A never-ending evening with Andrei Rieu

I would not purposely purchase a ticket to see the ever-smiling violin virtuoso and his merry waltz band. However, about 15 years ago a friend of ours offered spare tickets, so we obligingly agreed to accompany him and his wife to an Andrei Rieu concert at a stadium in Melbourne.

And so it was that on a warm spring evening, Marilyn and I headed into the city to meet John and Lynn at a bistro on Southbank to anaesthetise ourselves with a drink before a leisurely stroll across the city to the stadium in Docklands. It started well enough, as we secured a good long-term car spot near the bistro, ambled in and ordered a drink while we waited … and waited. With growing irritation, eventually Marilyn rang John, and we discovered that they were in the bar next door wondering where we were! We downed our drinks, joined them and calmed our frayed nerves before heading off across town to the covered stadium.

We had seats on the ground level, reasonably close to the stage. The concert was just as you imagine – loads of jollity and waltzes, with the added colour of groups of dancers whirling around and even traipsing up and down the aisles. Blessed relief was provided by a suitably stirring version of Ravel’s Bolero. At that juncture we decided to call it a night, and left before the concert concluded with the excuse that we wished to avoid the exit crowd.

To our dismay, we found that the balmy evening had turned into a fierce thunderstorm. We said goodbye and thanks to our friends, and gamely headed off into the tempestuous night. Getting only as far as nearby Southern Cross Station, I magnanimously instructed Marilyn to wait there under shelter while I went and retrieved the car – there was no need for both of us to be soaked. Wet and miserable by the time I reached the car, I rapidly became even more miserable (well, angrily frustrated) as I found that many of the dark streets between me and the waiting Marilyn were temporarily blocked. It seemed to take forever to get to the station, as I was constantly redirected into streets I had no wish to enter!

I was a fairly unhappy camper by the time I spotted Marilyn near the corner I’d left her some considerable time earlier. She was not alone – as was Marilyn’s habit, she’d picked up a couple of strays, not animals in this case but a Taiwanese couple who had just flown into Melbourne and were looking lost and bewildered. Naturally Marilyn let the waifs know that her husband would shortly be picking her up, and that he’d love to take them to their accommodation. I gritted my teeth, loaded their two large cases into the boot of our small two-door hatchback, squeezed them into the rear seats and headed off to their hostel, naturally located in the opposite direction to our journey home.

Having dropped them off, we were finally headed in the right direction, deciding to take the Monash Freeway for a nice quick drive home. Alas, this was not to be, as an accident had all but stopped traffic and were were forced into backroads for a meandering and time-consuming tour of the suburbs before finally arriving, well after midnight, at our welcoming home in Murrumbeena.

It was not over. Marilyn opened her door, and let out a little scream as a wet and bedraggled dog tried to jump in the car. It was friendly enough, but had clearly been spooked by the thunderous storm, still raging. With initial reluctance, I helped Marilyn to get said mutt inside and dried off with a towel. She prepared it a meal and a comfortable bed in the garage, and we finally headed off to bed some time after 1 am.

All was calm in the morning, and we awoke to find ourselves with a friendly mid-sized mongrel. Marilyn thought it looked vaguely familiar, having encountered and patted most of the pets in the neighbourhood. I laid the back seats down in the hatchback, making room for the pooch, and we took it on a tour of the local streets, stopping at the houses of likely candidates to see if our new friend seemed to recognise its home (it was too early on a Sunday morning to knock on doors). Nothing doing, it was perfectly content with its jolly jaunt in the car.

Back home, Marilyn informed our dog-owning neighbour Diane, who thought it belonged to a nearby plumber (one of the houses we’d stopped outside). Diane rang them, and found they were frantically searching for their lost pooch. The husband came and collected it, and presented us with a lovely bunch of flowers. Our memorable evening with Andrei was finally ended.