|This white shirt was purchased about four minutes before the photo was taken.|
The Australian Maths Trust run the competition and organise the presentation in a different city each time. Last year Marcus went with Elf to Brisbane to receive his first medal; and this year it was my turn.
We flew in on Thursday afternoon, taxied into the city to our shabby but central hotel, then went off for a ferry ride to South Perth just to have afternoon tea. We made this trip two years ago to see Perth Zoo, but this time we were just doing it to stretch our legs after a long plane ride. We gained three hours, which to me says you are entitled to squeeze in an extra meal. The ferry is part of the public transport system; it cost Marcus a full 80c each way.
We had a little stroll around and watched the pennant lawn bowls players for a while. One came over and said "come back on Tuesday night, we have a scroungers night when anyone can play" which was nice of him.
We'd been invited to Wendy and Jon's new house at Swanbourne for dinner, so when we got off the ferry we walked up Barrack St to where the train station was supposed to be. Barrack St is mostly pretty decrepit, and the train station is quite hard to spot until you are right on top of it. It was only about fifteen minutes to Swanbourne.
Our timing was comically spot on, as Wendy drove past us and bipped the horn as we were about three doors from their house, while Jon had just pulled in from the opposite direction. The kids had been to basketball, where Bella's team lost 25-0 but no-one was too fussed.
Bella and Sam were delighted to see Marcus but disappointed to not see Michael as well, I think he made quite an impression on them when we were here in January 2014.
Jon barbecued magnificently, as is required for all Perth men. He is a super fit triathlete, mid 40s but strong as an ox. He recently led a 1000km charity bike ride that began in Perth and went north. Yes, a thousand clicks, often into a hot headwind.
It turned into quite a late night for us as when we wrapped up and Wendy took us back to town it was around 9, but our bodies were telling us it was midnight.
On Friday we both woke up at 3am. For some reason I read the clock radio as seven, so I was quite cheerful about have slept through the night. Then Marcus pointed out that we had a long way to go. We tried to get back to sleep but finally gave up at about 6 and turned on the TV. The preamble to day 2 of the first cricket test came on; it's a long time since I have watched that mix of boofheads, ads disguised as content, actual ads and a small amount of replays. For some reason Tubby Taylor interviewed Dave Warner out on the field, in front of a giant touch screen TV wheeled out there for the purpose. If you are going to be up that early Perth is the place to do it, as the rest of Australia is well into their sporting day.
We dressed up nice for the Governor. Then I realised I had a fat neck problem; I packed a business shirt I hadn't worn in a long time, and it just would not button up, and looked dreadful unbuttoned. With 35 minutes before we were due in the Ballroom, I told Marcus to sit tight while I walked along Hay St until I found a menswear emporium, where I bought the most expensive shirt I will probably ever own. The gentleman clearly thought my tie was a disgrace and insisted I buy another one, but I refused and furthermore insisted he tie my old tie for me as I am not skilled in this area.
I managed to get it all done in time, then we walked the 2 blocks to Guv House. The invite said 2.30, arrive no later than 2.25. We walked in at 2.15, and a man at the entrance who I assumed would beam in welcome actually looked at us like we were noted petty criminals. The ladies inside were more smiley but the table of name tags was almost bare - we were among the last to arrive. We were shown to our places and then we sat and twiddled thumbs for fifteen minutes.
Official photos aren't released yet but I'll add them when they are.
There were a few speeches, the Guv spoke well and conveyed her own love for and aptitude in Mathematics which served her well when running the Port of Fremantle.
Then they ran through the 23 boys and 2 girls alphabetically, with Adj. Prof. Mike Clapper from the AMT reading out the potted biographies supplied by the medalists, as they were presented with their medal and, in the many cases of kids with perfect scores, also a certificate. Some of the bios went on and on, and I was glad Marcus had kept his brief and snappy. He looked very relaxed up there, being a 2nd timer.
Apologies for the terrible quality of this dadVid.
Quite a few parents approached and said they remembered Marcus from Brisbane last year. The Taroona High uniform stands out among all the private school blazers; Marcus cuts a memorable figure in his bright red rugby top.
There was mingling and chit chat and tiny, tiny snacks, then we all walked a block to the Mercure hotel for a cocktail lunch of slightly larger snacks and deeper mingling, interspersed with speeches. An outstanding young mathematician named Seyoon sang You Lift Me Up, a kind of Wind Beneath My Wings doppelgänger. He then went straight into a speech without notes that went for about ten minutes, paying tribute to Mike Clapper, the absent Alex Gunning (3 time international Olympiad gold medallist) and various other figures in his life.
Seyoon also won a gold medal at Chiang Mai this year, and was in every way the star of the show. I went up and congratulated him and introduced Marcus. Seyoon will be at the School of Excellence that Marcus is attending in Melbourne over ten days in December, and he gave us an idea of what that will be like; in short it's just problem solving from dawn to dusk.
Marcus spoke well to everyone and I was proud to be there with him. After the last speech people began drifting away, so we had one last mini-kebab each and sauntered back to the Shabby Central to get our bags, and commence phase two of the trip.