He stood tall, those 30 something years ago…blue and white striped shirt, a mop of fair hair fell across his forehead, blue eyes, wide, shut, open..
An artist some twenty summers old…and now a waitress in a cocktail bar. It was the most swift introduction of my lifetime….then approaching 40 summers..
We drove to the coast along The Great Ocean Road, we booked a trip to Italy…the pace was frantic, doomed to burn out…
We remained friends but was never really comfortable for me, and surprisingly some 30 years later we met in the digital dance of Face Book, his final line when he unfriended me always brings a smile to my face ..
‘Oh ,still Mr Serious’
For the first 10 years of my life I had my own bedroom, I was an only child in a Melbourne Suburb. For the next 6 years I shared a bedroom with my new younger brother. For the next 2 years I lived in a Junior Seminary where 50 of us slept in a dormitory. The following year I had my own room/cell as a Novice in an Italian Religious Order founded in Australia but Irish Missionaries. The next two years, almost, I had my own cell in Ballarat, Melbourne, in a 19th Century Bluestone Building. I then returned home to share once again with my younger brother for two years.
Our parents could see that they needed an extra bedroom and decided to sell the house they had bought in suburban Murrumbeena in 1946. They used spend Sundays inspecting display homes in outer Melbourne suburbs. They settled on a three bedroom neo colonial modest home on a small block in Mulgrave. We moved in 1968. By 1970 I had left home and found a room in the house of a Melbourne Academic from The Conservatorium of Music, Meredith Moon. It was a brief stay in Hartwell when I found a room for rent with toilet and bathroom in Armadale for ten dollars a week.
It was a few months later that I moved into my first flat alone, it was also in Armadale, and 17 dollars a week in an Art Deco Block of four flats.
As the bedroom journey continued it went from shared houses, apartments and finally alone again in a suburban flat.
The Journey Continues..
Light falls upon my face draped with scarf and beard.Saffron robed young men at Chiangmai Buddhist University..The food vendor on the streets of BangkokThe woman who gave me birth 1945..The young man who changed my life..My friend Rossini…Emeritus Professor Norman Page, BangkokBeryl Baroness of East Malvern, my 92 year old aunt..My Mother In Law, Mer Tui..My friend Peter Grace at Anantisila Resort, Hua Hin Thailand..My friend Tracey from New York on The Chao Phraya River, Bangkok..My friend Anthony Green, Prahran, MelbourneMy friends Azzerina and Blotto @ Mali Restaurant Bangkok…The lil brother on the left avec the older brother Elwood
I have wanted to write about this April Evening for some time..
Balcony Bar Bangkok, once owned by Molly Meldrum…I had been there once or twice. I had arrived in Bangkok early on a flight from Melbourne after burying my 86 year old father. I always stayed at Opera Hotel in Pratunam in Bangkok. At the time I was living in a Bungalow on the beach in Hua Hin on the Gulf of Thailand, a peaceful place which I still hold close to my heart.
It was around 8.00pm and having slept for many hours woke up with a massive appetite for food. I did not know of many places to eat, strange considering I was in Bangkok. I knew of Balcony Bar and that they served food. Hung over I made my way into the Bar, I just wanted some food. I went to the bar and ordered a drink, all in Thai. I had been in The Kingdom for almost 5 years and had a reasonable grip on the Lingo to get me through the day. It seemed only a short time before I felt a tap on my shoulder. I looked around to see a young Thai man. We greeted one another in Thai. He held a glass of beer in his hand and I recall he was wearing a bright red T Shirt. All in my primitive Thai, asked him if he would like to join me at a table as I needed to eat. We sat together and I asked him what he wanted to drink as I was ordering a Red Wine, and he was happy to have a Coke…I think the beer in his hand was some kind of security blanket for him in retrospect..I had difficulty in getting his name right and am sure made many mistakes initially…
It is now almost 12 years since Samran and I have been together, like all journeys, it has had an up and down rhythm. I am thankful each day for the kindness, the care and the laughter that we have shared thus far…he has enriched my life, taught me many things, I have become part of his family.
Never look for love, it creeps up when you are least prepared to engage with such a concept..
Na Mo Ta Sa Pa Ka Wa Tor
When the ocean clothed me with foam and I plunged, and swam, often a distance..the pools of Thailand became my Hydrotherapy, mornings and several times afterwards..
Water covering the aged body, lifting itself from pool to pool, the laps becoming less and less, the sky above, the sun, the comfort of being alone..
The towel, the sunscreen ointment, the negligent behaviour of sun baking..and now the scars of Sol, the god we worship but no longer as we age….shade is our refuge.
To me he always seemed, looked, old..
Born in Tasmania in the Nineteenth Century, he was my paternal grandfather..Of course I only knew him as ‘Pa’…He had the kindness that older people seem to have..I was his only grandchild for 10 years..needless to say I was a spoilt brat, he and ‘Nan’ feted me for many years…memories of their home in Glen Iris are still vivid…the house seemed huge to a little boy in the 50’s…It was where they brought up their two sons and daughter..no splash of wealth.
I think my Grandfather was a deep thinker, he was a teacher at the Mens College, later known as RMIT, in metallurgy…..I have etched in my septuagenerian brain images of this man with a blue singlet, sweat as he worked in a Bronzite Factory in South Melbourne..
In his late 60’s he and later Nan had strokes and both spent their last years in a Nursing Home…Almost 15 years of their lives were spent in the Nursing Home..
The most moving episode was when Harold Vincent, my ‘Pa’ gave me a book of poems, sadly I no longer have the book nor the title…it was like a final farewell from a mentor who probably knew for decades that his grandson was who he was…similar..I guess genes are present in many forms.
He was protestant, a freemason, and his eldest son married a Catholic and then his first grandchild comes to tell him he want to be a priest….His word still reverberate some 50 years later as he said to my father ‘You are going to give your son to the church”..
RIP Grandpa, the only one I ever knew