A little bit of normality

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January 4th 2010
Published: February 4th 2010
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Well, the Christmas period has been a busy time. It all started with a birthday for a friend from work where we went to Brisbane. It looks like something you see in any film made about Australia, like a large barn. It had some great pictures of building of infrastructure around Brisbane though. Men with big moustaches on half-built bridges. Which is what Brisbane looked like this morning, what with all the expansion going on. That Friday we went out in Fortitude Valley (or the Valley), an area kind of like Corn Street in Bristol crammed with pubs and bars. I have been hanging around with these guys for a couple of weeks now and they are always good fun, like the naughty 3 musketeers with all their banter.

The next day, me and Edward (from work) dragged ourselves out to watch a band a friend of his was in, a gaggle of Aussies and Papua New Guineans crammed onto a small stage in small bar. They had with soulful voices and were all throwing themselves around in an energetic fashion to a lot of percussion in a way only people with dreadlocks and hemp clothing can. We then piled
Christmas DayChristmas DayChristmas Day

The hammock at my house in Brisbane
into someones van (literally, a whole pile of us and some speakers were in the back) and went to a beach party held at a tea shop. A few bemused policeman stood around watching people frolicking in the pool and dancing in bikinis (not unusual for Australia but this is in the city). They did not stop the party, merely asked the naked androgenous-looking singer wondering around to get dressed. It was BYO but we had not been told. As fate would have it someone had put a bottle of Bundy rum in my bag so we scrounged some Coke and got drinking with a huge South African bloke who had befriended us at the previous bar. After watching the random mayhem for a bit and getting down on the makeshift stage I remembered why I did not drink rum and headed home.

The working week was quiet with people heading to the coast for the holidays and those left having various gatherings involving cake and BBQs with cold beers, a huge plus as far as I am concerned. I decided to tackle Christmas in one evening, shopping, cooking, wrapping stocking pressies and decorating while listening to jazz in the old Queenslander. It was lovely. A couple of glasses of red later I attempted to put up the tree and work out where the trip switches were located as everyone knows it is not possible anywhere in the world for Christmas lights to work without shorting out half the street. They are in a box on the outside of the house in a mini jungle so I battled through the undergrowth praying there were no spiders. On Christmas Eve my Townsville housemate Tom the dentist turned up after a hard couple of weeks so we decided to forgo a night in the Valley for dragging the TV onto the deck and watching Eddie Izzard in a hammock. Whilst being attacked by mosquitoes, the blight of a Brisbane summer. Let me clarify here, we did not have Eddie Izzard to visit idling in a hammock, we were, laughing so hard I nearly fell out a couple of times.

On Christmas Day I got a drunken and expensive phonecall from the Stewart clan and my mate Rich and it was really good to hear everyones big news and chat. Tom and I had rebuffed offers of Christmases with other peoples families and woke up earlier to open our stockings with glasses of Bucks Fizz. My family and friends had made sure I did not feel alone by sending me loads of cards and presents. After getting a bit excited and opening half of them by 9am we decided to slow done and watch some more Eddie Izzard before cooking a traditional Christmas lunch. Except with duck, minature turkeys are hard to find. Minature pigs on the other hand are dead popular as pets and I vow to buy one whenever I eventually buy a house. Anyway. I digress. After a day drinking, eating and me missing the family loads we decided on a quick nap before heading off to a party or two with other Christmas orphans. At 1.30am we woke up and realized setting an alarm would have been a good idea. Wondering around the house a bit dazed we decided on a few more hours of laughing at Eddie (I bought Tom the box set for his birthday) before going back to bed.

Boxing Day was a party up the coast with my other Townsville housemate Adrians friends (but not Adrian who had been trying to cross continents in snow storms). 10 minutes before the train got in Tom and I were told it was a toga party and so turned up to a houseful of body builders wrapped in sheets. It was a good night but my poor body succumbed to the weeks of partying and I felt awful. I went back up to Brisbane with Tom and we spent the afternoon with some visiting dentist mates of his and their friends. As Tom jumped onto a train back to the Gold Coast in preparation for snowboarding in Japan with Adrian I went out with the guys I have been hanging around with to the casino. I have only been to casinos in Vegas so while it was fun it did not have quite the same flair (Fo - I soo think we should meet up in Vegas when you move). We ended up at the penthouse again, leaping into the pool and where I played a very rare game of pool. And won. It was doubles but still, it was an achievement even getting me near the table. I also did surprisingly well at bowls on the Nintendo Wii, dressed in the signed jersey of some famous local rugby player for luck. One of the guys Dads owns some racehorses so we watched the replay of the race. We had watched it live earlier, all screaming at the TV when it looked like it had won, only to discover it had been pipped at the post according to the video footage. An expensive hobby, racehorses.

I spent the rest of the week catching up with friends in Brisbane as work had shut for the week. This included an unwise decision to go out to the Valley the evening before New Years Eve. For once, I was trying to be the sensible one but a friend persuaded me to stay out after the last train left and I deeply regretted it in the morning. Sus, my good mate since undergrad days helped the recovery by taking me to the Gold Coast to visit a doctor friend of hers and see his new place. We relaxed with lunch and chilled on the balcony of his million dollar pad. Discussing why someone would nick the battery from his boat. Bl**dy bogans. I live on the beach but this place has the advantage of a huge expanse of beach with rolling surf and no massive tree blocking the view. There have been a few shark attacks this season, including an unusual event where one massive shark bit another one in half when it got trapped on a line. Luckily, the daily rain has dissuaded me from going to the beach that much (don’t freak out mum, I am the driest marine biologist ever)

I had been umm-ing and arr-ing about what to New Years Eve with ideas including working at the local festival (did not want to do it alone), partying at the penthouse (wanted to be with close friends), being smuggled into a huge festival dressed as a paramedic (couldn’t afford the flights) and going to a beach party. I had a great day with Sus on the way up to the Sunshine Coast, laughing away as you only can with close mates. This was until part of her car fell off and we had to sprawl on the ground to work out what was going on. We kept going without any trouble and Sus nearly set fire to a bin at a petrol station. But thats another story. I spent the afternoon with her and a group of her girlfriends celebrating pregnancies, buying houses, engagements and divorces. It did make me realize how quickly your twenties go. Scott, my friend from Townsville who moved back down to the Sunshine Coast came to pick me up and said the beach party was not on due to the weather so we bounced between a few parties, ending up at one with an older crowd in a Queenslander in the middle of vast sugar cane fields. It all felt very Australian and I just hoped I would not end up stepping on a snake.

In an unexpected fit of hedonism from Scott the next day I woke up to him holding a beer in his hand at the end of the bed. We had breakfast on the jetty of the local river watching people almost decapitate themselves as they drove their boats under the road bridge too fast. We carried an esky of beers to the beach and wiled away the day doing nothing but chatting and floating around in the strong tides. They made you feel like an Olympic swimmer until you tried to get back to the beach. The combination of sleeping in Scotts temporary ‘garage for a home’ and the beach meant I spent the long journey back to Brisbane scratching my bites. I have spent the last couple of days chilling out with mates and deciding not to go to all the festivals this week. A phonecall from my paramedic friend revealed he had not, as he thought, ended up taking the ambulance back straight after his shift but instead watched one of Australians biggest bands from the side of the stage and Moby from the front where security stands as being a paramedic gives you a licence to roam around anywhere. A useful tip for all you festival goers out there.

So its back to work tomorrow, with quiet evenings in doing uni work and updating my CV in preparation for 2010. Happy New Year everyone, it looks like its going to be a big one. Love to you all and thanks for all the messages and texts. It makes you seem that little bit closer. And Manda, you know I don’t speak Spanish. x


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