After a few hours’ kip, a cup of tea and a smoke, Liam suggested that we visit his fish pond.
“Fish pond,” I asked. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s where I often go after work or first thing in the morning with a cuppa. It’s like a little coral grotto with all sorts of coloured fish in it. I sit there for ages just watching them.”
The water was its usual 28 or so degrees … it doesn’t or can’t get a lot better.
The three of us headed for and early lunch at The Summit, a restaurant/garden sanctuary not too far away. It’s a very steep driveway, sometimes demanding four-wheel-drive, but worth it when you get to the top … just for the views and the gardens.
It is 20 hectares (probably swapped for a new Hi Lux ute) of beautifully landscaped gardens. The boys enjoyed pizzas while I tucked into a prawn wrap … both set us up for a drink at what was Liam’s work farewell party.
It was great to see all the blokes he’d worked with over the past five years or so … a lot of then made speeches, while a couple gave him very special wood carvings that they’d done. There were other gifts, plenty of beers, the strongest kava I’ve tasted and lots of love in the air.
Pretty soon it was wrapped up and we three were headed for some Chinese food where after a good meal, I offered a card to pay. “Sorry, the phone lines are down. Can you pay cash?” said the woman behind the counter. I had no cash so Liam took care of it before we headed home for a good sleep to prepare for the farewell party.
The whole day was just gearing for a party that didn’t take long to get into full swing. The band was belting out lots of loud music, drinks of all sorts were being downed at a rate of knots.
I spent a goodly amount of time in the pool, also getting wet on the inside courtesy of small buckets of vodka. The rest of the party was getting off its face courtesy of some mushrooms from Russian bikie chick Paulette.
I reckon the vodka almost did me in, so I thought perhaps an hour or so napping would give me a new lease of life. I headed off to my bedroom.
Sleep came pretty easily. About 45 minutes into the nap, I heard the bedroom door open and two blokes discussing gang rape. “This is not good,” I said to myself and I stood up from the bed. The two blokes, one a Ni Van, the other (I think) an expat Aussie, kept walking towards me, so I suggested that perhaps they should stop, turn around and leave.
The Ni Van bloke had raised his fists, so I raised mine and said to him: “Mate, don’t be stupid cos I’ll kill you.” Then I offered a fist in the face of the white guy and I said: “Same for you, now fuck off.”
It took a bit of sweet talking on my part to convince them to go. I followed them outside, again putting a fist in the white bloke’s face and saying: “If my fist is gonna be this close to your face again, it’ll be travelling fast enough to sit you on your fat arse.”
I had my new lease of life and reacquainted myself with the pool and the vodka bottle.
Then the karma gods kicked in. The local visitor to my room took a tumble and ripped open his forehead. There was blood everywhere. Then he fell again and busted his arm. Luckily there was a paramedic at the party. OK, almost luckily. Although she had arrived there in the ambulance, she was off her trolley on mushrooms and had misplaced the keys.
All’s well that ends well. The keys were found, the paramedic did an excellent patch-up job and all was well with the victim being whisked off to hospital. His wife drove into a tree on her way out of the party.
Yeah, it was a big night in many ways.
THE BIG CLEAN-UP
Sampson, the gardener, and I were the early starters and got the 7203 bottles and cans (it could have been more) into boxes and basically cleaned up. I managed the dishes and the sundry shit inside the house.
Liam finally surfaced with a girl called Zoe, who had camped somewhere in the house for the night. Cups of tea and coffee all round and then hew set of to take her home.
He was gone for ages and I figured he was getting a “thanks for driving me home” lay.
Not so; the car had overheated on the way home and he had to get his mate, Matty, to come and pick him up. Joel, Liam and I spent the rest of the day lazing, recovering, having a quiet beer and watching DVDs.
The next morning involved a return to the grotto to have a last hurrah with the coloured fish. It was an experience made the more worthwhile by the appearance of three sea snakes in various spots. Beautiful creatures all. It was a very special moment to be up closed and personal with them.
I was packed and ready to go by lunchtime … so too was the car ready … it was back in town and so were we as we caught up with Matty for a farewell lunch before I had to flee to catch a flight to Oz.
Duty-free shopping involved getting for booze (some Jack and some Ricard that was $19 a litre), then some Chanel Egoiste for me (my favourite aftershave … you can’t get it in Oz) and some Estee Lauder Beautiful for the love of my life.
The Air Vanuatu flight was, as usual, good service although, in a shock twist, I couldn’t vouch for the quality of the wine. It was my first alcohol-free flight (OK, alcohol-free anything) .
The usual shit fight ensued at Brisbane after clearing Customs … getting from the international to the domestic terminal. Thank god the flight was delayed … the pilot eventually blamed the weather and air traffic control in Melbourne.
So there I was outside having a quiet smoke, killing some time (and no doubt myself) waiting for lift-off.
The relative quiet was shattered by a fishwife … I make no apology for saying that … who, with her family, had just got off a bus. With a baby-laden pusher she bolted towards the terminal. The other child, aged about four, was having none of mum getting away and ran after her.
The fishwife stopped, turned and screamed (and I mean screamed) at the little girl: “You bloody well get back there and help your father with the bloody luggage.”
The little girl looked devastated. I really felt for her as I headed for the terminal.
Everything about the Qantas flight (it was my first in a lot of years) was fabulous … the staff, the smile factor, the service, the whole kit and caboodle.
It was a great way to end a four-day extravaganza.