posted on November 23, 2006 at 7:41 pm

in december of 1970
when i was 16
russell was 8
john 3
my father decided we would drive to surfers paradise
for christmas n new year
a big slap bang proper gee whizz holiday
we were gonna stay in ten the esplanade
a new ultra modern hotel directly across from the beach
in the heart of surfers paradise
which at that time
had still not undergone its transformation
into the hideous thing it is now
ten the esplanade was then one of the tallest buildings
but it was only about 5 or 6 storeys
most of s.p. was still a low level warren of little motels
coffee shops, bongo joints, amusement arcades
and kinda sleazy/bohemian
it was a long long way from canberra
2 days drive
and my dad had bought a new car, a holden (GM)
a holden premier no less
with automatic transmission n a hazelnutwood dashboard
it was my fathers first australian car..
up till then hed preferred british cars
we had a wolsely which we thought was the bees knees
but our family were getting bigger
so dad went and bought a holden
dark green n sleek n modern it looked
the day he turned up with it
i said goodbye to my girlfriend
who lived opposite the high school
one afternoon
i’d bought her a christmas present too
some mary quant make-up in a white bag
with black flowers
i was very fond of my girlfriend
but i realised later
she was just having me on
it all seemed so important at the time
looking back at it now
i could think she may have had another boy on the side
at any rate she was getting ready to chuck me in
i just hadnt had enough experience with gurls
to realise that…
i can still remember her phone number…..
we set off for sunny queensland shortly before christmas
talk about global warming..
it was pretty hot that year
and just the otherside of syddley
our brand new car broke down
the engine just seized up
n that was that
our green bomb got towed away
and we ended up at a motel on the outskirts of gosford
for an unexpected delay of 3 or 4 days
when my dad shook the motel mans hand
they both found out they were masons
its alright said my dad
jocks a mason n hes gonna look after us
my dad called every scotsman he met jock
regardless of whatever their real name was
i wonder now if this ever irritated all the scottish “jocks” we knew
i guess it was some kind of ww11 thing…
anyway we were ensconsed in this motel in nowheresville
but i didnt care cos it hadda pool
oh chlorine n blue water
nightswimming too
down in those cool depths during that hot australian night
oh how i loved swimming pools
but always packed with people
but here at this motel
russell n i had a pool almost to ourselves
they practically hadda drag russell outta there
at the end of the day
his fingers all wrinkled from 10 straight hours in the water
the sun n the chlorine bleaching his blonde hair white
i can still see his white hair waving around in the blue water
down at the bottom
he was always suntanned too
he didnt have freckly skin like me…
he was like an otter in the water
one day i listened to the radio in our room
one after another it played 2 songs
that were maybe one n two on the charts in england then
my sweet lord by georgie h
ride a white swan by t-rex
changes were afoot in the world
this was georges first single since the beatles
and i thought it was gorgeous
i still do
it seemed like a milestone
ride a white swan was a weird hit too
under two minutes long
ride a white swan like the people of beltane
you didnt hear lyrics like that too often in the top forty
my dad was pretty angry that his new car had blown up
and he starting smoking again
at first these wine dipped cigars with little white plastic tips
he let me try them
actually he let me smoke cigarettes too if i wanted
i guess people still hadnt got the message in 1970
and lotsa kids started smoking at home when they turned 16
my dad always smoked between 20 – 40 cigs a day
for most of his life
at first rothmans
then at the end benson n hedges special filter
eventually we got our car back with a new engine
but dad was miffed and i guess it was hard to let it go
we’d spent some time walking around gosford
smoking wine dipped cigars
dad was starting to treat me like a bloke n a friend
and i was always amazed at how mesmerising it was
to hang around with him n listen to him joke n carry on
he was a very charismatic guy n everyone liked him
i studied his ways n tried to figure out how he had this effect
and i began unravelling his modus operandis
we eventually reached surfers paradise
without further incident
our hotel WAS amazing
well i’d never seen anything like it
up on the top floor
a view of the ocean across the road
individual bedrooms
a breakfast bar with stools
mood lighting
a dishwasher!
in the courtyard was a big blue pool
in the whole time we were there
i probably only once
walked thru the gate
across the road
and swam in the sea
no i was a devoted pool addict
and i was in the pool day n nite
i started to wander round the town
and i spent my time playing pool
in the amusement arcades n feeding the juke box
3 singles for ten cents
i actually got good at pool for a while
i bought my self a green t-shirt with 3 buttons
and a pair of board shorts
my hair was long in a kinda prince valiant look
i guess i thought i was pretty cool
desperate for company
i met a bunch of jewish kids from melbourne
their parents were all billionaires in the rag trade
and they all knew each other n came up every year
the boys all had ultra short hair n “straight” clothes
the girls i cant even remember
except that they were dark
and completely ignored me
all but one of the boys called me “the christian”
and the parents were dismayed when i turned up
at their hoity toity hotel one day
i was a victim of racial discrimination!
i cut myself loose from the israelites
n i met a boy who could not have been more opposite
he had long blond hair
his mother was the cleaner at ten the esplanade
him n his mum lived together in the flat opposite our hotel
we used to go there
his mum never seemed to be home
he had an electric organ
and the bass notes were black with the sharps n flats white!
he could play all the keyboard riffs of the day
and he played me led zepplin 3
and johnny winter
and vanilla fudge
and all of inna gadda da vida by iron butterfly
i thought the bass solo was ace!
on christmas day
instead of going to auntie lu-lus house
i absconded with my pal
n played pool n roamed the arcades of s.p.
i felt deliciously grown up n independent
the next day lu-lu turned up in tears at our motel
and her husband lambasted me for not coming on xmas
“i think youd better apologise to yer aunty” he hissed at me
but lu-lu was too distraught to hear my mumbled apology
god what a fucking carry-on
she didnt like me anyway
why the hell did she care if i was there or not
another amusing incident too
which revealed that sometimes my dads sense of humour
was not infallible
my mothers brothers wifes sister turned up
with her new husband
my father made some joke about how he’d never met her before
only seen her..ha ha..dancing at last card louies…
he was just making this up in an ill guided effort to amuse
however instant pandemonium broke out…
it seems that the lady HAD been some sort of stripper
the new hubby was pretty fucking sensitive about it
nice one dad
did that unleash chaos n mayhem….
on new years eve i snuck off with my friend
and he n i n a buncha his friends
bought a bottle of tequila
and went down the beach where
but me
drunk the tequila n then threw up
then we roamed the bars n parties
searching for “chicks”
but came away empty handed
the ladies werent falling over emselves
for our drunken n vomity crew
so we joined in a rampage
which has since mutated into “schoolies week”
where teenagers go on a bender on the gold coast
random destruction n silly behaviour
at midnight a grown women kissed me
insinuating her cigarette n champagne tongue into my mouth
it was by far the most exciting night of my life so far
i took one last swim in the pool
and got to sleep just as the sun was rising over the ocean
i was pretty sad to leave this wondrous place
but we got back to canberra without incident
although my dad always hated that car
when i got back to canberra
i went down to the dry cleaners at the dickson shops
where my girlfriend worked
when i walked in she gave me a very distant
oh hello….
and those were the last words she spoke to me
that day
i hung around for a while
but i’d been exiled from her realm
for reasons i didnt understand
i slunk home dejected
that love stuff burns!
i had my bass guitar
i reapplied myself too it
doubly so because of that stupid girl
who’d crushed my stupid heart
boom boom boom

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