Drinks were taken early on Day Four of the deciding Test Match. At lunchtime in fact.
Kevin from the Beige Brigade, sensing my growing sulkiness at England’s impending defeat, thought it wold be a good idea to take me away from the nightmare that was unfolding before my eyes.
The Kingslander on New North Road, a ‘Two Metre Peter’ lofted smash away from Eden Park. Other Englishmen were in there, similarly counting their chickens and drowning their sorrows. More New Zealand runs. It didn’t get any better. Moodiness abounded. Late in the afternoon Kevin pipes up, ‘jeez, look, it’s Wayne Anderson.’ My response was a blank look of incredulity. ‘You know, Wayne Anderson? The Singer Of Songs. Aw, he was in New Zealand Pop Idol six years ago.’

“Wayne, Wayne, how’s it going Wayne? Can you give us a song?”

A fat, bald man with long greying hair in a jade shirt opened just above the navel revealing a plastic cross and strands of grey hair wearing black Sta-Prest trousers and battered old trainers looked over his bulky black sunglasses and began to murder It’s Not Unusual.
“That’s enough mate, thank you” shouted Kevin. Wayne looked crestfallen. Even more crestfallen than he appeared a minute or two earlier. “Err, I normally get paid for these things” he said, sadly.
I gave him twenty cents. He seemed genuinely delighted before sloping away to catch the bus home.

On the television, England continued to labour. Then worse. Kevin could see me entering the depths of despair. Putting his own feelings aside, with his team closing in on a series victory, he acted magnanimously. “Is Wayne still there? Get him back. Tell him we’ll buy him a drink, I don’t like seeing you this unhappy.”
I bounded up to the bus stop. “Wayne, sir, come with me, can we have a few moments of your time? We’ll get you a drink.” Our man perked up and escorted me back towards the Kingslander. The obliging bar staff, aware of this unscheduled brush with fame, greeted him like a conquering hero. Wayne held court for a while before heading over to our table.

An audience with reality TV personality Wayne Anderson, for the price of a whisky and soda that I hadn’t paid for. I normally hate anything to do with reality television but England were getting properly gubbed and I just couldn’t face it anymore. I swallowed my pride and momentarily forgot my snobbishness. With the cricket an absolute mess I decided to indulge a man I normally wouldn’t have given the time of day for. Like Michael Parkinson quizzing Tony Bennett, I was deferential in the extreme. At strategic intervals he burst into song. Avenues and Alleyways and Love Me Tender were similarly butchered through warble and wail before he returned to my questioning.
“I only hang out with artistic types and people who get me”, Wayne went on. “You get me”. He said, those sullen eyes peering out from behind his shades. “You understand.”

I think I understand. Wayne, bless him, is an unloved by-product of the horrible cult of celebrity. A sad, deluded soul who clings on to a fading dream. As I continued to indulge him for the amusement of my fellow drinkers I helped further destroy him through spoon feeding him morsels of hope for half an hour. Knowing what I was doing was wrong, I began to wind it down. He ended our chat by telling me his top five singers, Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdink, John Rolls, Tony Christie and, I forget the other one. It was probably him.

All that was left was for me to accompany him in a duet of Roy Orbison’s Crying. I couldn’t work out which of us was KD Lang.

Then Kevin and the rest of the group’s heckling got louder before he resignedly ceased singing and plodded off on his sorry way. I couldn’t decide for whom my heart bled more, England’s hapless cricketers or this flacid, washed up tragic figure before me.

As one of my musical heroes memorably sang: Fame, fame, fatal fame. It can play hideous tricks on the brain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7jZsGyk7gs

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Wayne Anderson. The Singer of Songs. In happier times.

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