Michael never missed my birthday - of course his office would remind him because when he was on tour he often didn't know what month it was - sometimes his Sydney office would contact me to ask for an update list of 'family birthday dates'. On his birthday, he would have flowers delivered to our mother....as I will today.
One of the qualities that made Michael indearing is how, previous to the onset of depression; he would try so hard to make everybody as excited about being alive as he was and making them feel comfortable.
He was aware that even the smallest gesture from him toward a concert attendee, could bring a smile that would last a lifetime if you chose to relive the moment. This was true for his private life also. He had the innate ability to size a person up and speak with that person in a way that would make him/her comfortable. He did not speak down to anybody and more often than not set the joke upon himself. He felt most at ease with the down to earth Aussies. He always said that you can't put anything over them and they will call you on the carpet if you try to be more than you are.
Sometime in the late eighties I was in Sydney and Michael called to ask if I wanted to take a ride over the bridge to Rosebay. It wasn't until I got downstairs that I realized he was riding his Harley and I suggested that we take my car. Nothing doing, he never had enough chances to ride his beloved Harleys and he encouraged me to jump on the back. I threw my leg over and sat on the passenger seat and held on tight. It wasn't necessary, as a Harley is so solid that you can feel your body sit upright after a few seconds and just go with the flow.
As we crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge people were waving at us out of their car windows. We got to the toll and the man was a fan and waved us on and thanked Michael for some great shows. We continued on to Kings Cross where Michael wanted to check out some Harleys sitting outside of a coffee shop. When we pulled up, some leather clad men came out and surrounded us .........they were pretty tough looking and I was worried for a second. But Michael traded 'motorcycle' information with them and they ended up buying us lunch. I made sure that I stayed close to Michael's side, but there was nothing to worry about. They all regarded Michael as a 'mate', someone they knew if only through his music.
We wanted to take a walk around and the men told us not to worry, they would look after Michael's bike and when we returned, sure enough three of them were watching over the Harley and one had his rag out polishing it. Michael beamed and shook the man's hand. The man displayed a toothless grin.
San Francisco, CA.
January 20, 2006