A Lunch Too Far

It is good to meet up with friends and work colleagues. It is comforting to be with those with whom you have a shared history. Especially when you are getting on a bit.

I found one such group of colleagues that met monthly for lunch at a club not too far from where I lived and having gone to one lunch, I thought I would go to a second.

A journey by train and bus was required, however.

I had it all planned.
So, washed and scrubbed and wearing my favorite ‘bomber’ leather jacket (with the wool fleece collar), I set out for a brisk stroll to the station, where my journey would begin.
There was just one thing. I had run out of my blood pressure medicine, so on the way I had to stop at the pharmacy to restock.
No problem. I had allowed time.

One thing I hadn’t allowed for was that it was pension day so the pharmacy was full of old people getting their medications.
Battling walking sticks and frames and something resembling a geriatric mosh pit, I eventually got to hand my prescription in and was told to come back in about 30 minutes, seeing as they were very busy. I could see that.

No problem. I will miss the train I was aiming for so I won’t get to my destination of history sharing friends by mid day. Never mind I’ll only be thirty minutes late. I’ll read the paper and have a coffee while I wait and then get the next train.

Time’s up. I return to the pharmacy to discover they had mislayed the script. After it was rediscovered, I was invited to come back in 15mins.

No problem I should still make the next train.

Eventually, armed with my drugs and the recently acquired newspaper, I set out for the station arriving just in time to see my train disappearing despairingly down the track.

No problem. I will miss out on pre lunch drinks but I’ll get there for lunch.

Having got the next train and arriving at the station where I transfer to the bus, I set out on the short walk to the bus stop.

That’s when the rain started. The weather forecast hadn’t mentioned rain.
Putting the newspaper on my head in a somewhat futile attempt to keep dry, I strode on down the ‘street with no shelter’. Getting wet.

I had to cross a side street to get to the bus stop. The bus emerged from the side street and stopped at the bus stop. I, on the other side of the street, was unable to get across to it. Thwarted by traffic lights and endless traffic. The bus disappeared despairingly down the road.

There was beginning to be a problem.

The next bus available wasn’t going to quite take me to the club. There would be a short walk at the other end.
I would miss lunch but at least I would get there and have a few drinks. I should be able to get a packet of nuts or something.

The next bus duly arrived and deposited me a short walk away in the unannounced rain.
Off I went, newspaper on head, down the street with occasional shelter.

At last I arrived at my much anticipated citadel of historic friendships.

With my newspaper, which by this stage was paper maché, in my hand, my wool fleece collar oozing rain and leaving a trail of wet footprints with the occasional drip of water across the vestibule I announced to the receptionist, “I’m here for the lunch where do I sign in?”
She looked at me quizzically.
“Oh!” she said, “that was last week”.


Written when my grandchildren went home after Christmas.

No mess, no laughter

A paper plane is flightless

Grandchildren went home

The Spa

In the seventies the height of luxury was the spa attached to the swimming pool. I never had one. I wasn’t that rich. However whilst building a house in the rural fringe of Sydney, Australia I befriended a women and her sons.

Janet was a wonderful person probably ten years older than me. Her husband was a doctor and fairly wealthy but he had died a few years earlier in a drunken car crash. He was an alcoholic. Anyway with the wealth came a swimming pool and the spa.

The pool was a welcome respite from house building in the hot Australian summer. Stephen, her eldest would help me with building. Peter, her other son was a bit young at the time.

And the parties were great.

Much quaffing of wine, playing of guitars, singing of songs, soaking in the spa and cooling off in the pool .

Stephen had a girl friend who was like ‘the girl from Ipanema’, any true man could not help but sigh as she walked past in her bikini.

Now, me, I was a hippy. I didn’t see the point of clothes, so I’m sitting in the spa enjoying my nakedness. I suppose the alcohol and weed helped! Linda didn’t share my enthusiasm for nudity, more is the pity, but she could cope with mine.

A group of us had been enjoying the warm bubbling water and glasses of bubbly when it occurred to me that we had run out of drinks so I thought it incumbent on me to go to the kitchen for another bottle or two.

Now I must explain at this point that this was a Sunday afternoon party to which Janet had invited not only her hippy friends but also the straight neighbours. The straight neighbours, actually all housewives, were already on the edge of their comfort zones in this gathering of bohemians and had retired to lounge room to drink tea and orange juice away from the wanton exposé of raw life happening outside the sliding glass doors. See, Janet didn’t discriminate when it came to inviting party guests. She was a socialist. Or a hippy pathfinder.

I started to get out of the spa expressing my desire to return with more bubbly. Some members of the group, realising that the path to the kitchen was through the lounge of the uptight, suggested that this might not be the best idea I’ve ever had. Linda, however, with a malevolent gleam in her eye, said “If he wants to let him’.

So, with the imprimatur of the most beautiful creature in the vicinity, off I went resplendent in my water soaked nakedness on a knights quest to secure alcohol.

Now I have to say that apart from being aware of walking through a group of fully clothed mainly female people I didn’t give it a second thought. I returned to the warm and bubbly world of the spa, via the same route, with a fresh bottles of joyous elixer. It was only later that Janet gleefully told me of the consternation and squirming that had greeted my spartan journey.

She then told me of the comment that went into local urban mythology.
‘It was all pink and wrinkly’ one of the ladies offered.

About a week later Janet acquired two kittens.

She named them ‘Pink’ and ‘Wrinkly’.

My penis, in a somewhat imperfect manifestation, was now immortal. Well at least as long as the cats lived and they do have nine lives!

He’s Very Big Isn’t He?

Small children are a gift. They’re just a few years away from having left God or source or everything that there is or whatever. And they haven’t had the cosmic connection taught out of them yet.

My granddaughter was only 4 years out of heaven when I had my heart attack. It was my own fault. I had consistently ignored my high blood pressure. Well this ostrich imitation resulted in a type A aortic dissection. Survival rate, not good. Thanks to brilliant paramedics I made it to hospital and was operated on by some of the best surgeons in the country.

Cassidy was concerned that her mother was so upset and wanted to know why. Vanessa explained that I was very sick in hospital and although everyone was doing their very best, I might die. It’s a lot to comprehend for a four year old. She had never experienced any one or any thing she knows dying. It was a new concept, so she went to her room to contemplate it. A little while later she came out and said “Mummy what can I do to help Michael?” Here it must be said that Vanessa is a most wonderful mother. Others might have dismissed the thought that anyone so young could have any part to play and given a dismissive answer. She felt totally helpless herself.
“Just send him lots of golden love and light” was her reply.
Cassidy retired to her room to consider this course of action.
A little while later she emerged carrying a cushion, which she placed in the centre of the lounge room. She sat cross-legged on the cushion in her very best lotus position and placed her Barbie tiara on her head. “Like this Mummy?” she asked. Her mother nodded. Then in a 4 year olds version of meditation, she closed her eyes and proceeded to send me golden light.

Meanwhile, back in hospital things were at crisis point. My body temperature had been reduced to 18 degrees C for the operation and I now had a piece of Dacron for an aorta and my aortic valve had been repaired. The problem was that although my temperature had been brought back up, my body was not retaining the huge amounts of blood that was being transfused into me. Everyone had done everything they could. It was up to me to start recovering.

One hundred kilometres away and on the second day, Cassidy sat down on her cushion in her very best lotus position wearing her tiara, closed her eyes and decided to send love and rainbows this time. After a while she said, “He’s alright now Mummy.” And then she added as she packed up her cushion and tiara, “He’s very big and golden is’t he?”

Back in the hospital I started the recovery process. I had decided to stay.
Interestingly as I became conscious I remember having a dream where I was a very big and golden Aztec. Coincidence?

What Happened To The Dream?

The sixties and seventies produced a generation of young people with a firm belief in love, peace, joy and equality. Wealth and conformity were no longer important. We were free to express our true selves without fear of judgement. We were all God’s children.

What happened?

We were the children of those who had experienced the full horror of yet another ‘war to end all wars’. The militarism, the lies, the deceit, the propaganda, the destruction, the austerity and suffering was over. Filled with hope and optimism for the future our uptight parents filled the post-apocalyptic world with little bundles of joy. It was a boom time for babies.

When the baby bubble became adults they burst onto the world in an explosion of joy, colour, music and fashion as a counterpoint to the austerity and greyness of the post war world. With it came a new attitude. We reveled in the joys of life. We were against war, bigotry, racism, inequality and sexism. We were for love, peace, festivals and very loud music. Oh, and drugs. This was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. We could all live in love, harmony and compassion. Flower power was the creed of the day. Sex was no longer taboo.

The festival at Woodstock was the pinnacle of the new feeling. The actual festival was an organisational disaster but it succeeded in gathering together half a million young people with same dreams, hopes and aspirations for a better, peaceful world.

I wasn’t there. Neither was Joni Mitchell who wrote the definitive song about the event. Woodstock.

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden

We had a feeling that our parent’s generation had lost the plot and we had to return to a simpler more honest, peaceful humanity. The sex, drugs and rock and roll weren’t bad either!

To my mind Joni Mitchell was the consciousness of our generation.
This from ‘California’ on the ‘Blue’ album.

Siting on a bench in Paris France
Reading the news and it sure looks bad
They won’t give peace a chance
That was just a dream some of us had

So my fellow hippies, what happened to the dream? Where are you all? Why haven’t we been able to change the world? Why do we continue to elect politicians who lead us into war? Why do we continue to live in fear?

The youthful enthusiasm, the love, the compassion and joy of life of the sixties and seventies seem to have vapourised.

But a lot of us aging hippies are still around. Some of us at least haven’t lost the feeling of those days. The feeling of being open and ‘real’ and vulnerable and accepting of all God’s children regardless of colour or ideological beliefs.

Now this leads to an interesting thought. I’ve noticed that the older I get the more I reflect on the hippie way of life of the sixties, so I wonder what a retirement village or nursing home will be like when us hippies get there. Sex, drugs and rock and roll! A cosmic retirement commune with lots of concerts and loud music. Outrageous colourful hippie clothes, big hair, Jefferson Airplane karaoke competitions, pot plants everywhere. Swimming naked in the pool and groovy fondue dinner parties. We’ll have our own rock and roll band and let it all hang out. Cool man!
It’ll be good to salvage something of hippiedom. I’m looking forward to it.

If we weren’t able to change the world at least we can take the dream with us in an outrageous blaze of glory and embarrass the children.