The Australian Tour is over and I am back in Brisbane rifling through Kate and Keir's belongings to see what would sell quickest on ebay.
They have gone to the UK and Germany to play even more gigs before we all head off on our drive from Darwin to Broome. I'm knackered and I weigh more than I did a month ago.
Last night at the end of the very last show in...Taree (Yes, really) a young girl came up to speak to Kate at the end of the signings. She was about 13. She wanted to ask a question and the question was;
'How did you get to where you are today?'
As Kate pointed out, that's a big question.
It reminded me of a comment Keir had made a few nights previously. Two teenagers had come to get their CD's signed and the mother of one of them said;
'They're a couple too, and they're musicians. They want to be just like you and Keir. They've applied to the Conservatory that you went to.'
In the car on the way back to the hotel Keir said;
'But we got to where we are today not because of everything that went right, but rather everything that went wrong.'
'Play music every day. Make music every day. If you love doing something then just do it all the time. You'll find you can't not.'
She then lost the thread slightly (distracted by Keir trying to remove a cork from a good wine using nothing but a pen and the will to drink) and continued;
'Don't say no to anything in the first couple of years.'
My wine glass froze halfway to my mouth. The girl is nodding and smiling. Kate is nodding and smiling. I'm trying to gag back laughter and the girl's mum has a glazed look of horror.
If you're reading this 13 year old girl, Kate meant don't say no to opportunities to play or sing. There are some things you should definitely say no to. Just to clarify. I'm sure your mum will have filled you in on the details by now. At length.
A few of the teenaged girls at the gigs have been showing up in stripy tights and fairy wings. Its a reference to the song Sarah in which two girls go to Livid festival dressed in this way. One of the girls is abducted and her dress is found later in a creek. Its all pretty chilling. I took a picture of two of the girls in their finery and one of them joked;
'Hey, I hope we don't meet the same fate as Sarah huh! Hahaha! D'ya think we've jinxed ourselves?'
There was an uncomfortable pause before I heard myself in my own mother's voice;
'You two stick together okay? Is someone picking you up afterwards? Good. Now go and enjoy the show. Responsibly.'
I've talked at length about the fans. But there are also the people we just stumble across along the way who recognise Kate. That's fun too. My favourite is when we're in a cafe having breakfast and the server politely takes our order whilst his eyes dart repeatedly sideways at Kate. They then go off to get our coffee and a minute or so later we hear Kate singing Last Day On Earth through the sound system. It always makes me giggle.
You now know that I know that you know that I know who you are. More coffee?
Kate tells this story about having performed somewhere remote that I can't pronounce and afterwards checking in to a motel. As she climbed in to bed the phone rang and when she picked up the man on reception said:
'I've just been googling you. I've thought about it and I'd like to offer you a five dollar discount on the room.'
She took the offer and maintains that it was a bargain.
Things that I have learned from being on tour:
- People are much the same wherever you go and whilst I gleefully rip the shit out of some tiny backwater I will invariably feel like a complete arsehole two hours later when the community of said tiny backwater greets me with open arms and recommends all the best places to eat/get coffee/while away an hour.
- Women in Mandurah like their T-shirts tight.
- Women in Albany like them loose.
- When Kate says we need to eat. We. Need. To. Eat. And she's quite right. Four people locked in a car together for five hours at a stretch cannot add low blood sugar to the equation. That way madness lies.
- Two glasses of excellent wine give you the same high as two bottles of bad wine. (Learned so very late in my drinking life.)
- If someone at a merchandise table asks you how much something is 'worth'. They are asking the price. Do not answer philosophically. They will spend the rest of the evening pointing at you from a distance and laughing with their friends.
- Don't make a gay reference whilst happily chatting to a fan in very small town who is clearly in the closet and fighting to remain so for his own safety/sanity.
- When people tell you that if you rise early and sit on the bay you'll see dolphins/whales, they are lying.
- If a theatre employee tells you the venue is haunted take it to mean that something went horribly awry during the soundcheck.
- If something goes horribly awry at the next venue it does not mean that you brought the ghost with you.
- Telling a professional sound engineer who is extremely good at his job (Adrian) that you just think of him as the driver is unforgivable. And never forgotten.
- Constantly mentioning Adrian in blogs and it leading to him getting hugged by complete strangers when he has an aversion to physical contact is also unforgivable.
- Adrian telling you that he believes you to be more terrifying with every day that passes in your company is kind of funny. Accidentally getting on a plane with his copy of 'Eat Pray Love' and refusing to get off the plane to return it to him is not funny. His having a copy of 'Eat Pray Love' IS funny. Make no mistake.
- Keir doesn't often recommend things. But when he does they are always unquestionably brilliant. From films and comedy to Chiko rolls.
- A lesson I learned from my Gran many moons ago but is always worth a mention: One good friend is worth a dozen adequate lovers. But I am still in the market for lovers.
- If you make a friend online and have the opportunity to meet them in person on the other side of the world four years later; Do it.
- Kate is always being told how beautiful, talented and inspiring she is. Yeah yeah, she's alright, in the right light, and she can hold a tune but what Kate also is, is kind. And a good friend.
- That was uncharacteristically sentimental of me but I am three quarters of the way down a bottle of shiraz and I have nowhere I need to be.
- If I ever have the chance I'd like to go back to Margaret River and spend a month there.
- All of you who said I'd love Melbourne were right.
- The Mandurah tourist board who recommended I check out the miniature village were wrong.
- Shepparton may only have a swamp as a local tourist attraction but its a lovely swamp.
- The Giant Oyster in Taree gets funnier the longer you look at it.
- When your hosts add several hours to their journey to drive you along the Great Ocean Road, stay awake.
- This American Life is one of the best podcast series in the universe. Your life can only be enriched by listening to it on long journeys.
- Every single hotel or motel we have stayed in on this month long tour has had something to recommend it. Be it a good bed, a nice complimentary soap or free wifi. Except for the Travelodge in Sydney. That was shit. It was like being in Prisoner Cell Block H. With fewer windows.
...28. Say Yes more than you say No. Unless you are an ambitious 13 year old.
It's hard to stop when you start numerical points. That could be point 29. I've lost my thread haven't I.
I'm a third of the way through my Big Australian Adventure.
I got to where I am, not because of everything that went right, but rather everything that went wrong. And I'm very happy about that.