A Conversation with our Rock Stars

I decided to take some time today to have a chat with the people that frequent our “Common-Interest” group. Rather than a boring conversation about tea and biscuits, we decided on an ‘interview’ that would take the premise of a lowly reporter interviewing a rock band, and it was greeted with the enthusiasm that I expected from this group where smiles always abound. Sadly, there were a couple that weren’t on stage today, but we still enjoyed our time chatting about, well, just about, everything.

We started off assigning our rock star names. There was Steph The Yoga Queen, Colleen Strider and Celeste the Giggler all present and ready to spill the beans on what really goes on in the “Common-Interest” groups. Also present were Ashley Painter and Andrew the Hunk, and the rock star roadies who looked as intimidating as you would expect the bouncers to look.

I wanted to find out all the juicy gossip, but started off asking how long these stars of the Interactionz “Common-Interest” group had been part of the rock group. I must admit, I was taken aback to find out they had all been with the band for at least 15 years—along with the absent members Mark Radiohead and Elsie the Silent Assassin. This was a group that knew each other well and I was champing at the bit to find out what made this group tick. I next asked what made them proudest about being part of the group.

Steph was straight in with her recent fitness campaign. “When I make my mind up about something, then I go for it,” she said. With the help of the roadies, she set herself up a rigorous exercise regime that included yoga, basketball, long walks and floor exercise. She has a beautifully laid-out book, and as she achieves each discipline, she ticks it off and was already looking as fit and healthy as I had ever seen her. Eager to get some gossip, I asked if she gets the roadies to join in with her. Sure enough, she had a few funny stories to tell.

“I remember once when I was doing Yoga that I got Elisapeta to join me. The trouble was, she didn’t have the right gear on and soon got herself so tangled that she couldn’t get up. We all nearly wet ourselves as she struggled to get to her feet like a newborn deer.”

Next up, I asked the ladies what they enjoyed most about being in the band. Steph was very quick to list a mouthwatering array of activities including bowling, trips in vintage cars and trikes.

But it was Colleen that came to life with the mention of bowling. “I got a spare last week,” she threw in, and then laughed as she remembered a time that she went to bowl and instead dropped the ball straight on her foot. Sitting quietly in the corner, however, was the real star of the bowling, because it is Celeste that wins every week. She may be small in stature, but she is a giant at the bowling alley!

I was getting into the heart of this band now, so decided to find out a bit about them away from the group. Colleen loves walking—thus her rock star name of Colleen Strider—and is happiest when she can wander in the sun enjoying the sights and sounds around her. I note a regal air about her and ask if she has ever had tea with the Queen. She laughs and tells me how nice it would be to have high tea in a palace.

As always, Steph is quick to tell me about her life and tells me she was a little terror as a young girl. She remembered getting into trouble once for spilling a cup of coffee all over a new carpet.

“I used to love going to watch bands when I was younger. I have seen The Venga Boys, Roxette and The Backstreet Boys live, and I really like listening to music,” she said. I can imagine Steph bopping away.

Apparently one of the absent members of the band loves a good dance as well. Mark Radiohead is a bit of a crooner apparently, and loves a dance when no one is looking.

Knowing that sometimes the roadies spend so much time with the stars of the band that they can have some juicy tidbits as well, I changed my tack and asked them to spill the beans on the band members.

Ashley Painter is first to weigh in. “Well that Colleen is always first to tell me when the limo needs cleaning.” I looked out the window at the dirty Suzuki Swift and felt it may be the smallest limo I had ever seen, but decided not to mention this as she gave me a stare that stopped me in my tracks.

“What about that time you nearly tipped me out of my chair!” Steph interrupts.

“Shhhh,” says Ashely Painter, but the cat is out of the bag, and I press her for more details. She tells me of a time when they were out walking and the pathway had a big chunk out of it that she didn’t notice. “She nearly went, but I was in total control.” Flexing her biceps she says, “I would have caught her before she hit the ground, no problem.” The doubt on Steph’s face says it all, but I don’t press her because I don’t want to get on the wrong side of those biceps.

Feeling I had got the river flowing, I pressed Ashley for more. She told me that Celeste had once walked in the wrong door at our Rototuna office, but was adamant it was the right one. Apparently it took a lot of convincing to get her to realise her mistake.

Another time whilst out shopping, Elsie had wandered into a gap in the shop, and when they came to leave, they couldn’t find her anywhere. “You can imagine the panic,” says Ashley Painter, “but I remained calm and retraced our steps till we found her completely oblivious to the panic she had caused.”

Feeling I was really getting the sort of gossip I wanted now, I changed to Andrew The Hunk who was sitting quietly, looking intimidating. I had a feeling that he would do anything to protect the band, and if I took the wrong step, I would be mincemeat. So with some trepidation, I pushed The Hunk for some gossip, and to my surprise he quickly started talking.

“It’s a bit naughty, but it always makes me and Mark Radiohead laugh because he has a favourite TV show which is called Outback Truckers. I never know whether he says it on purpose, or just has problems pronouncing it, but he always gets the second word wrong!”

“Another time I remember was when I visited Elise the Silent Assassin in hospital and took her one of those big blocks of chocolate. I had only turned around for a second, but when I looked back, all that I could see was her head tilted back and about an inch of the bar protruding from her open mouth! She does love her chocolate and clearly hates hospital food.”

I could have stayed here all day talking to these lovely people, but my time was coming to an end, so I decided to finish by asking Steph for one last piece of gossip. She thought for a while, and then said, “I am always telling him off, but that Andrew the Hunk is obsessed with his bike and sometimes rides it around the room!”

We all ended up laughing and I was quick to thank them all for the fun and answers and for getting into the spirit of this little interview.

All joking aside, this is a special group—a family who are so easy in each other’s company that it filled my heart to share the time with them. The “Common-Interest” group is a part of all their lives and it was clear they enjoyed every moment of spending time together.

Reported by Stu Doren