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Friday 12th Dec, or, Friday I'm In Love

By about seven thirty it’s a bright, clear, clean new day, and I need a pee. I climb down out of the tree, apologising to a drowsy JR, and go behind the old boatshed, then clamber back up. JR has moved and gestures to me to come up to where she is; I smoosh in next to her, and Oh My God. This is SO comfortable. Damn! If we’d just slept here – a couple of feet to the right - I would have had no problems going to sleep. Jesus Christ. I don’t remember ever being so comfortable in my life. We go straight back to sleep, toasty warm and deliciously comfy. Mmmmmm.

We are awoken and hour or so later by a car shooting past us, screeching to a halt and reversing back again. I wave cheerily at him from our perch. Whoever’s in the car looks up at us in amazement and bafflement for a while and then, shaking his head, drives off again. JR and I laugh – his face was priceless – and then decide we need to get up. About half an hour later, we actually manage it. (Too...comfy....couldn’t.....move...) We climb down the trunk to get her bag of apple juice, which is breakfast. We lie in the long grass, basking in the morning sun, drinking sweet apple juice.

‘This is still juice from Hawaii’ she laughs, showing me how much more she still has. It’s a wonderful breakfast. Wakes me up nicely. Soon, some fisherman come along and start doing things to the boats that are pulled up onto the grass. Jr introduces them to me as the crew of the Golden Rose, and they show us how to splice rope. Someone else comes up, a tall guy in a boiler suit and gumboots, with curly brown hair, and when we’re introduced he says shyly that we’ve met; I realise it’s Josh, who gave me a lift in his chocolatey jeep on Saturday. In the light he’s almost unrecognisable; he really is much older than I’d thought, and here he looks much more solid and less shaky. It’s nice to see him. I can’t remember what he was doing there, I wasn’t really that awake at this point.

Yesterday, JR and I decided – not making a plan, because JR never plans, just an idea – that it would be nice to go over to Medlands today and have a surf. We’re both leaving soonish and just think it’d be cool. We don’t fancy walking the whole way with surfboards, though, and the only people we know with a car is the Bushrats, so we decide to drift over to the woodyard and see if Kyle’s at work. If he is, we plan to tempt him away from it and persuade him to drive us all over to Medlands. The woodyard’s all silent, though, so we resign ourselves to hitching and start to wander back towards the tree. As we do, a car comes pitching past us and stops; the Bushrats, all of them, lean out of various windows, grinning at us. I’m beginning to get used to this. On this island it seems that very often, if you hope for something, it just happens.

‘Just the people we wanted to see!’ I laugh. ‘Hey! Where are y’all going? We slept in a tree!’

‘Ah, true?’

‘Yeah, come and have a look!’

We stroll back to the tree and they follow in their car; they park up and come scampering up the tree with us, eyes wide and disbelieving. Even with all five of us up there, it’s plenty roomy. They agree that it’s pretty sweet up here and threaten to push each other off a bit, and then we all scramble down and we demand to go to Medlands. They shake their heads; no, not happening, they have to work and Kyle’s car is too illegal to risk driving over the hill. I’m not giving up yet though. They’re going to Tony’s, working home help for him, so we ask for a lift to my place and pile in. It’s the back window-less car, so we lie down as flat as we can and catch up noisily. They seem on form.

‘I saw you’ says Kyle suddenly.

‘Er, yeah, you can see me now.’

‘No, before.’

‘...When?’

‘On gooseberry, with your dad.’

‘Oh yeah!’ bursts in LH. ‘That’s right! You were listening to music!’

It falls into place. Were the terrifying, hoodie-clad youths I hid from that day really just shy, button-eyed Kyle and laughter-riddled LH? I suppose they were. That’s amazing. Just shows how fear blinds you; the boys I remember were totally different. I know what they’re going to say next, though.

‘Let me guess’ I say tiredly. ‘You thought I was his girlfriend.’

‘Yup’ grins Kyle.

‘We were thinking, hard out, Ricky’s in there!’ giggles LH. I sigh. There’s been so much of this. Gurgh.

We stop at Stonewall to get groceries – Kyle does another Kyle-shop, coming out with a bunch of bananas this time – and we are introduced to Leon’s dog Rat, a sweet little bitch who’d been lying so quietly in the passenger side footwell that I hadn’t noticed her. She’s lovely. By the time we get round to Hapuka I’ve convinced them to abandon going to Tony’s and come over to Medlands with us. (I point out to them that I have ID, and can therefore buy booze; that seems to do the trick.) Leon’s 18 too, so I run up to the house to get boards and change while they go down and see if Abi will sell them alcohol. Uncle bruce isn’t home as I pull on swimmers under my clothes, grab sunblock, wetsuits and my emergency 20 bucks and run down to get the surfboards. They’re under the house, looking as ancient and crappy as ever, and by the time I’ve pulled them out the rats are back, shaking their heads; Abi wasn’t having any of it. Fair enough. I shove the boards in the back, nearly beheading JR as I do, jump in, and we drive back over to stonewall, where I tell Kyle to park up while Leon and I go in for booze. We all put in what money we’ve got and it comes to about sixty bucks, which is apparently how much a big bottle of whiskey costs. Awesome.

‘GET CC!’ they yell in unison.

‘What’s that?’

‘You don’t know CC? Fuck! Leon, go in with her.’

Leon and I wander down to the shop, money in bunched fist. Leon walks with a limp, I notice suddenly, a kind of uneven swagger to his considered strides.

‘What’s with the limp?’

He looks surprised. ‘Ah.....Dunno really, one leg’s shorter than the other one I spose....’

We find the alcohol section in Stonewall, down the step; Leon shows me the CC and then scarpers, not wanting to endanger the mission. It’s Canadian Club whiskey, in a huge black labelled bottle, and I find it almost impossible not to laugh as I stand in the queue, surrounded by old ladies with their groceries, clutching a huge bottle of booze at nine in the morning. It’s hilarious. The friendly girl behind the counter accepts my ID no problem, and I jump back in the car yelling ‘MISSION SUCESSFUL!’ and trying to avoid surfboard-decapitation. We roar off up the winding mountain road, Kyle driving like a nutter, and crest the hill to Medlands.

The weather isn’t great....it’s a bit grey....but I’m utterly confident that if we get down to the beach, the sun will come out. This isn’t optimism – I’d hate to be thought an optimist – it’s just that here, that seems to be how it works. We speed past the road crews far too fast, illiciting scowls and shaken fists (really!) and before long we’re skidding off the main road and into the narrow dune-track that runs parallel to the beach. We park on a grassy old basketball court at the end of the road (not before Kyle’s done a bunch of brakies and donuts, obviously), pile out, and run across the track and dunes and onto the glory that is Medlands beach. Over a mile of perfect white sand, blue waves, and – sure enough – sun, breaking out from behind the clouds, and not a person in sight. We throw ourselves down in one spot but rat decides to take a shit just there, so we move up a bit, laughing, and seriously crack the whisky.

‘I can’t believe you’ve never had CC!’ grins Leon as I take my first swig. It’s smooth and rich and I love it instantly; I swig it again and pass it. The surf is about three foot, precise, shiny blue rolling in from the cold pacific, and after slathering clumsy sunblock all over myself, dropping it in the sand about seven times (whisky!) and a few more swigs of CC, I’ve decided I’m going in.

‘I am seriously considering actually going in there’ I announce, getting up and running back to the car, where I pull on my wetsuit and jog back with the boards.

‘Are you seriously going in there?’ Kyle asks incredulously, staring at the cold surf in horror.

‘Yup’ I say cheerfully, splattering on last-minute sunblock. ‘You guys are too. Come on.’ I zip up my wetsuit, (Kyle checks me out, automatically, for a second, and then looks appalled at himself) heft one of the shitty old boards, look down at the sea and laugh; while we’ve been faffing, Jessica Rose has run joyfully right into the shining sea, floating clothes and all, and is now splashing out through the surf, looking like a kelpie returning to the sea. I shake my head and sprint after her, board under arm, not caring if the rats follow but reasonably certain that they will. They’re not about to be shown up by girls. The water is cold and fresh so I dive straight in, no mucking about, then sprawl across the slippery board and paddle out to catch some waves. Leon and Henry soon catch me up, whitish skin shining and goose pimpled in the sun, and Leon paddles the other board out so JR can sit on it. Kyle’s disappeared off down the beach with Rat and the CC, a stooped lonely figure against the dunes. Henry has a big horned skull, a bull or a ram, tattooed across his shoulderblades; it’s really good, really beautifully detailed and shaded, and I wonder how much it cost. Both the brothers are small and skinny but wirily muscular; even LH, who I kind of expected to have a childish softness to him, is built like a very small brick shithouse. This is something I’ve noticed about barrierites of the male variety; they come in all shapes and sizes but they are almost uniformly muscly. The fat ones have muscles under the fat; the old ones have muscle under the loose skin; the skinny ones have muscle straight over bone; the children have muscles under soft skin, etc etc etc. You can be fat or thin or middle sized, but you’re barrier fat/thin/middle sized. Whatever. I don’t spend my whole time staring at blokes, honest. ¬__¬

We piss about in the surf for a while, paddling frantically to catch waves, getting thrown off our boards and emerging spitting and laughing, and getting washed further and further down the beach. LH catching a wave is so funny – you just see his feet disappear over the crest as it breaks, then a whole lot of nothing, and then he’ll emerge, grinning and triumphant, on the beach 20 foot further in, yelling ‘I GOT IT! I GOT IT!’ I’m cold in my wetsuit, so I don’t know how the hell the rats are surviving in just shorts. Eventually we run back up the warm sand and grab the whisky off Kyle, and suddenly, in an attempt to warm up I think, we’re all pelting off down the beach, sprinting towards Memory Rock in a wide impromptu, whisky-based race. Kyle has drunk like, half the bottle while we’ve been in the sea, so we’re all trying to grab it off him; when we get to the rock I climb straight up the side, forgetting about the path in my enthusiasm; JR follows me, not as fast, and the boys run up the steps.

We scramble around up there for a while, throwing rocks and pushing each other, and then someone runs off towards the rockpool and everyone follows. LH and I decide to go straight down the rockface, betting it’ll be faster, but it isn’t really because halfway down we realise that this was a shitty idea and have to go quite carefully to avoid sharp pointy rocky death. I lose the ring that Bryony gave me but LH finds it; by the time we get to the rockpool (freezing!) Leon has jumped in and Kyle is perched on a rock with the booze, still refusing to get himself wet. LH runs up onto an outcrop and bombs it into the water and I throw Kyle my sunnies and follow. (The splashes get Kyle pretty wet anyway, so his reticence is pointless.) It’s really cold, but no-one cares any more; JR has actually taken everything off her top half and is just standing there with her hands over her chest, but she soon shimmies up to my back and uses me as clothes, which makes the boys look a little less terrified. We stay in there until I notice that LH has turned a delicate shade of blue.

‘LH!’ I yell ‘YOU ARE ACTUALLY DYING OF HYPOTHERMIA!’

‘NO I’M NOT!’ he yells back, shivering uncontrollably. ‘I FEEL WARM!’

This gives me the idea of the hotpools. We should so totally go to the hotpools. That would warm us up. We run back onto the beach and start drawing shit in the sand; I do a massive anarchy sign and then look up to notice that Leon has done exactly the same thing over the other side. LH then decides to do one too, and Kyle, not to be outdone, says he’s going to make his 3D. We watch him work for a while, trying not to snigger.

‘Kyle....’

‘Yeah’ he says mournfully a while later, throwing down his stick ‘it’s shit.’

We move on. Some kids they know come up at one point and talk, giggling, and we sprint off down the beach again. I’m having fun pretending to be an aeroplane. I wonder when I’ll grow out of that. Probably when I can no longer hold my arms out. Then I’ll have to be a torpedo. Or when I can’t run any more. Then I’ll have to be a broken aeroplane. What a sad thought. Ok, back to the beach. We somehow manage to gather up our stuff and crash back to the car. Kyle is wasted. He falls over and disappears into a ditch, through a bunch of foliage, and comes crawling out looking innocently baffled, as if he has no idea what just happened. I take off the wetsuit and hug the warm car. Leon and JR are sitting in the grass or something. LH points to them and nudges me and Kyle, sniggering.

‘She’s not my type’ says Kyle, sounding really angry about this. ‘She has hairy legs.

‘So do you’ I point out, but he’s got himself stuck in the car, looking for something or other. I am sunburnt. I want to go to the hotpools, but JR doesn’t want to go and Leon, when they catch us up, is extremely sceptical about Kyle’s ability to drive. With reason, because he is currently trying to get in the car and completely failing to find the door handle. I don’t care, though; selfishly, I just want to go to the hotpools, and I don’t care if I risk everyone’s lives to do it. I am awful. Still. I know we’ll be fine. I find some juice and random bits of food in the car and persuade him to eat them, and then prop him upright while I tell everyone he’s fine to drive, completely sober in fact. Everyone gets in and we tell Kyle to drive slowly, and carefully, and not to scare JR or do anything that might get the cops to pay us any attention. He says yes, yes, he will, he understands, and promptly pulls the biggest brakie yet around the corner, spraying rocks and burning rubber. I try very hard not to laugh and yell for another one; JR is really not enjoying this and thinks Kyle shouldn’t drive, but it’s too late, we’re already speeding over the hill towards Claris while Leon and LH, paranoid as hell, look wildly around for the cop car. He keeps trying to drift the corners, although without much luck because of the weight in the back (me) and I spend most of the journey screaming ‘KYLE! SLOW DOWN! YOU ARE SCARING JR!’ He does slow down outside the cop shop and crawls nervously past; this is hilarious, he couldn’t be more obvious, even if his car didn’t have Leon and LH leaning out of the windows yelling at every car that passes us and surfboards sticking out of the dusty hole where the back windscreen should be. The cop’s not there though, so we’re all good.

Somehow, we reach the lay-by for the hot pools and park up, only reversing into trees a couple of times, and pile out. Kyle suddenly gets paranoid that someone’s going to rob him and decides to lock his car, which has me falling about laughing because....dude, it has no back windscreen and two of the windows don’t wind up. We grab our shit and set off along the long bushtrack to the hotpools.

I’ve walked that track – winding, circuitous, bridged to avoid swampland and the roots of mountains – a few times over the years, and it’s never boring. If it’s not Dad attempting to throw us to the ‘crocodiles’ in the swamp – fictitious, I have now learned, like so many other things – it’s someone getting lost, or a rare bird, or some trippy naked touros or something. I’ve trekked through there in the dripping heat, I’ve waded the fords when they’re swollen after rain, I’ve stumbled back along it, drunk and stoned, in the middle of the night, through darkness so black I can’t see my own hand in front of my eyes. But nothing, so far, has quite equalled that walk with Jessica Rose, LH and a totally wasted Kyle and Leon. They are so. Totally. Arseholed. They’re just running around, zigzagging up and down the path, gasping and gurning and yelling ‘FUCK BRO!’ a lot. Kyle keeps diving into bushes, he can’t seem to help himself, and Leon is sprinting off into the bush, where his progress can be tracked by the sound of crashing, breaking plant life, and screaming. He runs randomly out every now and again and attacks us, hurtling wild-eyed and grinning out of the bush like a tiny, flailing Rambo. Jessica Rose’s small feet are having problems with the rough metal track – I still hate whoever had the idea of making it quite so painful on the feet – and LH and I are teetering between joining in and waiting for JR. Kyle has sprinted off up the track on his long legs, and.....actually we haven’t seen him for a while....where is he? I listen, but there’s nothing. Leon, meanwhile, has decided he needs water, and has run downwards, yelling, in the direction of the bog, splitting tea-tree as he goes. This should be vaguely worrying, as you can probably sink into that marsh, but I’m sure he’ll be ok. There’s more yelling and crashing and a scream or two. What is he doing?

‘I FOUND WATER!’ he howls, charging around somewhere down there. ‘I FOU.....YARGHH...FUCKK.......WATER BRO!’

When he erupts noisily back out of the bush a bit later he’s looking decidedly grubby, ecstatically happy, and inexplicably bloodstained. He’s got blood all over his cheeks and some on his forehead, as well as reasonably large amounts of mud.

‘THERE’S WATER!’ he yells, brandishing his dripping hands. ‘I CUT MY FACE BRO! I DUNNO WHY, I JUST GOT ROCKS AND FUCKIN...AAAAAH!’ He pelts off again, leaving LH, JR and I giggling and nonplussed. Kyle is still nowhere to be seen, but after a few more minutes walk, on a shady bend in the track, I spot something that looks a lot like his shoes sticking vertically up out of a small punga bush. As I go over to investigate, I hear a small voice say, very politely, ‘Excuse me, but could you please help me up? I seem to be stuck in this punga.’

It’s Kyle, of course, completely helpless in the bush, lanky arms and legs stuck out at undignified angles above his head. I heave him out and he thanks me solemnly before pelting off up the path again. I can’t stop laughing. My feet hurt and I’m kind of worried about JR, but I can’t stop laughing. LH and I seem kind of sober, but I think that’s only compared to Kyle and Leon. LH is strangely sweet and caring, the way he’s sticking with JR and I despite obviously being a bit bored, and anxious to keep up with the others. We’re listening to music on his phone, although occasionally Kyle comes blatting past us with competing sounds blaring from his.

Just before the third boardwalk, we’re caught up by a group of people who are going faster than us, partly because they’ve all got shoes and partly because they’re not wasted. It’s a middle-aged Canadian guy, a young, curly-haired French girl and another guy whose nationality is not immediately apparent. Kyle and Leon immediately hone in on the obviously not-local contingent and start wheeling around them like seagulls around a kid with ice-cream, introducing themselves enthusiastically, laughing and taking the piss in quick swipes that the visitors will notice but not understand. The tourists are friendly, wary, amused. They’re walking faster than us – we’re nearly at the pools by now – so we’re getting spread out into a longer and longer procession of stumbles and laughter. At one point Kyle unleashes a strangled howl and throws himself, for no apparent reason, headfirst into a ditch. When questioned as to why, he mumbles something about climbing a tree. Hmm.. Around now, I decide to take a superspecialawesome shortcut, which inevitably takes longer and I lose everyone else. Actually I think I keep Leon? Or maybe Henry? This bit is hazy. Yeah, I think I keep Henry, and JR is with Kyle, and Leon’s running around after the touros, telling them that the hotpools are in a totally different direction to where they actually are. We clamber chirpily up to our favourite pool at the end , go through the usual faff of trying to position our stuff on rocks where it won’t get wet, jump in to the warm, sulphurous water and spend ages wondering where Kyle and JR have got to. Or is it Leon and JR? Fuck, I should have written this months ago. Arse.

Anyway. The boys immediately set to graffiti-ing the soft rock, which answers the ‘who the fuck would bother to do that’ question I’ve always wondered about, and eventually Leon – or Kyle, whichever one’s there – goes off to look for the other one, leaving me and LH to piss around in the murky water, splash each other, throw rocks at spiderwebs, attempt to drown each other, etc etc. Good fun. We eventually start to migrate downstream to look for them, worried that they’ve passed out and drowned or something, clambering from pool to pool as the stream gets hotter and hotter. At one point I sit on an eel, jump about three foot in the air and scream like a girl, which LH finds very amusing. Eventually Leon comes bounding back the other way, skinny limbs glistening white in the now-clouding afternoon, and Kyle and JR aren’t far behind. We all dive back in the top pool, except Kyle who, for some reason, still won’t get in the water. I begin to wonder if he’s got some horrific scar on his chest, or a Mariah Carey tattoo, or breasts or something. After giving him ample warning that I’m going to do so, I eventually just grab him by the collar and pull him in. He retreats to a corner of the pool and mumbles mutinously for a while, casting dark glances in my direction. I couldn’t give a shit; Leon keeps stealing my sunnies, LH is laboriously drawing Maori tattoos on our faces with mud, and the touros are back. The Canadian guy promptly strips down to his white Y-fronts and jumps in, which sends the bushrats into a frenzy of mute horror, and the French girl and the other guy follow in less disturbing outfits. He’s a kiwi, it turns out, from Christchurch or somewhere. Dunno. Whatever.

We stay in the pool for probably three or four hours, long enough for the CC to disappear, clouds to come and go, and Kyle and Leon to sober up. A bit. At one point Kyle looks around, puzzled, and says ‘Bro, how did we get here?’ We remind him that he drove. Oops. Eventually we get a bit cold in the top pool and move down to the scorching bottom pools, trying to heat ourselves up so much that we won’t mind the half-hour walk back to the car in our soaking clothes. Kyle still won’t take his shirt off. I offer him my strap top, which is dry, but for some reason he doesn’t seem keen. Shame, it would have suited him. (Sarcasm.)
We bully JR into wearing LH’s shoes to walk back in, in the hopes that it will make her walk faster, but it doesn’t, and she’s not happy about wearing them because she has interesting beliefs about wearing other people’s shoes. I feel that poor JR has been rather poorly treated today, and I’m feeling pretty guilty about it, and afraid she’s going to be angry. I should have known her better, though. The boys have decided that the best way to dry off would be to run around like warring meercats, and at this point they’ve found an overhanging branch and are having jump-up-and-grab-it competitions. Kyle can pretty much touch it from the ground, but Leon has pelt towards it at some speed, hurl himself into the air, grab it with his fingertips and heave himself up with a titanic effort of his skinny arms. LH, I calculate, won’t be able to reach it at all, but it looks as if he’s going to try anyway. He proves us all wrong, however, by not only somehow flinging himself high enough to catch it, but managing to do it with enough momentum to turn a full somersault over the branch and land, grinning triumphantly, facing back the other way. He wins. I’m glancing nervously at JR, who looks as if she’s tired of their immature capers, but just when I’m sure she’s about to snap she sighs, smiles up at Leon’s dangling form and murmurs ‘You are so, so beautiful. The boys from the bush......’

I love her.

We reach the car, eventually – Kyle still swears he has no memory of driving here, and accuses us of stealing his car while he wasn’t looking – and we head for Claris, Texas, because the boys decide they’re hungry. It’s closed though, and anyway they now want burgers, so we boost it back over the hills to Tryphena, Mulberry and Abi’s shop. Just as well, because it’s pushing 5.30, my boat’s at seven and I still haven’t packed, or even thought about packing, I have to find this fucking dead cow I’m supposed to be taking over (fuck knows where that is) and Uncle Bruce hasn’t seen me since yesterday morning. I tell them to drop me at my place to get changed and dump the boards, while they go down and find foods. Uncle Bru isn’t there, so I hastily change and run back down to the shop; we’ve agreed to go up to Tony’s and get a sesh after burgers. When I get down there, though, they’re nowhere to be seen. Disappeared, I think sadly as I walk alone back along the windy seafront; disappeared without a trace as only bushrats can.

I haven’t got more than a hundred yards, though, before I hear a screech of tyres behind me and they come skidding up, grinning their harlequin smiles and yelling to get in. We u-turn back to the shop and I watch them eat delicious-looking burgers while I throw rocks at seagulls. JR gives me some avocado. We smoke a j and then I explain that I really, really have to go now because my boat’s in an hour and I still have no idea where this meat is or how I’m getting to the wharf, and they help me out on one point at least; the meat’s at Ned’s, which is right next to Tony’s. Sweet. I nod them casual goodbyes, hug JR and set off for home, wondering if I’ll ever see them again. Leon runs after me.

‘Want a sesh?’

‘....Yeah, ok.’

He tips a couple of buds into my hand, gives me a brief grin and lopes back to the car. Rendered slightly speechless by this random act of kindness, I meander over the boardwalk and up the steps to home, trying to kick my addled brain into gear. I’ve only been frantically jamming things into bags for a few minutes when I hear a shout from outside, and run out to see, thank god! Bruce, plus Igor, coming up the driveway.
‘You’re home!’ he yells. ‘I told your dad not to worry! She’ll turn up, I said! If she wants to! Have you cooked up that mince?’

Shit. Mince. We bought a bunch of mince and it’ll go off if I don’t eat it now; uncle Bruce will never cook it. Shit. I slam it onto the gas stove, which is now working, because uncle Bru, the LEGEND, has got us a gas bottle.
‘IGOR!’ I yell. He’s sprawled comfortably on a chair on the balcony, beer in hand, by now. ‘HOW THE FUCK DO YOU COOK MINCE?’ Without listening to his reply, I just decide to fry it, and return to my frenzied packing, now with intermittent dashes to check on the mince. Help, I think, I’ve turned into my father. And shit, I don’t have any shoes. And shit, where’s that meat? And shit, is the boat in yet? Shit.

Bruce and Igor, watching me flail around with amusement, tell me to sit down and have a beer; they’ll take me up to get the meat from Ned’s and give me a lift to the wharf. Sweet. I resist the offer of beer, bearing in mind uncle bru’s lecture, but he sees me hesitate and launches into an apology about all that. It’s fine, it really is, and I apologise too and it’s all good. The mince is ready, but no-one wants any except me, so I sit there on the chilli bin with a frying pan and a fork, gulping beer and shovelling down, in record time, an entire packet of mince. Mmmm. Haute Cuisine. Then I bundle my shit into Igor’s minibus and we set off for Ned’s, over the other side of Mulberry, to claim what turns out to be a huge, dripping, half-frozen box absolutely packed with slab after slab of gorgeous rich, muscular, lean red meat, which I am assured is all that remains of one of the cute brown-eyed calves I knew two years ago. Aww. Don’t they grow up fast. Igor and I throw beer labels at each other while Bruce and Ned chinwag and we have another smoke, and then we head for the wharf, Igor navigating the twisting corners with reasonable skill while talking over his shoulder to me.

‘Have you tried short guys? You probably should, they can be pretty ferocious, huh’

‘Urr, ok Igor, I’ll bear it in mind....’

I’ve calmed down a bit now. It’s all working out. Maybe it always does, here.

At the boat, I hug uncle Bruce goodbye with heartfelt affection and Karl appears from somewhere in a reflective jacket and sorts the meat out – the captain lets us put it in the ship freezer, the legend. I’ve got to go and get it out about half an hour before we get to Auckland. Not sure how I’ll manage that, but that’s five hours away and I don’t need to think about it just yet. Bruce and Igor take off and I persuade the boatboy I really do have a ticket, dump my shit on the boat and then loiter on the wharf, drinking more beer and talking to a boatgirl I haven’t seen before. She’s curly-haired, golden skinned and freckly, with a cute accent and an enchanting smile. Her name is Aisha and she’s wearing fantastic boots.

It’s about this time that I remember, to my horror, that TT said he’d be on this boat too. Shit. Shit. Shit. It’s ok, I tell myself, he was probably talking bollocks, or if he wasn’t he probably won’t turn up anyway. He won’t be on, it’s fine. Remain Calm. Don’t Panic. I’m salty and sandy from the beach, stinking and bedraggled from the ammonia-reeking hotpools, flushed and sweaty from running around, horrifically sunburnt, wearing a stupid outfit that makes me look about 2934758349750938404285 miles wide, half drunk, half stoned, sure to start talking shit and make a twat of myself if given half the chance....... I would really, really like to spend this voyage curled up in the warm hold typing up my blogs, not up on deck drinking and talking to random truckers. But, of course, that’s what happens; TT appears almost immediately, strides cheerfully up behind Aisha and I in his boots and has a good go at hitting on both of us at the same time. He doesn’t quite pull it off, but it was a valiant attempt.

On deck, I dump my crap in a pile of ropes and things near the bows and stand at the rail as we pull out of the harbour, chugging slowly off into the blossoming evening.




I can’t escape the feeling that I’m going the wrong way. I don’t like this at all. As we pull, agonisingly slowly, away from land, I feel like a child being ripped from its mother’s hip. I consider jumping and swimming, but then remember it’s Damis’s wedding I’m going to. That makes it important.

TT – one of only two other passengers, deep joy - appears and disappears in his usual schizophrenic manner, laughing and making crap sex jokes, which is making me tense and self-conscious; I consider going below, but this evening is too beautiful to miss, and plus, he might be down there. He always sneaks up and attacks me just as I’ve relaxed and decided he’s settled down somewhere else; I’ll stand there in the warm wind, nerves jangling, wondering if he’s coming back, for what seems like ages, and when I finally relax and start enjoying the view or whatever, he’ll pop up behind me like a superstealthy jack-in-a-box and grab me by the waist or pull my hair or something. This time, he kicks my legs out from underneath me so I almost fall over, and then when I whip round furiously, ready to thwack him, grins and hands me a whiskey & coke. Oh dear. I have a nasty feeling he might have me all figured out.

Now he’s trying to light a cigarette, despite the wind. We’ve pulled round the point now and my beautiful island is slipping away with terrifying speed. TT manages to get his cigarette going and throws his head back triumphantly, reminding me of a fishing bird gulping down its catch. I say so.

‘You looked just like a cormorant when you did that.’

‘What’s a cormorant, is that like a shag?’ (Should have seen it coming here...)

‘Yeah, kind of, longer beak.’

‘Uhuh.’

‘Yeah.’

Silence for a while. I watch the white birds dive.

‘So....have you ever seen a seagull fly upside down?’ (Smirking.)

‘Uhm.....I don’t believe I have, why....?’ (Innocently puzzled.)

‘Oh. How about a shag?’

That has us both doubled over in hysterics for some minutes.

‘Has’ I gasp some time later, wiping real tears from my eyes and trying to get up ‘has that ever worked?’

‘Uhhh....No.’

‘Well, let me know if it does.’

‘Will do.’

‘Fuck that’s funny. I’m so going to use that..... Hmm. Actually. No I’m not.’

I think I might, though. When I’m really pissed. Sometime. Probably on someone totally inappropriate.

Awesome. I go downstairs to plaster on more makeup ( must .... hide .... sunburn.....) and just as I’m coming
back up, I hear Aisha on the deck yelling ‘DOLPHINS! DOOOOLPHINS! QUICKQUICK!’

I run and get my camera. I love it when there’re dolphins. And when I explode onto the foredeck brandishing my camera, there they are, four of them, gliding with effortless speed just in front of the boat., surfing the bow wave. They’re so beautiful. I took a bunch of video of this, it’s up on my cats-ish youtube page, please watch at least some of it.







They’re so beautiful; hectare dolphins, Aisha tells me. Watching them, the sleek power of them, I see why they have fascinated us for so long; somehow as you watch, your troubles just seem to whisper away into the silky water, and you stare, mesmerised, lost for a moment in a different world.

I’ve just re-watched a bit of the video, trying to find the words to describe their movement and the almost scary way they communicate, as if the pod has one mind, but I can’t. I can’t come up with anything. Words like ‘majesty’ and ‘grace’ just don’t cut it. So all I can say is, watch the video, and I’ll give you some more facts about what happened, without trying to describe how AMAZING it was. I apologise for my shouting all over the video, I hate my voice so much; you can watch it with the sound off if that would help. The girl you can hear is Aisha, the raspy-voiced bloke chatting her up/tapping the ship to keep them interested/otherwise rambling on is TT, you can see his boots at one point, and there’s various small kids and one of the crew as well.
There weren’t four dolphins, there were eight; after a few minutes we realised that there were another four on the other side of the boat. That’s a whole pod, more or less, just decided to come and hang with us for a while. Why? Who knows. Probably just for kicks. They’re swapping over, jumping, shifting in and out, swimming upside down (I swear, honestly, they were looking at us) and generally being awesome. Aisha and I watch them for pretty much the whole time, and TT can’t seem to tear himself away either, although he does disappear to get more drinks a couple of times.

As time wears on (we’re well out beyond the point now, leaving Tryphena behind us), a funny thing happens. I don’t really know how describe it without sounding like some wishy-washy shakra-spouting, animal-spirit babbling, nauseating hippy type, so I won’t try, but somehow it’s as if the pod mentality, the pack awareness that lets them communicate so seamlessly with each other, kind of extends outwards to me, a little bit? Aisha and TT are speculating about how long they’ll stay with us, where they’re going, saying perhaps they’ll drop away in the channel, or when we get out of the harbour, but I just know. I know, absolutely, inexplicably, with more certainty than almost anything, with the kind of calm, unshakeable knowledge with which I used to be able to predict the weather as a child, that they will stay with us until just after channel rock, and then fall away and let us continue alone. The others are sceptical, they don’t think they’ll stay that long, and there’s no way I can explain how I’m so sure. (‘The dolphins tolllld me! Honesttt!’ ‘Alright Henry, you just stay there while we call the loony bin, good girl....’)

I’m right, of course; they stay with us for over forty minutes, leaping and competing in front of us as the sky turns rosy with sunset, tinting the waves pink and orange, and as we near channel rock they begin, two by two, to swerve off sideways and fall behind us, lost in the shadowy water. By the time we pass it, there are only two left, the hardcore as I laughingly call them, who surge on and on in front of us pulling ever more complex tricks, in competition it seems. And then, just past the rock, exactly where I knew they would, they give us one last spectacular jump, and then with a flick of their sleek tails they’re gone. Strangely, I don’t feel bereaved by their departure; somehow they’ve calmed me enough to just accept. I feel euphoric and awesome, and the evening is so, so beautiful. (Again, refer to videos for visual evidence.)


I whip out my camera again and try to film the rock, although TT’s making it difficult by insisting on showing me photos of his totalled car, which as you may remember he rolled off the cliff at the club, into an iron fence and a tennis court. Like an idiot.




(Sorry. As I write this, I’m extremely pissed off with TT, in fact I’m seriously considering shitting in his fridge, so although I’m trying not to let that affect the account of what happened, an insult or two might slip through.) Aisha’s gone to do crew-type things, and it’s getting a bit cold in the dusk breeze, so TT and I agree to adjourn to the side deck, out of the wind. Here we pretty much sit and chat for the next two hours or so, watching the darkness deepen around us, the dim outline of the island slip away, and the unwanted lights of Auckland creep inexorably up on us. Some of it’s really fun. He’s still coughing and gobbing everywhere, and we create a ridiculous alternative universe in which his snot escapes from his body, comes alive, swallows him, and takes over his life, driving his truck and eating all his food, and all his friends like the snot better and forget about him and he’s trapped inside, tiny, trying to escape and get his revenge. Um, I guess you had to be there. The rest of the time he mainly talks and I listen, or at least, pretend to listen while I drink the whiskey & cokes he keeps buying me and stare at his neck or shoulders or wrists or arms or whatever bits of him I can see. He says he might come to the wedding, and at one point I vaguely register that he’s telling me about his son Jake, who he’s going over to collect. He’s five and has a motorbike. I wish I had a motorbike.

I also register that, as I had suspected, he really is something of a twunt; what kind of person hitchhikes for four days across the Australian outback just to get away from his girlfriend and month-old son? Jesus. Still, I’m enjoying this, so whatever. So far as boat rides go, it pretty much rules. When we’re about an hour out of Auckland, TT, who, it seems, is a total lightweight, a bit pissed after a few Woodstocks, yawns and stumbles off down to the hold to get some sleep. I bolt thankfully down after him, plug my laptop in and attempt to do some of the blog-typing I should have been doing the whole time. It doesn’t work, I only get about two paragraphs done before I realise we’re almost there and I have to get meat out. Crap. Arse. Bollocks. I wander around looking for some crew member who’ll tell me where the freezer is, and then which bits of meat are my ones, etc etc etc, but eventually I get it sorted. By this time we’re pulling into the city of sails, and despite not wanting to be here at all, it is looking spectacularly beautiful, the lights all spilling out and dancing on the silky water. The Sky Tower’s all lit up in green and red, in honour of the approaching festive season, I assume, and there are Christmas lights everywhere. It’s pretty mindblowing, and Aisha and I watch stare entranced for a while, chatting randomly. She is so cool. Eventually I run back down to the hold to grab my laptop and the rest of my stuff, (‘You’re screwed, girl’ says TT drowsily, emerging from the dark cinema looking sleepy and poking me with a screw. I tell him sternly that he needs to go to Bad Joke Rehab) and then scarper back downstairs for the final approach. TT hits on Aisha and I hang over the side, feeling like a bit of a third wheel, although I don’t blame him; she is superhot, I’d probably try and hit on her myself if I thought I stood a chance.

I was worried that Dad wouldn’t be here to pick me up, but I hadn’t realised how late the ferry’s running; it was supposed to get in at eleven, and it’s almost half-twelve. As we pull in, he’s there on the dock, swaddled in a poncho and looking very hairy indeed. He doesn’t see me. The crew faff around for a bit, the couple of cars that are on drive off, and then he finally sees me and runs down to grab the meat. I throw my stuff on the back of one of the departing 4x4’s and jump on the running board as it drives off the boat, waving a cheerful goodbye to Aisha and TT, but almost as soon as I get up there (I realise about this time that I’m really actually a bit drunk) I notice I’ve left my rucksack on the boat, so I sprint back down the ramp again to get it, but by this time TT’s brought it up for me so it all turns into a big stupid confusing clusterfuck. Gurghgh. I hate the mainland. I hate everything. I especially hate TT. Fagh. I should write this some other time when I’m not in such a grump. Ok. Breathe. Chill. Keep writing. Hughgggg.

On the dock I hug Dad and meet TT’s mate Jason, a young dreadlocked snowboardy –type. Mm. I approve, but don’t really want to talk to him because I know I look minging, so I just flop out on the bonnet of the peanut car and half- listen as Dad, TT, Jase and his mate do backslapping and blokey jokes. Eventually we decide to go; I shake everyone’s hands, TT gives me a horrible awkward sexless hug, and we’re off, leaving the wharf and the last traces of the island behind us. We drive at speed down the floodlit motorways to NGA, I still swilling the now warm and disgusting Woodstock, catching up with Dad and the puppy, who erupts out of the footwell in a golden bundle of enthusiasm. I love her. I realise that I’m absolutely knackered, not having slept last night, and kinda drunk. We reach NGA and Katie’s familiar gravelly gateway, and dad tells me to get some sleep; we’ve got to set off for the wedding at four, and it’s now half past one. I’m not going to do it, though; I’ve got far more important things to do, like interneting, uploading the video I just took, talking to people, etc. When I pull my laptop out of its case, though, I have to laugh; TT’s stupid screw is in there, rattling around between the computer and the soft lining. How did that get there? I’m sure it wasn’t me, and I don’t know when he would have got the chance to.....weird. Ah well. I collapse joyfully back into internetland, and before I know what’s happening, a bleary-eyed Dad is knocking on the door of my hut, telling me that it’s four AM, and time to get in the car and drive to Taranaki for Damis’s wedding.

I'm so sorry it's been so long since I've put one of these up. I really haven't had internet, but no excuses; mainly it's just typing/writing/general laziness. There'll be more soon, if I can get my fucking arse into gear, because I've realised that the pub has wireless internet I can steal. That's where I am now. Problem is, when I'm in the pub I tend to drink, and that just scuppers any blog-writing attempts. Still. Love you all SOMMOOCH. I'm also sorry for the longness and boringness of this entry, but I really loved this day and I kinda want to preserve it, in bloggy form, as well as I can. They'll be a lot shorter and less detailed from now on, partly because of time and partly because I can't really remember much any more. I hate being so far behind, it'll be a mission to catch up, but I will do ittt. Ok. Lovelove. xxxxx

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
peypea
Mar. 9th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
If you don't use that joke on me I am going to kill you :D
YAYAY NEW BLOG <3 I love new blog ^_^
I LOVE YOU
ripstitches
Mar. 10th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
Shags
Hey wifey, uh......have you ever seen a seagull fly upside down?



peypea
Mar. 10th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Shags
NOOO, WHY?
ripstitches
Mar. 10th, 2009 11:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Shags
Ooh, ok.


How about a shag?


KABLAAAAM!

you are in my sexeh power.
peypea
Mar. 10th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Shags
NIKKI AND I BOTH SAY HELL YEAAAAH <3
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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