Monday, June 14, 2004

Hazelblackberry: what I like about you, senior cits

Dear Nick

Grumpy organised a surprise night out on Saturday night at a jazz show. This show wasn't held down in Freo, where black and a penchant for strange hats would have been de rigueur, but at the Don Russell Performing Arts Centre, deep in the suburban wilds of Thornlie (the DRPAC is a proscenium arch theatre!). Well, it certainly was a surprise - I didn't know that Grumpy even knew where Thornlie was. However, he guided us there unerringly in the faithful mobile, the Georgia Satellite, but did inject a little overkill into the planning as we arrived an hour early. This necessitated a stop for drinks at the Forest Lakes Tavern, a rather pleasant and family-oriented venue. I like a pub where kids can drink a lemon squash and run around while Mum & Dad and Aunty Sheryl & Uncle Max enjoy a smoke and a beer and wait for the local covers band to get started.

It turns out that playing at the DRPAC was the James Morrison (WA) Scholarships Winners Group. (I noted to Grumpy, and I note it here again, that if this talented ensemble is to continue to tour together - and Insya Allah they will - they may wish to consider tweaking that name a little.) I put the WA in brackets so you'd understand that these are the scholarship winners from 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003 who all happen to come from Western Australia - not wishing to imply that there are scholarship winners from each state each year, which would dilute the wow factor just a little. And wouldn't you know it, they play enough different instruments to form a band. Kismet.

The DRPAC clearly markets itself to the retired end of the market. Grumpy and I have a way of finding ourselves at these events, where the more senior of our fellow citizens run the cold fish eye over us, resenting our young whippersnapper intrusion into their sedate happenings. Something similar happened to us when we went to Norfolk Island. Neither of us was aware it was a retiree destination until we were in the departure lounge at Sydney, tickets in hand and raring to go. It was then we noticed with discomfort the unhappy and perhaps resentful and probably myopic gaze of various seniors-card holders alighting upon us. Unsettling. I still shiver at the thought of it.

So at the jazz night the audience was liberally sprinkled with blue rinses and pastel woollies and the sweet sound of dentures being sucked. One old chap in front of us hummed along to all the tunes he knew. It was quite marvellous.

And the music was good. Not that I can speak with any authority on music; but it WAS good. I became quite fixated on the drummer. He reminded me of someone. It wasn't until the next morning I realised it was the drummer-singer from The Romantics. And the bass guitarist was something else. I didn't know that a bass guitar could sound like a lullaby. What a wonderful instrument.

Music and images are so much more powerful than words, don't you think? It would be wonderful to have the ability to conjure up your feelings in sounds or sights. Words only seem to get in the way of themselves.

The best thing about the whole evening, though, was the canteen run in the intermission by three slightly older volunteers called something like Dot, May & June and wearing matching floral aprons. They dispensed tea, coffee, milo or soft drinks with a snack-size packet of biscuits (Orange Slice & Butternut Snap) for the extremely affordable sum of $1.50. That's Australian dollars, Nick. When I bought my drink and biscuits I was feeling a bit devilish. Not realising it was a drink-bickie combo deal I asked for another packet of biscuits. There was a momentary kerfuffle at the counter, Dot conferred with June on the price for another packet of biscuits not being sold with a drink, and with a "pffff" sound and a careless wave of her hand June decreed that the extra biscuits would be FREE. This is the kind of smooth and entrepreneurial operation they were running at half-time.

Even better, within about 5 metres of the canteen one could smell the sweet-acrid smell of scalded milk that is so essential to the whole experience, especially on a cool winter's night.

Hats off to our elders!

Until next time, Nick.

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