‘Thank you very much. I’ll be back later.’
I recognised the voice. I knew it well, though it had been a while. Perfectly enunciated, clear and deep. Loud, but not booming - just a notch above any other voice in the room. That voice had come to our house every weekday evening at seven pm while I was growing up.
When the owner of the voice had left the reception area I walked over to Terry at the counter and said ‘that was Richard Morecroft wasn’t it?’ I was a bit excited because I had a lot of respect for Morecroft, I reckon he’s cool. I feel like he taught me so much about the way the world is, and the ABC news has never been the same without him. And that story about him reading the news with a baby bat stuffed up his shirt was great.
Who would have thought I’d bump into someone like that at Arkaroola, out here in the middle of nowhere?
‘What?’ said Terry. ‘No, it can’t have been.’ She was talking in a husky whisper, having all but lost her voice.
‘Yeah it was’ said Paul the helicopter pilot who was leaning against the counter.
‘The bloke off TV?’ said Brendan who was also lurking around, ‘nah it wasn’t him.’
Morecroft had been unshaven and less groomed than on TV, but I was pretty sure it was him. That voice. Terry looked into the booking system on the computer, and up came the name ‘R. Morecroft’.
‘Oh my God it’s him’ she croaked, ‘I need to go and talk to him. I’m going after him. I love that man.’
And I thought I was excited.
‘Hold on’ Paul said, ‘he’s staying another night. Talk to him later.’
‘Alright. But I’m going to get my Letters and Numbers book, so when he comes back he can sign it for me. I’ll give him a discount on his room for it.’
I’d forgotten that he had a new show, and it turns out Terry and Brendan are big fans. Big big fans. They watch every night, one specialising in word quizzes, the other in numbers. Terry has several books.
I happened to be loitering in the bar when Morecroft came back in later, and Terry was ready. He was happy to sign her book. With her sore throat she apparently couldn’t say all she needed to, so she handed him a note she’d written earlier, which he thanked her for and said he’d read later.
He came in yet once more a little later and thanked her for the kind words, which I gathered were gushing praise of the show and how she and Brendan don’t miss an episode.
Morecroft walked up to Brendan, the stocky no-nonsense worker in his scuffed boots, work shirt and truckers cap. Brendan smiled shyly and said ‘Richard Morecroft.’ They shook hands then Brendan stepped back, not knowing where to look.
‘Terry told me you like the show?’ Morecroft said.
‘Yep.’ Brendan’s words had dried up. He shuffled his feet. ‘Watch it every night, all the time.’
‘I’m so pleased. I think the show is not so much a competition as a celebration of people’s intelligence.’
‘Alright, I’ve got to go. But it’s nice to meet you Brendan.’
The voice left the room.