Sunday, January 08, 2012

It came for me



'It's Guy Fawkes, Jim, but not as we know it, er, him' by Pants


I was just sitting there thinking ... I would rather go blind, than to see another Larrikin's End fireworks display. And then Barney shoved one of his fine vodkamisus in my free hand and, frankly, I don't remember much after that.

There was a boat involved. I think it was called the Poseidon? Maybe it was the Pontus. I remember it was one of the Greek nautical gods. I survived the experience, so maybe it was the latter. Barney vanished in a vodka vapour with a view to simultaneously appearing in all 2,011 of his Goblet of Fire venues at the stroke of midnight - I've given up wondering how he does that.

I remember what happened now. The commotion of Barney's departure alerted my lovely neighbour Ren. After we'd put out the fire, she invited me to a barbecue on her brother's boat. She didn't want me to be alone, for obvious reasons. The saying, 'fight fire with fire' must have originated in Australia because they've no sooner put out one than they're itching to start another.

I took some homemade lentil burgers I happened to have in the freezer to a barbecue on a boat in Australia, on New Year's Eve. It is a measure of the fine breeding of my hosts that I wasn't bludgeoned to death and thrown on the barbie myself, or fed to the sharks. My hosts, of course, served the finest shark'n'neeps to be found in Larrikin's End. The smell was extraordinary, but I just can't bear the thought of how cruelly neeps are killed these days, and I couldn't eat them.

Ren, after several glasses of Barney's special 2o11 vintage Russo-Barnique, became rather more animated than usual. That does tend to happen with Barney's top-of-the-range poisons. Anyway, she told me the story of the boat we were on. It had been a fishing trawler catching whiting and morwong. When her father and brother ran it, they'd used nets that trawled several feet above the sea floor, which they knew to be ecologically responsible. She told me that her late father was vehemently opposed to the destructive practice of bottom trawling. The old timers knew a thing or two about so-called sustainable fishing.

These days, Ren's brother runs the vessel as a leisure boat. It was an insanely pleasurable evening as we puttered about Lake Larrikin while the barbecue moaned about the indignity of having to grill my lentil burgers. The other guests, who incongruously comprised only middle-aged, divorced dads and their teenage daughters, occupied their time negotiating facebook access and trying to convince each other to either drink less or eat more.

I couldn't work out at first how this strange cohort could have come together. Then my canny friend Ann O'Dyne filled me in. She'd deduced that the mothers had already booked themselves into New Year's Eve parties, knowing that they'd be able to celebrate free from prying junior eyes. Having nabbed the offspring for the premium family event of Christmas Day, when the major and most memorable pay-off comes to the kids, they leave the dads with the lame-duck event of New Year's Eve. What's in it for kids? No presents - only the responsibility of having to sweat over a parent who is likely to want to get seriously pissed, because it may be the only time in the year when it's possible to do that with other like-minded souls. Now that is sad.

By the time it got to midnight, Barney's largesse had gotten the better of even Pants, who ought to know better after all these years of dealing with the devious little voligarch. You'll have guessed by now that the vodkamisu had more than a little something to do with it. Barney had prepared a special batch, which he assured me was child friendly. It was child friendly in the Timothy Leary sense of the expression. None of us can accurately recall what happened after we'd consumed Barney's special dessert. I think we can safely say, however, that the abandoning mothers might find themselves trumped in future years by the notoriously unreliable vodkamisu flashback, which tends to represent events in a much more rosy light than a standard memory might recall them.

We all agreed that the Larrikin's End fireworks display was the best ever. We differed significantly on how long it had lasted. A couple of participants insist it's still going on, even as I write. I wish the dear man whose wife left him for a Thai cosmetic surgeon and his very lovely teenage daughter, would abandon the gum tree outside my house. He has taken on the persona of John Donne and persistently intones,

'and to 'scape stormy days, I choose an everlasting night'


while the daughter's pitched herself in the Longfellow camp, crying constantly,

'O father! I see a gleaming light, O say, what may it be?'

Oh, sorry innocent country people. Flashbacks - probably not something you've ever had to deal with before. Try to look on the, er, bright side. Plenty of people have made money out of documenting their psychosis.

I know Barney is a menace. But who can stop him now?