Marianne et moi

[Editor’s note: Ms Ainu Campbell-Barracks is channelled exclusively for Quadrant Online by Dr Philippa Martyr] 

Ebullient Sydney socialite and environmental crusader Ainu Campbell-Barracks solves a Sydney Festival mystery: 

Do you know, Marianne Faithfull is the most amazing woman. I was backstage at the Festival, of course, catching up with old friends, and I am just so at home in that milieu, so I thought I’d pop along and see if she was anywhere about. Imagine how thrilling when I found her in a rehearsal room, all by herself, at the keyboard! So of course, I just went right up to her and pulled up a chair and sat down, and she smiled right at me and went on with her practice. As if an artist of that calibre would need any such thing; she is such a perfectionist. 

How could you not instantly warm to such an amazing and accessible woman? I just poured it all out, quite without any nerves at all, which amazed me, because normally I’m so painfully shy. But I just had to tell her how much I loved her work, and how I had just adored her for years and had bought all her albums (well, A Child’s Adventure, definitely; I’m pretty sure I bought that – or was it just the single of ‘Ballad of Lucy Jordan’? Is that the one about being 47 and driving round Paris in the nude? Can’t remember.) 

Anyway, she and I just got chatting away like old friends. One rather intrusive young man did keep poking his head round the door and saying, ‘Everything all right, Marianne?’ Marianne, indeed; I must have a word to the Festival people about that, because an international artist of her calibre should be really called ‘Ms Faithfull’. Marianne was going to say something, but I just chased him away every time, and told him Marianne and I were having a great old catch-up, and then I asked her if I could call her ‘Marianne’, and do you know, she didn’t say anything at all. 

She is truly amazing; such presence. I felt as if I’d known her all my life, and it was so easy to tell her everything about myself, and about my most recent dramas finding the right schools for Jake and India; I mean, Jake’s all right because Derryn is golf mates with the principal of Alsatian College, but poor India – when I think what we have gone through trying to find the right school for that girl. It was going to be St Swineflu, of course, but they made such a fuss about us not being practising Catholics. I mean, of course we’re practising Catholics; I told her so many stories about dear Father Pat our parish priest, and then at the end of it that wretched principal had to go and tell us that Father Pat hadn’t been our PP for the last six years. So uncalled for. 

So what with one thing and another, time just flew by, and then they were calling her, and oh, it’s just so thrilling to be right there in the wings when such an international and legendary performer goes on stage. It was truly the most amazing night of my life. I can’t think why people have complained; honestly, how provincial. $145 is nothing; you can’t even get a decent pair of shoes for that, let alone a glittering cast of highly gifted artists. They clearly don’t know Marianne at all (oops – isn’t a quote from that song she wrote called ‘Both Sides Now’? That’s how close we’ve become; I’m even thinking in her lyrics now.) 

I can’t wait for next year’s Festival!

[Ed: For another point of view see “Was this the worst concert Australia has ever seen?” here]

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