Aug 17, 2011

All My Loving

I spent today covering the Ekka, the ten days each year that Brisbane gives over to country life-inspired Stockholm Syndrome.

I say that because over the years I've covered the Ekka enough to develop a sort of perverted fondness for its urban rustic atmosphere and the seething mass of humanity that power-strolls (often with power-strollers) through it. I've come to see it as a great challenge for my immune system and a cautious reminder of the importance of good dental care.

Of course, it helps that I get in on a media pass.

I visited the Ekka as a young 'un a few times. I believe my parents looked upon it with some dread, given the infamous "Ekka bug" that invariably went around each year.

One time I clearly remember my brother throwing up an ice-cream while watching the stunt car show in the main arena. All over the wooden benches it went, like a reverse vanilla volcano. I'm not sure if that was due to illness though, or just overly vigorous licking. Whatever it was, it was those sorts of incidents that made the Ekka a "sometimes" treat.

Another "sometime" treat was of course, the Ekka showbags. My parents had a strict limit on them, being as how they were generally overpriced plastic bags full of plastic crap ...and lollies. My brother and I were allowed two showbags, to a value of $10 in total. Only one of them was allowed to be a lolly/chocolate/snack bag. The other had to be a gimmick bag, one of the themed bags full of crap, based around whatever cartoon or TV show was popular at the time.

Now 1987 was my first visit to the show, and there was only one gimmick showbag I wanted.

Young Talent Time.

I only have hazy memories of what was actually IN that freaking bag. A purple pencil case, definitely. A battery-powered mini-keyboard, on which you could play tinny notes. Probably stickers. What I do remember is how emotionally attached I was to that stupid bag. How much I LOVED the show, how much I WANTED to own anything to do with it.

Australia's glitzy-est, schmaltzy-est and (looking back now) most camp song-and-dance show began back in the 1970s, well before my time. Every week, a bunch of bright-faced kiddies would parade about a studio singing pop hits of the day, before gathering with host Johnny Young for a rendition of "All My Loving" by the Beatles. That song was the lullaby of my childhood.

I caught it only in its last-gasp years, before its sudden axing in early 1989. But damn, they were good years to little Natalie. Who could forget the sensational duet - and feminist clarion call - between YTT regular Danni Minogue, and her older, less popular sister Kylie?

That film clip is such a 1980s timewarp, it almost creates its own black hole, sucking taste and decency into it, leaving only perms and a Bedazzler.

By far and away the best thing about YTT was it had a GIRL on it with the SAME NAME as ME.


Didn't your 7-year-old brains work much the same?

Natalie Miller was also kinda funny-looking, even by 80s standards. She had sticky out ears and an over-sized mouth. Now that I look back I just see a teenage girl growing into her looks. Back then though, it was inspiration. It was her voice and dancing that made her a star.

At the time, I was a dancer. If it wasn't for the show's axing, I'm sure I would have pushed to audition for it when I was a little older. Except perhaps even then I knew my singing voice might not be up to it; and that perhaps I was always going to be more of a "living room" reality TV star.

Which brings us full circle to today. Exactly today, to be exact.

As I was walking home from the Ekka, nostalgically remembering my Young Talent Time showbag, Channel Ten was announcing that due to the current success of reality talent competitions, it will BRING YOUNG TALENT TIME BACK for its 2012 line-up.

Honestly, my jaw dropped lower than News of the World's standards.

Because the prospect of a re-animated Young Talent Time (I assume they've defrosted Johnnie Young and fired up the jumper leads) now fills me with dread.

I'm no longer a bright-faced kiddie watching other bright-faced kiddies amaze a crowd with a stirring rendition of "Venus" by Bananarama. I can't watch the show with the thought "It's unlikely but this could potentially be me" lingering in the back of my brain. I can't physically regress into childhood. The truth of the matter is: I ain't getting any younger.

And sure, you may say it's inspirational, to watch all those wonderful KIDS being great KIDS and showing off their KID powers to the world.

The fact is, with the years now piling up on my shoulders, talented 10-year-olds just make me feel inferior and deficient. So they can play the piano, dance a two-step and pronounce the word "libretto" properly? Yeah, well, you're not the only one with skills, kid. I can... well, I can... LOOK, I CAN COPY LADY GAGA'S DANCE FROM THE BAD ROMANCE VIDEO OKAY SO STOP HASSLING ME.

It's bad enough that life seems to run by that maxim, "No matter how good you are, there will always be someone better than you" - it's worse when those better than you are 20 years your junior.

Of course, all of this bitter old lady talk will probably vanish when I turn up to cover the Ekka next year and discover a brand new shiny Young Talent Time showbag.

It just better have a purple pencil case.


  1. Your jaw dropped lower....

    I just love this Nat, anyone can sing or dance but how many can turn a phrase like that.

    Good for you girl

    Young and lovely Mater

  2. We used to get two showbags too. And two rides. And several nasty bugs. I usually saved throwing up on the long drive home.

  3. I Remember wanting to get the B105 bag because I was a fan of Ugly Phil so many years ago.

    Still have it here with me today at my work desk. Best cup ever.

  4. When we were kids we could have three bags but only one of them was to be full of pointless shit. Food had value. Foam hats did not.

    One of my favourite childhood memories was of waking up too sick to go to school on a day when I had a brand new Smurfs bag to rummage through.

  5. I loved the Phantom bag. 10 old copies of The Phantom comic they couldn't shift for $5. It was freaking great!

    That and the sheep dog trials.... Oh wait. I was one of THOSE kids. If this had been an American TV show I'm sure I would have been beaten up.

    In conclusion: I love the Ekka.

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