This is the last one until I have written significantly more.
Unable to sleep, Altair mulled over the strange evening of hushed conversations, and nervous glances between worried faces. Hannah and a stout lady with a mousey brown bob and oversized glasses, introduced herself as Angela sat in the bay window. A tired drop leaf table between them held steaming mugs of tea.
The woman wrote ceaselessly in a spiral bound lined page notebook with a biro topped by a spring mounted bobbing pig.
Angela wore a beige pleated knee length skirt, American tan tights, olive green acrylic sweater and brown sensible lace ups.
After breakfast, Sax turned the bedrooms upside down, doors and drawers could be heard banging, the beachball was nowhere to be found. He cornered Altair and Cam in the bathroom while they were brushing their teeth. Slamming the door made the panes in the sash window rattle defiantly.
Altair jumped, heart racing, they turned around, fingers of both hands tightly clinging to the edge of the pedestal basin behind them. Altair closed down like a crocus at night, withdrawing into themselves. They knew the tirade would end eventually. Cam hauled himself up onto the toilet lid, head down turned slightly toward the window, smirking.
As usual, Sax chain smoked his fags. Altair glimpsed the flick and lift action of Sax’s right hand. Imagining, coarse, nailless, nicotine stained, sausage fingers ascending to bristle stiff, grey, pencil moustache topped lips. Drag, hold, exhale; billowing smoke adding to the polluted atmosphere.
I feel slightly dirty, tainted from being drawn into binging Byron Baes on Netflix. The mostly self interested, egotistic personalities are at first cringeworthy. Skewed perspectives, judginess, assumptions about the actions and desires of each other, and much throwing of under the bus served as the catalyst to wanting to see how events play out.
One of the reality show’s stories follows musician and singer, Sarah moving across the state border from Goldie to be among fellow creatives in Byron Bay.
Sarah inadvertently causes friction while ping ponging from Nathan to Elias to Nathan. Elias confirms Nathan’s reputation of being a ‘fu#k boy’ to Sarah. Nathan is unwilling to accept this insight from one of his bros.
Elle, Nathan’s housemate, cattily describes Sarah as fake. When challenged by friends, she flatly denies the comment, changing it to not being authentic.
It appears never the twain shall meet where conformity is required to fit in with the floaty neutral set of Byron’s female upper echelon. Sadly for Sarah, the colourful, loud, figure hugging attire of the Gold Coast is seen as fake.
There I am thinking, we are evolved enough to be able to celebrate diversity, self expression, and authenticity.
There was a time when looking like a shag on a rock would have the opposite effect of self effacement. It would have instilled discomforting anxiety and a draining of self confidence, lasting for days later.
The other day, two teams congregated around the door to the meeting room. Spilling out into the breakout area, groups of twos, threes, and fours stood chatting, waiting for the occupants to vacate.
I know the majority of my colleagues by name, a few I count as more than acquaintances, having worked with them for coming up to three years.
I invested my energy in striking up a conversation with a relative newcomer, they having previously sought me out for a non work related discussions. Within seconds they walked away abandoning me to my solitude.
Maybe I had not done enough to engage with them, to deepen our relationship. When working from home they often requested my help through Teams. I am always happy to assist everyone where I can.
There was a fraction of a second of realisation, I could not escape to the contents of my mobile phone, it was on my desk downstairs. In the present moment, I calmly gazed, taking in the twenty or so people; not a hint of a blush, sweat or wish to take flight.
I romantically assume, the purpose of schooling in 1960’s and 1970’s UK was to provide a general introduction to topics. A catalyst to inspire fresh minds to develop skills and assist in identifying one’s career path.
Primary school was all about singing, maypole dancing, being statues, playing percussion instruments, needlework, beanbags, art, decimalisation, decorating walls with forest gauging paper collages, playing ‘what’s the time Mr Wolf?’, free milk, and carbolic soap.
Streaming in secondary school labelled the ‘brightest’ two groups as ‘A’s destined for G.C.E ‘O’ and ‘A’ level study* whilst the three groups of ‘B’s were setup for C.S.E.s**. The remaining ‘R’ group of remedial students were segregated from the rest. It was rumoured they were consigned to a single room, secreted away somewhere to avoid sullying the reputation of the school and tainting the achievers.
In the first halcyon year, I realised my passions in art, pottery, drama, music, the Dewey decimal system organised library, history, English, French, and German. Dislikes included, P.E. (physical education), R.E. (religious education), geography, and science. Also, boys only, woodwork, metalwork, and technical drawing.
Girls only, typing, sewing, and domestic science were more preferable to me, sadly out of reach.
When electing a program of certificated study from the second year onwards, English language, mathematics, sports (cringe) and one science subject were compulsory. I elected courses in history, French, German, music (violin then oboe), pottery, and English literature.
As biology turned my stomach, chemistry was smelly and required an in-depth knowledge of the periodic table, physics was the only option left.
Even though as a youth and now, I had a terribly disorganised and random mind, I found solace in algebra and measuring objects.
For decades, I held onto the dog eared, pale peach gloss coloured logarithmic and other tables booklet. The cover retained an archive of finger prints, biro marks, food stains and liquid spill marks.
Unfortunately, my final year of secondary studies and fifth year examinations took place 30 kms south in a high school local to our new council house assigned to our family as part of the ‘Birmingham overspill’.
Somehow, I scraped by with four ‘O’ levels in English language, mathematics, history, and ceramics plus C.S.Es physics, German, and music (oral). Sufficient enough to commence an ordinary national diploma in hospitality.
In hindsight, we would have benefitted from courses in cooking, cleaning, laundry, personal hygiene, budgeting, safety, tolerance, respect, and communication skills.
I didn’t give up on French, gaining a high distinction in language and culture at university level in Australia.
*General Certificate of Education at Ordinary and Advanced level provided access to tertiary level technical and polytechnic colleges, and universities.
**Certificate of Secondary Education gained access to tertiary level technical colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeships.
This beauty was growing unfettered adjacent to a field in Montville, Queensland. A far cry from its native habitat in the Himalayas of India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
Hedychium gardnerianum, the Kahili ginger, Kahila garland-lily or ginger lily, is a species of flowering plant in the ginger family Zingiberaceae.
It is an erect herbaceous perennial growing to 8 ft (2.4 m) tall with long, bright green leaves clasping the tall stems. The very fragrant pale yellow and red flowers are held in dense spikes above the foliage.
Last Friday we drove north north east to Montville in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. A picturesque, seemingly unending string of timber buildings housing cafés, galleries, and crystal shops, nestled comfortably among trees and lush vegetation.
We checked into a ground floor estate suite at Spicers Clovelly Estate Retreat. A former pineapple plantation, five minutes drive out of town.
A wet evening cleared by morning, replaced by fast moving continent sized cloud formations. Plenty of intermittent sunshine brightened the day.
After breakfast we ventured off to the lake lookout. Nearby, dwarfed by the surrounding trees, a seemingly ancient ramshackle bush hut stands. The timber weathered to silver grey relic is perched on poles on a cliff’s edge, commanding an uninterrupted view of Lake Baroon.
This fixer upper would make a great tiny house. An open plan single storey including a bed with a second bed in the roof space, accessed by a ladder; a little like a two storey tree house.
The one hour plus return journey took us along knee high dew laden grass filled walkways through verdant rainforest glades. At times we felt a trifle lost, following directionless signs.
The weekend away was so relaxing, it was what we both needed.