So here we go, another elaborate postcard from me to you. I'm still in Australia watching patient surfers bobbing along on the waves, I'm still downing mojitos and I'm still worried about the deadly-spider situation... wish you were here etc.
When the clock struck 12 to welcome New Year's Day, all the boats in Sydney Harbour lit up to reveal the outline of a variety of different animals and fish (my favourite was a somehow smug-looking whale). But my childlike sense of happiness at seeing this electric spectacle was cut short when I discovered that nobody my age knows the words to "Auld Lang Syne" – not even the first line. So depressing. I made a promise that the next day I would print them out so that in a year's time we'd all be up to speed; this is something I have yet to do, because I quickly realised I'm the only one who cares.
Having read half of Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate, my Penguin Classic mysteriously vanished. I later decided it must have been among the collection of valuables that were swept off the edge of our balcony in the gusty almost-storm. Perhaps, finally, this is my cue to purchase the book people have been recommending to me for a disturbingly long time, possibly even before Judy Blume's Blubber was brought to my attention.
All too often girls say to me: "You should read I'm with the Band." It's a memoir written by a groupie (Pamela Des Barres) in the Sixties and Seventies in which she documents how she slept with at least one member of every cool band of that era. Apparently Des Barres is pretty awesome because, as my friend so eloquently put it, "she wasn't even that hot but she boned Jim Morrison and about 100 others". Well done her.
Thus far, I have refused to pick it up, probably because I refuse to admit I would be interested in groupies, because I refuse to admit that I probably am one. I logged on to Facebook so that I could ask various girlfriends who have had various dalliances with band members, their opinions on groupies and groupiedom. The most interesting thing I discovered was that not one of them considered themselves to be a groupie.
I tried again, this time providing them with the internet dictionary definition of the noun "groupie": "A young person who is an ardent admirer of rock musicians and may follow them on tour." In light of this new information, most of them changed their minds.
The fact that so many of the girls were reluctant to admit they are groupies implies that it's no longer perceived to be the glamorous job option it once was. Following a band around on tour nowadays seems like a fairly unfulfilling thing for a woman to do. And given the terminology that bands fling about in reference to groupies, such as "pussy passes" (the tickets tour managers hand out to hot young things loitering near a venue's exits), it's no wonder some girls want to distance themselves from such degrading behaviour.
I suppose the groupies of yesteryear have been replaced by footballers' WAGs: women who are admired for looking glamorous and pretty side of pitch, as opposed to side of stage. But I can assure you there still exist plenty of modern versions of Des Barres' blueprint. The other night, at the aftershow party of a Mystery Jets gig in Sydney, I observed the behaviour of two girls with triple-A passes stuck to their hotpants. Although they were talking to each other, neither was listening to what the other one was saying. Their attention was out in the room, eyes flickering from side to side, scanning at speed, mapping out which member of the band was where and calculating just how many other girls they'd have to cast aside before they reached their chosen target. It's important to note that none of the boys seemed aware of the imminent attack. I sighed and looked away. Ugggh, groupies.
And yet here I am weighing up whether or not to stay in Australia so that I can follow around a band I "ardently admire" as they tour Big Day Out. Those girls I looked upon with pity and disdain are no different from me or any of my friends or counterparts. They're just younger and haven't yet worked out how not to look like a groupie. Of all the girls I contacted and told I was writing this column, one replied with a rather astute comment. "If there weren't so many groupies willing to sleep with boys just cos they are in a band," she said, "then there wouldn't be so many shitty bands filled with boys who just want to sleep with groupies." Profound. This girl, too, said she definitely wasn't one.