It has been hard to pin Will Cox down for his chat. I get it in my head that a certain person is next and then it can take weeks to find them within an arm’s reach of their landline. He thought a chat to me via his mobile would suffice but NO! I put my foot down. It can only ever be a landline or skype chat or else the intimacy is in danger of being lost. There is also nowadays something quite mysterious for the rest of the family, seeing someone talking on a landline phone. Who else would they be speaking to but their mum or a telecommuniations company? And why are they laughing?
They are laughing because talking on a landline is so lovely. Will said to me that it would be great ringing up all your friends. He said ‘you must be calling people that you know just so much about and then learning about other parts of their life that you didn’t.’ He could have been talking about him and me. Our paths have meshed and twined over these last years but it was only when his family decamped from Apollo Bay to live nearer the city that I felt we knew each other well. And looking down my notes I said ‘you are everything that I thought you were, the family man’ (with the matinee idol looks of course!).
We talk at length about our children and the opportunities that are arising for them, the money that we pour into those opportunities and the reasons why we do it. Will’s family are very much a water-based family and his son whom they used to refer to as a harbour-rat is now surfing on a world class wave close to where they live. We drift off around lots of topics but always come back to the children, he has been a very hands-on Dad and his voice takes on a tone of incredulation when he states (as if he has just realised- it shocks him every time) that his oldest child will be flying the nest in just a couple of years.
We saw a lot of Will during a very exciting week in all our lives. He was in management for Parks Victora, and no, that doesn’t mean that he is a glorified park keeper. The National Park here covers thousands of kilometres of varied terrain and the Great Ocean Walk, which begins here in Apollo Bay, is/was under his wing. As part of a big promotion for the Great Ocean Walk (104 km of stunning coast-hugging walking track) a TV documentary was made to go out to the world. Three presenters were found to walk for the cameras. They were ‘Planetwalker’ and environmentalist John Francis, Olympic figure skater Katarina Witt and fastest Australian skier on one or two legs (fastest ever skier on one) Michael Milton (who is number 33 on this blog). Laird Hamilton, the surfer, was meant to show up too but when the surf in Hawaii became too big for him to leave, Will Cox stepped up to the mark to introduce the world to his beautiful back yard.
We talk about what a great time that was in our lives. Michael and his family stayed with us at the Aire Valley Guesthouse and some of the filming took place at the house. The TV crew and all the presenters were great to work with, although when I accidently mentioned to Katarina Witt that I used to watch England’s skating darling, Jayne Torville, skate in Nottingham, Katerina suddenly looked like she was sucking on a lime and replied ‘Jayne Torvill is a very regular woman.’ Now when I want to cheer myself up, doing an impression of Katarina saying that sentence often works!
Will had way more than the usual 15 minutes of fame and took on the part of TV superstar like a duck to water. It was only after they had packed up their cameras and gone that we all bounced back to normality with more than a bit of a jolt. Thanks to social media he is still in touch with all the programme makers and looking back at his photos reminds me of the sense of fun that was ever present.
I’m telling you, life is short and full of joy. Call up an old friend, call up a new friend and hear your own laughter reverberate back down the landline. Just do it. At the end of our long chat Will hopes that he hasn’t come across as boring. ‘Boring?’ I reply, ‘more like life-affirming,’ and he jokily asks that I remind his wife (38/365) of that. But she knows it.