Chris with fellow salesmen Richard, Pat, Angela, Patrick
When I last posted this blog, Val and I had just arrived in Melbourne, having flown in from New Zealand. And as you no doubt recall, I decided at that point to take a break from the daily grind, if posting a single blog can be described as such. A brief recap – I did feel that, in contrast with the rest of our trip, we weren’t travellers at this point, having a proper home, proper jobs, and living relatively normal mundane lives. I am sure there is material of interest within it, but what it was not was a travel blog, and so it was out of keeping with the rest of the account.
However, I do owe it to you, for the sake of continuity, to provide some sort of summary of that time, so I will attempt to do so without boring you to the point of catatonia (no, not a region of Spain.) We had arranged to land in Melbourne so as to visit Val’s relatives there, her mum’s brother George and his wife Lucie, plus a couple of cousins. And we stayed with them for a week or two, enjoying home comforts and being treated, before buying a car to sleep in, and driving over to Sydney (by way of Canberra.) The car, by the way, was to prove a costly mis-step, but we live and learn. Or not.
In Sydney, we contacted John and Jean, the sailing couple some of you will remember from Polynesia and the Cook Islands, but then, somewhat unexpectedly, I was able to make contact with Mike, a long-lost (to me, at any rate) cousin. He had a spare room in his flat, and that was where we lived. And found ourselves jobs, both under the radar: Val as a waitress in a mildly upmarket Italian restaurant called Giovanni’s, me as a telesales operative, cold-calling companies to persuade them to take some advertising space on one of a range of wall planning charts. Not just any wall-planning chart however, but official ones, for such bodies as the Australian Medical Association. Not that this really helped – cold-calling really is dispiriting, as one inevitably gets rejected on a regular basis.
Val in work gear
And so for most of the time I was intensely depressed at work, with moments of elation when I made a sale; as I was on commission only, if I didn’t sell, I didn’t get any money. But rather to my surprise, I did find I had something of a talent for it. It was my proud boast that throughout my time with John Bester and Associates, I never made nothing (though on a couple of occasions it was pretty damn close.) And when Val finally did the calculations, at the end of our time in Sydney, she discovered that we had both earned pretty much exactly the same.
And while we lived in Mosman, the Sydney suburb where Mike had his flat, we lived pretty much as any other young couple – we went to work (with the added incentive of travelling to the city on the ferry, travelling past both Bridge and Opera House every day – splendid); we cooked (Val in particular taking advantage of both a proper kitchen and a copy of the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook); we went to the cinema; we entertained friends. And as there was a regular supply, I at least smoked rather too much dope. All pretty normal, in fact. Most importantly, we topped up our funds, ready for the long journey back – half a world, no less – via South-East Asia.
Which is where we rejoin the daily story, preparing to see just a little bit of the eastern Australian seaboard on our way north…