Journey to the Adelaide Fringe

'From One Adventure to the Next'  

11/2/2015: Melbourne - Adelaide

 

My final night on the road I spent in a free campsite just north of the middle of nowhere, sharing thoughts and stories with a group of hilarious Australian men until the early hours of the morning.

 

I was sat next to Nick, a man who looked a bit like Walter White, but more rotund and less like a psychopath. Nick has a kind, jovial manner, and is the clear leader of the group.

 

“They call me head-man”, says Nick.

 

“We call him head something, but it’s not that”, says David.

 

Nick has five daughters. I said I’m sorry as he must not have had a shower for the last twenty years. He told me about a handy switch on the outside of the bathroom door that turns off the hot water, which he has had to use a few times when the situation got desperate.

 

I have one of the most enjoyable conversations with Nick that I have had with anyone in the country so far.

 

“Thanks”, says the Roadie.

 

“Oh no, apart from you, obviously” I say. “It’s nice that you’re here.”

 

Nick shares his feelings about the Prime Minister with me: “He’s like warts on your arse. You don’t want ‘em, do you?” he asks, genuinely. I have never heard anything put quite so perfectly before.

 

Nick says that the best food in Australia is golden syrup dumplings, and that we must try them. I like the way Nick thinks.

 

 “I don’t understand people who go to the same place all the time,” says Nick, in support of our campervan trip. “Once you’ve seen one place, you want to move on. See the next one.”

 

But Nick and his friends have been coming to the same campsite together for fifteen years. We all have our homes away from home.

 

The campervan has been a great home.

 

I won’t lie, it took some getting used to. The elaborate spider net is somewhat more relaxed now than it used to be, and doesn’t suffocate us during our sleep. I am much more accustomed to random attacks from fuzzy creatures, and I have chilled out so much that I don’t even care where that weird smell is coming from now.

 

I have loved the campervan. I have loved meeting people who I might never normally meet, like Nick and his pals. I have loved waking up every morning to the great outdoors, whether that has been a sea view on the Great Ocean Road or the field behind a BP service station (one time). I have loved the challenge of finding meals that can be cooked using only one hob and a potato masher. I have loved wearing crumpled clothes and using washing pegs as hair clips. And I have loved the fact that the campervan door has malfunctioned so every morning I have to perform the Great Escape and climb out over the front seats to escape.

 

I have loved camping, and even though I lost my flip flops and have a mosquito bite on the ridge of my left buttock, I could keep doing this for a lot longer. And maybe I will again. But for now, I have somewhere to be.

 

I have crossed the state border from Victoria into South Australia. The change is beautiful and dramatic. The land is flatter, the grass is dryer and the air is crisper. The horizons stretch farther and wider. And gees Louise, is it hot. There is not a single cloud in the sky, and mirages appear over every bump and swell in the road. The heat makes the air go fuzzy in the distance, and a lone eagle swoops over the trees. I am finally on the West of this great island, and tonight the sun will set right in front of me, and on our campervan adventure.

 

______________

 

I am a bit sad that it has come to an end… but I’ve just arrived at our leafy cabin in Adelaide, been reunited with my producer Emma and had a hilarious dress rehearsal for my first preview of All By My Selfie which is happening Wednesday night (TONIGHT!) at 7.30pm. Oh, and it is 40 degrees centigrade. So I guess I can’t complain too hard!

 

Thank you so much for reading this blog, and sharing these silly experiences with me. If you have enjoyed it, you can find more by following me on Twitter and Facebook, and look out for updates from my upcoming blog…
the ADELAIDE FRINGE ADVENTURE!

'Melbourne'  

7/2/2015: Melbourne

 

In the very short two days I was in Melbourne, I had but a taste of the awesomeness of this city.

Here are eight amazing things that happened in Melbourne: 

 

​1) The sun came out. And then went back in. And then came and went again and then it rained and then it didn’t. And I had to change layers approximately fourteen times before I got to the end of the first street.

 

2) I accidentally ended up on a Toll Road and had a pretty severe domestic with the sat nav.

 

3) I was offered half price tickets to a Dracula themed dinner cabaret. I didn’t go.

 

4) MY PRODUCER EMMA ARRIVED IN AUSTRALIA!

 

5) Emma and I went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens and found the two smallest spiders in all the land.

 

6) I went to an awe-inspiring food market and stared at the deli section until someone asked me if I was okay and then I bought some wine gums which I now regret.

 

7) I tried to watch a band called Cheeky Goose play live music in an alleyway on hip Acland Street, but I had too many Al Fresco beers and missed their whole set. But I can’t complain because of the Al Fresco beers being by their nature sensational.

 

8) I went into JB Hifi for a browse and left with a keyboard, a guitar, and a renewed sense of purpose. Adelaide Fringe, I am ready for you. 

'The Little Penguins'  

4/2/2015: Phillip Island

 

The sun was setting on Philip Island, which to the few hundred people gathered there meant only one thing: that the Penguin Parade was about to begin. At exactly 9.02pm, the fuzzy heads of Little Penguins that live on the island start popping out of the waves. Their mission: to cross the beach and get to the grassy undergrowth, where their nesting areas wait for them at the end of long, windy paths. People come from far and wide to watch them make this journey, observing them first from amphitheaters above the beach, and then from a boardwalk area above the greenery. 

This is the scariest part of the Little Penguins’ lives: if any large birds of prey are still awake and out in the sky, they could swoop down and catch the Penguins for their dinner. As they tumble out of the waves, you can practically feel them quivering. They hop tentatively to their feet to check if the coast is clear, gathering in groups for moral support.

 

Can you imagine if every night before you went to bed, you had to walk through a lion pen? Or swim through a crocodile-infested lake? Or go to bed in your campervan knowing that there is a huntsman hiding in there somewhere? (Yes, the unthinkable has happened. But more on that later. Or hopefully not).

 

On this particular night, one Little Penguin had a much scarier journey than most: she had not made it to the beach in time to go across with the others, and when she washed up at the water's edge, she was all alone. She looked so tiny against the vast sandy beach that stretched out before her. ‘Where is everybody?’ she whispered to herself. The cold made her shiver, and only darkness ahead. No one was there. No one… except the large international audience watching from the amphitheaters. But she could not see them. She did not see musical comedian on the front row, and could not tell how concerned she was. Possibly because the Musical Comedian didn’t have her eyebrows on.

 

At first, the penguin faltered. She wished she was brave enough to march straight across, but it was not in her mettle: she was made of feathers and cuddles, and not the stuff that brave lions are made of. After a few shuffles, she turned on her penguin heels and fled back to the waves. It’s not easy, knowing that you might get eaten alive on stage with hundreds of people watching.

 

But she couldn’t give up: the only thing worse than doing it, would have been not doing it. So she jumped up out of the waves, summoned all the strength that her little heart could muster, and made a dash for the other side of the beach.

Halfway across, a gull swooped near. The Little Penguin must have been terrified, but she did not turn back. ‘Go! Little Penguin! You can do it!’ said the Musical Comedian. (Quietly, because you’re not allowed to give motivational speeches to the penguins or you get asked to leave the amphitheater).
 

And she made it! The Musical Comedian was thrilled for the Little Penguin. She was inspired by her courage, moved by her bravery, and not in the least bit jealous of all the applause she got for her performance that evening.
*cough* can this penguin sight-sing? *cough*

 

The Musical Comedian caught sight of the Little Penguin again later in her journey, when she was in the undergrowth. Other penguins marched in twos and threes, but this one still travelled alone. She had flopped onto her tummy, and the Musical Comedian could see that her little eyelids were drooping. “No,” she whispered, looking around to check that the Penguin Patrol weren’t watching (you’re not allowed to have ‘heart to hearts’ with the Little Penguins or you get asked to leave the boardwalk area).
 

“Come on, little one” she said. “You’ve come all this way, you can’t give up now.”
 

The Musical Comedian remembered a time in Edinburgh, when she had almost fallen asleep on a bench just two streets from her house. The difference, of course, is that the musical comedian was totally and utterly pissed, and had remnants of burger on her face.
 

“Just put one foot in front of the other, and your little legs will get you there”.
 

And as she spoke those words, the penguin opened her eyes, pulled herself to her feet for the final time that night, and headed home to bed.
 

The Musical Comedian could not stay to watch The Little Penguin finish her journey, for she had a journey of her own to be getting on with.
 

But she would always remember that Little Penguin: she did of course, remind her of herself.

 

 

'Before the rains came..'  

2/2/2015: Eden-Mallacoota-Lakes Entrance

 

“Wait.. I think there’s someone coming..” says the Roadie, a note of terror in his hushed voice.

 

My palm sits determinedly on the door handle.

 

“I’ll make a run for it. I’m not scared,” I lie.

 

Raindrops streak down the windscreen as we look out upon the post-apocalyptically grey, empty surroundings.
I have never felt so miserably alone, I thought.

 

“..Thanks,” says the Roadie.

 

Oh, whoops, out loud. “Oh no, it’s nice that you’re here..”
I look at the red-brick building that holds the Holy Grail within its walls .

 

“The coast is clear. It’s now or never”, says The Roadie.

 

 “Okay, I’ll go. You stay here and keep watch.” I open the door, hesitate for a moment, and then look back at the Roadie with ‘goodbye’ in my eyes.“If I don’t make it back, I just want you to know..

I’ve taken your shampoo.“

 

We have descended into a life of crime.

 

Ducking and covering from the Sunny Escapes Security Officials, I sneak into the luxurious (relatively) amenities block of the paid campsite we are parked on the edge of. I catch my reflection in the mirror, and am saddened by what I see:
A petty criminal, with a shower puff.

 

It didn’t used to be like this.

 

By the time we reached Eden, a sweet little coastal town on the border of New South Wales where the sun shone on the sapphire blue seas, I had become so ‘chilled out’ that I was practically a naturist.

 

I had stopped wearing make-up: who needs eyebrows anyway?; my hair was wild and product-free (in many of the towns we have travelled through, the pharmacy has been a man in a cowboy hat with a box of plasters. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to have heard of Trevor Sorbie.); and pretty much everyone has seen my bum now since the Roadie gave up being on ‘Bum Watch’.*

 

*(Bum Watch: a duty assigned to a person to watch out for sightings of the bum of a fellow person when she is wearing a flow-y skirt in windy weather). The Roadie’s radar went off so many times in one particular cliff-top trip that it imploded, resulting in him telling me in a curt tone that he could no longer handle the stress of the job.
So my bum now goes unwatched, for all to see.

 

I was a frizzy-haired, half-naked hippy, and it was great.

 

But that was before the rains came.

 

Be careful what you wish for - I know. What I wouldn’t give to be looking uber un-sexy and frying in the Australian sun right now. But as we traveled from Eden to Mallacoota and on to Lakes Entrance, the winds blustered, the rains were torrential, and we ate our picnics in the car. We may as well be in Margate.

 

I remember a trip from my childhood, when my family had driven all the way from Surrey to the beach at Durdledoor. Typically, just as we arrived, the sky clouded over and the raindrops began to fall. Everyone seemed to agree we should just throw in the towel and go back to the car, but my Mother, being a determined British tourist, was not having any of it: “We have come all the way to Dorset,” she said “and we will have a nice day out at the beach”.  So we sat with our towels over our heads and ate soggy salmon sandwiches. And we actually had a pretty great day. 

 

Fast forward twelve years later to my camping trip in Australia… Outdoor showers and living off BBQ is all very well when it’s hot enough to cook bacon on your face – but right now, living in a van doesn’t seem all that glamorous. So I have cracked. And I want warm showers. And if that means I have to be a petty criminal, so be it. Stripes suit me.

 

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to let the rain get the better of me: if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my Mother, it’s the power of aggressive positivity.

 

The Roadie and I are stretched out on our beach towels. The magazine I am holding above my head is unsuccessfully keeping the rain off my face, as a big, angry-looking storm cloud above us tremors with imminent lightning.

 

“Tamar, I think maybe we should go back to the car..”

 

“NO! We have come all the way to Australia. And we will have a nice day out at the beach!”. 

 

'IT'S NOT THE F**KING EGG PAN!'  

How Australia is making me a better person
30/01/2015: Narooma

 

After arriving in Narooma, another beautiful seaside town, the Roadie and I took an early morning boat trip over to Montague Island, where fur seals sunbathe on the warm rocks and penguins waddle ashore at night for a snooze. We were lucky enough to be able to jump in and swim with the seals.

 

“There’s one below you, Tamar!”

 

“SHUT UP I’M DROWNING”.

 

 I might be the only person to have survived a Skydive and a Bungy Jump to then suffer a panick attack during a shallow-water snorkel.

 

The combination of being in ice cold water and breathing in salt spray was enough to make me forget all my years of swimming training, and leave me sloshing around like a rodent in a bathtub.

 

 “I simply CANNOT do this”, I spluttered dramatically, as children paddled happily around me in streamlined circles.

 

“Just chill out,” said the Roadie. “Relax, breathe slowly... and stop being so dramatic.”

 

Whilst I have no hope of achieving the last one, ‘chilling out’ is something I have had to do a lot of out here.
And it is proving very good for me: once I had ‘chilled out’, the snorkel was superb. The seals shot past our feet in twos and threes and sometimes came close enough to gaze inquisitively into our faces.

 

I am gradually become a more chilled out person.

 

But it hasn’t been easy: being the dramatic, slightly uptight person that I am, it took a lot break me.
It took Australia to break me.

 

Or more specifically, the egg pan.

________

 

We have a good thing going in the campervan: I mostly clean stuff and The Roadie is mostly in charge of the stove. This is partly because I am too lazy to do the cooking, and partly because of the time I put my elbow in the omlette bowl and thus got branded a potential fire hazard. I am very happy with this division of labour, except that it means I have to clean the egg pan.

 

I hate the egg pan.

 

It takes three minutes to cook the eggs and approximately forty-five minutes to clean to egg pan.
The egg pan is the worst thing about Australia so far. Worse even than snakes and spiders.

 

Snakes and spiders were the thing that I was most uptight when we started our camping trip. I do not want to be scared of spiders. I tried to give myself therapy the other night in the campervan: I imagined a cat, and I imagined hugging it and how it made me feel. And then I imagined I was hugging a giant spider, and tried to feel the same emotions for it as I did for the cat.

Unfortunately this made things a lot worse, and I woke us both up by screaming in my sleep.
 

The morning after that sleepless night, I was so weak from pent-up frustration, that I burst into tears about thirty minutes into the cleaning of the egg pan.
 

“What’s wrong?” said the Roadie, who had no idea what was going on. “Is it the egg pan?”
 

“IT’S NOT THE F**KING EGG PAN!”
 

It was partly the egg pan.
 

“Tell me what the problem is so we can fix it?” said the Roadie, at a complete loss.
 

“That’s not going to help me because I am not crying for practical reasons”, I snapped, and continued to sob silently with each scrub.

 

This went on for a while, until the Roadie decided the best thing to do was to make me a cup of tea and not say much for a while. As I drank my tasty Assam, it suddenly struck me that I couldn’t let the egg pan ruin my day. And I couldn’t spend my entire life being scared that I might meet a spider. People in Australia don’t spend all day thinking about all the dangerous animals they might come across that might possibly bite them. They just get on with it. They chill out about it: because along with that tiny con of having a few poisonous pests, they also have the massive pro of living in a country where you can do things like go snorkeling with seals.

 

Some fears are good fears, like the ones you can face: skydiving, bungy jumping, performing in front of a crowd. I love to fill my life with these fears. But I’m trying to get rid of all the bad ones - the dull dreads that something bad might happen. The ones that are irrational, and useless. Australia is helping me with this. There's really no point anyway: as I learned yesterday, you often end up living in fear of the wrong things..

 

We pulled the campervan up by a secluded fenced area. I was desperate for a wee. The adrenaline pumped through my body, because the possibility that you might come aross a poisonous red-bellied black snake or a nest of funnelwebs turns going for a squat in the bush from a mildly unpleasant experience to quite a terrifying undertaking in Australia. I snuck in with my heart racing, and thankfully found a sheltered, pest-free place to piss.

 

All was going smoothly, until midway through my squat, when I heard a sound coming from behind me that chilled me to my very bones. 

 

It was the sound of deeply unimpressed cough... Turns out the scariest thing you can come across in the Australian bush
is actually the person whose garden you are pissing in
.

'How do you be a 'sexy babe' when you are pasty? (Not pasty) .. 

27/01/2015: Jervis Bay

 

Next stop, Jervis Bay! We parked the van up at Greenfields Beach, where the wild waves crash against the white sand. I threw off my flip flops and ran in to the water, imagining I would look really good in slow-mo, only to be knocked flat as a pancake and sent back to shore with a nose full of salt water and a dislodged bikini. “Yay.. it’s fun in the waves..” I lie, as a nipple pokes inquisitively out of my top. The Roadie does not have this problem. He is taller than the waves and did not fail his front crawl swimming badge.

 

The Roadie is making a video about our travels in Australia. Being the only woman in the travel party, he says it is my responsibility to be the ‘sexy babe’ in the film. I find this distressing, and my nipple jumps back inside my bikini in fright.

 

It’s not that I don’t think I’m a ‘Sexy Babe’. I can smack my bottom along to a Tina Turner song like the best of them. The issue is that I do not fare well in the heat, and Australia is frikkin’ hot. Almost as hot at the kitchen of the pub I used to work at, where the head chef would laugh at me and call me ‘Sweaty Face’. I thought this was a bit mean, and would have had a go at him, but then he was arrested for chasing a man around the garden with a kitchen knife who had reportedly told him to “Go make a pie.” So I think it’s best that I didn’t.

 

Summer holidays for me are a constant battle to remain calm and stop my eyebrows from melting off my face. I belong in arctic temperatures. I look sexiest in wool, or the dark. The Roadie does not have this problem. He is bronze and growing a pony tail, so he looks like he belongs on the beach. No one can tell if I belong on the beach because when they look at me they are blinded by UV rays.

 

So my question is this: how do you be a ‘sexy babe’  when you are pasty? (As in pale. Not a pasty).

 

We are filming at Cave Beach. “Can you go stand by the water’s edge and look like a sexy babe?” says the Roadie.

 

I have a tendency to walk like a Grandma on difficult terrain. I hobbled a few steps and was aware that my bottom was eating my bikini.

 

“Tamar, can you not pull out a wedgy when you’re being a sexy babe?”

 

The Roadie was already feeling a bit frustrated, as it had taken me a while to leave the campervan that morning. (“I’m sorry but I have to sun-cream my face in sections”).

 

 “Can you walk in a way that is less Grandma-ish?” he says, delicately.

 

“I can’t help it. The rocks hurt my feet and I’m worried about sharks.”

 

“You are on dry land.”

 

“Do you think pasties can be sexy?”

 

“Why is your left eye squinting?”

 

“The optician says I’m at higher risk of infection if saltwater gets in my ey-”

 

“Okay, Tamar.. can you, you know how you act.. why don’t you, just act like a sexy babe?”

 

The lightbulb moment. Of course. I don’t need to be a sexy babe. I can just act like one. As a ‘sexy babe’ I could strut on the sharp rocks and take the pain (because I was in character). I wore my hair down, even though it itched my back and got super matted. I even smacked my bum and sang ‘Simply the Best’ and I’m pretty sure those people who stared were thinking about how much of a ‘sexy babe’ I was.  

 

This went on until I caught my reflection in the wing mirror a day later and realized I had badly sunburnt the upper left side of my face. All the way from the temple to the nasal ridge. Not only that, but my face had grown so sweaty that it reflected the mirror’s reflection of my sweaty face back onto the mirror itself, which in turn reflected the image of my sweaty face back on to my sweaty face and so on and so forth until it became one of those endless mirror mirages.

The sexy babe was no more.  

 

I told the Roadie, knowing he would comfort me.

 

“This is your own fault for suncreaming your face in sections.
Get in the van and no we are not having pasties for dinner.”  

 

The Roadie says I’m not allowed to go in the sun again until I can prove I’m responsible enough to take care of myself. So here I am in the shade, wearing an ‘I Love Australia’ sun cap, reading a magazine in which the hot babes make it look so easy to be hot babes. What lies. Being a hot babe is way too much effort. And it made me forget what’s really important: being myself. And suncreaming my nasal ridge.

 

I couldn’t be happier right now. I have a wedgy and I don’t even care.  

'They can bite through human bone' .. 

24/01/2015: Kangaroo Valley

 

When I decided to do the Adelaide Fringe in September, I knew I wanted to get to know Australia a bit first. To meet the people, learn the lingo, and get lost in the bush. (I don’t actually want to get lost in the bush because there are some pretty dangerous creatures out there… as I learned last night).. but I like the image it conjures. One that’s a bit different to me being wedged in the back of a campervan in the car park of a Silly Willy’s Discount store, sponging off the Wifi.

 

On our first night, we found ourselves a free campsite in Kangaroo Valley, a beautiful place where clouds rolled over the green hills that looked like the Floating Mountains of Avatar. We put out our picnic table and drank G&Ts from pink plastic cups.

 

The sun set without me noticing, and as I was clearing away after a feast of Falafel Wraps, I suddenly realized I was in darkness. And all alone. That’s when I heard the muffled grunting..

 

At this point I must tell you, I am not actually travelling across Australia All By My Selfie. I am accompanied by a rather handsome young gentleman, who will henceforth be referred to as ‘The Roadie’. This is because he is driving me to Adelaide (‘officially’ we’re ‘taking it in turns’), he carries my heavy bags for me, and occasionally I have sex with him.

 

The Roadie was absent, so I grabbed hold of a weapon (spatula) and flipped the torch on my iPhone. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw.

 

Beneath my feet, a giant hamster was munching away on some stray Falafels. It was almost the size of my border collie. I knelt beside him, and gazed into his big, fuzzy face. He was so cute that I could have stuck a skewer through him and roasted him on the BBQ.

 

If he noticed my presence, he did not show it. I was given the kind of cold shoulder you get when you’re not in the gang and no one will tell you the secret language. It was only when I did what anyone would do – tried to take a selfie with him – that he looked at me, deeply unimpressed, and moved away. I can only assume he did not want pictures of him stealing someone’s leftover Falafels showing up on Facebook. ‘I can relate, my friend’.

 

I crawled after him, but every time I got a good angle for the selfie he snuck away before the flash. Then, 

 

“DON’T GET TOO CLOSE! Those wombats are killers”.

 

“Sorry?”

 

I definitely knew it was a wombat.

 

“Goodness”, I said,

 

And not a giant, magical hamster.

 

The distant light of the toilet block caught the grave expression on her face. “If they feel threatened in any way, or backed into a corner, or ‘humiliated by being forced to take selfies with strangers’ [sic] they will attack. And they can bite through human bone.”

 

I was picturing the headlines. “Selfie-seeker’s head eaten by wombats. #nomakeup”.. when I suddenly thought.. What’s he going to do, cuddle me to death? Next time I see him, I’ll get my selfie.

 

How wrong I was.

 

Scrape, scrape. Scrape..

 

Silence.

 

It was the middle of the night. I thought I had imagined it, but then..

 

Scrape, scrape, scrape.

 

Louder this time. It was coming from just outside the back door. I shook the Roadie.

 

“Wake up!”

 

“I’m not on your side of the bed.”

 

“No – well, you are – but, can you hear that?”

 

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

 

The Roadie sat bolt upright, and I clutched onto him. The campervan began to shake violently. Muffled grunts surrounded us.

 

“He’s come for me”, I said. “And he’s bought company”

 

Pandemonium broke out (relatively). Wombats rubbed themselves against the wheels and lower doors of the van in a wild, fuzzy frenzy. It was an ambush. Thanks God wombats don’t have hands. Because if they did, I might not be coming to you right now from the car park of a Silly Willy’s Discount Store.

 

I had humiliated him, and he was making sure I would never do it again. The attack lasted for approximately 6 minutes. A cold sweat coated my body. At the end of it, The Roadie was asleep. And we were.. well we were fine. Obviously. They're basically giant hamsters.

 

But others didn’t fare so well.

 

Outside of the van, the morning light revealed the devastating sight of an upturned picnic table. It was a warning. And I got the message, loud and clear.

 

#NoWombatSelfies

Start the Engine..

Welcome to my Journey to the Adelaide Fringe diary. In just under three weeks’ time, I will be performing my first show in the beer garden (how gloriously appropriate) of The Producers Bar in Adelaide! But first, I’ve decided to test the strength of my personality by driving the 2,000km from Sydney to Adelaide in a Campervan, stopping along the way to have some adventures and tell you all about them.

 

I will do my best to check in with you every-other-day and keep you updated on the trials and 

tribulations of my cross-country tour, snatching Wifi even in the most dangerous of locations (coming to you from a MacDonalds on the outskirts of Sydney).

 

Expect to hear tales of LIFE-THREATENING encounters (“I'm pretty sure this wallaby is following me..”),
             displays of EXPERT skill (“..can you smell burning?”),
and the ULTIMATE definition of living-on-the-edge (“I've sunburnt my nasal ridge.”).

 

Prologue: Sydney

 

Before picking up the campervan, I spent a glorious few days in Sydney. I couldn’t afford a ticket to the Opera house, so in the evenings I wandered up and down Oxford Street (a cross between Soho and Shoreditch) checking out the arts scene. I came across a cabaret competition, which was spectacular. I drank fizzy wine and wondered why a man dressed as the Fonz was discussing the artistic downfall of the Simpsons.  I drank more fizzy wine and was wowed by a girl singing Sia covers in a Marie Antoinette costume. I drank more fizzy wine and watched a heavy metal band performing in a basement, where there was one man dancing very enthusiastically and shouting requests for Fleetwood Mac. I’m don’t think he knew where he was. I was still wondering what the Fonz had to do with the artistic downfall of the Simpsons. Maybe Sydney confuses people.

 

I saw my very first tap-dance-off in Sydney. It was like Step-Up, with all the boys wearing sports caps and earrings, except they had tap shoes on and impeccably good posture. It was in an edgy live music venue where cool was dripping off the walls. I sipped my drink (‘what’s the cheapest, strongest thing on the menu, please?”), and felt very smug that no one had noticed I wasn’t cool enough to be there. I loved the tap dance jam so much. I knew I was witnessing something I would never see at home: if we were in a bar in England and a group of boys got up and started doing step-ball changes, somebody would shout ‘lame’ and everyone would feel sad and leave.

 

I was lucky enough to be staying in the living room of a lovely group of Australian drama-school graduates, all of whom seem to be doing very well in comparison to their British counterparts. If they’re not turning down roles in Home and Away, they’re playing victims in documentary remakes of Wolf Creek. (Let’s not talk about Wolf Creek). Since leaving drama school I have had four auditions, in one of which I had to do a variety of hand gestures and then got told off for eating a cookie in the waiting room. London is a hard place to have dreams. 

 

One of these Ozzie actors has just been in the new Angelina Jolie movie. He needed a plastic bag to use as a rubbish bin, so I gave him one that I thought was empty. When he opened it, there was just a single pair of my used greying-white granny pants. He handed it back to me with without making eye contact and left the room in silence. This is why I don’t have friends who are film stars.

© 2017 by TAMAR BROADBENT