Goulash, Transylvania, Barry Humphries

As I read the final pages of Barry Humphries’ Handling Edna, I recalled a brief meeting with him in, I think, 1971.

Back then, pub rock in Melbourne centred on Saturday afternoon live sessions at the Station Hotel* in Greville Street, Prahran. All the young dudes and dudettes dressed in a variety of op-shop rock-chic, Miller western shirts (lurex thread, pearl topped press studs), Lee jeans (brass button flies thank you) and tan, Cuban-heeled RM Williams boots, as they thronged to hear the bands and to see and be seen.

The person to see one afternoon was an older, solitary figure observing the goings on. It was Barry Humphries, already a legend in his home town of Melbourne. If my memory serves me correctly he was wearing a fetching blue yachting cap.

After the music finished my mate Mick** and I – as was our wont – sauntered up to the Transylvania Restaurant a few doors along from the Station. There we tucked into big bowls of gulyas (goulash to you), crusty bread and a few glasses of cheap house wine. Also sauntering in on this particular Saturday evening was Mr Humphries.

I just had to say hello and approached his table. Me (in awe): “Uh, hello.” Himself, politely: “Good evening.” Me: “We saw you at the pub. Love your work.” Him: “Thank you.”

A conversation that clearly wasn’t going anywhere.

Me: “Enjoying the goulash?” (for that was what he had.) Him: “Not particularly. I come here because I like the name Transylvania.” Me: “Uh, nice talking to you.” Him: “Good evening.”

Mick and I wandered back to the Station for a few more ales.

*Saturday, 20 November, Station Hotel Reunion with Spectrum, The Pardoners, (Stockley, See, Mason), the Mick Elliott Band and more. Station Hotel 96 Greville St Prahran 9810 0072. 2.00 – 5.00 arvo, contact Lena Blomfield on Facebook. **Linked photo: Mick Elliott is second from the left – yep, that’s Shane Bourne at right.

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