December 25th 1983

posted in: The way back | 1

Christmas celebration with Kent

Christmas Day ’83.  We barely slept, me just a little, Val not at all.  The speed maybe?  Before going to the disco, we’d taken some more, + maybe this now was the result.  We’d arrived back at 2.30 + taken a mandi, + then climbed into bed + talked + talked.  Had tried listening to music to put us away, but that didn’t work.  Eventually, tho’, I dropped off for an hour or two.  So we were hardly refreshed for Christmas.  Val only allowed me to open one present straight away, which was 2 small packets of corn flakes, so we went to have some breakfast, coming back to Superman’s afterwards for pancakes.  Our opinion of Superman’s has improved a great deal – we think we must have caught them on a bad day when we first arrived.

Val was quite clearly disappointed  to discover she only had the name tag as a present, + that she knew about already (I’d been so annoyed with it I’d shown it to her.)  She didn’t know about the stamp yet, of course, but that was not much against the pretty impressive pile she’s acquired for me.  Still, I had to play my single trump sometime, so I coaxed Val to come for a stroll down Malioboro.  Unfortunately, the bloke hadn’t quite finished yet, but perhaps that was just as well, since it enabled Val to see the work going into it – the guy used no pre-moulded letters, but cut everything out from a rubber sheet by hand.  She was, I’, pleased to say, both surprised + happy with her present, + ordered one for me too, along similar lines, but using a design based on the comic + tragic masks.

Back at the losmen, I opened my other presents.  I had a wooden puppet, a wooden mask, a packet of biscuits, a packet of sweets, + a comb.  Not at all a bad haul.  I only wish I’d done half as well by Val.  We lazed around doing nothing for quite a while, + then decided to head over to the telephone office.  In view of the astronomical cost, we decided to reverse the charges.  Even double the English rate, we reckoned, would be less than the price here.  Because of this, tho’, Val wanted to phone Windrush if possible – her mum had recently had a phone installed.  Only slight problem being that we’re not exactly sure of the no. – it’s been mentioned in a letter but we foolishly didn’t write it down at the time.  Still, we could only try.  We also tried my mum too of course, but as I’d expected there was no reply, meaning most likely she’s either at Bob’s, whose number I don’t have, or a hotel again.  This took next to no time to find out, but for Val’s attempt, we had to wait ages.  Since it seemed we couldn’t discover the right no. for certain we made a guess at it from what we remembered, + tried that.  But for about 2 hours, we were given various delays + excuses, until finally we had to cancel.  Val was even called to a booth once, but got only crackles for 10 mins, + then a voice telling her the line was engaged.  It wasn’t too bad for me, since I had Time to read (another present, I forgot) but Val was too wound up even to read.  And it was such a waste of time.  Still, we could try again in the evening, at Aunty Mary’s, whose number we did know.

Our Christmas dinner was to be at Legian’s, a slightly expensive restaurant in town.  Again, this had been sorted out at Superman’s last night.  Unfortunately tho’, it was a miserable failure.  There were a lot of people, but mostly they were sat in 2 rows down one long table, hardly making for a convivial atmosphere.  We did even worse tho’, arriving late + so being confined to an overflow table, just 5 of us.  Kent was another of the 5, which was some consolation, but he was rather too interested in his lady friend.  The standard of food varied enormously – we just had the standard menu – but most people were dissatisfied in one way or another, + mine (a hamburger, I admit it, a poor choice) was inedible.  Worst of all there was absolutely no atmosphere, + very little attempt to make one – no music, no decorations, no jollity.  I was relieved, as were many others, when the party broke up.

Val went off to phone with 3 other English girls, taking 2 becaks.  They all got through, she didn’t.  And another one and a half hours gone.  Merry Christmas.

After the excitement of the day before, Christmas itself was a definite let-down, all the more so because of my pathetic non-display of presents for Val. No excuse to offer really. Plus the complete failure to get in touch with the folks back home. Pretty much par for the course.

  1. Pamela Blair

    I hope you’ve made up for your lack of presents since 1983!

    A Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year, Chris. I’m still hanging in as you inch your way around the world.

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