The International Writers
about now I was slowly waking up, the first conscious thoughts
floating around my in my head looking for a synapse to link up
to, you know, the first reality check, nice and comfy under the
covers a CroMoPiRo testifying that my prostata is still online
(hey at 45 not a thing to be mocked) second part of the reboot,
where am I? Hotel room yup! Checked in last night curtains still
closed, pitch black, had a few beers at the bar went to bed, time
look at clock
Sod it its only two thirty
another five hours until I can get lifegiving coffee into the
plumbing, lets try to get back to sleep
Sorry Ray, I cant do this
against all reality my body thinks
its lunchtime, time to get up, and goof of
wait for it
Australia, the land of my dreams. Slowly
the flight from Copenhagen is flashed back into memory, Johnny Mnemonic
downloading hot RAM.
As I work for a cheap firm like Esko-Graphics I get to fly economy or
cattle class; row 34, seat F; right next to the loo; the best seat in
the aircraft if you find music in the sound of a very loud vacuum flush.
For a moment I thought that the poor sod on the bog will be sucked down
the U-tube, almost as you see it in cheap 70`s B-movies when the window
in the 707 gets blown out and someone is sucked out into the void with
a fading scream. Watching my fellow traveller emerge from the toilet
and giving his wet hands a shake right next to me was my own kind of
Behind the curtain in the galley the stewardess gets ready with
well lets call it simply Airline food. I really dont want
to know how its made or what goes on behind the curtain but I
did hear one of the crew say something about a passenger in row 27 after
which the galley went quiet until one of the stewardesses gave a short
One thing that I always connect with airline food is the smell of burnt
rubber another thing is my tyrannosaurus-rex impression. Not that I
start eating people but the fact that a man of my bulk gets squashed
into a seat three quarters my size with a food tray in front of me that
just does not lie flat but is propped up on my knees at an impossible
angle. I am trying to juggle food and drink all at once using only my
wrists and fingers to convey "dinner" and booze to my mouth,
my arms squeezed tightly to my sides.
On some flights, the stewardess will take pity and give me a seat with
more room, not this time though!
The plane was chokker! Some rows in front of me a small child was screaming
blue murder, mummy trying to clam her sprog down and just not succeeding,
the kids high keening was driving me up the wall and other kids were
starting to tune up as well in a kind of kiddy-symphonie. Maybe I should
give my phantasie with the loo a try and flush screaming child out with
the blue stuff.
I was hot, sticky, and slightly queasy from the stench combination from
the loo and galley and after 26 hours airtime and a 3-hour-dead-of-night
stopover in Singapore I badly wanted to get to Sydney.
At the Airport I was picked up by William Ho a wiry Hong Kong Chinese,
driving a sleek pickup car I didnt recognise "Its a
Holden Wantanna" he said. "Hmmmm, nice" I think was my
My hotel was in Bankstown on the outskirts next to Paramatta about one
hour from Sydney town centre, apart from the occasional drive-by shootings
and ongoing gang-warfare not the most glamorous places Sydney side but
hey who cares.
The next day William and his Wantanna drove me to the office of GSA,
our dealer down under. I was taken to the conference room to be introduced
to the CEO and his minions.
"G`day Ray sit down, wanna coffee?" feeling important and
a man of the world I took a seat
down with a whump on the castor swivel chair, I shot of and crashed
against the far wall at oh! Warp 5?).
full Ray the floor is slippy"
Brought back to earth I was briefed about some small idioscancrasys
of our customer; "Ray (Ray Fell the customer) can be somewhat difficult,
" I was told.
Difficult! Ha! That was an understatement if ever! Ray Fell is one meter
fifty something, spindle thin and a Choleric with Ahhhh! A kind of selective
Touretts syndrome; he is a Vietnam War vet and has Charlie shrapnel
stuck somewhere in him.
The next day as we were getting the machine into the room I heard him
shouting at the delivery guys, even my ears started to go red at the
tips from his more juicy terms. The movers were four guys from the Tonga
islands each the size of Jabba the Hut. I watched closely wondering
what kind of noise it makes when they start pulling bits of Ray, but
no! The Tongans where looking down at their shoes, hands clasped in
front of them shuffling their feet I would not have been surprised if
one of them had started crying.
Next day it was my turn to be chewed out, I had put the machine (I am
not lying) 2 centimetres away from where she was supposed to go. A machine
that has about two tons dead, may slip to the right or left and having
no wheels or means for easy moving makes for a not very portable machine,
it also takes a corner pretty bad.
Ray went thermonuclear I will not tell you what he said to me because
the thought of it makes me want to lie down and have a nap.
Later on at the hotel bar I watched the telly for a bit, commercials
were on and Holden motors was advertising the all-new Holden Wantanna
a sleek and sexy looking machine. Aussie adverts are quite good by any
standards next time you are in google type in "bloody Volvo drivers"
and enjoy. The programmes on telly though are pretty humdrum and standard
world telly: Friends, Sex and the City, Everybody loves Raymond
(I know you all do) talk shows, Jerry Springer, CNN, BBC, VOX;
are the people on Jerry Springer really that pathetic or is it all show.
To my delight Wednesdays has two hours of the Simpsons followed by SG1
and then Enterprise. But apart for that highlight and a film
on Sunday night the rest of the week is more or less electronic desert.
Yes! I know that my choice of television entertainment programmes tells
what a sad sack I am but I grew up on a diet of Captain Scarlet,
Joe 90, Thunderbirds, Stingray, Star Trek, and Never mind the
Quality feel the width and of course Dr. Who, can you remember
the Handmaiden in the episode with the Inca King? My infant mind thinking,
"wow neat chick".
I even had my mother, bless her socks, holding up the TV aerial at an
impossible angle somewhere under the ceiling standing on a chair supporting
herself with one hand against the window on the top floor of the high-rise
we lived in just so that I could watch The ghost and Mrs. Muir.
Thanks again mom!
Never mind it is Friday and I am in Sydney I took a city bound train
and got of at central quay.
It is said that Sydnysiders are smug bastards and they have every right
to be Sydney Harbour is fantastic; pictures, photos and programs on
the TV just dont give justice to it. The best place in town to
take pictures is on or around central quay, the harbour bridge just
looking in from the left and to the right you have the opera house.
Across the bay connected by the bridge are the northern suburbs, everything
in view is just how can I say "optically right" the whole
town blends into the natural lay of the land.
I walked in the direction of Darling harbour around the Rocks, under
Sydney Bridge and through the south part of town until I got to said
Darling harbour. The whole area from the Opera till way past Darling
harbour is what I call a tourist trap; lots of juppi-bars, restaurants
also called in Newglish "Event locations" Joggers looking
trim and full of self importance, of course we mustnt forget the
eternal tourie; staggering around under the weight of a million cameras.
the record, the Sydney harbour bridge is also known as the "coat
hanger" opened in 1932 is a monument for art-décor,
the bridge is with the freeway 1149 meters long, the arch from pillar
to pillars 503 meters long the deck is 59 metes over the water and
the bridges highest point is 134 above sea level. Famous is also
the bridge-walk. For years now I thought that is one thing that
I must try if I ever get to OZ so off I trotted to find the entrance
Only to be gob smacked to find out that the "walk" will
set me back by Euro 150, --- that is just over hundred quid in real
The girl behind
the counter asked if I wanted to go up or did I just want to stand around
in shock, I opted for a hollow laugh and went out the way I came. Instead,
I settled for a walk over the walkways on the deck of the bridge which
incidentally is a great alternative and just as exiting, you will not
get as knackerd as you would be after the climb. And free of charge.
I walked back towards the opera house, looking at the buskers and stalls
stacked high with antipodian style hippie beads, coloured glass ornaments
and wood carvings and of course lots of Australiana, didgeridoos, bullroarers
and boomerangs, I had noticed that the cheap didges were made from bamboo
and were crudely painted although some of the stalls sold didgeridoos
and stuff made from Bloodwood and Eucalyptus, some without ornament
showing the beautiful texture and grain of the bloodwood, others painted
with scenes from the dreamtime, these were found on stalls run by Australian
tribes; I spoke with one of the guys and was told with a wink that the
bamboo didgeridoo and glass bead sellers came from "indigenous"
tribes as far away as Hongkong.
Every fifty meters or so a group of Aborigines in well "costume"
would show dreamtime dances accompanied with didge music and the haunting
tones of the bullroarer (think Crocodile Dundee´s "phone
The opera house is ethereal and spirit inspiring, too bad Urzon never
saw his creation, my heart soared standing on the steps, the bridge
in the background the ships and sailboats busying in and around the
harbour everything seemed to glow in that curious sunlight typical to
"Ka mate, ka mate
ka ora, ka ora
Ka mate, ka mate
ka ora, ka ora
tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
nana nei i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
a hupane, a kupane
a hupane, a kupane
whiti te ra."
My mind snapped out its dreaming immediately, above me on the steps
a group of twenty huge Maori had started a "HAKA" dance, in
full regalia, with spears and clubs. This was not the wimpy soft PG
rated HAKA shown on TV when the New Zealand All blacks Rugby team ram
the English team unsharpened into the pitch, this was the full Monty.
No wonder the Maori were the only ethnic people ever to stop and put
the fear of god into the Victorian empire builders. The sight of a war
party doing the HAKA would send the British red shirts climbing up and
over each other to get back to the boats. And for them it was a party
complete with feasting on the runners up afterwards.
This war dance was fuelled with enough testosterone to launch a space
shuttle, hell it made me want to run whimpering up a tree just watching.
It is one of my frequent wet dreams to watch a match between the Rugby
playing All Blacks and take your pick of any American football team.
Sorry my American friends it would be a massacre, archaeologists would
be picking bits of shoulder padding and helmet debris out of the field
in generations to come.
I had this fix-idea in my head that I wanted anything with Kangaroo
in it for my tea.
I had heard, that the Aussies enjoy mixing all kinds of local foodstuff
together with anything Chinese, Taiwanese, US, European and so on I
thought it would be interesting to give it a try. Hmmmm! Kangaroo pie,
mushy peas and chips! Maybe snake and kidney pudding. Or even crocodile
tikka masala. I had also heard that, as our bees vomit honey Australien
ants shit it, it is found underground in ants-nests it is called a honey
pot and it is regarded as a great delicacy when served with bourbon
vanilla eis and whipped cream.
Some of the best places in town for grub are according to my tourist-guide
down by the rocks just under Harbour Bridge.
I found out very soon that the "rocks" is a world-class-tourist-concentration-camp-trap.
You can get everything the rich and yuppie tourist can desire, from
(this is so bizarre) Kässpätzle and Weizenbier to Szechuan
duck but no native Aussie grub. After doing the tourist two-step
around circular quay, I took a ferry to Manly beach for a walk around.
I am not going to amuse you about how I enjoyed Manly you would only
be jealous of me.
If you take a map and look at Sydney you will see that the northern
approach to the harbour is a half island joined to the rest of the continent
by way of Manly beach.
The island is now a nature-reserve and walled off but! The wall has
holes big enough to climb through I wandered around for a bit enjoying
the sun, the endless sky, strange looking flora, with flowers like toilet
brushes, flowers that give of the kind of heady smell that gets drug
dogs howling, the heat radiating from the flat topped stones was amazing.
One danger was quite obvious: If you walk too far and blindly through
the bushes you should know how to fly without use of a aircraft because
very suddenly you will be standing on the edge of a very high cliff
that looks like a piece of cake cut of by a knife. I mean suddenly,
one minute you are walking on the ground through dense undergrowth and
the next step you take is in thin air with no creepers to hang from.
On the ferry back to Sydney, I read a bit about the history of Manly.
It seams, that the head had been used first as a disease control centre,
although in the days we are talking about disease control meant chucking
you over the wall and leaving you to fend for yourself. I wonder how
many people chose the step over the cliff to a gradual death from your
illness, lack of sanitation, clean water, and care!
I started reading the book "This fatal shore" about
Australias beginnings as a penal-colony after a few chapters you
start to read between the lines and the misery of the first colonies
just jumps out at you. Having now travelled for quite a few years, I
have been to places and seen things that would drive you to the brink
of your sanity and maybe beyond. My upper lip curls sometime when I
contemplate the pampered "masses", people whose only hardship
is found in the price of petrol or the strain of finding out what to
wear and which restaurant to go to.
How humans can do the things described in the book to other humans is
beyond my thinking and even if I try to look at things from a eighteenth
centaury perspective I always fail, the saying goes that life is cheap
but is it that cheap? Maybe true civilization will always elude us and
things will get worse even as we think things are getting better our
great, great, great, great grandchildren falling back into barbarism
existing on a improvised planet that has nothing left to offer, no clean
water or air, the easy Iron long mined no fuels left.
Sustained only by stories of ancient magicians that were able to fly
to the gods, talk over long distances and in the end got themselves
destroyed by some jealous god.
For myself I try to filter the worst out but I fear sometimes it makes
me just callous and cynical perhaps we are not the crowning glory of
creation after all.
With these thoughts and more, I entered the hotel bar
I awoke in my hotel the morning after, my brain was amusing itself by
jumping out of my left ear using its spinal cord as a bungee, I had
a tongue in my mouth that felt and tasted as if it had been used to
clean the kitty-litter.
Now whatever you think about demon booze, just try to remember that
the waking up after a good night on the town is the worst you are going
to feel all day. The day will only get better from then on.
I mean that, come on! After all, one must try every exotic and unknown
drink on the menu
(I had a feeling that the India ale was going to be deadly)
The trick is to have a ritual. After waking curse yourself for being
such a weak willed idiot with the braking strain of a bread-stick for
having had to much to drink, worry like hell that your kidneys/ liver/
prostate/guts/heart/ and so on are about to fail in the next ten minutes,
turn over on your back and think toilet/bursting-bladder/coffee-need
This hotel that I was staying at catered very well for the lone business
Breakfast with the bean, really thick cut bacon, egg dripping with cholesterol,
toast and lots of coffee made me human once more.
I have this theory about hotels that customers book for us techies,
the more pissed the customer is with us the worse the hotel, I have
been in Hotels-rooms fighting cockroaches as big as mice before getting
into bed. Once! Just before the trip home I just left my clothes in
the hotel and bought new when I got back to Germany. I like playing
Nimrod to the local insects
. Ah! The sounds of a crunching cockroach
underfoot as you go to the loo at night
I really miss it!
Ray was rather calm and relatively normal today apart from diving behind
tables now and again shouting something about Charlie and incoming,
bless his little socks.
He spent the morning bobbing up and down between the printing machines
trying to get "sarge" to "trigger the claymores"
poor sod maybe he had forgotten his medication.
A thing I noticed was that when he starts muttering things about dirty
commie chinks being everywhere and his eyes are darting from left to
right, then the low wage sector Asians on the workforce know to vanish
and will not be seen for the rest of the day.
I for myself, am just propped up against the machine, almost invisible
in my dark clothes in a dark corner, taking it easy, eyes half closed
and waiting to hear clanging squeaking and general "no go"
and "crises in the mechanics" noises from the machine but
to my delight my machine is working perfectly well.
Until Ray bursts in the room waving a printing plate
"Scratches! There are scratches all over the Plate," he screams!
Six hours frantic searching later reveal, that a pneumatic hose had
fallen off and the airflow wasnt able to lift a large format plate
off the delivery system.
I will kill the person responsible.
Thank goodness that the dropped air hose was the only setback of the
Oh! By the way! The Holden "Wantanna" is the Holden one Tonner
pickup, but you knew this from the beginning didnt you
Ah, well back to Denmark and the Hell desk for another week of listening
to techies whine and winge.
Oh for once, just for one time would I like to tell someone to RTFM.
© Ray Heap April 2007
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