Episode 2.

Forgive the delay, I have lots to catch up on. I haven’t taken many notes so what this turns out to be will certainly be no more than a thin tissue of half recalled memories, gradually backed up with endless photographs, almost all of which you shall never see and all of which you’ll be glad you never got to see.

So it turns out I like to pass out on planes these days. I’m not sure quite why but by cross referencing all the possibilities it seems it could be a combination of stress (see last post), fatigue, a bit of alcohol and some strange thing which happens when I wake up from a poor spell of semi-sleep. On a plane, of course. Maybe my blood pressure drops right down and because planes are designed to allow you the minimum possible movement my circulation plummets to virtually nothing. Better that than no circulation at all. ‘The wife’ was rather anxious as she attempted to rouse me from my non-responsive state, though I suspect that she probably began to regret it soon after. Certainly no-one else on the plane could have given a tiny shit.

It turns out that for a country with such a tough guy image Australia is surprisingly precious about itself. The things you’re not allowed to bring in form a quite considerable list. First up is cigarettes. For health reasons and to destroy any level of personal joy cigarettes are insanely expensive here and any that you bring in to the country are heavily taxed. Booze is less of a problem but after that it gets crazy. You have to declare almost any food stuff that you bring in and the warning documents even scared me enough to feel obliged to abandon our untouched Co-op chicken and bacon sandwiches on the plane. How very sad.

Of course we all know that Australia is just terrified of allowing anything to be unleashed into it’s fragile ecosystem that might destroy everything in sight. Over the years it’s been devastated by cane toads and rabbits and the red fox (not The Red Fox, an individual with a fearsome reputation) along with feral species of cat, goat , pig and donkey. Ah yes, the feral donkey, beware! These along with various nasty invasive plant species and stuff like fruit flies mean that you even have to declare when you bring in wooden spoons or straw hats.

I suppose it’s for the best: it’s a little known fact that long before even the Aborigines set up camp Australia was home to the most complex and advanced civilisation the world has ever known until they were tragically wiped out by an invasion of maple wood salad spoons wearing sombreros. And to think they were only days away from inventing time travel and finding a cure for cancer.

So we’re a bit more settled now having spent 3 days walking around a lot and soaking up the warmth and the atmosphere. People in Adelaide are nice, relaxed, friendly. Adelaide is nice, relaxed, friendly. As is to be assumed ‘the wife’ is already making exhaustive plans to take in every waking minute of our time here. Yesterday we spent some time at a local swimming pool. Being Australia it was a full size one and just swimming a length was exhausting. Once we were done we sat by the side in the mid afternoon sun and dried out and all was well. Until a load of kids came along with their mums and after about 10 minutes I realised we may have looked like potential sex offenders and left.

It seems strange being out here for Christmas. It’s 30 degrees most days and yet we’re walking past huge Santa’s and Christmas trees and decorations and listening to Bing Crosby and George Michael blaring out everywhere we go. But this is not a complaint. I’m not sat on my arse watching endless Christmas shit on TV. I’m not getting angry trying to find a parking space at Sainsbury’s. I’m not worrying about having to see certain in-laws and pretending to be nice, or to like them for 48 hours. Boxing Day won’t be depressing because Christmas Day won’t really happen in any proper sense.

I’ll fill in the rest if I ever get round to it but (and you’ll have to appreciate a non-linear narrative her) we’ve just landed back in Adelaide after 8 nights in Melbourne, Sydney and assorted surrounds. I mention this because the domestic flights with Qantas have been lovely and simple in a classy way that Britain just doesn’t do. Until today. Not only was the flight back delayed it was also mildly traumatic, particularly so if you’re already not so keen on flying.

The take off and ascent was about as smooth as a 7 year old with rickets trying to ride a penny farthing for the first time. The pilot then managed to hit every slab of turbulence possible within a 300 mile radius and finally landed with all the grace of some dick trying to do a smash and grab at a Londis shop. Once you’ve lost faith in a pilot there is no going back. You certainly wouldn’t trust them when it comes for a moment of heroics; you just want them to fly and land and let you off the plane without hoping ‘that you enjoyed the flight’. All I could manage as we left the plane was the thinnest of insincere smiles and the realisation that even Australia isn’t quite as brilliant as I’ve come to think it is.

And there’ll be more of that to come. If I can be bothered. Or indeed if you can either.

G B Hewitt. 30. 12. 2017.

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