I’m starting to get the jitters about the plane flight – but HEY, I’m heading home!
I can’t get there fast enough, with everything that’s been going on… Just can’t wait to hit the ground, feel and smell the dry air and see all those beautiful eucalyptus trees and give my family and friends a hug (sorry for that cringe, but I mean it).
It’s a long long way to get there – a huge, bon voyage – and I’ve been revving myself up with some tunes that remind me so much of home (and hey, don’t get stuck into me that they’re not new – my finger’s not on the pulse anymore out here).
These songs are giving me a great buzz right now… but I’ve gotta say that sometimes some Aussie songs reduce me to a sobbing mess! (as well as all the others: Natalie Merchant, Antony and the Johnsons, Adele et al…). I can be driving in my car, playing the music real loud and suddenly I find myself choking with huge, involuntary sobs – a blithering wreck trying to see the road with tear-filled cloudy eyes. And I love it. I think of home, think of my family and have a great, big, cry. It feels SO good. I’m almost joyous. I’m sort of between happy, ecstatic, thankful and sad, all at once. And would you believe it, I’ve cried to Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena. Eeeewww. Better stop there.
I’ve been reminded today of how hard it is to lose someone you love. I lost my wonderful, funny, larger than life uncle.
I was out in my car and receieved a text from my brother in Australia – it said our uncle had died half an hour earlier.
There I was, sitting alone in my car, on a country road in the middle of nowhere, reading a simple, clear message that suddenly altered a part of my life forever .
I felt so far away from home. And I still do. I can’t be with my family and the people I love over there – and give my Mum and Dad and my brothers a hug and say how much I love them. I wasn’t able to tell my Uncle that either. I can’t cry and laugh about him with my cousins. I can’t go to his funeral and be there for my dad, his big brother.
It sucks being so far from home sometimes. You try to get on with your life, you accept the distance (even though it’s still hard), you enjoy where you are and try to make the most of each day and then wham, something like this happens.
Thank you Uncle Leigh for everything we shared: the loud LOUD music, your cooking, the laughs, your humour, letting me stay up late, fish and chips at the beach for our lunch breaks when I was your chauffeur; and of course Elvis – watching re-runs of nearly every live Elvis performance on video together, paying me to edit the commercials out for your recordings of Elvis tv midday movies, telling me the King was possibly still alive; you saying your tongue-in-cheek ‘bonjours’ to me over the phone from Australia, telling Dad to stop pissing with him when he didn’t understand my new married name really was ‘Dunno’ after I’d eloped; the widened eyes in mock horror at cheeky jokes, letting me house-sit for you and Marilyn all those times (my girlfriends and I thank you), showing me amazing jazz performances on the tele until all hours, re-enacting for me the first swimming scene from Jaws in our pool (you playing that woman) over and over again with me watching and squealing with excitement, when I was still ‘too young’ to watch the actual film; coming home late at night to see you lying on the couch at Mum and Dad’s watching a movie with them (you always got the best seat in the house); and not to ever forget, Uncle Leigh, your enthusiasm and positivity – your happiness at being alive. You were always so much fun to be around and we all, your many nieces and nephews (you were the youngest of 10), knew how much you loved us all – as we do you.
Thanks for everything Uncle Leigh. I am going to miss you so much.
Leaving the vino and the vineyards aside for a moment, the wannabe groupie in me enjoyed a night of bliss this Summer, standing 15 metres away from this man and hearing him sing!…
Yes, I’m in love.
It was euphoric listening to Robert Plant do his thing and yes I want to yell about it out loud!!
I have two big brothers who introduced me to all sorts of music when I was little – The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Lou Reed, Simon and Garfunkel, and one of the big ones for me, Led Zeppelin. I’ll never forget the first time one of them played me ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on the tape recorder and made me listen to it the whole way through… My brother wanted me to fully appreciate the beauty of this track, talking me through it, wanting me to understand that a heavy rock group could play such gentle, melodic music. I think I was about seven? But the look of despair on the ballet teacher’s face when I asked her to hit play and ‘Stairway’ accompanied my choreographed piece for the annual ballet concert. I don’t think she appreciated Led Zeppelin’s melody and I had her scurrying to hit pause as the track started cranking up. Mmm, not quite the family with mountains of classical recordings to choose from really. The ballet didn’t last long either.
Anyway, even if it wasn’t Led Zeppelin playing, this was pretty damn cool!
Robert Plant may be in his mid-sixties, and he might not strutt his stuff (in those incredibly, impossibly tight jeans) with the same force, but the hair flick was there, the clapping of silver-jewelled hands along with his musicians was there… elegant, humble and generous. I always thought that he sang and moved in perfect unsion with his musicians – like he himself was a fine instrument – and yes, he still ROCKS! Daggy I know, but tears were streaming down my face as – quelle bonne surprise! – he sang a few of my favourite Led Zep songs (‘Ramble On’ would you believe it, Soir!). Heaven. The deranged music fan in me had me struggling to get up the front, elbowing blokes 4foot taller than me, so I could be as close to Him as possible… So I could imagine he was singing only for me, would let me get up there and bang on a tambourine for him (I would be so cool and discreet) and invite me back later for a beer… Dream on. In fact I was stuck behind a painful dude in a baseball cap who refused to budge, so that he could film the entire event on his puny mobile phone (so that pathetic fans like me can then look up our favourite concert moments on YouTube).
The evening was gloriously warm and the setting for the concert was perfect. It was held in the ancient ‘Les Arenes de Nimes’ – one of the best-preserved Roman ampitheatres in the world, dating from the 1st century A.D. – smack-bang in the middle of Nimes, a beautiful town one hour’s drive north-east of Montpellier. It felt surreal taking in all the old stone forms circling us, while watching Robert Plant and the Band of Joy in action – the figures of the security guards walking along the very top perimeter of the arena looked like guards patrolling a gladiator scene.
But like all your favourite concerts, it was over in an instant and I screamed like I was 18 again with my hands in the air, begging for more (and my last chance for that beer).
No chance. I was going home with Benji and our friends afterall, but there was still cause for a celebration! The beers went down swimmingly well and the next morning another couple of old friends joined me at the table outside the hotel.
Before we left Nimes, we wanted to take in just a little bit more Kulture (we’re deprived out here in the sticks!) and headed to the ‘Carre d’Art’, the contemporary art gallery whose building was conceived by Norman Foster. It’s well worth a look – for its small collections as well as its architectural form.
I fell in love with these two paintings (funnily enough, both painted in 1961):
The gallery is a brilliant visual contrast to the ‘Maison Carree’ across the road – an incredibly beautiful Roman temple, thought to be the only temple in the world so well-preserved (sorry for the lack of good images! – my camera had gone on the blink and I was using the phone!??!!).
Amidst all the culture, Nimes still had a little rock n’roll left in it.
…at least some people are still wearing the tight pants.
And I can’t help it, here’s a reminder of the rockstar version: