So, back to 1990.
My household was duly primed that if the phone rang “On Wednesday” that they were not to give the caller the “third degree” but simply to take a message, were I not at home. And yes, the hoped-for call did come, and diaries were compared.
Being October and well into the end-of-year round of assignments, assessments and, for me, concerts, it was a full ten days before the charming Exchange Student and I had the same day and time free to meet up.
Soon a pattern was established, whereby Neil would make it to my place by Public Transport, I would drive to our chosen destination, and then I would drop him to the Seminary Gates at the end of the day, thereby retaining my “Street Cred”.
My delightful cousin Miriam, her husband Andrew (a motor racing aficionado) and their toddler daughter Stephanie were visiting from Melbourne for the Adelaide “Grong Pree” and gave my new British friend the nod of approval. The day of the Formula 1 race, I determined we should stay well away from the crowds and, instead, we did a circuit of beaches and wineries, culminating in a glass of chilled white wine at Horseshoe Bay (Port Elliot) as the sun set over the water. Neil received an extra “Gold Star” in my book for wearing a “Hong Kong” T-shirt – Hong Kong being the favourite overseas destination of my parents, my father in particular.
Before too long, Neil was sneaking out of the Seminary on a regular basis, often smartly dressed and clutching a bottle of wine. “You’ve met a girl, haven’t you?” enquired fellow students and staff, to which he just mumbled non-committedly, being under “Kylie’s Orders”, as it were.
After some weeks of such happy activity, one Sunday afternoon it was blisteringly hot. I was mindful of the fact that the seminary boarding house “Graebner Hall” had no fans or air-conditioning and, being constructed of “Besser Block” probably didn’t have much insulation, either. I was lying in my breezy bedroom with my pedestal fan oscillating the air, and considering that my new friend, unaccustomed as he was to Australian summers, would be baking in his spartan room.
Without a great deal more thought, I unplugged the fan (which was emblazoned with stickers proclaiming “Property of Kylie”) and drove to North Adelaide. I parked in my usual spot (OUTSIDE the gates) and ventured in, fan under my arm. Following the signs, I found Graebner Hall and, with a few people offering directions, eventually Neil’s Room. I opened the door, proffering the fan, which was gratefully received, as the air temperature was over 100 degrees. After chatting for a while, I headed into the corridor, in search of the bathrooms. Leaving Neil’s room I literally ran slap-bang into another student. “KYLIE! What are YOU doing here?” he exclaimed, while I simultaneously was gasping: “ROSS! What are YOU doing here”?
Yes, I had been “rumbled” at the first turn.
I had worked with Ross only a few months previously, as we had done a spell of “Prac-Teaching” together at the same High School. (During which, incidentally, Ross was praised for his conducting and discipline skills, while I was slated for over-reach while teaching elective music students a “better” way of Melody-writing while “undermining their regular teacher’s authority”, plus spending too much time chatting and drinking coffee with Senior Music Teacher [and, you guessed it, long-term friend] Jeffrey Kong).
This being Adelaide, and the Lutheran church (see previous post “Degrees of Separation”), Ross was not only my prac-teaching partner, but also the kid brother of my favourite Primary School teacher, who I had met some 10 years before on his family’s cane farm in rural Queensland. Ho hum.
Anyway, after that, I figured all hope was lost of me continuing to “fly under the radar”. Besides. By this stage I had decided I rather liked this Guthrig chap (Hong Kong T-shirt, good taste in wine, freshly pressed shirt and tie, beautiful British accent and all …) so – what the heck…
I started to park my car in the Seminary “Visitors” Car park, and every now and again visited Neil’s room. Only much later did it sink in (I am Blonde, after all) that my fan, now on permanent loan, would have asked more questions than it answered, with its proud decoration…