What is it about autographs? Why do some of us hanker and hunger for them from our heroes? I’ve often wondered what it is that drives us to stand in queues or squash ourselves in huddles before the people we worship.
Last night at the Big Bash, way past bedtime, I found myself hovering and hopeful that the six foot six English lad, Stuart Broad, clad in Hurricanes purple would come our way so our country cousins could score a signature and a snap.
‘Oh my God,’ said my cousin Louise, afterwards, ‘I accidently slid my hand down his back! That poor man. He’ll think I’m trying to grope him!’
Here was a lady with a pHD in education reduced to fumbling faux pas in the presence of the super star. She’d already cocked up at the servo once when she bumped into George Bailey and, tripped and stumbled over her words blushing at the bowser before the batsman.
I was the same. Once, as I snapped a photo of my son with Adam Gilchrist and I stammered in front of poor Gilly telling him that I thought he was ‘special, oh so special’. Oh my Lord! I turned myself into a blathering idiot before the legendary wicket keeper.
But there it was, two Blunnie Mummies acting like teenagers, our eyes bright with excitement to be in such proximity of the cricketing stars.
It took me back to my childhood where I would hang hopefully over the picket fence of the cricket ground with a pen in hand and a small autograph book, slowly capturing the names of my favourites.
Even in Tasmania, where big league cricket matches were few and far between I managed to collect some fantastic names. Ian Botham, Kim Hughes and Imran Khan. I’d look at the scrawled signatures later with a sense of excitement and achievement.
And it seems I’ve not grown up. With my children, I found myself again on the boundary fence, gazing at our willow-wielding heroes as if I was eleven years old again.
The odd thing is, I’ve been on the other side of the fence. I know a little of what it is like to exist in that weird bubble of ‘fame’ where we put our arms around strangers to pose for a photo. I’ve been the one who has had people standing before me gushing and blushing as I signed books, hats or stubby holders for them.
We writers generally can be slightly nerdy and homespun and we have ‘readers’ rather than ‘fans’… it’s the sports heroes and actors who really attract a level buzz that must at times be overwhelming, or down right annoying.
Most of my life is spent as an ordinary mother, country girl, and deep thinking insular creative writer, but for every book I birth into the world, I am wheeled out into the publicity spotlight.
It’s an odd feeling, and even though I meet the most wonderful people, I sometimes wonder why on earth they’d want my scribbled name there on the page, or on their cap? It’s only me after all.
But then I realise, whatever I’ve infused into my books must have touched them, given them hope, or courage, or strength and that it is my privilege and pleasure to give them a small favour back for buying my creative works and immersing themselves in the creative world I have crafted.
So last night, as I gazed at those fit, fantastic cricketers I felt a sense of gratitude for them. They were giving time to our children for taking up a pen to scrawl names on posters and t-shirts. They were letting bush based Blunnie Mummies put their arms around them. These men and women entertain us, inspire us, and help us leave our ordinary lives for a time.
We forget though, that off the cricket ground and away from the mega-watt gleam of the spotlight, their lives are as ordinary as ours. They work hard. They dedicate themselves. They suffer. They too live a day-to-day grind. But it’s in the day-to-day grind of life that is so ordinary that we can find extraordinary, by living with gratitude and awe of the amazing lives we have. We are all heroes in our own way, whether we sign autographs or not.