Dear sweet Internet, how I missed you. Cutting you off at home for the move was like performing euthanasia on an old friend. And until I have you back at the new place, work will be like a spirit medium, providing you in small and ghostlike quantities that will tantalise yet not satisfy.
Happy New Year to you all.
It has been an interesting start to 2006. I have learned so far that four champagne sodden, tear filled women, and a large wave have a similar amount of force. Both are dangerous, and not to be taken lightly.
New Years Eve was spent by Mrs A. and I at Collaroy at a friends place. It is close to the beach and surrounded by a six foot veranda, giving at least some small respite from the hottest New Year on record at somewhere around 45 degrees, (113 F). New Years Eve was spent with four couples and a lone French woman, chatting, eating and drinking. But for all that it was a relatively subdued time as all the other couples had kids, the oldest around 12 months, who chose to go to bed way before midnight having had no alcohol at all. Their loss.
As midnight drew near and the alcohol saturation had reached new records, we moved chairs away from the kids sleeping area and up to a corner of the veranda where there was room and light enough to bring in the New Year. I perched on the low wall that looked down into the garden, and with 15 or 20 minutes to go someone suggested we go around in a circle and describe the highlight of our year, and follow it with our New Years resolution. Most of it was fairly pro forma, and hugs were thrown around with wild abandon, promises of lifelong love and fidelity given like sweets at a children's party and mates swore to mates that there would always be beer in their fridges to be shared by this select group until the Universe ended and all beer ceased to exist.
I don't get drunk all that easily, and was the last to say my piece. There was something in the order of 40 seconds to midnight, so I had to rush a little.
'The highlight of my year? Well it's been the best the business has seen in about the last five years'. Scattered applause and a congratulatory remarks from my captive audience.
'I took up golf, and I still suck' Scattered applause and agreement from my captive audience.
'But the biggest highlight of my year', I continued counting down the seconds on my watch, 'was that Mrs A. and I conceived a child, lost a child and walked through the pain and sadness hand in hand bringing us closer than I thought possible. My New years resolution is to repeat the first part of that, but avoid the second.
That was when they launched. Four women, three of them already mothers, balling their eyes out, throwing champagne everywhere and nearly knocking me off the veranda wall, all trying to hug at once. Three husbands sat looking slightly less surprised than I did myself, and then the suburb erupted with shouts and fireworks and horns and mayhem.
Not one of the kids stirred through it all.
The next morning made me reconsider the children aspect slightly when I woke to their noise at an hour that should be banned by the Geneva convention. I let the parents do their thing and walked down to the beach to get some early photos. There I found one of the Dads, Mr D. my Canadian mate, already in the water. It looked even more choppy than the day before, and as we had all been stung by bluebottles, I decided to wait until a bit later to go for a swim. After breakfast we gathered everyone and headed back to the beach. The surf was dangerous with the break messy, the rip obvious and the area near the beach full of kelp and bluebottles, so we went to the concrete sea fed pool at the southern end of the beach.
Even that was choppy, but still safer than the surf. It seemed like fun for Mr D. and I to walk along the concrete wall where the pool met the surf, hanging onto the thick chain links making a perimeter fence, and waiting for a big wave to knock us into the pool. After a while Mrs K. a petite blond decided it would be fun to join in. She made it as far as the corner, just behind me when two huge waves converged on the spot, and she was gone. Not into the pool, but towards the side where the rock fishermen stake their lives on an omega 3 fatty acid enriched lunch. I saw a flash of red swimsuit where she had grabbed the chain fence and was literally hanging on for her life.
I can confirm for anyone who cares to listen that men in adrenalin enriched situations have about as much forethought as a gnat. Letting go of the chain I was immediately hit by the next wave, dragged along the concrete giving up far more of the skin on my feet and legs than I was in truth willing to part with, and hit the chain on the other side of the pool, next to Mrs K. catching it in the ribs with the force of a locomotive.
Being winded and underwater simultaneously is not for the faint of heart. As the wave receded I found myself hanging onto the chain by the crook of my elbow with my bleeding feet and legs hanging into space over the rocks below. I heard Mr D. bellow to grab Mrs K. and looking to my right through a haze of salt and coughing I saw her losing her grip. I grabbed her bicep, incidentally giving her the worst bruise she received from the ordeal, a perfect imprint of my fingers. But grab her was the best I could do, and thankfully Mr D. ran up behind and pulled her to safety.
Bruised and bleeding I went back to the house for a beer.