Thanks to the godliness of strangers and friends I was able to reach the first destination of Brisbane airport yesterday in time to jump a qantas flight to Perth, the worlds most isolated capital city and booming bastion of the mega-mining-rich.
Due to my family having a very close escape from a bikie shooting incident at Robina a couple of weekends ago I was probably jumpier than required at being back in my old nemesis of sou-east queensland. When the sirens suddenly blared in terrifying ascending and descending waves of sound I dropped immediately to the ground, then fled to the nearest exit, leaving a trail of scattered baggage, most of which I had just rescued from underneath the house where it had been infested with rats.
No-one seemed to be panickingâ€¦.which in this age of mass moronity is no indication that sane times will return any-time soon. I asked a yellow-clad workmen covered in building dust; "whats the frigging story with the siren?'
"Emergency evacuation testâ€¦â€¦they do it every Wed".
I recovered the scattered baggage. A borrowed board cover that had no zip had spewed wetsuits, fishing gear and other accoutrements which all smelled sweetly of fish guts and rat urine over the tasteful carpet and businessmen were starting to stare with a look of disgust at this feral, pheremonic incursion into their tight buttoned existence. A tackle box full of lures had spilt onto the carpet and the visual of poppers with brand new chemically sharpened japanese trebles was very appealing. I like the smell of fish guts and the look of holographic lures but I accept it is an acquired taste and certainly not for everyone, at least not in a public thoroughfare. I'll duct tape the cover for the journey home.
Somehow Qantas let my festering pile of luggage through the check-out without excess baggage fees. I was sweating profusely and wearing a crushed, mouldy panama hat- a strictly authentic one from Ecuador, where the finest Panamas are constructed. A true, big ticket item and easily the most valuable item on my personal balance sheet. On reflection it's probable the fey gentleman behind the check-in counter ran a quick cost benefit analysis and decided the safest course of action was to get me checked-in and the fuck out of his personal space. Thank-you kind sir for your perspicacity.
I hadn't flown Qantas for a long-time but I was curious to see how the public images of an airline in crisis under the stewardship of Alan Joyce correlated to the reality of flying with the embattled kangaroo. There was no gate number printed on the boarding pass so it was a mystery tour even finding the right place to board, but I got there eventually. Straight away there was a curious scene, with a very down home kind of amateur feeling to proceedings. A bunch of staff in uniforms were standing around chatting in front of clients, with occasional asides to talk into the intercom and order something or other. It reminded one of a mid70's tupperware party, a kind of goofy and innocent but not wholly professional attempt to run a business. Immediately upon opening the boarding gate another loud alarm went off , which rattled my nerves afresh. I'm not a good flyer at the best of times and my superstitious mind tends to become hyper-sensitive to clues from the environment which it feeds into doomsday scenarios.
An avuncular red-haired man shut the boarding gate, which turned off the alarm but stemmed the flow of boarding. The staff all stood around and resumed their previous chatty conversations- an asian lady was talking to a well groomed mexican looking gentleman about breast feeding. The ranga opened the door and the alarm went off again, seemingly louder than before. He shrugged his shoulders and said something on the inter-com. A little while later he shut the door again and the alarm stopped. I took a deep breath and vaguely considered abandoning the mission. I could call my parents and ask them to pick me up from the airport. Surely they would do that for their first born son. I could be home tomorrow, with my son on my shoulders, feeling his little hands wrapped around my eyes as he squealed in delight.
Those little hands.
A sharp pain stabbed me in the bottom of the throat and I felt my eyes fill with tears.
You bought the ticket now take the ride. I told myselfâ€¦.the door opened and I went through, hearing the alarm start again behind me as I boarded the plane.
The passengers were mostly overweight ruddy looking men. Fly in/fly out workers heading back to the mines on the next swing. A handful of bikies and a pair of slatternly women with massively engorged breasts and hard faces.
Immediately these women were recognisable to me as skimpies or sex workers heading back to one of the large mining towns. Anyone whose done time in a west ozzie town without women feels the strange and curiously compelling/repelling power of these women. I did mine in the central west, a crayfishing town- where deckies bought new landcruisers yearly and millionaires with the arse hanging out of their trousers staggered drunkenly in the streets every afternoon,not bothering to reach down and collect the cash money fluttering out of their pockets, on the way to the whorehouse or home to their families. Those left in the pubs drank to oblivion, then sang and fought like irish sailors, before passing out in fitful sleeps before the diesels roared to life in the dead of night and the noise of crayboats heading out the river sounded like a battalion of tanks thundering through the main street of town.
The hierarchy at the town wave was simple and ruthlessly enforced. Visitors were at the bottom, then itinerant shitkickers, wet-liner deckies, cray deckies, wet-liner skippers with cray skippers at the top of the pyramid. I got a job as a shitkicker at the caravan park, cleaning the shitters and raking leaves that the relentless afternoon sou-wester scattered in a never ending sisyphean task, which I found immensely fulfilling. Later I got a job with the worst snapper wet-liner in town, which entitled me to an occasional set wave at the left.
Thursday night was skimpy night at the local pub and with happy hour in full force the swaying trees outside became blurred and the lingerie clad toughies serving drinks seemed to focus the testosterone of the assembled deckhands and skippers into an inchoate rage. The swaying buttocks and bouncing breasts became, first, like taunting children standing behind a fence throwing rocks and insults; then by degrees like painful blows delivered by metal truncheon, to the face, the neck, the stomach, the genitals. The faces of the men became twisted with desire, then pain and rage. You could sit there and watch it happen.
Some trifling indiscretion would set it off. A drunken stumble, a squabble over the line for the pool table and in a sudden flurry fists would be flying, glasses being broken, bodies piling into the fracas to throw a punch or help a mate. The feeling was immediate relief that the unbearable sexual tension had been broken and the dammed up wall of testosterone could now express itself freely in an orgy of violence. A queer kind of adrenalin rush cut through the blurred, clumsy-limbed drunkenness and bought a kind of clear-eyed ecstasy, especially so if one had made it through the brawl unscathed, or even if there was blood dripping from a nose or the early throb of a black eye. It was now part of the narrative to be discussed at length on the next trip out to sea. So it went, and so it still goes I'm sure. You fish, fuck and fight or you hit the bricks pal.
We landed in Perth after some engineering malfunction at both ends of the flight which caused some claustrophobia in those enlarged moments stuck in a steel tube with foul-smelling strangers and no real prospect in sight of getting off into the open spaces and fresh air.
I've been in the airport since, surrounded by mining advertisements and swarthy miners heading to buttfuck places like Newman, Paraburdoo, Pt Hedland, Karratha, Kalgoorlie and the more attractively titled Cloudbreak, where monstrous machines are chewing up the earth and spitting it out into container ships bound for China. It's a beautiful thought for economists but I find it painful to dwell on because my favourite animal, Rusty the nimble Numbat, is being hounded to extinction so the chinese can become middle class.
I briefly considered trying to use some of the hard earned cash of the contribs getting a cheap dorm room in a backpackers last night but after a quick ring around I decided the floor of the airport next to the luggage carousel would do fine for the night. It was cold and the floor was hard, but a green board sock and hat over the head got me a couple of fitful hours of sleep before a maori lady on a ride-on vacuum cleaner woke me at 4am.
"Sorry love", she said, and the kindness and humanity in her voice filled me with a kind of joyful love of people.
What strange creatures we are. Truly. We put the monsters in power and keep the saints in poverty, cleaning the refuse of the power-hungry and insane.
With the money "saved" on accom I bought a cup of coffee from a couple of jolly overweight girls at the coffee shop and three orange and white penguin paperbacks from the newsagents.
The first three on the top row: Hunter Thompsons' Kingdom of Fear; Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Robert Drewes' The Bodysurfers.
I hope the shareholders approve of the purchase, I'm happy to pass them on when read to anyone.
One hour till the classical music long hairs fly in and we get on the bus, heading north to the desert.
It's great to be back in the state of excitement, on the road and deep in the red.
have a nice day.
"I was sweating profusely and wearing a crushed, mouldy panama hat- a strictly authentic one from Ecuador, where the finest Panamas are constructed"
Shhh don't tell the Panamanians
Isn't a Panamanian a small, fluffy dog?
No I thinks it's that fruit with the little red seeds in it.
no its a sandgroper sex act
Rather than duct taping your board cover on the way home may i recommend some strategically placed holes around the edge and cable ties, worked a treat for me. Enjoy your trip.