Barnesy’s answer for when there’s six in his bed
THERE's always been a "Megabed" in the Barnes' family homes.
The tradition started when Jimmy and Jane's children Mahalia, Eliza Jane, Jackie and Elly May were little, and like most families, they invaded their parents' bed.
To accommodate their clan of four kids under the age of seven, the rock'n'roll parents initially improvised by tying two beds together.
"We used to have a three-metres (11 foot) bed. We tied two beds together and called it Megabed," Jane says in this week's episode of the Story Time with Jimmy Barnes podcast.
The current "Megabed" is now a daybed on the outside deck of their Southern Highlands home where the grandchildren can nap or build pillow forts.
But not all memories of the Barnes family sharing a bed are happy ones, as revealed in his third book Killing Time, which is released on Wednesday.
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As Jimmy, Jane and daughter Mahalia recall in the podcast this week, long before the Barnes clan got the five-star treatment on their travels, there were occasions when these road warriors weren't welcome at family-friendly establishments.
Jane jokes about never wanting to see the "chenille bedspreads and dark brown shag-pile carpet" of motels ever again, as Jimmy recalls how they were banned by a three-star joint during a tour in the late 80s.
"There was one trip I remember when we were on tour and we were in Goulburn … and it's a motel, it wasn't that great, it wasn't that bad," Jimmy says in the episode sneak peak.
"We got there with the kids, and they were looking down their noses at us: 'Oh, rock'n'roll family, here we go, we don't want rock'n'roll in our establishment'. They were protective of it."
Three children, Mahalia, Eliza-Jane and Jackie - piled into their parents' bed during the night, as little kids do. Five-year-old EJ suffered regular nosebleeds.
When the parents noticed the stained sheets and pillows in the morning, they brought it to the attention of the cleaning staff, apologised profusely and hit the road to the next stop, Griffith.
"And by the time we got there, the guy from the motel in Goulburn had rung and told them I'd had a wild party and must have been sacrificing virgins or something. And they wouldn't let us stay! It was just ridiculous, you know," he says.
Jimmy and Jane Barnes were in their beloved Thailand, in the middle of a six-week holiday through Asia and Europe years in the planning, when they had to race home to beat the closure of the Australian borders.
Before they shifted course in March, the devoted pair had revelled in the luxury of the fabled Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Eastern and Oriental Express, with Barnes also racing the looming deadline for his third book Killing Time.
He added those experiences to the new collection of compelling short stories - tall rock'n'roll tales, surprising encounters with the famous and anonymous and heartwarming and harrowing travelogues.
The family still travel together. Barnes jokes his children and grandchildren agree to come on holiday with him because he pays. They sing for their supper on an annual trip to the Maldives, entertaining other resort guests in between dives with sharks.
Mahalia says the only place they all travel to which never feels like work is Thailand, where the family spends weeks each year in Hua Hin, and where Jimmy and Jane were enjoying a break before heading to Europe when the pandemic forced them home.
"Really the only place I think we all travel voluntarily that has nothing to do with work is when we go to Thailand," Mahalia says.
"I can tell you, mum and dad always think of these grand big holidays and any time we get away, they just want to get home. After about a week or two, they'll be 'oh, maybe we should go home'."
The heartstrings tug of home used to be their dogs Snoop and Oliver. Now, after six months holed up in the NSW Southern Highlands - with occasional day trips to Sydney and their first post COVID-19 gigs last week in Darwin and Newcastle - it's going to be tough to get Barnes moving again.
"So this is the most I've ever spent in one place in my life and it just feels great," he says.
"I know, there's a lot of people struggling with the pandemic and we really feel for everybody.
"But I am enjoying just being at home and luckily, we've got some of the grandkids here and some of the family - we miss EJ who is in New Zealand and Jackie's been locked in Queensland and we can't see his kids but at least we're here. And I've got my girl."
Get your copy of Killing Time by Jimmy Barnes, published by HarperCollins Australia today via Booktopia
Join Jimmy and family for Story Time with Jimmy Barnes wherever you get our podcasts - plus exclusive behind-the-scenes content at storytimewithjimmybarnes.com.au
Originally published as Barnesy's answer for when there's six in his bed