Thursday, January 15, 2009

Charlie who?

How often do you turn on the telly, see someone famous and say "Ooh, I've met him"? My interest in the series 'Long Way Down' has been piqued ever since I met Charlie Boorman last May. The 29th May, to be exact. Which, for those of you unfamiliar with Everest history was the date on which, 55 years earlier, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed the famous mountain. I was at Tengboche Monastery, in the Everest foothills of Nepal, along with 80-odd trekkers and several hundred Sherpas and porters to celebrate that anniversary at a special dinner with Peter Hillary.

We'd all been up since 5am, having been woken up by conch shells and drums calling the monks to prayer, and were all getting a little over-excited. You see, the Everest Marathon was due to run straight through the monastery's grounds that very morning. And we were all lined up along the route, ready to cheer on the fool-hardy contestants. A helicopter whumped its way up the valley, causing a stir as it hovered then landed behind one of the lodges. Curious as to its passengers, I was one of many who surged over to see who had arrived. Was it Lady June Hillary perhaps? A diminutive man scrambled out of the cabin and was immediately surrounded by well-wishers bestowing the ubiquitous kata scarves on him. Who was he? Surely not Tenzing Norgay's son? But no, he was a Japanese man. I drifted away and ignored the other helicopters that landed over the next hour.

So it took a few minutes for the fact to register that the shaggy-haired bloke being followed by a camera and chatting to people was familiar. I knew it wasn't Ewan McGregor, but that was the only name that came to mind. He came over to where I was standing with a trekking mate, Richard and said Hello. "No, I'm the good-looking one," he said in response to Richard's query. "Charlie."

Of course. He asked us what was going on. Stunned to find so many people here. He'd flown up to do a little documentary because "it's the 55th anniversary." And was astonished to find out that we had all trekked in to commemorate that very anniversary and that there was a marathon due to run through at any moment. He stayed to receive a blessing from the abbot of Tengboche Monastery and then had to leave. Having flown up, he was not acclimatised to the altitude and had to go back to Kathmandu.

That's Charlie on the right, chatting to Amelia, Edmund Hillary's grand-daughter.

That trek was quite the trip for meeting famous people. We also met Peter Hillary, as well as the delightful Tony Freake, who was there to receive the 2008 Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal for his humanitarian efforts in the nearby village of Phortse.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tempt me

So, one of my favourite shows, Temptation, is back on telly and I'm on the wrong side of the screen! I'm waiting for my call-up after auditioning way back in March last year. Several hundred people turned up to take their chances, filling a lecture theatre at QUT. We had to sit a 50-question exam, in which each question was read out twice and we had to write the answer down on the sheet provided. At the end, we all swapped papers with our neighbours to mark them. The cut-off was 28. I got 39 right - although I was this [ ] close to getting 40 (wrote 9 instead of 8 1/2 for the name of Fellini's film - so I was through. About three-quarters of the room left at that stage. The remaining survivors then had to fill in a short biography, get our photo taken and then give a short talk to the group telling something interesting about ourselves, so I spoke about my then upcoming trip to Nepal to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest.
This was not the first time I've auditioned for Temptation. I originally tried out back in 1988, although the show was called Sale of the Century back then. I got through that time too.
I am so ready for that call-up. Over to you, Ed.