by harmonica.

St Patrick’s Day & Music #4

Could we get past St Patrick’s Day without mention of the 1952 movie, The Quiet Man, filmed almost entirely in Ireland?

This classic is so well known that I’m not commenting other than the (loose) concept was developed from the novel, Blackcock’s Feather by Maurice Walsh. Can I tell you just how hard it was to locate a copy of this book?

My daughter surprised me with flights to Ireland when I visited her during her study visa in England. God love her, she’d even booked seats on The Quiet Man bus tour as a treat for her decrepit old mo.

The countryside was just beautiful, and photos of the bridge where Shaun Thornton ( John Wayne) first spots Mary-Kate Donaher (Maureen O’Hara) herding sheep adorn the walls of the She-Shack. * massive sigh

Another favourite movie filmed mostly in Ireland and starring Daniel Day-Lewis is In The Name Of The Father. Nothing light and fluffy about this one, it is based on the true story of the Guildford Four, four people falsely convicted of the 1974 Guildford pub bombings, which killed four off-duty British soldiers and a civilian.

The Irish scenery is bleak yet spectacular. Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin is brutally stark and full of the history of Irish nationalism with a courtyard where the perpetrators of the 1916 Easter Uprising were executed. TIP: Do the tour: it’s eerily fascinating.

Hot soup, Cold Cider, and a hint of rebellion.

St Patrick’s Day & Music #3

Cockles And Mussels is an Irish folk song that kids of my vintage learned at Primary School, right along with Puff The Magic Dragon. This is odd in that Aussies don’t call them cockles, but rather, Pipis (or Pippies.)

On our beaches it is common to see families along the waters edge doing the “Pipi shuffle”, a movement with their feet in the sand, in order to have the shellfish raise to the surface for collection. The seagulls get a good feed as I’m not sure just how many of us, other than our new Australians or our first Australians, would know how to cook them. I certainly don’t, though my parents used to talk of them making a fine meal over a campfire, albeit a tad gritty.

Mussels I can cook though I haven’t bothered for thirty years. Despite the pristine waters off Tasmania friends who recently collected mussels from the rocks became temporarily paralysed after eating them due to contamination by toxins.

In Dublin there’s a statue of Molly Malone with her cart, although I understand the locals affectionately call her the “Tart with the Cart”.

There is also a fine statue of James Joyce, Irish novelist, who wrote Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. They call that one “ The Prick with the Stick”. (Evidence enough, Cait’s Classics, that somewhere down the line we are part of that Tribe).

In Dublin’s fair city

Where the girls are so pretty

I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone

As she wheeled her wheelbarrow

Through the streets broad and narrow

Crying “cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh”

St Patrick’s Day & Music # 2.

Danny Boy has been done to death, including within my own family where the patriach insisted on teaching my sister and I how to play this song on the harmonica.(Note : Another epic fail, right up there with Algebra and Long Division).

It wasn’t until I heard Mario Lanza’s version of Danny Boy that I appreciated the real beauty of this song.

Over the years there has only ever been one book that I’ve literally thrown into the garbage bin. Many I don’t finish for a myriad of reasons but they all get recycled and rehomed.

The book was a Mario Lanza biography. Now I’m no prude when it comes to reading about affairs of the heart, nor affairs involving all manner of body parts. This book however included the most undignified tripe I’ve ever read, or as an Irish friend would say, “it was plain manky”.

Mr Lanza, this one makes the angels weep.

Do you have a favourite rendition of Danny Boy?

St Patrick’s Day and Music 1.

I’ve just booked lunch at the local pub for St Patrick’s Day. The food is sure to be gross – Guinness Pies and Pork Sausages and Mash – though the view of the bay and the band in the beer garden are personal faves.

From the beer garden to North Stradbroke Island

Tullamore Tree specialise in Irish music (though the lead singer is from Glasgow, which is Irish enough in concept), covering traditional folk songs, songs of rebellion, and recent hits. There’s generally a lot of communal singing followed by ungainly movement on the dance floor which is all good fun. Unfortunately, I’ve checked the wardrobe and I’m all out of orange and/or green outfits (which oddly enough were always my colours when I was younger, taller and thinner. Orange for Gods sake. Who wears orange?)

As I’ve been told I must stop singing Gene Pitney songs by numerous people over the last fortnight I’ve moved on to the Irish music that seems to have played such a large part in my life over the years. The neighbours are going to be totally fed up by the end of the week……

When I visited Ireland with Daughter Numero 2 I experienced numerous “moments”. Quite sure we are both Celtic at heart. Still get a wee teary remembering being in Galway and just getting lost in the music.

So of course the neighbours have already had to deal with some crooning from old Bing…………

Moving on……….

The Bee Gees & March 1988

You know how mumma lions get when their cubs are threatened? Well, I’m like that with my LP (vinyl) record collection. In numbers it’s only small – in memories it’s huge. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All have been placed on disks and there are moments when a girl gets a little sentimental, a wee nostalgic, and the music takes me back.

One of my first LPs was the Best of The Bee Gees Volume 1 followed by Best of The Bee Gees Volume 2. (Note : Not the first. I have to retain some semblance of pride, so that one shall remain nameless).

I mention this because I recently read The Bee Gees, Tales of The Brothers Gibb. Over a 1000 pages and way out of date it was hugely informative. Did you know the nicknames for the three Gibb brothers that formed the group were Pissy, Potty and Pilly after their respective addictions?

I was always a fan of Robin, the twin with the goofy face. Hated the eldest, Barry, who was too flashy and the falsetto gave me the pips. Unfortunately, I learned things about Robin in the biography that I really didn’t need to know and had to keep reminding myself that the magnificent monument in London dedicated to Bomber Command may not have happened without his attention and focus.

Their younger brother, Andy, was also an entertainer. Andy died suddenly in March 1988 which I heard on the radio coming out of a drug induced daze in the maternity wing of the St George Hospital in Sydney. Happy birthday my gorgeous Cat Balou.

Heading north to Redcliffe to see a Gene Pitney covers band. (Who, you ask? Think the song “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”). Redcliffe was where the Gibb family lived in their early days in Australia and a laneway is dedicated to their musical journey.

And here’s my brush with fame : I know a lad who stole Barry’s vegemite and cheese sandwich when they were attending Humpybong Primary School all those years ago.

Bee Gee Way, Redcliffe