Back to Melbourne and a second reunion with our boy! You have to look on the bright side when thousands of miles fall between loved ones – at least there is no question about making the effort to stay in touch. The money will be stashed away each month; overtime earned when possible; everyday life will not be lived extravagantly – and amazing travelling experiences become a real bonus of missing those dearest. Just wish I could get Joe to improve his communication skills, both distant and near!
By way of an example, he kindly booked our flights back from Sydney, organised the hire car and sent us detailed instructions for finding his digs in Queensberry Street. Except they were wrong (or Google Maps failed to note that naming streets clearly in city centres is not an Aussie strength). So, we get up at 4.30 bloomin’ am, along with one solitary demented parrot squawking away, stressing in case Jong the cab driver forgets to collect us for our 6.30 flight – which, of course, he doesn’t. We check in ok, I’ve almost justified the extra baggage allowance by buying shoes (as you do), I go and put on the slap prior to a Mucky D (not the embalming one, though I have bought a tube!), and then…
Fog. Not exclusive to the UK, no it happens here. Though not very often, I suspect, as it proved to be the headliner on the Six O’clock News. Anyway, it means we’re delayed two hours but, never fear, we have Joe’s thoughtful directions to his digs.
Warning. Bad Language Alert. Get Your Kids Off This Blog.
They are flipping wrong.
There are few things more stressful than being in a hire car driven by my husband, guessing that he’s chosen not to pay excess insurance, lost in a big, unfamiliar city on a Saturday morning. To damage limit, we pull over at the side and ring Joe.
“Is that Joe? Are you hung over?”
“Joe, we’re lost; the directions are wrong. Sober up and give us a clue.”
“Grunt. Grunt. Queen Vic Market.”
At which point the phone cuts out. If you have ever had the pleasure of being in a car with us when lost (Tom, are you reading this? Do you remember that drive to Bletchley Park a few years ago when you said “I am never, ever, getting in a car with you two again…”), you will know this was not going to be a high spot of the holiday. I managed to persuade Tim to pull into a community centre car park to calm down whilst I got directions. This plan alone proved that I have learnt something from almost thirty years of marriage – give ‘Him Indoors’ the iPad and a hard boiled egg and the world will right itself.
At this point I will digress slightly and grumble about our friends at Customs and Excise. Why is it my bags that get searched and not his? Admittedly I had a set of watercolour paints, but surely anyone in their right mind is going to be more suspicious of an old geezer transporting five hard boiled eggs?
Anyway, back to the frenetic streets of Central Melbourne. Directions received from a ‘normal’ father and son who worked out the route for me using gps and reassuring words, we set forth again, even more concerned about what we might find at 692 now that the phone had switched to voicemail. He was expecting us, wasn’t he?
According to my eldest, his weeks are made up of work and running – and work recently has meant night duty plus a bit of day conference work as a supplement, with 60 hours being typical as he rakes in the income. No one can call my boy a slacker. That said, he does like a good night out now and again, and ‘now and again’ turned out to be the night before we were due to arrive. So when Joe finally opened the door I should have been prepared for the Aztec design onesie, woolly bobble hat, thick socks, flip flops and heavy eyelids. Later that night as he queued for the takeaway in Apollo Bay, Joe got chatting to a guy about clubs in Melbourne. This guy mentioned the one my eldest had been at the night before.
“You should see the state of people coming out of that place at 4am,” the stranger stated, shaking his head.
“That wasn’t me,” Joe replied, “I left at 6am.”