Rolf Harris is my tv Grandad and I have always wanted to meet him. The opportunity presented itself when I was browsing the internet one lunch time and for some reason ended up on the Walker Art Gallery website. Now I don’t buy into the whole fate thing but there was some freaky stuff going on that day. Firstly, it’s nt a regular thing for me to go on art gallery websites and to happen upon it two days before a rare Rolf Harris signing event was a pretty happy coincidence.
Thankfully I was free on the Saturday when the event was to be held but I knew there would be a lot of waiting around and didn’t really fancy doing that on my own (although I was prepared to if necessary). My first call was to my mum, a fellow Rolf fan, but unfortunately she was booked in to have a pilates induction session. None of my friends were either available or interested in meeting Rolf (weirdos) so it looked like I was going on my lonesome, oh well, I’d meet some new friends in the queue. But then my mum rang me back, she had rearranged her induction as she couldn’t miss out on Rolf and she thought it would be more fun if I didn’t have to go on my own (how ace is she?!).
On Saturday morning we set off early to get the train to Liverpool. We grabbed a hot beverage and some breakfast at Liverpool Lime Street and headed to the gallery where a large queue had already formed. The queue was full of every kind of person, young, old, famillies, singletons, it would seem Rolf doesn’t have a ‘typical’ fan. The queue was pretty big and I was starting to worry we wouldn’t get in but some officials came out to sell exhibition brochures (Rolf had an exhibition on at the gallery) and they said that we should be ok to get in.
The line moved quite slowly once the doors opened and everyone was let in. Whilst no one enjoys queuing, mum and I felt quite reasssured that Rolf was giving everyone a good amount of time. The queue went through the gallery (not including Rolf’s exhibition) so there was lots to see while we waited and we made small talk with a lovely lady, Ann, who was behind us in the queue.
Just before lunchtime we made it into the room Rolf was in! There were about 20 people in front of us no but we would definitely be getting to meet Rolf…right after he took a lunch break (he was 82 at the time and had been signing and smiling for the camera for quite some time already so he deserved a break). It wasn’t long till he was back and I started getting nervous, I was actually going to meet Rolf Harris, what would I say???
Just before it was our turn to see Rolf a lady asked what we would like signed. I had to choose between my CD cover or my exhibition book and I went with the latter in the end since CDs might become obsolete.
When it was our turn we stepped up to Rolf’s table and he said hello, asked our names etc and signed our books. I was a little starstruck and didn’t really know what to say! We had our photos taken (yes, mum has her eyes shut but she swears the photographer did that on purpose) and as we were thanking Rolf and saying goodbye he said to me, ‘Do you know you’ve got stripes on your t-shirt?’ Obviously I did know so all I could reply with was ‘Yes, I wore it specially’ I felt a little lame with my response.
This year I ticked off another Rolf goal, to see him perform live. He doesn’t tour much and having not been to Glastonbury I’ve not really had the opportunity to see Rolf do what he does best, until now.
My aunty mentioned in passing that Rolf was playing at Bristol’s Hippodrome and I immediately went online and purchased tickets in the third row from the stage!!!! And in May my mum and I headed to Bristol for a fun-filled family weekend.
We were worried that with everything going on in the papers (I don’t want to get into it here) Rolf might cancel but being the true professional he is, Mr Harris didn’t disappoint. As he came on stage he got a standing ovation and it was clear to see what that meant to him. Even I got a slight lump in my throat and everyone knows I’m unemotional and dead inside! The whole night was amazing, he sang all the classics, I was particularly looking forward to ‘Two Little Boys’ and he sang it beautifully. He played the accordion, Jews harp, didgereedoo and Aborigini beating sticks. He painted Ayers Rock, regaled us with many stories and snippets of knowledge and hiffed and haa-ed along the way. It was everything I hoped it would be and more, I just wish it hadn’t had to end!
We left the theatre in high spirits but somehow mum and I had lost my Aunty Sam. We were looking for her when we were distracted by a light and a camerman, and yep, there was my Aunty being interviewd by Australian TV so of course mum and I ran over and joined her. After a short interview which, thanks to the beverages consumed, probably didn’t make the most sense, I facebooked my cousin who lives in Oz to tell him to keep an eye out for us on the telly and low and behold the next day I got a message to say we’d been on the flipping news Down Under! Thankfully they’d cut most of our interview out and there was just a snippet of my Aunty saying ‘He’s a legend’ and my mum sounding extremely Northern saying ‘bloody brilliant’. I couldn’t have put it better myself!