A Spring In Our Step
The positive news in Neil’s email, that I’d been selected as the speaker for the APS talk, was giving Dad and me a spring in our step…or in my case, a spring in my hop!
Dad and I go through the day’s routine a little brighter. At the end of the evening, I have a shower before bed. Suddenly, a flutter of distress ripples through me. “Gulp… how the hell am I going to take a shower at the hotel in Melbourne?” Hygiene and personal grooming are just a tad important to a professional speaker after all.
Let’s take a step back for one moment. Recently, my favourite pair of brown leather Geox thongs broke and I brought them to a professional shoe repairer who advised they were not repairable. A retired carpenter and builder by trade, Dad rose to the challenge once again and long story short, my Geox thongs are now still going strong. So, you don’t need the intellect of Albert Einstein to know to whom I brought my showering conundrum 😊
Dad thinks for a moment and smiles. Like all good tradesmen he has a solution and a tool for everything. He says “Let’s just do what we do now… you sit on something to shower right…?” Dad road tests his solution. It’s so simple and ingenious it makes me laugh out loud. Immediately, I feel the need to capture the moment with a photo and share it with my big brother Pete who lives in the UK. Like Dad, Pete watches and supports my speaking career albeit from afar. And like me, he’s a big fan of Dad.
“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.” – Albert Einstein
Dad’s genius – one big travel bag that can fit all our luggage plus the stool
We’re only going to be in Melbourne overnight. We fly out on a Saturday, the following Sunday afternoon I speak and we travel back that evening. We hardly need any luggage and what we do need we pack around the stool. This particular stool, used by Pete and me to do our homework as kids, is brought out of mothballs for one very unusual, but important job. It has a vinyl cover, sponge seat and weightless metal frame, making it light enough to fly with. We plan to protect the stool from shower water by covering it with a heavy-duty plastic bag.
Finding an opportunity out of misfortune, combined with my 85-year-old dad’s willingness to go above and beyond, including managing our luggage, sees us off to Melbourne. I’m excited to be giving a talk about psychology and how it has impacted my life. I’ll be telling my story and acknowledging an amazing psychologist who in turn has his own unique story. If you read on you’ll find out about the surprising and touching twist that lies ahead.
Dad doing the heavy lifting
We wake up early on Saturday 7 October. We throw the last few items into the big travel bag on wheels. We order an Uber and set off for Brisbane airport. Dad pulls the bag while I hop along on crutches. Dad’s pretty fit and manages the bag and our carry on bag like Tiger Wood’s caddie! Qantas is on their game and has a wheelchair waiting at check in. Going through security, I gain a new appreciation of wheelchair bound people and their everyday difficulties.
We enjoy a hearty breakfast before boarding the plane. Taking off is pretty exciting, Dad and I have a wonderful adventure ahead of us.
Dad showing off his fat fingers and photography skills simultaneously at breakfast
Ready for take off
Everything goes smoothly, the flight, Qantas wheelchair assistance in Melbourne and the taxi ride to the hotel.
Qantas wheelchair assistance
Dad loves hearing about my speaking career and attends every talk he can. This talk was extra special because if it weren’t for dad attending but also facilitating my transport, I wouldn’t be here. Dad says to me in the taxi on the way to the hotel – with a big smile, “Looking good Billy Ray” and I respond, “Feeling good Lewis“, drawing on the famous line from the movie Trading Places.
Dad excited to have gotten us to Melbourne
At the hotel, I setup my lap top and second portable screen to practice my talk with a captive audience – Dad!
Rehearsing the talk
The captive audience
This is a first for us ̶ being in Melbourne together. It won’t be the last as my speaking career is continuing to grow. Soon we’ll be together in Sydney when I speak at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in July 2018. The night before the big event, to say thanks for making this talk happen, I treat dad to a steak dinner at TGI Fridays beside the Yarra River.
The least I could do was to treat Dad to a steak dinner
I like to shower every night before bed, it refreshes me and helps me get a good night’s sleep. Tonight’s shower is made possible by none other than Block! My mum’s mum, my grandmother, Ethel May Elliott, pointed to me when I was a wee boy and said, “He’s a chip off the old block”. That’s how dad got the nickname of Block!
The solution – Block, stool and plastic bag cover
I can’t thank dad enough for his love, support and energy. I knew I’d be writing about this adventure but as a picture paints a thousand words, I’ve included a few below that capture this special speaking visit to Melbourne.
In the words of Borat “Great success!”
I’m looking forward to bring you the 4th and final part of Planes, Ubers, Wheelchairs and One Big Travel Bag. ‘Til then.