Updated: Jun 21, 2019
When I was four years old or thereabouts, I went to the 1984 Royal Melbourne Show. I didn't get showbags or any of that jazz, but I had the time of my life. The true star of Knight Rider was on show all the way from the United States: not David Hasselhoff, but the KITT car. I was allowed scamper around it with other kids and eventually to event sit in it. I was mesmerised by the dials, the voice of the car, the lights, and the small snippets of the program on the small nearby television. I had never watched Knight Rider, but now I knew I had to see it. I just didn't know how to watch it, being too shy to ask. It continued to occupy my thoughts as my mother led me away. As we sped away, I was still caught up in the spectacle of the AI car, but a crowd of people just ahead caught my attention. I snapped into fresh stimulation mode. I left my mum talking to a guide, poked through, and found myself in front of a man in a suit. The man made a beeline toward me. He stood like a pillar in front of me, his hair gleaming grey in the sun, and his skin tanned and wrinkly. He grinned and leaned down to the ground in a big navy suit that seemed to drape from his body. He was blocking my sun, and he stuck his hand out towards me. I stuck mine out, dazed by the sun behind him, and he shook my hand with a real force that reverberated through my arm. I could see people in the crowd grinning behind him. He grinned, patting me on head with his other hand as he left go, and then stood up. A few men in suits behind him started to move in, and then they all passed and the grinning man disappeared back into the crowd. When I got back to my mum, who had been observing the scene, her face was beaming. I knew at that point that something special had just happened, something that impressed adults almost as much as the KITT car impressed me. "Mum, who was that man?", I asked. "That", she said, "was Prime Minister Bob Hawke."
And she laughed, embracing me. "Oh," I said, shrugging in her arms, distinctly unimpressed. All the way back to the train station, my mother was chuckling, even as KITT became a distant memory. All I was thinking on the ride home was that I should have known there was something special about this man in a suit who shook my hand.
Vale Bob Hawke.