A place of great history and serenity amongst the city buildings, the State Library of Victoria has long been a meeting place for protesters and intellectuals, giving many a forum to express their views on the steps or lawns of the grand, old building. It is this crowd-gathering tradition that has brought me here, notebook in hand; for I too have something that the people must know. I too need a forum for my grand ideas. And today, as the birds seem to talk to each other on the nearby chairs, and people sit on the lawns and stare across the city skyline, a small crowd is indeed building to listen to a guy on a megaphone. A very serious looking guy on a megaphone.
So here I am, amongst a crowd filled with angst and curiosity. They watch the guy as he gestures with his hands about the evils of bureaucracy or some such. He is balding slightly and looks like he doesn’t sleep much anymore, and who could with all the wrongs he is speaking of. The crowd slowly warms to him, his passion for his cause spilling over, and more people passing by can’t help but stop and watch for a moment.
This is getting me nowhere.
As the guy’s speech builds to its climax, I see my chance. I clap and cheer with the rest of the crowd, and I move towards the man. I put on my best angry face, which is more a combination of constipation and having a bandaid pulled off slowly. I nod and say ‘yeah’ or something like it, then I raise my hand. The man looks at me and smiles; he has gotten his message through to someone. He gestures for me to come up and take the megaphone. For a moment I can’t believe that he’s done it. I look over the group of people, a few more stopping on their way past. And I say:
‘I want to win a Logie Award.’
Silence. The man looks confused.
‘I want to win a Logie Award, and with your help, ALL of your help, I can do it. I need you all to vote; vote for me in the TV Week Logie Awards this year.’
A few people at the back laugh, most at the front can’t believe what they are hearing. The guy moves towards me; he ain’t so happy with me now.
‘Logie Awards, Andrew Hutchinson, vote for me…’ I manage to get in before he snatches the megaphone back from me. But maybe it was enough.
I move to the back of the crowd to the people who laughed, to try to get them to sign up for The Quest. Most of them actually do it with little more explanation. The guy, I think he’s even angrier with me for stealing part of his crowd too. Ten people have signed up.
‘What if…’ I say to a young couple on the footpath. ‘I go over there, tell those tourists I will take a photo for them, then run with their camera. But stop just a bit down the footpath. I mean I’ll give it back. If I do that, will you vote for me?’ The couple nod.
I tell the older looking lady, I say ‘I’ll take it for you guys?’ I don’t think she speaks English, but she understands, and she goes to stand by the statue with her friend. I line them up in the camera, then bolt, across the grass. The lady yells something behind me and I stop, just on the footpath, turn back. The lady, she didn’t find it funny. I apologise, say it was just a joke and ask her if she really wants me to take a photo. She says no. The young couple join The Quest.
‘I…’ I point to myself when I say this. ‘I will jump from the top and clear these stairs.’ I fan my hand in the air across the length of the stairs. ‘It is a feat that has ne’er been done, but I believe I can do it. If you will vote for me in the Logie Awards.’ The group of girls look to each other, as if one of them might know whether I’m serious or not. They look at the stairs and one of them counts them out; her finger poking at the air. I explain The Quest to them, and they agree. So there’s me, getting a run up to jump onto PURE CONCRETE, and clear a flight of stairs in the process.
Pause here for a moment.
A) This may not work.
B) This may hurt, and I imagine a broken leg is not the most comfortable thing to live with.
C) Though it will probably not matter, I’m not wearing my jumping shoes.
In my head little Mister Logic screams ‘You Idiot’ to my body.
I’m off into my run up, a quick jog towards the steps, and I jump, watching the concrete pass beneath me. The stairs look a lot wider now that I can see them from above. My heel skims across the bottom step…and I land. I stand, my hands in the air, the group of girls clap. I take a bow.
I tell a young couple I will be their entertainment. They tell me no, but I show them I am persistent, (i.e. I won’t leave) and they agree. I ask them what they want, offer them a song, Australian Idol style. This puts an idea into my head (normally not a good thing). I open my petition book on the footpath and I write,
‘LOOK, I DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY, I WANT YOUR VOTES. VOTE FOR ANDREW HUTCHINSON IN THE TV WEEK LOGIE AWARDS. I CAN WIN, BUT I NEED THE PUBLIC TO VOTE FOR ME. IF YOU DON”T VOTE, NO-ONE ELSE WILL.
And I begin to sing. Just as they said in that film with the baseball and Kevin Costner: ‘If you build it, they will come’. People write their names in at random intervals, many taken back by my obvious lack of singing ability. One woman asks me to ‘please stop’. By that time there have been enough people sign up to call it a day.
As I leave the historic building, I look back on the day that was, and look forward to the dreams that may be. I think to myself, ‘Hey, you really could’ve hurt yourself with that stair thing.’ I think, ‘These are only handful of people, maybe getting votes will be harder than first thought.’
Then I smile to myself as I refer back to the Costner film: the field, the baseball, and some mysterious, unseen, hallucinogenic ghost voice saying: ‘Go the distance.’
Indeed I will.