When I was 22 years of age I was starting my life a fresh after a broken heart. This was a year of many first for me, first time I had gone to a night club, gambled money away at a race day, drank alcohol and I broke a few rules along the way.
One weekend a girlfriend and I made a spur of the moment decision to head out to Emerald for a Country Music Festival. There was Graeme Connors, Gina Jefferies and a guy playing and most of all heaps of people having fun, so we decided to join them. We had no where to sleep and no idea about what we were getting ourselves into because both of us had never been to a music festival before.
Before driving all the way from Rockhampton to Emerald, I rang the event organizer to see if there were tickets and accommodation still available. The person who I spoke to on the phone was confident that we would find a tent to sleep in and could purchase tickets at the gate. Having lived a very sheltered life, I took his meaning as we could pay to use a tent and purchase tickets at the gate.
We drove out early because we weren’t sure when the concert started and give us plenty of time to set up a tent if need be. When we arrived and spoke to the person on the gate he was shocked at my request for a tent. He explained that there were tents for rent but they were booked months in advance. Something in my demeanor or my conviction that there was a tent for us, made him give in. There was a prepaid tent in the VIP area that had not been used the night before and he said we could use it, however if the rightful person arrived we would have to vacate.
Before heading out, I spoke with my Mum on the phone and told her where we were spending our Saturday night. My Mum was a fan of the guy who was performing and his name was Lee Kernaghan, she asked me to get his autograph. Seemed like a simple request, so I happily agreed to get it for her.
Once we had settled into our tent, we both ended up having an afternoon nap because it was flaming hot and we had no where eles to go. Lucky for us the VIP section had access to its own bathroom and toilet block, which the general public couldn’t get access to. The general public had to que up for ages to use very dirty facilities and we had no ques and the facilities were excellent.
It was dark by the time we were ready to go out into the public arena, which was a short walk from our easy access VIP area. From here on in my memory is a little hazy from the vodka & lemonade I had slipped into my large super sippa and brought with me into the arena. It was a night of listening to one of my all time favourite country singers Graeme Connors and Gina Jefferies. The guy singer was going to be on last which was too much for my girlfriend she headed back to our tent and I stayed out in the crowd. Finally Lee Kernaghan arrived performed like a true pro; I was surprised that I knew some of his songs.
To keep my promise I had to wait nearly 5 hours in que to get his signature and it seemed like I was going to miss out because a security guard came out and said that Lee was going to be finishing soon. There was a collective groan in the crowd and to my shock the security guard came and stood behind me and announce that I was going to be the last person to get a signature (yeah me).
As the que slowly shrank and the night sky started to lighten as dawn approached, I was sobering up fast. To my horror I realized that I had nothing for Lee to sign just seconds prior to meeting him and searched my pockets for something, anything. Lucky I still had my ticket stub from when I entered into the arena and sheepishly presented this for an autograph. Lee was easy to chat too and if it wasn’t for the 20 odd, all male, beefy security guards standing around, I would have stopped longer, except my Dutch courage had run out so I walked way reluctantly.
When back in Rockhampton Mum rang to see if I had gotten her autograph! Now here is the funny part, I refused to send her the ticket stub with Lee autograph because it represented more to me than it did to her. This was my first music festival and the whole experienced was now represented by Lee’s autograph, it didn’t matter that it started out “To Betty” my Mum’s name. For years we have laughed about this ticket stub and I had it in a photo frame for ages, now it lives in my scrapbook titled ‘My Twenties’.
Back to present day Mum has been staying with me for a couple of months helping out. She broke her lower spine and crushed her tail bone in September and it has been a slow, long recovery. On twitter Lee Kernaghan announced his new album and promotional concert in the Brisbane Queen Street Mall and as luck would have it, I live in Brisbane now. Here was my opportunity to take Mum into the Mall and get Lee’s autograph with her there! Surprisingly this was one offer that Mum didn’t turn down; she was dead keen despite how much pain it would cause her.
We were lucky to get a seat for Mum, in the mall right out front of the stage. Lee arrived and sang for about 20 minutes and I had arranged with Mum to jump to the front of the autograph que. This time I had pre purchased (on the day) Lee’s new album ‘Planet Country’, he was able to sign it for Mum and I took a photograph of them both. It might have taken me 13 years however Mum this was a promise now complete.