Meeting and befriending Jay Gardner is one the easiest tasks so far set for me by Blank. Though strangers, we shake hands, take a seat and enter into some chit chat as if we hadn’t caught up since the weekend. He’s impossibly polite and gracious.
I know the photographer will be arriving soon so I steer towards the formal purpose for our meeting. The first question, “Jay, I’ve heard of Geordie Shore but I don’t get it. Could you please explain, as you would to a child, just what the hell this show is about?” Without skipping a beat, Jay breaks down for me, the fundamental elements responsible for Geordie Shore’s success. “Young people like to party. That’s why they enjoy watching, it’s so easy to relate.” I nod, smile and continue the interrogation. If I pause for a second too long, the reality of no longer being so young, rarely ever partying or watching TV may create a knot in my chest. I am out of the loop. This guy is a star, front row and centre of the loop. Where people plank, harmlem shake, twerk and declare YOLO… Stupid fucking loop.
I have prepared a question or two to help distract from my lack of coolness. “Jay, Anatidaephobia is the pervasive, irrational fear that, somewhere in the world, a duck is watching you. Do you have any irrational fears that you care to share?” Jay briefly contemplates but is unable to recall. Damn it! I share intimately about how reaching any item from the back of a severely over-loaded fridge makes me sweat. “Come on Jay, what ridiculous superstition has you rocking back and forth in the corner like a traumatised toddler?” Still no recollection. Genuinely cool and calm all the way through. Oh well, plan B.
Luckily, before arriving I had decided that I was most interested in finding out what a young man, famous for partying exploits, loves about the Gold Coast so much. What reputation is being spread by the pop icons of the 21st century? Is it the fake boobs and bright lights of Surfers? Is it fish and chips, waves and relaxation? According to this reality star, the Gold found in Gold Coast happens before you’ve left the building. The question specifically “What do you see as sacred about the GC lifestyle which you would encourage locals to celebrate more of?” The simple yet unexpected response, “Starting the day with a smile. Looking over the water, sun shining and being happy to begin the day.” Jay then informs me of the pessimism which envelopes the locals of Newcastle, UK. “It is so gloomy. You wait in bed until the very last second before rushing to work. Everyone is miserable.”
Before being cast for Geordie Shore, Jay was a surveyor. Typical nine to five lifestyle. Daily routine was underwhelming. The climate is a consistent grey. I know this is not an creating portfolio website exaggeration. I have been to his native grounds. I stomped about through various zones of the British Isles. I was ignorantly buzzing for it was an extended holiday. The contagious symptoms triggered by miserable weather somewhat washed over me. Jay insists that the culture does not provide any elements for vitality. I ask further. “When you are with friends at home, what direction does a conversation about Australia take?” “I want to live here. It’s just better. People are just happier. You go out before work. Go for a walk, run, swim, grab a coffee and then go to work. Nobody does this back home.”
Our banter continues for over half an hour. The entire process is an admirable display of Jay’s casual professionalism. Even with Blank’s gorgeous photographer circling about, Jay remains engaged. I want to take this guy home and introduce him to my dad. “Look dad, I have a cool new friend.” I do however, opt for a proposal less confronting than a bromantic dinner with my cynical old man. “If I were to touch down in Newcastle again soon, could I crash on your couch for the night?” “Of course, but there is not much to offer for a day out.”
Jay insists that I’m much better off staying put. Our conversation consistently circles back to the amazing lifestyle on offer here on the GC. The smiling faces and picture perfect landscape. Not a single mention of bright lights, fake boobs or cocktails. It’s comforting to know that just by living here I accidentally end up being cool. Maybe I won’t need to participate in twerking classes as a New Year’s resolution.
Before we part, Jay informs me of his extended Australian tour. Sight-seeing and promo obligations through Perth, Darwin and back to the GC for February. So what does someone in the loop want to read about in Blank when he returns? “The quiet local life. Away from Surfers. Hinterland road trips etc.”
“And is there any particular personality in the Geordie crew who you would most encourage to tag along next time, I ask.” “It would have to be the whole cast. It’s a mix too diverse and entertaining to split.”
We shake hands, pose for a few goofy photos and head our separate ways. I get the feeling that we’ll be hanging again soon. It makes me smile. Then just to be sure, I check with the photographer. “Was I just flirting with that dude?”