Ever been disappointed when one of your heroes is found to be something other than the image that you have formed (or he/she has allowed to be cultivated) – even worse, when you find this out first hand? Or pleasantly surprised when they turn out better than you had imagined?
My first brush with fame, outside of an encounter with a locally based Centrals player (and apart from Anthony Ingerson, weren’t they all locals ?), was an autograph signing for the newly opened branch of the Adelaide Permanent Building Society at the (Elizabeth Town) Centre in the mid-70′s by Ian Chappell. I went with my mate Glenn Bishop (yes, that Glenn Bishop) and Chappelli was pleasant, amiable and warmly signed two of the black-and-white classic-cover-drive A4 sized posters for both of us and chatted with us for as long as we wanted. This was despite the fact that he had probably never been any further north than Brown Terrace Salisbury before. Better than I had expected.
Contrast this with a surly Lester Piggott at a lunch for the Australasian Oaks in the early 80′s – he wasn’t really a hero of mine, but certainly lived up to his reputation as someone that would rather be anywhere other than in a room full of people in a lunch in Adelaide.
A few years later at an accounting software conference function in Fremantle, Rod Marsh regaled us with the obligatory oft-told tales that seemed to reinforce his place in the pantheon (is there an Australian equivalent ?) of great Aussie blokes. When I later asked him for two autographs he asked me “why two?” I gleefully retorted “So that I can swap them for one Glenn Bishop” (nb Bish was now by this stage an ex-Australian cricketer, but still a fixture at the top of the South Australian order). I expected a laugh from Bacchus, but all I got was a derisive snort as if I had just rubbed some dog-sh*t on his still-wide lapel, and I slunk away vowing never to be a smart-ar*e again. (That vow didn’t last long.)
But the biggest moment came at the Rundle Mall Virgin Megastore in the early 90′s. Dressed in my best Peter Shearer, this-is-what-a-financial-systems-consultant-wears-on-a-workday suit, I lined up with my assorted collection of CD’s to see my all time favourites, the Ramones. Well, if they weren’t the most disinterested, get-me-outta-here bunch of blokes I’d ever encountered etc … But then I reconciled myself with the thought that at least they were being themselves, and if that was their personality, perhaps that was the reason that they made the kind of noise that I liked then and still like now. And at least they signed my CD’s.
Fast forward to last year, I was back working in my home town, so snaffled a ticket in the upper reaches of the Adelaide Town Hall to see Billy Bragg. To my surprise, he was doing after show meet-and-greets, so I lined up to get a warn handshake and posed for a photo, but his manager forced us through so quickly and stroppily that the stranger who I left my phone with was unable to cope with the technical complexities of my ageing HTC Legend and there is no record of this meeting having ever taken place. But Billy himself left with his reputation intact in my eyes, but it could have gone the other way if his ill-tempered minder had his way.
Anyone had similar experiences one way or the other ?