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

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