My itinerary for my first day in Australia was simple. Land in Sydney after stepping straight from the office onto a plane for 24 hours, have a quick look at Bondi Beach in a haze of jetlag, and then off to a dark and dingy downtown bar. I was in the dingy bar for one reason and one reason only.
I had an appointment with a living legend, my hero: Karl, Doctor K, call him whatever you want. To some, the Neighbours star is just Alan Fletcher, or even Fletch…
I took on some Dutch courage, as much to keep my eyes open as through anticipation. And then suddenly, there he was.
He was not that tall, no longer dark and not so handsome, instead being more middle-aged and dad-like. But that didn’t matter.
“I love you!” I gushed as he embraced me. I wasn’t even ashamed to say it to a man I had only met a few moments earlier.
I hugged him, pictures were taken and then as soon as it began, it was over again and he was gone.
But my obsession is not quashed. It only grows and grows. Suddenly I begin to understand why Susan will always go back to him. I can only watch as he has the same conversation with the 50 other people in the room. Wow! I am star struck.
As a child I lost hours, weeks and possibly years of my life glued to the surburban life of Melbourne’s Ramsay Street. It’s a place where the sun always shines – rain was last sighted when Granny Helen died and prior to that when Lucy got washed down a storm drain circa 1993.
It’s a place where people’s doors are always open, not only to everyone else on the street, but also to every runaway, tearaway and Rebecki in the southern hemisphere. (Seriously though, does anyone in the street live with their own parents?)
And there in the middle of it all was Dr K.
A doctor who does not seem to have treated a patient since 2004. A man of dubious moral character. Izzy, Sarah, you know who you are – home wreckers.
A father who seems to have dispatched his two much better looking sons in order to retain the title of the best looking Kennedy in Ramsay Street.
Yet despite all of this I can’t help myself. I am drawn to him!
As we follow him and his band Waiting Room further into the glittering lights of Sydney’s bars, they belt out “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby” to an adoring crowd, which cheers so loudly you would think it was actually the Kaiser Chiefs up on stage.
Clearly he inspires the same slightly sarcastic, but still sincere adoration in others. I am so glad it is not just me!
A trip to Melbourne and the Ramsay Street set is definitely on the list of things to do in Australia.
That goes without saying of course. But in some very pathetic way, I feel I may have already reached the pinnacle of my experience in a country bigger than Europe.
I should feel ashamed, but I can only feel the warm afterglow of a dream realised and a love rekindled. I trip off down the street (possibly Jager bomb-related) light-footed and light-hearted.
This is just five hours into my Australian odyssey. What more can there be in store for me?