Returning to Melbourne
Returning to Melbourne has been incredibly emotional for many reasons, but the hugest is the gaping hole that is the absence of my dear friend/honorary uncle John Rimmer.
The whole Rimmer family has been connected to mine for decades, so much so that we might as well be actual family.
As I followed my passion into performing he was truly one of my greatest champions and cheerleaders. He came to each and every show I did in Melbourne and he and his wonderful wife Sandy were patrons of the arts in the true meaning of the term, graciously welcoming me in to stay while I did gigs there, and always bringing as many people as they could to see me do my thing. John also took what it is one of my favourite photos ever of Cassidy and I when I was doing the touring-with-a-toddler thing at Melbourne Fringe 2011. You know, that festival where I literally was performing night after night to two people in the audience.
John saw the true depths of my despair when things were tough (which was often) and was always nothing but kind and gently encouraging without ever telling me what to do or not to do.
I’ll never forget his beaming face and joyful giggle the last time I did a show here, nor the in-the-crowd selfies he sent me of him dressed up wearing a viking helmet while I was backstage before Viking Mama.
When I was around twelve, John invited my little sister and me to fly down to Melbourne to stay with them for the school holidays. I mean… FLY. To MELBOURNE. This was no mean feat back in the early nineties, this was EPIC!
I vividly remember that jaw-dropping trip as the most magical ever. As well as the obvious excitement of a trip to the big smoke, John proceeded to spoiled us rotten like the dreamiest uncle you could imagine, taking us to Luna Park, the Zoo, and to my utter joy and disbelief, the Aussie premier of Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat! My little Toowoomba-bred head couldn’t quite comprehend it. There onstage: was TINA ARENA! And THE GUY FROM INDECENT OBSESSION! In the audience we spotted THAT CHICK FROM NEIGHBOURS! And…the stage moved! And… and… and!!!!
Even then I could tell John was equally giddy just seeing the excitement this had created in both of us. Creating and sharing excitement was truly part of his genius.
A couple of weeks ago in Brisbane, I went to see Hamilton - and ended up taking my son’s ex-partner, who, at 18, had never been to a massive theatrical production. Seeing their sheer overwhelming joy and excitement at the spectacle of it all made me so bloody happy inside I was positively bursting. It made MY experience of the show that much sweeter.
I realised then and there that this was part of John’s gift - passing on the joy of passing on joy… and through the arts no less.
What a legacy. What a life. And what a lesson.
Thank you John.
(This doesn't even touch on his career achievements. I mean, seriously. What a man.)