December 31st 1982

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Being New Year’s Eve, + the last day of ’82.  Which is strange, being in New Zealand, since if anyone had asked me at the end of 81 where we would be in a year’s time, we’d have said England.  How wrong can you get?  And in a year from now?  India, probably.  Anyway, no time for idle speculation right now – I must get on.

Plenty of work to do at the pub today, putting up tents, clearing up the rubbish round the back (of course… my regular task) etc, etc.  I enjoy the work at Twin Pines, because it’s fairly varied, + because I’m not as hassled as to what I do.

And then on to the Cascade.  It was quite a shock.  Yesterday, I think there had been 3 people booked in for dinner tonight, so I was rather hoping it might have remained at something like that, providing us with a faint hope of getting away earlier than 12, + being able to make it to a party.  However, there were now 80(!) people booked in, which just about killed that notion.  Bill + I ran the bar, while Rose, the silly English girl from River Park, was drafted in as a wine waitress.  Not the most successful of arrangements, since Rose didn’t really know what she was doing.  I don’t like working with Bill in any case – I don’t think he has a very professional attitude to the job.  However, the evening went off very smoothly indeed – it was a smorgasbord this time, so there was no problem about speed of service or anything of that kind.  We had left some room for dancing, but nobody got up to get that going, which was a pity.  In fact, it wasn’t all that different from a busy ordinary evening.  We began at about 7, + people were leaving at about 9, in a slow but steady trickle, so that by just over 11 there were only about 10 people left, sitting around in the reception lounge, waiting for the New Year to arrive.  It looked as tho’ one of the most unexciting celebrations of all time was about to begin.  I had got a kiss each from the ladies of one table – 3 very attractive young females too, but that seemed to be about it.

However, we were so quiet that Marion let me go at 11.30.  Zip-a-de-doo-dah, said I.  We had a swifter than swift celebration drink with Bill, snatched a quick kiss off all the ladies sitting in the lounge, smuggled a party hat (two glitter balls on springs attached to a head-band) + rushed off.  We had heard there was to be a party out the back of one of the caravans parked at Twin Pines.  The guys in it, a couple of Canadians, had built a deck out the back, overhanging the cliff + overlooking the Falls, + what’s more had made a magnificent job of it, so it was a good site.  The party was a bit dead when we arrived, + I thought we might be stuck with another dull New year after all, but, not because of any efforts on our part, it soon picked up wonderfully, and by the time the New Year actually arrived (or as near as we could estimate, as we had no radio) it was really humming quite nicely.  The fact that we had managed to down a bit of booze helped, I suppose.  (We hadn’t brought any of our own, an omission for which I still feel guilty.)  Fireworks were let off, people hugged + kissed – some bright spark chucked around a sort of fluorescent dye, making everyone glow in the dark.  Jollity + happiness abounded.  Not that it lasted.  1983 was about an hour old when a fight broke out between 2 of the barmen (Gabe + Tony – I believe they’ve figured in the narrative before.)  It seemed to have calmed down a little,  but then broke out afresh after another 5 mins or so, with someone else joining in on Gabe’s side.  The beef seemed to be that they thought Tony to be some sort of nark.  I think he’s a bit of a wanker – beyond that I wouldn’t venture an opinion.  Anyway, I was one of several who flung themselves between the assailants.  I just wrapped myself round one of them (Greg, the newcomer), + fell over, hanging onto his arms, + talking in as calm a voice as I could muster, telling him to calm down.  It’s what I’d been taught at the camp in the States to kids having a temper tantrum – really, this wasn’t any more than that.  Anyway, when everyone was pulled off I was lying on the bottom, but the only hurt I sustained was a scraped leg, + having one of my balls knocked off… one of the balls on my party hat, that is.  More excitement a little later, I’m ashamed to admit, when, with the assistance of 2 other drunks, I pulled Val’s knickers down.  Fear not, her skirt remained in place, preserving her modesty.  Both in an excessively drunken state, we wended our way home, stopping only for New Year’s greeting + kisses with fellow revellers.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Like I say, I am just repeating what I wrote at the time, so take no responsibility for the appalling behaviour described… except that it was me, of course. And different times, blah, blah, blah – but this would definitely be sexual assault nowadays… and was then, of course.

Other than that, it seems like quite a party, the liveliest New Year either of had experienced… well, perhaps ever. And nothing like it since. It has become the dullest of experiences now, for the most part. But Happy New year anyway – things can only get better (unless they get worse.)

December 30th 1982

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The camp-site, including the eponymous twin pines (though now just a single stump remains)

I was running around busily all day today – it’s quite amazing how my pattern of work changes from day to day.  Mamie had me doing jobs for her, hunting out mattresses etc, as well as my regular rubbish-clearing, plus other little things – I’m always being nabbed by different people to do jobs for them.  This is good, of course, because it means my work is varied.  I did have one depressing task today tho’ – clearing someone’s belongings out of a caravan.  He had remained beyond his allotted time, so now, while he was absent, I had to shift his stuff.  This is the second time I’ve had to do a similar job, + I don’t like it.  It’s such an invasion of someone else’s life, to gather together his books, clothes, food + dirty washing.  I think it’s especially bad when it seems the person is leading an empty or lonely life.

Cascade work was fairly commonplace, tho’ as we get busier, + we are, it becomes more + more difficult to do both jobs, wine-stewarding + bartending, properly.  I manage to do both, but in a slapdash + hurried way.  It’s true that Bill helps me occasionally, but in a way I’d rather he didn’t, since I don’t think he serves people properly.

I still remember the feeling I had clearing out someone’s caravan – though I had forgotten the details of where, when, etc. And the previous owner may have moved on quite happily, glad to get rid of a load of stuff… but somehow I don’t think so.

Apologies, by the way, for the times when I repeat myself, either in the text or the photos.  The text I can’t do much about, not any more anyway, since I transcribe what is there, but I am also aware that, especially when, as now, I run out of photos, I may inadvertently put one in that has featured before.  Ah well (to use a well-worn expression.)

December 29th 1982

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Twin Pines motel units

In case you were wondering, by the way, yes, I’m a week or so behind with the old diary again.  Trouble is, we’re working so much, the only chance I get to write the thing is Sundays.  So this could well turn into The Week in Retrospect, or something similar.  Work OK today – a few jobs to keep me going.  I clear up the rubbish out the back door of the pub every morning, + we’ve been so busy lately that that takes me till coffee break.  (Val makes the coffee every morning at 10 0’clock.)  And then, with more clearing up + out, I kept moderately busy.  Val did me a favour by explaining my plight to Tom, so he gave me the job I’ve been angling for, looking after the wholesale beer dept.  He does it normally, as well as getting on with making things down there.  But of course there are lots of other jobs that he’s required to do which can’t be done anywhere but on the spot – he is the woodworker cum handyman cum plumber of the place, after all.  So while he was off fixing something or other, I minded the shop.

Cascade, of course, in the evening – as I’m the only barman, I work there virtually every night.  Which is good for the money, of course – but can I manage it?  It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.  Tonight tho’ there was trouble in the restaurant, when one big table of 8 walked out because their meals were too slow coming.  It just shows what happens.  Mike is often slow, but other people, because they’re more patient or more forgiving or more talkative, so that they don’t notice, but this lot weren’t, so they left.  Mike tried to blame Val, who was the unfortunate waitress, but Marion didn’t wear that one.  So, obviously, trouble in the kitchen, coming out, more or less, as waitresses against cooks.

I spend a lot of time – too much time, really – moaning about having to write the diary. And now I a in a similar pickle with getting it posted – hence the somewhat disturbed nature of this over the last week or two. That’s Christmas, I guess… though it happens at any time of the year.

Still managing to eke out a living from scraps of work at Twin Pines, alongside my more regular employment in the evenings. We really weren’t doing anything else but work… but that was what we wanted.

December 25th 1982

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Haruru Falls again – desperation stakes here

Which brings us, of course, to the day itself.  What it’s all about, highlight of the year, etc, etc.  Are there any days like that any more?  I don’t think so.  After the rigours of yesterday (see above) plus the fact that we’ve been working our socks off, plus the fact that Val had been up till 4 am on the 23rd, knitting, we were bushed.  However, I managed to rouse Val with a cup of tea, in tent, in bag.  Breakfast next, of bacon + eggs, followed by, I’m rather ashamed to admit, a spot of washing.  There was an absence of Christmas cheer about the place, that was certain – very few smiles even.  Perhaps I’m prejudiced, but the holiday just doesn’t seem to be as big here, + isn’t as friendly.  I think Christmas should be cosy + warm.  Here they’re just interludes, just shoved in the middle of summer holidays.  Anyway.

We hitched into town, as Ivor + Wanda had invited us to go in for a drink.  It was a pleasant morning, barely anyone there, not especially exciting, just a few rums + a chat.  After which we hitched back.  I was able to show off my jumper – Val had given it to me after breakfast – with which everyone was suitably impressed.

As we were working in the evening, + had hopes of a dinner there, we settled simply for a cold lunch – cheese, salad, 3 types of meat, pickled onions – most excellent.  After lunch, a swim in the pool, more for the idea of being able to tell people back home that we’d swum on Christmas Day than to satisfy any real desire.  We lazed around the pool for a while, + then all of a sudden it was 4 o’clock, + time to get ready for work.  We left early, + took some beer + cake with us.  (“Dost think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes + ale?”) in the hope of meeting someone at Twin Pines {+ being able to share a bit of festive spirit with them.  However, the place was virtually deserted when we walked thro’, tho’ as we were too early to start work, we sat down outside Val + Sally’s tent, drank beer + contemplated life.  We were joined by Tony, one of the barmen who’s been drafted in + is living on site.  I don’t like him all that much, but it was good to have someone to talk to.  Val + I don’t talk to each other all that much, + it worries me sometimes, since I know when I see couples in pubs + restaurants, + they’re just sitting there, dumb, I think they must be remarkably bored with life.

And so to work.  The evening went off reasonably, tho’ I must say that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend Christmas there.  Just about the only table enjoying themselves were Marion + her guests, Sue + Wayne, + Ivor + Wanda.  Mike the chef had a fight with Sandra, his wife, so she dumped their kid on him, + Sheryl, Todd’s girlfriend, got roped in as babysitter.  What with that, + the kids being a real pain in the neck, keeping on getting up + walking round, it was all very ragged, + by no means the smooth yet jolly affair it should have been.  And with Mike being in a bad mood, he wasn’t working at his fastest.   Mike’s a good chef, I think, but slow at the best of times.  Also, he didn’t provide us with a proper meal – all we could do was grab a couple of bits of turkey + some pud.  Definitely several degrees up on last Christmas, but I’ve had better.

So, as Christmases go, so it went. Can’t really say I know what I am talking about with the first couple of sentences – just gloom, really. The whole day did go to prove that Christmas is just as much a winter festival, as a Christian one – perhaps even more so, so when released from its northern hemisphere wintriness, all becomes just a little bit pointless. And in the case of New Zealand and Australia, hanging onto traditins of the old country.

Still, we got to swim, to laze around, and still to earn some money, so it served its purpose.

December 28th 1982

Marion and Bill

Had a word with Gordon, the boss, at work today, to see whether he thought there would be much more to do for me, + he agreed that it seemed likely that I would have run out of things in the next day or so.  Pretty depressing.  Still, he had a word with John, his brother, + tho’ John didn’t come up with what I was vaguely hoping for, the offer of a full-time job as barman or something, he did ask me to do some clearing out of the flat upstairs for him.  That, plus shifting a great load of beer for Brian, the bar manager, kept me busy all day till 4.30.  And at the moment, it seems that each extra day’s work is a bonus.

Work again in the evening of course.  We’ve got 3 policemen staying at the Cascade at the moment, drafted up here to cope with the huge increase in population in the area, + one of them (another Wayne, a very popular Kiwi name) had looked after the bar last night.  After hearing from Bill + Marion what a splendid job he’d made of things, + how funny he’d been, I felt even more unappreciated.  Ho hum, it’s feeling sorry for myself time.

Still seem to be struggling to keep work going, almost one day at a time. But so long as we can continue to make ourselves useful ( and get rewarded as a result) all is good.

December 27th 1982

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The Cascade

Back to work today, but really not a terribly satisfying day.  I seem to have hit one of those periodic slumps which affect my career as general do-it-all at Twin Pines.  With so many people in the camp, a lot of the jobs which kept me busy in the past just aren’t possible.  In addition, not only is Joe about doing roughly the same work as me, but many others as well.  Little girls picking up rubbish, 2 boys painting the rec hall, other odd bods on errands.  Still, somehow I managed to find things to do to last out the day till about 3.  This wasn’t too bad, since we’d arranged to have our very own Christmas dinner, followed, since I’d also arranged to have the night off at the Cascade, by a film at the Waitangi Hotel.  We had chicken + sausages cooked out on the barbecue, plus taters, carrots, peas + stuffing.  We didn’t have any cranberry sauce, so I had boysenberry jam instead.  Somehow, it wasn’t quite the same.  And then Christmas pud + cream for dessert.  All eaten out on the picnic tables in the sunshine.  I had a few beers, + Val had a few brown cows, + then we hitched into town.

I noticed that the Hotel was having a “funny-money” casino next week, so I offered my services as a croupier.  It would be good fun, + we might be able to wangle a meal out of them.  They sounded mildly keen, + said they’d get back to me.  We arrived for the film just after the lights went down, which was excellent timing, since there was no-one there to take any money.  This was a real piece of luck, as the film was rubbish.  It was called “White Lightning”, + we’d been attracted to it because it starred Richard Pryor.  Unfortunately, it must have been a very early film of his, since it wasn’t at all good.

When we left, I managed to leave my diary behind.  I dashed back 10 mins later, as soon as I discovered the loss (+ when we were 10 mins towards home) but it had completely disappeared.  However, as you’re reading it now, you can guess that it had a happy ending.  It had been handed in to reception, + they were ringing round all the likely places.  Nice of them.

This doesn’t actually record how we got the diary back, but clearly it happened, so there you go. It does seem as though we were destined to see some pretty poor films, but I have to be careful with my snap reviews, not so much that, as in this case, I (rightly) pan the rubbish, aqs that I shall declare something a masterpiece when time has not dealt too kindly with it.

December 26th 1982

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Boxing Day.  Tho’ not in England, which is 12 hours behind us.  So, as soon as we stirred, more or less, we rose from our mats + trotted over to the Cascade in order to use their phone.  Val rang her mum first, hers being the more urgent, since she only has the one day to be able to ring.  She enjoyed her chat, I think, + even had time for a quick word or 2 to Dave + Pete.  Then my turn, which took a little more time to organise, but which got to Mum in the end, once I’d gotten past the stupid lady who answered the phone at the hotel.  Mum sounded quite chirpy, even tho’ I’d dragged her away from her dinner.  The calls weren’t as expensive as we’d feared, tho’ mine was by far the most expensive, being person to person.

A swift cup of tea, then home again to eat a tasty cooked breakfast, which is good, + to clean the block, which is not nearly so good.  Then, more or less in the nick of time, off to watch the football, to discover that West Ham are still up there somewhere.  We’d intended to cook up some goodies for our own private Christmas dinner today, but neither of us could raise the energy to go to it, so we decided to postpone it.  Filled the afternoon with domestic doings, + then off to work once again.

Quite a busy night for me.  The weather was foul, chucking it down nearly all day, + a lot of the people who’d come up on holiday were there.  We had all the rooms in the place full, with a couple of groups of people who’d delayed putting their tent up for a day, + come in to the motel to get out of the rain.  One of these little groups got heavily into the cocktail scene, + one of them in particular, called Island in the Sun, was really elaborate.  Still, it made things more interesting. 

I finished work just in time to catch most of the Simon + Garfunkel reunion concert in Central Park on the telly.  It was very good indeed.  I’ve never been an especial fan of Garfunkel, but he was really good this time.  I think his voice has got better.  We’re toying with the idea of trying to get tickets for their concert in Auckland.

Phone calls home still remarkably rare,,, and expensive. Still, at least on this occasion they were completed successfully. And then work again. Not sure I have ever made an Island in the Sun since – I shall have to look it up.

Apologies for the paucity of photos – the situation really is starting to get desperate, as there is – slight plot spoiler here – quite a while yet in Paihia, with very few photos to cover the period.


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With last week’s class cancelled, because of strikes, the cold, etc, this was our last session of the year, and so was inevitably devoted to Christmas.  There was an excellent turnout too, with most arriving on time.  I had hoped to make the session educational as well as entertaining, pointing out the two Christmases which run side by side, the religious and the secular, and the culture, music, etc appropriate to each.  But I hadn’t really worked out a lesson plan, and so it was all a bit random.

But it was a jolly enough occasion.  We played games – zip zap boing of course – but also pass the parcel.  (It would have been better if I had had some jolly music, but I failed miserably on that side of things.)  We had some Christmas food – I had brought in some home-made mince pies, which went down very well indeed.  We sand, and danced, the Hokey Cokey.  And of course there was a bit of Drama.  I gave a very quick and what must have been a most confusing introduction to pantomime, and then broke them into two groups, to prepare, rehearse, and perform to each other.  And hugely entertaining they were too, with Red Riding Hood and Cinderella.  I think my favourite moment was when Hamid (as Granny) opened the door to Aisha’s wolf – pure panto.

The final section was a very rough version of A Christmas Carol, in which I appropriated the tole of Scrooge, and everyone else played… well, everyone else.  Not sure that it was the most wonderful of versions of the story, but I think we got the story across.

In some ways, a slightly bittersweet end to the year.  The production is very doubtful, and I told them of my departure at the beginning of March.  But on the whole, it has been a success.  Many of them, especially the regulars, have blossomed, and we have laughed a lot… which counts for quite a lot.

December 17th 1982

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The River Park Christmas party

This where the whole thing becomes remarkably difficult, not to say utterly impossible.  You see, the true date is now Dec 26th – that is Boxing Day, so as you can see, I am a long way behind, further than I have been since I started this account.  I’m not trying to make excuses, but really I don’t think I’ve had a single minute to myself in all that time.  It’s been work + eat + work + shower + work + sleep.  At any rate, that’s the way it’s seemed.  It’s probably not really true, but I really can’t think of any times I’ve spent on less labour-oriented enterprises.  I haven’t read, or spent hours listening to the Walkman.  However, excuses, however well-founded, don’t help.  Whatever the justification, I am now well-behind with this little story, + must now make strenuous efforts to catch up.  However, I feel I shall temporarily have to abandon the chronological approach, + classify this by subject.  Such as… Twin Pines!

Right… Twin Pines.  A week of work of the normal sort, becoming increasingly hectic as Dec 25th approached.  Fortunately, there has been plenty to do, so I haven’t been at all bored.  One or 2 jobs were even quite interesting, such as driving to Paihia to have some keys cut.  The man there is a craft teacher in the local school, but he cuts keys in his spare time.  He was fairly interesting to talk to, even if, as I later discovered, none of the keys he cut actually worked.  Ah well.  Other than that, everything as normal.  They’re taking on extra staff there to help cope with what everyone tells us will be the post-Christmas rush.  I’m in a bit of a tricky position there, since I can’t apply for any new jobs while I still have my old jobs, yet my daytime one is tenuous.  Have to play things by ear, I suppose.  Val has acquired more work, with some cleaning of the old flat which they’re converting into more guest accommodation, plus the possibility of some waitressing in the evenings.

Cascade.  Last night was a bit heavy.  I started at 7, since Mike, the other barman, was also working.  However, this was his last night, since he’s moving on to a far better job at the big hotel in Waitangi.  A pity really – at first I was quite nervous that he’d be taking work away from me, but it looks as tho’ there’ll be plenty, + anyway he’s quite a nice bloke.  Anyway, he left early, leaving me to finish off on Saturday night – he wasn’t stupid, since we had a big dinner party of 12 in, + they turned out to be real trouble.  Partly my fault, since I decided to play the wine waiter, top up their glasses, etc – I should have just left them to it.  Not only did they get very drunk – which they probably would have done in any case – but they also gave me a lot of hassles.  I think they were a removal company having their Christmas party, + some of them  were real rough slobs.  And, of course, they got worse as they got drunker.  Pinching ornaments, plants and table-lamps to put on their table; calling me names (in a mildly good-natured manner); turning the stereo up really loud.  Bill + Marion were out for most of it, but when they came back, Marion had to deal with them – good luck to her.  One bloke had his flies open, the plug from a table-lamp shoved inside his trousers, + the lamp round his neck… + was dancing.  Ho hum.

I didn’t work Sunday, on Monday I stock-took (if that’s the right expression), + on Wednesday I spring-cleaned the bar.  Thursday was my next night, + that was remarkably busy.  There was a tour in, plus quite a lot of casuals, so I was rushing about till about midnight.  When there are so many people in, they definitely need at least 2 to man the bar.  Bill does give me an occasional hand, but it’s not enough.  The tour party came back after the pub, so it was a pretty heavy session.  Fortunately, the next night, Christmas Eve, they all went off on a disco cruise, so I could shut the bar early, and get off to…

…next section, a party.  Parties.  The first party was on Saturday the 18th, at River Park.  I missed it, of course, since I was being abused by drunken removal men at the time, but Val tells me it was rather boring.  She still managed to get drunk, so it can’t have been so very bad.  She had to pay for it tho’ – $7, it was, tho’ it was a remarkably well-stocked barbecue.

The next party was on Sunday, the next night.  Again, I arrived late, (so I must have been working, after all), + it wasn’t wonderfully exciting: 2 of the campers had invited Val over for a game of… well, I can’t actually remember what it was called, but it was word game.  They were a little dull, but it was nice of them to invite Val along, + they gave us coffee + cake, so that made a pleasant change.

Tuesday night was Cascade’s staff party, + I was very disappointed when I heard it was a barbecue, since I’d looked forward to a proper Christmas dinner.  However, the meal was very good – steak, chops, sausages + salads.  It was afterwards that was disappointing, when a lot of the younger people just upped + left.  It seemed incredibly rude to me, to eat + run, without so much as a thank you, but maybe I’m just being old-fashioned.  I think I was just properly brought-up.

And finally, of course, the Christmas Eve party.  This was at River Park again, + once again it looked like being remarkably dull: just a few people sitting around chatting about nothing.  Val virtually didn’t get to the party at all – first of all she was later finishing work than I had been, then she was finishing off my jumper (true to my expectations of her, she just about finished it in time.)  Then she wrapped up my presents, + finally, when she arrived, it was time to push off with the others to church (I didn’t go, along with a few other non-believers).  It was a shame really, because the party (which had moved to the garage when it became too cold), was just getting going, with everyone dancing, when the majority suddenly shoved off.  So Wayne + Ivor (a friend of Wayne’s) + his wife, just stood around + drank till they all came back.  At which time it was time to break things up.  The owner of River Park’s 2 daughters were there, a remarkably silly pair (+ enormous with it), especially Mandy, the younger.  Quote of the Christmas period?  Mandy – Are you going to church?  Chris – No, I don’t believe in it.  Mandy – Oh, that’s not very Christmassy, is it?

River Park  I should mention River Park too because I also worked there.  Val has more or less taken over cleaning out the block for me, but Wayne + Sue seem determined to make me work – they must think I’m lazy I suppose.  On Tuesday I was nabbed to clean the windows in all the units, + on Friday I helped Wayne for an hour with some raking.  Not a great deal of work, I admit, but I wish we knew where we stood, + that we could fit the work in to suit ourselves.  Sue + Wayne are so variable – one moment they’re all smiles + friendliness – the nest they seem to be sure we’re taking advantage of them.

Presents  I took Thursday afternoon off to hitch-hike to Kerikeri to buy Val’s Christmas presents.  I had only a couple of ideas, hoping that inspiration would strike.  It did, I suppose, tho’ it was a bit slow coming.  First off, I arranged, + paid, for Val to have her ears pierced.  Then a book – I tried for a hardback copy of The Thorn Birds, but they didn’t have one.  I then wandered up + down, all to no avail, since nothing appealed.  However, after a bit of a search, I scraped together a book (another Colleen McCullough book), a Frisbee, 2 miniatures, + some fruit (traditional Christmas pressy for Val).  That still left a “main” present to buy, + I nearly got her a sweatshirt – it wasn’t especially wonderful, but I knew she wanted one.  However, I decided to think it over over lunch.  I treated myself to sausage + chips – I have never had such an enormous portion of chips in my entire life.  I couldn’t finish them, + this is virtually unheard of.  Afterwards, I was just on my way to the sweatshirt shop, when I saw a shop I had missed, advertising patchwork articles.  I strolled in, + found a really good selection of pretty wrap-around skirts.  (They were cheap too.)  So I made my selection, + my shopping was complete.

Hitching home was difficult, more than I have ever known it yet, taking me 3 rides.  On one of them, in a lorry, I nearly lost our Christmas chicken pieces out the window.  I grabbed them again at the last moment.  Funny really.

On the way out, I’d had just one lift, with a man with a Christmas cake on the seat next to him.  He’d picked me up because he needed someone to look after it.  He’d tried holding it with one hand, + had stuck his thumb in it.  Which is what the spirit of Christmas is all about… maybe.

So this explains – up to a point – the absence of any post over the past few days. Except that as this was dated Dec 17th, that was when I should have posted it. But on the basis that it deals with those last few days leading up to the holiday itself, I allowed myself some leeway. Interesting that I quite frequently comment on the tyranny of the diary, how I am always behind, etc, and the same thing is happening now, that I find posting it, and even more particularly finding a photo, really quite a chore. But just as I am pleased that I persevered with the diary in the first place, it is good to see all that writing transcribedeven if it is me that has to do the transcribing, and that is quite a chore in itself.

At least there were some Christmas festivities, albeit of an antipodean – ie in the middle of summer – nature.

December 16th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
A sign of desperation, in yet another picture of Haruru Falls, this one from recently (it hasn’t changed much.)

One of my far more satisfying days today, with many jobs to do + done, keeping me amused till 5.30.  Scrubbing, painting, clipping, sorting, burning – all sorts of nonsense.  Plus the by now usual spate of beer shifting.  The last for quite a while, I’m afraid – it was a real job, gave me an opportunity to prove my usefulness, + was quite fulfilling in itself.  Come evening, Val + I had a very tasty meal together, + by the time that was cleared away it was time for bed.  It’s amazing where the time goes.  Val is still frantically knitting – she had my jumper half-finished, but decided it was too big (it was – it was enormous.)  So ripped it all back, + started again.  It’s a bit of a race against time to have it finished for Christmas, but I have every confidence in her.  We received a letter from Keith today, giving us further details of places to stay etc in Asia.  As you’ve no doubt gathered, he’s moved on.  Rather a shame really, a friend in the Dave/Rob mould, tho’ perhaps rather more serious.  It’s one of the perils of travelling, unfortunately, that friendships made are often so fleeting.  Still, we hope to see at least some of our friends again.  I’ll give a list sometime soon – right now, I’m very tired.  Good night.

Typical of Val, first to take on a pretty mammoth task with very little time, and then not to be satisfied with her efforts. And yet another goodbye, this time a permanent one, for we never did see Keith again; I don’t even know where in England he came from.