December 4th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
The boats ready for the start of the race (River Park is in the background)

Val + I both went up to the pub at 8 today.  Although Val doesn’t clean on the weekends, Gordon had asked her to go in today to work for him for a bit.  I started immediately on shovelling sawdust, while she had to clean some garden tables, I think.  There was quite a lot of coming + going tho’, because to celebrate the official opening they were going to have a dinghy race, from the Falls to Waitangi, so the competitors were arriving.  The dinghies pushed off from the Falls camp ground, next to River Park at the bottom of the hill, + I’d half thought of trotting down there for a few minutes to watch, but I was nabbed for another job, helping to wite up some speakers, so missed it.  However, I was able to see the start of the race for the competitors.  It was a Le Mans start, with a difference.  Every competitor first had to drink a pint of beer, + then run down the hill to their boat.  They’d all been decked out with special brewery T-shirts, so looked pretty good.  Not many of them bothered to drink the beer properly tho’. 

Once all the competitors were underway, there was a big exodus of cars leaving for Waitangi to watch the finish, so this was my chance.  You see, I needed to be able to get some money out of the bank in order to take Val out for dinner tomorrow – it’s very difficult organising a surprise when she’s the one organising the finances.  So I rushed out to the road + stuck my thumb out, + got a lift with no trouble at all, since it was naturally assumed I was heading to see the finish too.  I then trotted from the junction to the Post Office, got out $50, bought Val a card + some playing cards (another pressie) then was back again in 2 shakes of a lamb’s tail, almost before anybody missed me.

I was about to re-commence working when I heard the news that there was free beer being served.  I decided then + there that knocking-off time had arrived, + after a short interval, Val joined me.  I knocked back 3 free jugs, + then bought one, all in the space of 90 mins, so naturally was a bit sozzled.  However, I had a few barbecued bangers, + then ran into the people who’d taken me into town.  Fortunately, they only mentioned this the once, + I was able to feign ignorance when Val later queried me on it – a bit close that.

After such a hectic lunchtime, I was about ready for some kip, so that’s what I did, back in our garage.  It was a strange feeling – I put the Walkman on, + then all of a sudden it was the last song on the tape.  Having recovered a little, I rose from my bed, + went out for a game of quoits.  For the first time, other people were interested in playing too, so we played 3 a-side.  It wasn’t so interesting as the singles game tho’ – far more static, even with a larger court.  Keith the pom turned up, + when all the others had gone, Val to work + the others to their respective wotsits, I played him too.  That was fun, the first time I’d played anyone else.  He was good too – long, lean, athletic + canny, but my greater experience got me through.

Before I pass on, I should say more about the pub opening.  It was very successful.  The dinghy race had set things off well, tho’ there was just a touch of bad feeling about it.  To make it fair, the race specifications had been pretty strict, but then someone had simply built a boat, just within the specs, + designed for racing.  Unfortunately, it won, tho’ not by very much – a few feet, I believe, over about a mile and a half course.  The prizes were too big, that was the trouble, but without big prizes there would have been no competitors.  I think that there was really no way round the situation.  And the official opening itself went off very pleasantly too.  The weather was gorgeous, there was big amiable crowd, + the booze flowed freely.

So, having said that, back to the afternoon.  Keith + I retired after our game to the kitchen, where we proceeded to demolish the rest of the lamb curry.  He was able to contribute some mince + potatoes to stretch it a little further, + it made a very tasty meal, tho’ hardly anything like a curry.  Afterwards, lethargy struck, along with greed, + we sat + talked + ate great quantities of bread + butter, washed down by many cups of coffee.  Once again I was feeling the effects of my lunchtime indulgence, + the food + drink was pure medicine.  2 friendly Aussies came in, + kept us company for a while, + then I collected Val’s pressies + some wrapping paper from Sue, who had had them for safe keeping, + took Keith up + let him amuse himself with the Walkman while I got wrapping. 

We’d planned to go to the pub, which eventually we did, tho’ I must admit not with any great enthusiasm on my part.  We went into the “Community Bar” (more or less the lounge) so that we could sit down, had a couple of lemon + limes, ogled the barmaid, + returned for a couple off games of backgammon.  It was very pleasant to have some company.

Before I move on to Dec 5th, I should relate the story of the diary… this diary, that is.  It’s a bit late in the telling, I’m afraid, but I’ve been very behind in writing this up, + things get forgotten.  Anyway.  When I returned from work on Thursday, I found Val busily reading.  The diary, she was reading, + of course it had details of all her birthday surprises.  I had a quick gander to check she hadn’t yet discovered the salient details, but discovering she was getting a bit close, I decided to take drastic action.  While she wasn’t looking, I spirited the offending book away wrapped in my jumper, + hid it… at the foot of my sleeping bag.  Later on that evening, Val asked me if I’d seen it, + naturally I feigned innocence.  The next day, tho’, was when the real problem came, when Val told me, in a great panic, that she couldn’t find it anywhere, that she’d searched everywhere, that she’d asked people if it had been found.  I suppose it was this account of all the trouble she’d been to, + her obvious panic that I would be furious.  My apparent nonchalance at the loss of my diary triggered her suspicions in any case, but I felt so sorry for her that I explained the true facts of the situation.  Luckily she saw the funny side.  She’s good like that.

Well, quite a day. Both working full-time now, so saving money while it was available. And a big day or Twin Pines too, and thus, in consequence, us too, especially with the offer of beer, food, etc. And since, once again, I was able to set my own hours, it made for a nice sociable break (though sociable seems to mean the same as drinking at this time.)

The story of the diary entertained us both all over again when we read it recently – we had both allowed it to fall from our memory – but, as I say in conclusion, it was good that we could laugh at ourselves and each other from time to time, especially when living so close.

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