About five months later, I got a letter from my friend in Sydney John Cox to say that he and his wife were moving to a place called Murwillumbah not far from Brisbane in Australia. John had talked about this area quite often, with a longing to live there someday. Of course, me with my outlandish visions of visiting every place I could while time was still on my side, could also see myself not only living there, but also taking in as much of Queensland as i could.
I thought to myself, look at all the people I could meet and share stories with. Then there was all the music, swimming, golf and tennis to become involved in. If this world wasn’t meant for dreamers like me, who the hell was it meant for.
So, I wrote to him and said, let me know when you get settled in, and I will make plans to join you. I got a letter from him a few weeks later to say that he and his wife had moved into a two bedroom rented house. So I sold my car that my son-in-law had given me because my other car had developed a lot of rust.
He had someone working for him so he had to supply him with a car, but for some reason he had to let him go, so once again God saw it fit to give his old sinner son a set of wheels. I don’t know why, but He somehow keeps propping me up when the chips are down in my crazy circle of life.
The arrangements that John suggested I should take, was for me to take a bus from the Brisbane Airport, to a point halfway between where he and his wife were now living, and they would pick me up there.
I arrived in Brisbane about 11.pm, and made my way to where the buses were parked to take people to their different destinations. I was feeling quite tired, and a little uneasy as I went looking for the right bus to take me to my halfway location point.
Adventure is a lot of fun as I have mentioned, but having to lug around a set of golf clubs, a tennis racket and the rest of my belongings with gammy knees at such a late hour of night, was not quite what I anticipated as adventure. Anyway, I found the bus I needed, and told the driver where I was heading for.
When we got near to where I was to meet John, the driver said to me, I hope that your friend is going to be here to meet you. I was the last one one the bus. He said it’s now 12.30, and I would not like to see you left here on your own. It can be a dangerous place for an old person, or for anyone on their own. If he is not there to meet you, I will take you somewhere safe till you get in touch with your friend. I thanked him, and felt a lot easier about my situation. But Thank God John was there waiting at the bus stop. So I again thanked the driver, and offered him $10 to buy himself a drink for his kindness, but he said I enjoyed talking to you when we were alone on the bus. You gave me a little insight into you, and I gave you a little insight into me, and we will always be the richer for it. That’s more than enough gratitude for me. So we gave each other a warm handshake, and I made my way off the bus
Soon I had my gear loaded in John’s wife’s car, then sank back in the rear seat to share my news to date. Sorry, but believe it or not, I have forgotten John’s wife name. They had not long been married that long if I can use that as an excuse. He told me that it had been a whirlwind romance, that started in the Hero of Waterloo pub in the rocks in Sydney. I will make no further comment than that, other than it was going to be a shaky involvement for both of them from what I could gather from my stay with them.
When we arrived at their place, I hit the sack as soon as I could. The mattress I soon found out, was more like a rib cage, than something you'd hope would take you to dreamland. Boy, did I have a sore back next morning. So I told John and his wife, and John said I will take you to the Salvation Army stores and you can get a second hand mattress.
So off we went around 10 that morning to locate something more suitable for my old bones to slumber on. Took stock of the small town of Murwillumbah as we made our way there. It reminded me somewhat of the small towns in my home country o a bright fine day. The difference being that it was more up market, and the road was wider. John, then pointed out a nice pub that he frequented when he had a few coins in his pocket. So, I said to him we’ll go and celebrate the mattress I am about to purchase, as it will be too awkward to to drag in here, and God knows what the lady behind the bar might be thinking to see the pair of us parading a mattress into the pub. It might look very suggestive. Mind you it wouldn’t bother me, but I’ve got to think of John’s reputation. He’s got a wife, I’m free as a bird.
So we went in and enjoyed a couple of beers. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this pub was to become a new stomping ground for the two of us.
I must say the lady behind the bar was easy on the eyes, and very pleasant to talk to, so that became another reason to call it a stamping ground.
A little later feeling the benefit of washing our cares away, we went and got the mattress I so badly needed. As we walked through an open area towards John’s place with one end of the mattress placed on our heads, three ladies happened to pass us by with big grins on their faces. I said to them, any takers. That really made them laugh. John just about cracked up.
Well I got a good sleep that night, which proved to me that old bones are always craving for some kind of comfort. The next day I went up to the Pension Department to enquire about having my pension transferred from New Zealand to Australia. I had learned my lesson well from what I stated in my last book.
They gave me all the forms to fill in after they had checked the letter I had brought from the New Zealand pension Department, and also seen that I had been previously been on their books.
The first thing I had to do, was to open a bank account which I did a few days later. So I filled in all the forms, and left everything to the wheels of providence. Then I slowly started to take stock of the town. Walking, drinking and a little bit to eat was as good as any place to start from. John wasn’t into sport like I was, he lived a very casual life style. But I’ve to admit devious me, did not tell John or his wife that my intentions were eventually to travel around as much of Queensland as I could, meeting people, and getting into everything I could on a tight budget. That had now become my life time challenge.
So after about six days I enquired where we could find some music. John was very slow to do anything about anything. Nice guy, but inclined to be lazy. So we were told about this bar where people came along to sing and perform with their instruments. A few evenings later John, his wife and myself took ourselves there to check it out. As we were ordering a few drinks, I got talking to the barmaid, and told her that I would like to sing a few songs if that was possible. Then she asked me if I would sing Danny Boy to her there and then. Well, that went down very well, and was told I would be asked up to sing when the band got itself sorted out. Well, the music started up a little later, and was going well till there was a burst of foul language from the pool table in the far corner, and next minute a guy came sliding at our feet with a blow from someone he had been playing pool with. The guy on the floor was pretty drunk, and blood was flowing from his nose. I had a pretty good idea that the fight involved a women. She had been playing with the two men at the pool table. Anyway, a couple of guy latched on to the guy who had thrown the punch to keep him wanting to hammer the guy who was picking himself of the floor. Next thing I heard that the cops had been called.
John’s wife got quite upset, and John wasn’t particularly happy himself. I thought to myself, this wasn’t quite what I envisaged, but it would be a little item for my book, plus I had witnessed quite a few of these incidences both in the Matthew Talbot, and other places. This one was low-keyed in comparison, but at the same time I was not impressed. When I go to listen to music, the last thing I expect is to see someone landing with a bloody nose at my feet.
This story of mine may not be all that exciting for you, but till I hear yours, It’s got a fair crack to it.