Thursday, November 24, 2005


It’s a scorching hot Saturday. The car park is busy. Cars arrive empty and leave laden with hardware supplies - the stuff dreams are made of.

The nice lady at the auto club told me “Someone will be there to help you in 5 to 30 minutes.” 30 minutes would be good because I have some thinking to do.

Did I lock my keys in the boot accidentally purposefully – subconsciously? You see, tonight I fly off to see my brother and his wife - and I’m tense.

In the shade of a building, by a pile of wheelbarrows, I stand, I wait and I think.

I think about packing and about airports. I think about cleaning and washing and how many pairs of socks will it take?

A yellow car pulls into the car park but it’s not the auto club. It is a station wagon though. Very handy for moving stuff.

All my socks. Maybe not the thick ones.

A young couple walk out of the store carrying a huge pile of plastic containers. They're about to get themselves really organised.

Michael, my brother, is making a trial run to Dubai airport, so he can be sure of the route when he comes to pick me up. I’m touched at the effort he is going to. He always was a planner, Michael.

The smell of cooked onions wafts past me. The sausage sizzle is in full swing. A robust chap passes me carrying a belt-sander and a hotdog. He looks pretty chuffed.

Michael’s emails have been fairly laid back but I can tell he already has a busy schedule for us. As I think about his enthusiasm I feel a little bit ashamed. I’ve been so wrapped up in my travel anxiety that I’ve hardly thought about seeing my brother and having a good time with him.

The Auto Club Guy pulls in and I lean through the passenger window of his car “G’day. Yeah - the Falcon over there by the Cruiser.” And as ACG works to free my keys I realise that sometimes, despite our best efforts at sabotage, things work out okay.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


“So, I walk into this bar - right?”

“Oh cool! I love these jokes.”

“This isn’t a joke. This really happened to me.”

“Okay – yeah. Sorry. Keep going.”

“So, I walk into this bar. I’m walking up to the bar feeling a little self-conscious and that’s when I see her.”


“Well, that’s what my story is about.”

“Right. Of course.”

“There’s a live band, and she’s the lead singer.”

“What was the band like?”

“Pretty great actually.”


“So I sit down at the bar and the barman asks me...”

“Why the long face?”

“…what I want to drink.”


“I say ‘I’ll have an overpriced beer thanks mate.’" He pops open a green bottle and places it in front of me.

There are about 20 people in the bar most of them male. There’s a guy sitting at a table next to the stage. He’s drinking a martini. I wonder if he ordered it ‘shaken not stirred’”

“Like James Bond.”

“Yes. “

“Did the martini have olives?”

“This singer - she’s gorgeous. Self confident. Full of life.”

“You mean she was hot?”

“The band starts to play AC/DC - ‘Back in Black’.”


“Yeah that’s what I thought. Even Mr Martini is getting into it. The lead guitarist is going crazy and everyone is having a good time.

And then I realise I’ve seen this singer before.”

“Really? Another pub?”

“No, this was like, my first time in a pub on my own. I’d seen her a couple of hours earlier sitting in this busy place reading a novel. It seemed like a pretty peaceful thing to be able to do. “


“Anyway, then it was over.

She packs up her guitar.

She’s walking up to the bar.

She smiles at me.

I realise I’m staring. So I quickly look away and grunt something inaudible.”

“You were too drunk to talk?”

“Man! No. I’d only had half a beer. You really are missing the point.

So, she puts down her glass and walks away."

“Then what happened?”

“I skulled the rest of my beer and left.”

“Man – that’s not even slightly funny. I have one you’ll love. ‘A horse walks into a bar...'”

Monday, November 21, 2005

Strong Arm

The bloke behind the counter is a good guy - I can tell by his face. I have two questions for him.

1. Are the lanes open?
2. When do the kids leave?

Money changes hands.

I walk towards automatic doors and am transported to the tropics – the public baths.

Public baths. I take off my T-shirt.

I choose a lane with one person - someone I can keep up with and keep out of the way of.

It’s 25 meters from the shallow end to the not so shallow end. Bubbles. Kicking. Gasping. My technique is rubbish. Relax – it’s hard not tense.

Okay – this is going a little better. Not racing. Smoothly and gently. Legs nice and free. Mouthful of water. Choking. Floundering. Keeping moving. And that’s 25 meters.

These goggles make me feel cool. I inhaled half the pool one minute ago but now I’m cool. Ok Mr Cool, time for another lap. Relax. Thumbs in the water first. Arms close to your head on the way around. Much better.

Another 25 - I’m back at the start.

My lane buddy is getting out. Lane Buddy is getting in to his wheelchair. He can’t use his legs. He can’t use his legs and was still keeping up with me. Lane Buddy says “See you later” in a way that makes me hope I do.

More laps. Focusing on keeping it relaxed and easy. Focusing on the breathing and the technique. Focusing on. Man my technique is better than that guys. Hey, who's she? What time is it? Is that a paperclip?


Towel. Shoes. Track pants (wallet still safe in back pocket). T-Shirt. Car keys. Glasses. Googles.

Doors open with a chill. It’s time to leave the public to their baths.