I had lunch with Rod Stewart, his wife Penny and their son Alastair at the Gardens Restaurant at Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia last Sunday. Well, we weren't at the same table. He was at the next table.
He had finished a concert the night before and was taking advantage of the clear skies, comfortable weather, and beautiful gardens for a stroll and a meal in this pleasant open-air restaurant.
The Cunard ships Queen Elizabeth 2 as well as the Queen Victoria berthed nearby, adding about 6000 people to the parks and quays near the bridge and the opera house.
This evening they will meet in the harbor, QE2’s final visit to the harbor and Queen Victoria’s first. QE2 turned 40 in 2008. Queen Victoria was launched in December 2007, only a few months old.
Legendary rocker Stewart just turned 63 in January. Alastair just turned 2 years in December. Penny will be 37 in mid-March.
No one rushed up to Stewart asking for an autograph, although some discretely took photos. Other than wearing sunglasses when outside the restaurant, Stewart was doing nothing to conceal his classic hairdo and familiar profile from his fans.
Even though Stewart has one of the highest status and recognition levels of any of the rock and roll stars, here he had a leisurely and pleasant meal with his family in public. He signed for the credit card bill after reviewing it carefully, picked up the food containers he and his wife had brought for his son’s lunch, and followed Penny, who carried Alastair in arms, from the restaurant. It was a nice way for an obviously happy family to spend Sunday afternoon.
While Stewart was not asking for the public’s attention at all, Cunard was literally tooting the deep-throated whistles of the two Queens, saying “Look at us. Book a cruise with us.” Local papers carried articles on the amenities aboard the Queen Victoria and the history of the QE2, including service as a troop transport during Britain’s personal war in the Falklands. I suppose Stewart would have appreciated someone acknowledging his presence and asking for an autograph. Perhaps some did as the family walked the paths in this garden with trees curiously full of flying foxes. But the Queens had the spotlight and got their attention all day and into the evening from many thousands making digital images.