Monday, 27 April 2009

My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 4

This is the true story of how My friend Martin and I spent a holiday in Queensland under the influence of beer, weed, anonymity and Hunter S Thompson.
This should keep my blog full for a couple of months.

My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 4

*Queensland Wildlife*

After a great meal of home cooked real fresh food, we showered and went down the Tavern and bought some slabs of XXXX we thought when in Rome, etcetera .

(A popular Queensland beer in bright yellow cans with 4 Red X’s prominently emblazed across the front. Popular myth was that it was popular because Queenslander’s couldn’t spell beer)

After Lin (My big Sister) had put the kids to bed we hit the beer .

Lin and Rob were currently building an extension on the house and it was finished to lock up stage.
It was for Rob’s mother who was moving in with them, but since it wasn’t habitable yet it was perfect for Marty and I.
It was shelter and clean and kept the bugs away.

Now one thing you never get used to Queensland are the insects, everything you accept as normal down in the southern states disregard totally.
They are bigger (sometimes by ten times) more mobile and deadlier than their pissy southern cousins.

We were sitting on the balcony over looking the street,(every house in the street was built on stilts) to Martin and I it felt like early summer so we were in Tee Shirt.
We were having a drink while Lin was fixing the kids for bed when I was hit on the side of the head by something, it didn’t hurt but made me react.

“Someone’s throwing shit at me” I yelped

“No their not , look” said Rob laughing while pointing at something on my chest.

It was the biggest cockroach I had seen in my life.

“Aghh!” I cried (I think that’s the proper spelling?) and flicked it off me in the process knocking it onto Martin as well as half my beer that I was holding at the time.
Martin’s reaction mirrored mine and for one retarded moment we were just knocking a stunned cockroach backwards and forward while spraying each other with beer.

Rob was laughing so hard Lin came out to tell him to keep it down, then she saw the state of us two went back inside got a towel and said we weren’t allowed back inside until the kids were asleep.

I eventually knocked the stupid thing off the deck.

“That’s not a cockroach” I said “Cockroaches don’t grow that big, cockroaches live under rubbish and they don’t fucking fly”

“Up here they do, I hope you don’t run into any of the spiders” Rob said laughing again. “And I’m saying nothing about the cane toads”

We let that last statement slide and settled back to enjoy the warm balmy night. After about 15 minutes Martin asked where he could have a leak since we were banned from inside. Rob pointed downstairs and said to just go beside the house where it was dark. As Martin made his way down the stairs Rob sidled up close and said
“This should be fun”

I had no idea what he was talking about until about 90 seconds later.
It was like the tiger scene out of “Apocalypse Now” except Martin was screaming:

“Fucking frog, look at the fucking frog!”

Rob was on the floor again in hysterics, I was confused. Lin came out fuming.

“What the hells going on here, Martin for God’s sake SHUT UP, we have neighbours you know”

Martin had stepped on a cane toad in the dark and thinking it was rock went to kick it with his thongs and it jumped at him, in the process peeing all down his legs.

“Sorry Lin” Martin said as he bolted upstairs “But I really need to have another shower now”

Lin conceded “OK you better, but keep it quiet”

As She led Martin through the house I heard him say.

“You don’t have leeches in the water tank do you? I’m not gonna get covered in leeches in the shower?”

Rob was still sniggering. “Here, look at this”

He walked over and reached in the front door and flicked the front light. Down below it looked like a hundred dog turds had decided to jump into the shadows. “Cool Hey” said Rob.

All I could think of was:

“Never get off the deck, Godamn never get off the fucking deck”.

We were lucky that the entire living area was upstairs because quite frankly there was no way Martin or myself would stumble in the dark with all those slimey bastards down there. We continued the night drinking and catching up and everytime Lin went inside we would piss off the balcony, aiming at any toad in view.

Next week: Part 5 The Horror The Horror

Monday, 20 April 2009

My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 3

This is the true story of how My friend Martin and I spent a holiday in Queensland under the influence of beer, weed, anonymity and Hunter S Thompson.
This should keep my blog full for a couple of months.
My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 3

*Officer Porn Star and our arrival.*

Believe or not we both dozed for most of the morning, come lunchtime we were both feeling a lot better. Martin still had a point to prove, and continued to piss in the bus toilet standing up.
I continued to wait till the next stop because I knew what he’d left in there.

Just out of Brisbane town the bus was pulled over at a road block.

The police were searching for a man in his twenties in relation to a murder that happened on a Gold Coast beach the night before.
I could see a policeman walking around the bus looking underneath for something or someone.

I had to laugh, was their assailant Lizard Man and were they searching to see if he had hidden under the bus by clasping his claws to the under carriage?

It became even more amusing when I saw the policeman’s face and pointed out to Martin that this big tanned cop had an uncanny resemblance to John Holmes the porn star.

This started a flurry of crappy jokes:

“I hope he doesn’t hit us with his trouser truncheon”

“ Hello, Hello, Hello I’m Officer Iva Longprong”

“I hope we don’t see his long schlong of the law”

Then I had a chilling thought.

“Where’ve you hidden the drugs?” I asked Martin

“Don’t worry, they’d have to rip the bus apart to find ‘em” he answered very sure of himself.

Constable Holmes eventually boarded the bus and after a quick exchange with bus driver Ron, (which finished with Ron shaking his head in our direction) Officer Porn Star made a bee line towards our seat. As he passed the elderly passengers their heads followed him and smiles broke out on all their faces.

“Hello boys” said Constable Johnny Wadd

He hadn’t removed his sun glasses and I could see my hair was sticking out all over the place.

“Hi” we both replied

“This is just a routine check and but it’s obvious you’ve pissed off the driver so play along OK”

“Sure” we both said

“I don’t know if you’ve been listening on the radio"
he pointed to Martin’s portable radio
"but there was a murder on the Surfers Paradise foreshore last night and a man fitting your age with blond hair solid build and tan is believed to be in the area”

I grabbed Martin’s radio from the seat flap in front of him

“We had this one until Marty here dropped it before we got on the bus and it doesn’t work, he was going to pull it apart when we got to my sisters”

I started tugging the back of it, but Officer Bulge continued.

“Yeah well , it obviously isn’t you, but that description describes just about every male in the state, behave yourself boys”

“Thanks Mate” I replied still struggling with the radio

“Not good with long bus rides mate?” Policeman Penis asked Marty

“Nah” He said

I turned and looked at Martin he was a weird shade of pale and blotchy red.
The Policemen left and I watched all the disappointed faces as he walked back up the aisle.

“ You fucking dick” Martin hissed snatching the radio from my hands.

“Settle petal, are you OK, seriously? I asked he really didn’t look well.

“I am now numb nuts. Look at this”

Martin pulled me close so I was blocking the view of the seat opposite and with a simple snap the radios back came loose to reveal an ounce bag of grass.

“Oh fuck” was all I could say.

Everyone from down south knew of the reputation the Queensland coppers had, they were a breed of their own and under the Bjelke Peterson Government they were regarded as nothing more than his bully boys.

In the early 80’s Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke Peterson was at his peak in terms of power and as was exposed a decade later: corruption.

Two things we knew for sure about the Queensland police - if three or more people gathered and they looked like hippies they could legally be slapped silly by the constabulary and second they locked you up if you were caught with marijuana for a long time.

That’s why Officer Porn Star was such a surprise. He was nothing of what we expected to encounter. This pleasant surprise and the fact that we weren’t caught with a Queensland death penalty amount of drugs filled us with more delight of being in the sunshine state.

We rolled in Brisbane bus terminus about 4.00PM that afternoon to be greeted by my Sister Linda her husband Rob and my three nieces.

It was great to see big Sis again and Rob was a top guy, the biggest surprise were the girls they had all turned into these little blond, tanned angels. They were now 9, 7 and 4 it had been a good 2 years since they had moved up here. I gave them all a big Uncle hug.

Martin came up behind me and said “Hello”, the two older girls hung onto their Dad for safety, the youngest cried.

We had arrived, I needed a shower, some family catch up and a beer, it was Friday night and everything was all right. Except for the girls they didn’t want to sit in the back with me and especially Martin because we stank.

Welcome to Queensland.

Next Part 4- Weird Wildlife

Monday, 13 April 2009

My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 2

This is the true story of how My friend Martin and I spent a holiday in Queensland under the influence of beer, weed, anonymity and Hunter S Thompson.
This should keep my blog full for a couple of months.

My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 2

Back in the early 1980’s it was still permissible to smoke on public and interstate transport, but changes were slowly canging things and smokers had recently been banished to the back of the bus near the toilets.

Our carry on luggage was what ever fitted into our jacket pockets and in our hands. Our seats were standard for that time in history: uncomfortable and hard.

We were all set to depart, the motor was running and the bus driver climbed up the stairs and stopped at the front of the bus to address the passengers.

“Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Ron, I will be your driver for the first part of your journey, We will collect another driver at Albury and we will interchange from then on until Brisbane”

Martin let out a bored but genuine yawn

All eyes left the driver and focused on me.

“There are some basic rules” All eyes snapped back to Ron. “ Please refrain from smoking when the bus is stationary”
The sound of a match lighting I turned to Martin blew it out and took the cigarette from his mouth “wait” I whispered through clenched teeth.

Ron continued

“We have the toilet amenity at the rear of the bus and I cannot stress this hard enough please sit down to do your business, due to safety laws the lock is disengaged on these types of long distance travel and a sudden brake or hard cornering will result on the door swinging open. My best advise is to wait for the scheduled stops on the way , now we’re in for a long drive so please respect your fellow passengers area and we’ll all have a good trip”

There were a few muffled “Thanks Ron “ from the older passengers and judging by my head count three quarters of the our co travellers were over sixty.

Ron took his seat and the bus left the terminal.

Martin was unconscious, his last words being
“I wish I had of gone to bed last night‘

I picked up my book and started to read the collective works on Dr Gonzo, about his early travels through South America and his observation skills and fluid style.

Everything was peaceful. Martin missed the first changeover and meal break as he was still sleeping. I had left a note folded on my seat if woke up and discovered the bus was empty it read

“We have been kidnapped . Call the police. They didn’t take you because like the rest of the world, they hate redheads”

He didn’t wake up but had starting dribbling quite fiercely, so I turned his head to the window and it made a pleasant thud, thud sound in time with the wheels as it bounced off the glass we moved on.

We left Melbourne at 10 AM and by 2.00PM I was tired of reading and getting a bit bored so I decided Martin had had enough sleep because I didn’t want him awake all through the night annoying the shit out of me.
I eventually managed to wake him, he looked a sight with a big dribble patch on his shirt and his bright red hair sticking up defying gravity on one side.
“I need to piss and eat” he managed to squeeze out after ten minutes.

“You can’t eat till we stop about 6” I told him “and be warned you have to sit down to piss or else the door could burst open”

“What?” he asked ”How does the door stay shut if I sit down to have a leak?”

“That way you’re facing the door and can hold the handle”

“Bullshit” and with that he got up and went to the toilet at the back of bus.

He came back a few minutes later, with a smug look on his face.

“They’re full of shit, you can do it easy” He said proudly

I got up and thought I’d give it ago and when I open the door there was urine everywhere, he proved a point but missed the bowl. I didn’t bother and decided to wait, the bus was very bumpy. I opened up the door to leave and one of the elderly women passengers was waiting to go next. I hurried back to my seat. She passed me minutes later and gave me the foulest look imaginable.

Martin was too hung over, tired , shell shocked to be too much of an annoyance and we both passed the time away either reading or watching the afternoon disappear and night time approach out the window.

About 6.30PM we arrived at our scheduled dinner break at some place that specialises in serving shit food at high prices to starving people.
Martin and I grabbed hamburgers and chips and sat off by ourselves, the old lady who followed me after the toilet episode sat with the drivers and all during the meal the way she was talking and staring over at us didn’t fill me with confidence.

Both drivers gave a look that warned “we’re watching you” I tried to give the old lady a look that translated to ”I hope you got a strong bladder sister” but I’m not too sure how successful I was.

We boarded the bus and were on our merry way, the plan to ride the boredom out till our next stop at about 11.00PM and have a joint and hope to kip through the night.
Things were OK until Martin pissed around with the little light above his head trying to get it “just right” that he managed to break the globe, so he spent most of the time leaning over me to get some decent light to read.

Around eleven o’clock we rolled into another one of those chuck stops, only this one didn’t have hot food, all the old ladies made a beeline for the dunnies.
We did what we said we would and hoped for a restful night.

The bus seats were impossibleto get comfortable let alone sleep in and I think the bus company worked on the premise that you get either so bored or tired Mother Nature would kick in eventually.
For me the added use of the weed helped.
I pretty much dozed off straight away.

I was woken by Martin trying to push pass me It was still very dark , I glanced at my watch and it was 3.30AM, I would’ve liked to sleep longer.

“I need a piss bad” whispered Martin as he lunged down the aisle, half asleep.

I had no idea where we were but the bus was leaning to and fro an awful lot, so I assumed we were travelling over some hills or mountain range or something.
My mind was then snapped to attention,
Martin wasn’t going to prove a point again was he?

It was inevitable it would happen: The bus lunged to the right, the toilet door swung open, Martin came flying out backwards flailing like some cartoon character trying to grab the side of a cliff he inadvertently ran off.
It seems he managed at least to finish his business but hadn’t put his tools away. He managed to grab hold of arm rests either side of him to break his fall and prevent him crashing full force onto his back in the aisle. But there was still the little problem of his dick hanging out of trousers.

The second driver had a small area next to the toilet at the back of the bus so that they could get a good rest for the 4 or 8 hour change-over required by law.

Martin’s little accident had woke him up and most of the rear seated passengers.

It was Ron

When he popped his head out of the curtain to see what was going on all he could see was Martin helplessly struggling to put his pecker away, Martin saw his confused look and pointed to the door. It was closed.
“Are you alright?” he asked.

Martin nodded

“Good, that’ll teach you to piss like everyone else next time” and he shut the curtain.

The actual driver controlling the bus, never slowed down but I’m positive he swerved unnecessarily when Martin was trying to get back in his seat.

The next morning about 7.00AM the bus rested at another roadside cafĂ©, by this time it was obvious we weren’t going to make conversation with any of our fellow passengers, there was even a gap of 3 people in the line between us.
I had been struggling in the bad light of the bus to continue reading my book and draw some inspiration from it.
But I was too tired and treated all the old people with the same contempt they were pouring on me.
Martin who was born without the glands that secrete embarrassment, didn’t notice or care.

The weather was noticeably warmer the more North we travelled and that was starting to have an effect on our overall morale. We could feel the holiday spirit engulfing us , making us happier, expectations were starting to build as we rode ever so closer to our sunshine paradise. We had about 8 hours of travel left and I didn’t anticipate any problems until Martin played Mr Unpredictable again.

In actual fact it was my fault, Martin drinks Coke like water and when he bought one for breakfast I shook it up when he went to the toilet, not realising he wouldn’t open it at the table like he always does to drink it with his breakfast.
Of course he pulled it out and opened it 10 minutes after the bus took off spraying the old couple in front of us and the ones in front of them again, strangely we didn’t get a drop on us. Once again nothing was said we just kept getting those looks that only pissed off old people can give.

Next week: Part 3 Welcome to Queensland

Monday, 6 April 2009

My first encounter with Hunter S Thompson and how he changed my holidays Part 1

Actually I end up sounding like Bill Bryson but this is the true story of how My friend Martin and I spent a holiday in Queensland under the influence of beer, weed, anonymity and Hunter S Thompson.
This should keep my blog full for a couple of months.

*Part One - Here we Go, Here We Go , Here We Go*

In July 1984 I was on a bus to Queensland trying not to pine for the woman I loved,
The woman who once loved me was on a plane to Europe to join a Con-Tiki tour.

I was having trouble accepting our 4 year relationship had ended 5 moths ago until her farewell at the airport the day before when she boarded the plane with her new boyfriend.
That kind of drove the nail in the coffin pretty much there.

It wasn’t coincidence that I had arranged a holiday the day after she'd left,
I needed a break.
Self pity and depression suck the life out of you.
So me and Martin my only non muso best friend decided to go to Queensland and use my Sister’s house as a holiday base.
2 weeks of Sun, beer and with a lot of luck - babes.

One of the reason we caught the bus was to save money, air fares were expensive and quite frankly both our cars wouldn’t have made it past the state border.
One very important accessory I had collected a week before our departures was a book. I knew the bus trip would be tedious even with Marty so I looked for a decent sized novel to keep me company, what I found instead was a collection of short stories and essays titled “The Great Shark Hunt” by Hunter S Thompson”.

It would change the whole scope of our holiday; we just didn’t know it yet.

I stared browsing through the book a couple days earlier and became fascinated with certain entries. Short stories and articles like The Great Shark Hunt, The Banshee Screams for Buffalo Meat and it’s prequel Fear and loathing in Las Vegas.
These stories filled me with awe of the road trip and the spirit of adventure and how being a total reckless idiot can be exciting.
To a 22 year old impressionable and love depressed lad from Chadstone this was manna from heaven.

This was all very timely because my travelling partner Martin was already a HST in the making.

So I suppose I have to give you a short history of Marty to set the scene.

Martin was born in Manchester England the last of a brood of nine children, his Mother had him very late in life and a popular theory we held was that it was an accident in more ways than one. The family moved to Australia when Martin was one month old and in the process lost all birth, baptism and hospital certificates proving he had ever existed (He travelled on his Mothers passport) The family consisted of 8 boys and one girl. Every male member in the family had red hair, freckles and pale skin, the females dark hair and a wonderful peaches and cream complexion.
The age difference between Martin and his eldest sibling was 25 years and by the time Martin was 17 he was the only child left at home with his Mother (his Dad dying of a heart attack when Martin was 13) Martin’s Mum by now was entering her sixties and was obsessed with helping at the local church, so Martin virtually did what ever he wanted.

Martin was impulsive, loud, opinionated and made of rubber, - he could do back somersaults on his parents bed by the time he was 10 - he could back these personality flaws up with quick fists and a determined desire never to back down from a fight. I liked him because he was loyal and trusted friend built up over the years of walking to and from school and developing similar interests like music , books and movies.

When Martin and I hung around together or went out we would have a fun night, sometimes he would get a bit “silly” but I could always pull him back and we’d still had a good time. But when I wasn’t there he managed to get himself in all kinds of trouble at places we frequented all the time, at this point in our lives he’d been arrested twice for drunk and disorderly and once each for assault and criminal damage.

I will have to admit he always managed to come out of whatever he'd gotten in trouble for with just a warning and nothing else, I still believe it was because his mum spent so much time in church- praying for his mortal soul. Maybe she would include me for this bus trip.

The Hunter S Thompson book had released me from something, from my sense of responsibility. To Martin and my common sense. I felt like I needed to let go.
Where else would you find a better place to do this?
1000 miles away where no one knew you from Adam.

The whole thing started off on the right foot.

Martin was to meet me in the City at the bus station half an hour prior to leaving as per instructions. I was late due to trying to take a suitcase on a train in peak hour.
When I arrived Martin was there but only in spirit, he was trying to chat up a middle aged lady who I could best describe as a junkie, she kept moving away from him every time he spoke as I got closer I realised why. He was pissed as a fart.
It was Marty’s reasoning that if he got absolutely shit faced he would sleep for most of the trip. I reminded him that it was a 30 hour trip.
“That’s alright I bought weed, you can smoke on the bus” He said

“Tobacco , not dope you fool” I clarified. Alcohol did this too Marty, slowed down the basic brain function to less than zero.

I dragged him away from the woman and took over to the counter to check us in. The man who would be driving the bus was standing behind the clerk allocating seats.
It was if he was evaluating everyone who was travelling on his coach and judging by the look Marty and I received we had been labelled trouble.

“Is he drunk?” the bus driver said looking over the clerks shoulder.

“No he’s diabetic, he’s on a low” I cut in before Marty could answer sounding as insulted as possible

The bus driver just nodded his head and stepped back emotionless.
“I’m going somewhere quiet to shoot up then” said Marty as he started for the toilet rummaging through his coat pockets on the way. I thought he can’t do any damage in there and sat down to wait for boarding.

Within 5 minutes the call came out and I dragged both our bags to the bus to be loaded, the driver ignoring me and taking everyone else’s luggage, I was wondering where Martin may be so I just dumped the bags behind him and went to look in the toilets.

As I entered the place reeked of dope and Martin was flushing out his make shift Orange Juice bottle bong. “I should sleep now” he said his eyes bight red. I told him we were getting ready to board and as we entered the waiting lounge that led to the bus loading area there was a scene happening. A group a people were gathered around someone who had had a fall, as we got closer it was obviously the bus driver his blue shirt all covered in dirt from the foot path. He had stepped backward unaware of the suitcases I left there and had gone arse over tit.

“Careful man, that’s my clothes” slurred Martin, no one paid attention because he was facing the other way when he said it, distracted by a pretty girl walking past, his eyes working faster than his mouth.

I grabbed his shoulder and joined the queue that was boarding the bus.

Part two: Next week