I have just realised we have about three shopping days until Christmas and I haven’t made up my mind what to buy myself.
Apart from that, and in spite of my many notes to write a Christmas greeting, I’ve allowed my life to be taken over by too many coffees and cakes with friends, thus time retreated at warp speed.
Sometimes it was necessary to refuel with a glass of wine in the company of a friend or three, especially on a Sunday with Ted. Ted, now retired, is using his drawing skills on a new project. He, like me, observes people and he enjoys making sketches of them. His new project is to observe and sketch people in wine bars and he has so far compiled a list of 70 bars in Perth and Fremantle. I haven’t seen many sketches but he’s gaining an encyclopaedic knowledge of wine.
It’s been a year of travel and broken resolutions. Why change the habits of a lifetime?
I also had to renew my old passport which I’d grown rather fond of. It had about 100 little inked rubber stamped imprints in it (some countries are very mean) also a lot of those visas which look like badly forged bank notes and take up a full page. I like those, they make me feel I’ve actually been somewhere.
I found that I’d been away for over five of the past 12 months. A sort of record. My iPhone also tells me that I actually walked a total of 1679km on those travels. That is a record. I also made a lot of notes, took a lot of pictures and did very little with any of them. Time wasn’t entirely wasted though. I caught up with many friends I hadn’t seen for years as well as making the effort to meet friends from Facebook and various other bits of social media. Those adventures took me though Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. These are countries I tend to enjoy as they encourage me to re-read the old works of Graham Green, Orwell, Maugham and others who collectively help me feel as though I’m living in an exotic time warp. That’s if you call ten buck hotels with cold, mouldy, showers and beds which seem bigger than the rooms, so much so it’s impossible to walk around them, exotic. There’s also the added luxury of bath towels which are so thin they could be used as net curtains.
I remember my well travelled colleague Mac saying “You really know you’re travelling when you’re washing your socks and jocks in a bucket of water on a hotel balcony”. He’s right.
It’s been a year of highlights though I’m not sure the offering of a fried rat for lunch in the north of Laos was one of them. It did look tasty though, especially if you happen to be a cat.
A long trip down the northern section of the Mekong has made me plan an even slower trip next year. Maybe it’s something about Lao hospitality but I was offered some deep fried insects by a lovely old lady en route.
I spent a couple of separate months in my favourite spot in Bali where an old mate, Chris, from our respective first marriage days took the trouble to fly from The Old Dart. Coincidently my photo buddy Mac came in from France. Say no more – we had one of the best weeks I can remember. Plenty of food, drink, many lies and much laughter. As long as we each manage to cling to our ageing bodily wreckage I hope we’ll be able to do it again. I may have to work a bit harder too!
I’ve been back in Fremantle for the past couple of months promising myself I’d write a lot more. I’ve got unfinished stories totalling over 30. That’s taking procrastination to extremes.
A couple of days ago I was exploring the town and was stopped by an elegant Chinese gentleman who questioned me about the abstract yellow paint on the walls in the High Street of the Fremantle’s West End. I told him it was a little difficult to explain, though I did know preciselyy what it was about.
I directed him to the bottom of the High Street, pointing out the steps to the old Round House prison and telling him to walk up the steps, turn around and look back. “All will be revealed” I said.
This is a very clever piece of art work installed by Swiss artist Felice Varini, who has produced geometric optical illusions around the world.
And so 2017 sped past and ’18 is on the doorstep. With that in mind I wish you all the healthiest and happiest New Year possible and I do hope that at least some of us can catch up somewhere other than on Facebook.
Take care, stay well, watch this space.