36. Caterpillar Extermination Squad, Lewis Hamilton and Bottom Bugles in the Sleepout.

I’m just going to have to phone God again to apologise. I am dreamily remembering when I was a kid of 10, or so. I was a kid most definitely and a naughty one at that. My mate Kev and I, having a surplus of Tom Thumb Crackers from Guy Fawkes day, tired of blowing up letterboxes and pushing lit crackers wrapped in newspapers thru ol’ Mrs Days, front door slot, commenced a program of Caterpillar Extermination about Inglewood and Grammar Mothballs backyard. ‘Sorry about the long sentence Mum’. Thats all right sonny boy. Having been married to your father for over forty years, I know well and truly what a sentence is.

Grammar Mothballs lived opposite Perth’s Hyde Park and her backyard was rich to overflowing with weeds. It was spring and caterpillar mating central. E-Harmony was busy in amongst the weeds. The weeds are crowded like Sydneys Mardi Gras Festival or a meeting of the Liberal Party with everybody on heat. Especially the caterpillars as they rushed about at 1cm an hour to mate. Not that ‘mating’ per se, was on a 10 year olds mind. We were a two boy bomb squad. Kev and I would place a single Tom Thumb under Caterpillar Colin or could have been Caterpillar Cynthia, and blow Colin/Cynthia to smithereens. I now regret doing that and consequently, now being at an advanced age where the mind, free of the necessity to concentrate on earning a quid, is playing tricks. It is telling me that God, who I will possibly meet within a few years or so, maybe considering sending me back as a Caterpillar. I will find out when I cark it and get to meet HIM. Or possibly his underling Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates Tavern.

This all comes to mind as my bride Susan and I are hurtling along with Sanjay in the pilots seat of an ageing Toyota Diesel powered sedan. On Englands A24 super highway, and Sanjay’s speedo nudges 85 miles per hour. Thats 136 k’s per hour in metric speak. He’s at the wheel of his sedan, a private taxi that has been worked hard. Like Sanjay, the sedan has had far too many Pork Vindaloo’s. G Forces push us back into our seats and its difficult to breath and tell tubby Sanjay to ******* well slow down. I do not want to die on Englands A24. We are heading from Royal Tunbridge Wells to Heathrow and its far far easier to travel by taxi than any other means in England. The Government encourages this as all other means of transport, especially public, are falling to pieces. Apart from the Royal families horse and carriage operations, Corgi dog carts, and Camilla’s Polo Pony Ranch.

Sanjay considers he is the Indian taxi industries Lewis Hamilton. The A24 we are on is the F1 circuit. He drives with one hand floating in space as he explains the finer points of cooking up a ‘kick arse’ Vindaloo, his life to date, his four old son Ajay’s life and his mother in laws life she having recently taken four old Ajay back to Indian to show him off to the family, visit their Chilli garden and introduce his gut to Indian Bacteria.

Susan and I are nevertheless excited as after 12 weeks wandering willy nilly about the Old World of Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland, Belgian, France and the small country of Bank Balance, we are going back to the comparative sanity and cost effectiveness of the New World. The world of Australia. Ran efficiently for near 60,000 years by a dark skinned peoples who did not find it necessary to fight prolonged wars, steal other tribes riches, nor their buxom women, smoked roo, snake and or possum. Nor knock over their houses and castles as they, fortunately, had none. Sure, a bit of pointing the bone, wife and husband swapping, leg spearing’s, boomerang throwing and trading of foraging areas went on but it was all docile stuff compared to the lunatics in their thousands that inhabited the lands of Europe over millennium. And still do but now they are called Politicians. I love Australia. My heart belongs here, my nose in a whisky bottle. Unfortunately, albeit a first rate country and excellent place to lay down one’s head, its been run since 1788 by third rate people called nincompoops. They refer to themselves as politicians.

I cannot tell Sanjay any of the above because my words are lost in the slipstream. His racing car has carried him some 246,000 miles. Far in excess of what the manufacturer Toyota considered possible. Or safe. Serviced, he proudly tells us, by a cousins second Uncle in a small shed in Little India, a Borough of Royal Tunbridge Wells that the City fathers know about but do not acknowledge. We enter F1 finishing line in one piece.

The reception area of the Park Inn Radisson Heathrow Airport. Arguable the cheapest and most apparent luxurious hotel we have stayed in in twelve weeks. We should have spent all that time here in comfort with the occasional foray into the wider world with Sanjay as escort. The Park Inn Radisson is only four storeys in height. This is so that it does not interfere with the flight path of a low flying crashing aircraft at the adjacent City of Heathrow Airport. Due to the height, and to fit in some 500 rooms, the Park Inn settles into the landscape like a giant octopus with four storey high tentacles extending out in all directions. Most of earths races are here. At reception, at the bar, at the eatery, nose bags on. Captains, Co-Pilots, Flight Engineers and Flight Attendants parade about in their finery towing impressive looking leather Gucci suitcases full of contraband or drugs. Possibly both. Its not a world I feel comfortable in. Our room, 3305 on the first floor is superb, comfy, and we settle in for our last night in the Old World.

That’s apart from another night to be spent in a fat slug composite tube flying through the lower stratosphere at 900 KPH at a height of near 12 kilometres. Its a long long way to fall with the other 544 passengers in an Airbus A380. We are told that an oxygen mask will fall from the ceiling when decompression is caused by Mohammed humming Allah Akbar whilst blowing a hole in the fuselage. Meaning we are going to crash but thankfully, the oxygen mask will give us another thirty seconds of air before we cark it on some foreign mountain side or ocean. If its an ocean, then we are encouraged to struggle into a yellow life jacket which can be inflated by blowing into a black tube alongside which is a red whistle, numerous belts to tug, a mirror to flash and its all bullshit. Trying to remember which is which if you make it in one piece into the ocean wearing by now, dirty undies, inflate, tie numerous belts, blow a whistle and shine a mirror beggars belief. They should include several small 50ml bottles of whisky tucked into the life jacket. I think the life jackets so that your body, or parts of it, float about so some forensic scientist can determine which parts of the aircraft are safest to sit in by tracking the biggest body parts back to a seat. Passengers in First Class get Platinum Bvlgari Monogrammed Life jackets with a Hostess attached to inflate the jacket for them, tie the straps tight, blow the whistle and shine the mirror. The Hostess then reaches into her pocket and stuffs Caviar into the mouth of and pours a glass of Pol Rodger for the ‘First Classer’. Before swimming off with the rest of the flight crew in the direction of Singapore, dragging the Drinks Trolley behind them.

I keep these thoughts at bay as I sip from a plastic container of Red Label whisky. Thats all Singapore Airlines have these days. In ‘peasant class’ at least. Slurped into a plastic cup from a litre bottle by Hostess Suti who smiles as she looks at me to indicate when to stop slurping it in. The bride indicates with a hand drawn across her throat. I’m comfy, well reasonably so as we are in Premium Economy all booked way back before we realised the country of Bank Balance was sadly, haemorrhaging. I try to sleep, drowse off a bit where my mind takes me to having to pilot the A380 into Singapore’s Changi airport as both pilots have been murdered by Mohammed before he flings himself out of the aircraft taking several Halal meals with him. I’m the only one capable enough, the only one cool in a crisis and the only one wearing an oxygen mask and a lifejacket which is why I’m here holding the joystick. Its a grim picture for although Ive flown before, never an A380. My ego is bolstered by Nicole Kidman coming into the cockpit from her First Class flat bed apartment. Just to wish me luck and promises to have me act opposite her in her next movie. Rather than Hugh Jackman as his fingers have pointy steel bits on the end. Its a lovely dream one I continue to return to. I like being a hero and as the only place I can be one, is in my dreams, why not. But then, the memory of those caterpillars, Colin and Cynthia, the one’s mate Kev and I blew up flashes into my mind just as I approach Changi Airstrip. My bride nudges me as my head has fallen into her Premium Economy space and she needs that space to sip her coffee and read her Singapore Airlines On Board Duty Free Book. Is she not aware that our Bank Balance is depleted? Worse. I have spilt some of my Red Label whisky. ‘Cripes Mum, why didn’t you wake me up’. Well sonny boy, with you and your two brothers in bed, it smelt too much in your sleepout for me to go in and wake you all up. ‘Ah Mum, thats just Snake Boots and Daven playing Bottom Bugles. Remember that Daven could fart his way through the first stanza of Silent Night after a meal of your Ox Tongue Roast with dripping pot gravy’. Yes dear, Daven was very clever that way. Took after his father. Would you like a slice of cold tongue?

Singapores Changi Airport was obviously designed by a Senate Committee made up of all Political Parties with Clive Palmer, Barnaby Joyce and Bob Katter in charge. Hence, bits and pieces of of the airport infrastructure were placed in each of their Constituencies all overseen by the snouts of Bureaucrats who were moulded into shape by Lobbyists bearing striking resemblances to George Clooney and Elle McPherson. One needs a compass, water bag, several camels, a determined will and a cast iron constitution to find the departure gate for their next flight from the arrival gate where you fortunately arrived with 543 other people, still wearing an oxygen mask and life jacket. You have to wait your turn patiently to exit the aircraft until Nicole Kidman and her Von Trapp family of children exit, together with other ‘A’ listers, business people in Armani suits and those fortunate enough to be in peasant class seats 444 to 544 who exit via a toilet shute.

We arrive at Changi’s Terminal 1 located near Dubbo and have to find Terminal 3 located near Rockhampton. We do but not without a few terse words and a brief divorce. For the flight from Changi to Perth we are in peasant class as there is no Premium Economy but there is G & T’s at 10am. Bear in mind that our bodies are at 4am and not the 10am in the plane. Your’e not drinking at 10am are you sonny boy. You’ll turn out like your father. ‘No Mum, it was Sue’. Goodo then dear. Seeing as its 1030, lets both have a little nip of the doings. Hmm.

Ooroo from Sue 😘 and Des 🤪

Wheres all the pictures sonny boy. Your Kodak Box Brownie broken?