In the 1980s there was a well-known gardener on Australian television called Allan Seale. He had an almost imperceptible whistling lisp so his ‘S’s’ sounded like sslippery ssuckers. Allan’s dog sometimes made guest appearances on his show (that was my favourite part). My mother liked to watch gardening shows (and grass growing) so I practised my Allan Seale lisp after dinner to avoid doing any homework. One weekend in about 1984 I was a bored, dim-witted teenager visiting friends who happened to live in the same neighbourhood as this gentle man. As soon as I heard my friend say, “He lives about two streets away,” I was off to meet Allan, with my friends following behind me. I ran through his garden, which was filled with native plants before that was fashionable.
“Issh Blackie here?” I whistled when his lovely wife came to answer their front door bell. My friends stood giggling behind a tree.
“No, he’s not,” she said, failing to open the heavy chocolate brown imitation metallic lace screen door (they were de rigeur in the 80s). My confidence faded at this point.
“Oh, how about Allan?” I said realising I couldn’t show off my impressive Allan Seale impersonation with that sentence. She sighed as she shook her head to one side. We stood in silence staring at each other. I hadn’t prepared for this. Allan was out and Blackie hadn’t even bothered to come out of the house to bark at me. I felt like such a moron, I stood on her front door mat grinning like a village idiot for what seemed like half an hour before she shut the door in my face. Then I walked slowly to the corner shop to find comfort in a bag of 20 cent lollies. When Allan got home from work that night his wife probably didn’t bother telling him that some fool stood on their front doorstep impersonating his voice a few hours earlier. Looking back, I really should have tried harder to meet Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, she is my true TV hero.