There’s an old joke about the Sydney Opera House:
Q: How do you get to the Sydney Opera House?
A: You practice! Practice! Practice!
However, as much as kids might practice and dream of performing at the Sydney Opera House, they also need transport…the wind beneath their wings. That takes a dedicated support crew: teachers, parents, grandparents or perhaps they could also phone a friend.
Perhaps, even all of the above.
It also takes considerable organisation and project management skills and, of course, a capable Project Manager. Ideally, you’re child would be consulting a recruitment agency to find a suitable candidate. Someone willing to drive them all over the known universe for nothing, while organising their tight schedule and performance requirements… again, free of charge. However, unless your child’s robbed a bank or is dealing in drugs, they’ll have to take their chances with Mum and Dad.
That’s how I ended up in charge of our daughter’s Sydney Opera House Violin Campaign. If you’ve read about my trials and tribulations driving her to rehearsal in Newcastle Newcastle, you’d know that love doesn’t conquer all. That no matter how much someone loves you, they can’t always pull a rabbit out of a hat.That said, where there’s a will there’s a way, and with needing to get the four of us and my parents to the Opera House, I drew up a minute by minute schedule and from the 6 corners of the globe, I managed to get all of us there early with everyone where they were meant to be.
This was no mean feat.
Our son had to be dropped off at school. Then, I swung back home and helped Miss get ready. Made sure the violin and bow were in their case. Shoes polished. Nail polish gone. Lunch and water packed. While none of these details had anything to do with her playing abilities, they were almost as important.
Meanwhile, the phone rang. Our son had left his PE gear at home. Could I drop it off? So, on the way to the station, I detoured via the school. No dramas. I can drive all over the countryside. I only have a child performing at the Sydney Opera House with her teacher waiting in the second carriage on the train. No doubt, they’d have to keep going if we weren’t there. However, with 45 minutes allocated for a 15 minute drive, I was prepared. I could be Super Mum dropping off PE gear in a single bound. I could take on the world!
Finally, Miss and her violin were on the way to the Opera House. Everything else was secondary.
I barely had time to walk in the door, when I was back out again to pick our son up from school. At least, he managed two classes and what with the very late night, I doubted he’d be at school the next day. Not knowing where to park the car near the station so late in the day, we decided to walk around the corner and catch the bus. I hate catching anything that isn’t on rails. I figure if you’ve got a track, something has to turn up some time but a bus just seems a little too open to possibilities, even though my husband catches the bus every day and swears they’re on time.
Yet, while my son and I are waiting, a bus pulls up a short distance from our stop, parks and then posts a “Not In Service” sign. We were early, so I figured the driver was having a short break. However, then he steps out. Lights a cigarette and seems to be thinking about the future of the human race as he takes his time puffing away. Then, he pulls out a thermos and is slowly sipping away on goodness knows what. By this stage, all my nonchalance is gone. I’m checking my watch every second and this is when my son asks which bus number where catching and the details are on my schedule in my bag but I hadn’t planned on this bus to nowhere turning up, throwing a spanner in the works. The bus was meant to turn the corner and stop after we’d enthusiastically flagged it down. I started hoping there would be another bus. There had to be. The driver had now pulled out a sandwich and looked like he was having a Sunday picnic. I was so tense I could’ve snapped into tiny bits and pieces of anxious terror. I started thinking about driving instead, but checked my schedule. The bus was due in two minutes. This is what happens when you’re early. You totally panic and freak yourself out.
Once we were on the bus, I was fine. It was going to meet up seamlessly with our train. My ever-reliable father was going to be waiting at the station wearing his bright yellow yachting jacket and be exactly where he’s meant to be when he’s meant to be there and I would keep choofing onto Circular Quay, arriving a good 1.5 hours before picking up our daughter for her dinner break.Once again, I was prepared and had allocated a good buffer to allow for contingencies.
At the same time, I don’t like these fly-by arrangements. Meeting people on station platforms, leaning out of a particular carriage, is so tenuous and there’s that fleeting, split-second timing you have to get right. What are you going to do if even a single second intervenes and screws everything up? Get off the train? Keep going? Oh! The angst of it all! How it builds up like Vesuvius in my head and then the drama’s over. It all works like clockwork and all that steam and lava go into reverse, without so much as a ripple on the surface.
Of course, my Dad was there. He’s always there.
Meanwhile, my husband had a busy day at work. Instead of catching his train, he’d driven down to work in Sydney. His next job was to drive into the Opera House so he could drive us all home. So, this is where the story shifts gears and the family car becomes “Dad’s Taxi”.
Geoff isn’t familiar with driving in the city. Moreover, just to complicate matters further, we needed to find somewhere he could stop in Macquarie Street. Even though I’d caught the train in, I needed to be in the car for us to access the disabled parking at the Opera House. After parking the car, he had to get me into the wheelchair, drop our daughter back to her teacher, leaving me sitting in my new found wheelchair thankful he didn’t leave me parked with my nose up against the wall.
I don’t know where this hyper-organised person came from, but she did a great job posing as me and all that deep breathing was worth it!
We went through all of these torturous arrangements just so our daughter could play her violin at the Sydney Opera House. Not knowing whether this is the beginning of a longer, more extended journey or just a full stop. But, you have to be there.Take the opportunities as they come.
After all, the sky’s the limit now she’s played at the Sydney Opera House.
BTW, Geoff took this photo of Miss after her performance. I know I keep rubbing in how mild our Sydney Winters are, but we had 1-2 days of dreadful weather coinciding right with her performance. This meant that we couldn’t get any photos of her standing on the Opera House steps with her violin. However, we managed to get a couple standing in the freezing cold afterwards just to prove she was there. That she really did play her violin at the Sydney Opera House.