Thursday, September 20, 2007

(ad)mission: magic


At Croydon railway station you bump into some friends from school and when they ask you where you're going you tell them you're off to visit an Aunt. You're thankful that they believe you (why wouldn't they?) and you catch your train. Then you catch another train and another train until you reach your destination - a part of Melbourne you've never been to before. You check the little map you've drawn on a scrap of paper and find your way to the local shops. In the florist you buy a bunch of flowers (most likely carnations) and then you set off to find Rick Springfield's Mum's house.

Armed with your flowers, a plastic Just Jeans bag (containing your secret scrapbook) and a keen sense of direction you wander into an unknown neighbourhood hoping you don't attract suspicion. You find the street easily enough and (among other thoughts) you wonder what sort of reaction you're going to receive when you knock on her door. You just keep walking. When you get closer to the house your heart starts pumping faster. So you walk right past it, up the road and around the corner. Then you stop, turn around and walk back towards the house. Great, now you're really going to look suspicious, but there's no stopping. You find yourself walking up the driveway to the front door. You still have no idea what you're going to say. You ring the bell.

There are no sounds coming from inside the house and no car to be seen in the driveway or garage. You ring the doorbell again (this time with more confidence), but no one comes to answer. After a moment or two you deposit the flowers on the doorstep and head back to the train station and begin the long journey home. When you get home you hide your scrapbook away again.

Some time later you make the same train trip. You know the journey better this time, but you're still nervous. You arrive at the house with your scrapbook and another bunch of flowers and walk up the driveway. This time you see a car in the garage. You ring the doorbell and you can't remember what was said when the door opened, but you give Mrs Springthorpe the bunch of flowers. You tell her you came to visit not so long ago and left some flowers on her doorstep and she says she rang all of her friends to find out who they were from. She invites you in. When she learns you've come all the way on the train from Croydon she says you should've phoned first, but then she remembers you couldn't've phoned because she recently changed the number. She now has a silent number because she was getting calls from journalists in America at all hours of the night and day (no mention of pesky fans).

She offers you a cool drink and you show her the scrapbook. You also show her two sketches you have drawn - one of Rick and one of his dog, Ron, who features on the cover of his Working Class Dog album. She compliments you on your artistic ability and you tell her you'd love to go to the States one day and meet Rick. She tells you to go into the loungeroom and have a look at Rick's awards. There in front of you are his two Grammy Awards and a couple of other awards and although you want to pick them up and hold them - there's nothing to stop you - you don't touch them because somehow they're too precious. Someone else arrives at the house and you're soon introduced to Rick's Aunt. The two women are off to a matinee performance of a show in town and they'll be leaving shortly. All too soon it's time to go. You say thank you and goodbye and catch the train back to Croydon...

Fast forward to May 2007. I received an email informing me the Countdown Spectacular 2 was coming to town in August this year. Countdown was a much loved Australian TV music show that started circa 1975 and ran for many years on Sunday evenings on the ABC. The Spectacular was a concert version featuring many bands/performers who'd appeared on the TV show throughout its run. In 2006 I attended the first Countdown Spectacular - a real nostalgia fest and a lot of fun - so I was keen to go along to the second one especially when I found out Rick Springfield was on the bill. This would be Rick's first time performing in his home country since the 1970s.

I decided a ticket to the Countdown Spectacular in Melbourne would be the perfect gift for my sister's 40th birthday (also in August) so I made a booking. I chose to pick our tickets up from the venue on the night of the concert - August 30th - but I checked my booking the night before and discovered the box-office was only open from 9 'til 5 (the concert started at 7:30). That meant I had to make a special trip into the city on the day of the concert (or so I thought). When I arrived at the venue there was no one to be seen except a girl sitting by herself on the steps outside the entrance. As I approached her to ask where I might find the box-office I noticed she was wearing a Rick Springfield t-shirt. She told me she remembered seeing Rick perform with his old band Zoot at a pub in Reservoir (now Zoot was even before my time) and she'd been waiting since something like 8am for him to turn up to the concert venue. She also told me that Rick was the headline act and would be performing 5 songs and she had "inside info" that Zoot were re-forming especially for the Melbourne concert. I told her "my sister's a fan and I'm bringing her along tonight" and then I headed over to the box-office to collect the tickets. For a moment I thought about sitting with this girl and waiting for Rick to turn up, but after I collected my tickets (and found out the box-office re-opened at 5:30) I headed home.

When my sister and I arrived at the concert later that night I saw in the merchandise stand a guitar for sale for $600. Whoever bought it could meet Rick Springfield backstage after the concert and get it signed. After all these years here was my chance. It crossed my mind to go halves with my sister, but $300 was still a lot for me. I bought a $25 (rip-off) programme instead. We made our way to our seats - right in front of the stage in the sixth row. My sister couldn't believe it. She'd never had seats this good at a concert before! We sang and danced along to many of our old favourites (and rested during the one or two crap acts) and then at the end of the night Rick Springfield came on to sing Jessie's Girl and a medley of songs including Speak to the Sky. At one stage he came down into the audience and was very close to where we were, but for some reason I didn't want him to get too close (I don't know why. Perhaps I would've fainted. Ha!). When he was back up on stage and finished his set he threw his plectrum into the audience and guess where it landed? Right at my feet. I picked it up without having to fight off any other fans and shoved it in my back pocket too dazed to have a proper look at it and too scared someone might try to snatch it out of my hand. It's now here in my (not so secret) collection. And there's the magic


Blogger FireHorse said...

When I commented before that you "should just turn up at his mother's house," I never for the life of me believed that you already had. This is the best post Nash. I howled with laughter in places. Do you reckon the mum is still alive?

When I ever get to Melbourne, I would like to recreate that journey with you - on video. Regardless of whether the mum still lives there or not. Shots of you knocking on the door and leaving carnations.

When you mentioned the "girl" sitting outside the ticket agency, I really thought you meant a girl and not a middle aged woman.

I reckon Mrs Springthorpe would smile if she knew that you caught Rick's plectrum. Maybe she saw a guy catch it in the audience. Only if she knew that it was you, that young boy from all those years ago who travelled miles and stood in her lounge room marvelling at her son's Grammy's.

September 20, 2007 11:37 PM  
Blogger Wayward Son said...

I had to smile when I thought what would have happened if a fan of Sylvester Stallone's showed up unannounced at her house. Would she invite them in? Would she give them a free astrological reading? Would she appreciate the beauty of a sweet crush an adoring fan might have had on her son? She may have but it is doubtful. And of course it is a ridiculous comparison to make.

Rick Springfield (Springthorpe) must be a man of merit to have had such a sweet and gracious mother. I actually felt a few tears of sentimentality well up.

Should this story be an expertly written piece of fiction? Well Hollywood might need want to consider giving you a call for this is the stuff of giant, sentimental, blockbuster, sleeper movies!

Sweet post. WS

September 21, 2007 3:33 AM  
Blogger Litzi said...

Hi Nash,
What an entertaining post! Reading about your journeys and subsequent meeting with Rick Springfield’s Mum and then attending the “Countdown Spectacular” concert a few weeks ago was like being there with you. You didn’t get the $600 guitar but the free pick was a lovely consolation prize. How many times a day do you admire it? the plectrum.....

September 21, 2007 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This was so lovely to read Nash because it was so sweet and thoughtful. Imagine, Rick's Mum admiring your artwork in her loungeroom... Its great to find out something about you I had no idea about...

September 21, 2007 9:40 AM  
Blogger Geoffrey said...


September 21, 2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Campbell said...

Wow Nash - well done! A great story! I wonder if you would do that sort of thing still, all these years later (well, it's not THAT many years I'm sure!)

September 21, 2007 11:08 PM  
Blogger nash said...

Hi firehorse,
I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, the Mum is still alive. She's in her 80s now (Rick sometimes writes about her on his website). As for recreating the journey on video... I'm not so sure (can you still buy carnations?), but let me know when you make it to Melbourne

Hi Wayward Son,
I've pondered the Jacqui Stallone scenario and I've got no idea what she'd do, but I'll go for the free astrological reading.

I found Mrs Springthorpe to be a very gracious woman indeed. And if Hollywood comes calling I'll let you know - you can come and join me

Hi Miss Litzi,
Glad you also enjoyed the post and thanks for your comments, which I always look forward to and appreciate. I have the prized possession on my bedside table and I bet I'm the only boy who can say he's kissed Rick Springfield's plectrum!

Hi Sheila,
I'm pleased to know I can still surprise you! I liked reading your take on this story and your thoughts on me showing Rick's Mum my artwork. It's something I hadn't really considered

Hi Geoffrey,
For some reason I'm always a bit anxious to know your response to what I write! Your own writing has inspired me and thank you for your comment.

btw, Divine's Mum (Mrs Milstead) is someone else I'd like to say hello to one day!

Hello Campbell,
Thanks for reading and commenting. Glad you enjoyed my tale. Do you know if Dolly Parton's Mum is still alive and if so where I can get her address?

September 22, 2007 2:31 PM

September 22, 2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. Springthorpe said...

For God's sake, if I'd known it was me son's plectrum you were after, I never would have let you in the house!

September 26, 2007 4:14 AM  
Blogger Litzi said...

Hi Nash,
HA! “Mrs. Springthorpe” has a point! I had no idea what a “plectrum” was and I studied the guitar for several years. Duh! Perhaps the well-heeled Madam is as clueless as I…

September 26, 2007 10:34 AM  
Blogger Geoffrey said...

Thank you Nash. You needn't be anxious.

September 26, 2007 10:11 PM  
Blogger LSL said...

Firehorse forwarded this post to me - love it! From a fellow Rick fan :)

April 21, 2008 9:37 AM  

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