Sunday, April 20, 2003

Oh god, I’ve broken her
(a report from the road trip of doom)

There are moments when you should just give up and turn back. Sometimes even before you’ve started.

More disastrous first holidays are conceivable. We could have broken up. Someone could have lost a limb. War could have been declared.

No, wait, that last one really happened.

So yes, Jen was right. The stop-over in Albury on Thursday night was cold. And noisy. I booked a place right on the highway, not just off it as I’d thought. (Note to my stupid self – the Highway becomes “Wagga Road” within Albury’s town limits, it is not a separate road.) The fact that we were in our own separate cabin helped not a jot. Nor did the fact that Jen was too polite to wake me at 3 am and ask that we turn the fan heater on. I would have welcomed its cheerful drone, it would have drowned out some of the baritone rumbling of trucks interspersed with the wailing of semi-trailer brakes.

And I have been sick. Keeping someone else awake at night coughing sick. Kinda delirious and not always fit to drive sick. Boring, dull, not much of a host sick. Moving into the spare bedroom in a belated attempt to keep from infecting Jen sick.

Unwell, even.

So, Friday we got into Canberra. That night we managed to see some friends of mine for scrabble and drinks and had dinner with Marissa. We were road-trip tired and home by 9.30 or 10.

Saturday we were still tired, flopped about the house and went out to meet Canberra bloggers Monkey, Mattay, Monkey Monkey Monkey (and her charming partner) and Babelicious. They were cool. I was incoherent. We met at Canberra institution Tilley’s, which I normally like. But it seemed terribly cold.

After we had a friend of Jen’s now based in the ‘Berra over for dinner and had a lovely evening of wine and Scrabble – but perhaps stayed up a little too late for tired, possibly not-well puppies.

So far so good? Other than me hacking and spluttering? Well, no.

Yesterday Jen was seriously not well.

This was not apparent in the morning when I was feeling somewhat better and bundled a slightly subdued Jen into the car. We packed a fair bit into our morning. Took in some sights around old and new Parliament House, went to the National Gallery to see Pollock’s “Blue Poles” – it’s purchase has to rate as one of the enduring legacies of the Whitlam government. We walked behind Geoffrey Robertson QC on the way in. For anyone from foreign parts, he’s the Kylie Minogue of Australian lawyers: started in Australia, now permanently in Britain, hugely well-known everywhere in the English-speaking world except the US. (I guess that makes Ken Starr the Madonna of lawyers.) Anyway, Robertson is a legend in human rights circles and is now on the special international court for Sierra Leone, I believe.

We did some sights. We drove by Jen’s old place. We did the compulsory “yes, this is Fyshwick, porn capital of Oz” side-trip (it remains seedy, unimaginative and kinda off-putting rather than sexy or naughty).

By lunch it was evident Jen was sick. I got her home. When her afternoon nap lasted three hours and she then went back to bed again, it was evident she was really sick.

I had planned to have over some friends I’d not seen in over a year as well as some other old uni friends. For various reasons that plan was already in chaos. I wasn’t about to have anyone over while Jen was that ill, or leave her in an empty house while I went out. Also, I wasn’t confident I was well enough to drive into town and back in the dark. So I worked the phone to cancel drinks and to help organise a substitute catch-up dinner in the city which I then couldn’t go to.

Anyway, Jen seemed a little better in the evening. We were both so tired Steve Martin’s “Sgt Bilko” actually seemed really funny.

Realistically we either drive back today, which will mean starting early and take our time doing it, or phone in sick long-distance tomorrow. If we leave early today (which I think we probably should if Jen is up to it) I’ll have to miss the catch-up drinks this arvo for my friend who is briefly back from Washington DC, which is a pity as I’ve not seen him in two or three years.

All up, we shoulda flown, we shoulda never left Melbourne. Twas not in our stars.

Strangely though, we haven’t killed each other and I’ve really liked her company – as well as the chance to look after her for a bit.

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