Thursday, July 18, 2013

There's a bear in there - and Jay Laga'aia too

The fun and games continued. This time as a result of work commitments. The reason I was actually needing to be in Mackay was to support delivery of the Read for life: early childhood symposium. A one day program for educators, public library staff, parents and anyone interested in promoting the value of early literacy in children. My brief for the afternoon was to meet Jay Laga'aia at the airport and transfer him to his session at the Gordon White Library, a branch of the Mackay City Library network at Mt Pleasant. Jess from the main branch is an angel and we couldn't have achieved what we did without her support. So, there we were at the airport, waiting for Jay. Based on Brisbane arrivals I had added a portrait of Jay and Big Ted to my iPad and stood holding that so that Jay would recognise us. I shouldn't have worried overly. The "arrivals area" at Mackay airport is a doorway with a "No Entry" sign adjacent to the coffee outlet. No problems. Approx 6 people were awaiting loved ones, guests etc. so, I shouldn't have been overly concerned about missing Jay in the crowd. At least a couple of his fellow passengers had a chuckle and one little girl carrying Cookie Monster was pleased to report she hadn't seen Big Ted. Before we knew it Jay was there, introductions made and I had vowed never to wash my cheek again. That's what a kiss on the cheek from Jay will do. Trust me,over the last few days I have seen sensible senior citizens turn into giggling girls at the pleasure of having their photos taken with this legend of Playschool, Home and Away, Bed of Roses and Star Wars! We made it to the library with bags in tow ready to set up and do sound checks to find our audience had already started to arrive. Then they kept on coming, and coming and coming! We ended up with over 400 Mums, Dads, Nanna's, carers and children ready and waiting. Ready to go Jay stepped up and began his performance and the audience was his. From beginning to end, it was incredible. Everyone getting into it, teapots, crocodiles and billy goats left, right and centre. A 45 minute performance and meet and greet turned into almost two hours of singing, dancing and pure joy. I loved the Three Billy Goats Gruff (with girl Billy Goats) and was touched by the pure simplicity of the Ukulele, but got most from the interactions Jay had with the littlest of his visitors. One little lady brought her own, pink Ukulele with her and carefully requested that Jay sign it with her name, not her sisters. This young lady knew what she wanted and seemed not to recognise the significance of this guy serenading her on her own ukulele. Classic moments abounded this afternoon. Did I mention I would love a Ukulele? Doesn't have to be pink, but for this non musical person, any interest in things musical is to be encouraged. The line to say a personal hello and get a CD signed was longer than any I have ever seen and to Jay's credit he stayed on for as long as it took. Not only that, he thanked the children for waiting to see him, and not one went away empty handed. Playschool postcards form the perfect surface to write a hello on and every now and then a Star Wars card snuck out from the bottom of the pile on special request. Many happy people later (big and little) we finally were able to pack up and head off. After a quick shower and change of clothes we picked Jay up and went to dinner. This icon of Australian Television had dinner with three librarians - one each from Brisbane, Mackay and Surat. There goes his street cred. Just for the record, yes we did have a great evening. 15.7.13

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