Friday, 18 March 2011
We met Billy in Cooma. In the park as I remember, where I think we wandered to (no idea why) after getting off the bus. Or maybe the train, although I see that the railway line is now closed. I think it was the bus. We probably went to the park to eat a couple of sandwiches and work out what to do next.
Cooma, as you can see from the pic at the bottom, is something of a one horse town. Or was at the time. It may be a huge thriving metropolis by now but I doubt it. Its claims to fame? Well, it's near the Snowy Mountains and a huge hydro-electric power scheme. I didn't particularly know about the second but we had gone so that we could visit Mt Kosciusko (as was spelled at the time) which is the highest mountain in Aus. At 2,228 metres it is not very high, but hey, still worth a visit to say, been there, done that.
So there we were in the park, sitting at a table, and this tall, slim, good-looking, long dark-haired lad approached us.
Until I saw this photo I had forgotten we had even gone to the pub. What I do remember was being asked back to his house for a few beers, which his mates would be bringing round. Well that solved what to do next. So off we trotted. Trusting souls us eh?
Naturally his parents were away for the weekend ..... more beer followed .. as did take-away pizza. I doubt we paid for anything apart from a few beers in the pub.
We stayed the night of course. While my travelling companion had escaped and was tucked up in a comfy little bed, I was watching a boring film (and the clock) with my host. Wishing I too was tucked up in a comfy little bed. Alone.
Next day we went on our Kosciusko trip after having swapped addresses and all that stuff. Billy worked at the hydro-electric scheme - hence finally hearing about it - and he and a couple of mates were planning to chuck their jobs and do their world trip in 12 months or so.
Fast forward 12 months. I'm back at my parents, complete with new spouse in tow. I was going through the whole job application process to get back into the Protestant Work Ethic career mode thing again.
The 'phone rang. It was Billy. He was in the UK with his two mates and wanted to come and stay. 'Of course,' I said, rapidly thinking that me and spouse could squash into a single bed, there were two spare ones and a sofa which could accommodate his two mates, so everyone would be happy.
'I'll ring you tomorrow for directions,' he said. 'Great, looking forward to seeing you,' I said.
I told my parents. Perhaps I should have asked first. I doubt it would have made any difference. They said no. Not just no, but NO! I could not understand this at all. They were always generous with their hospitality and encouraged me to be the same. People had always been welcome to stay.
Thinking they had forgotten the story I explained that Billy had beered us and fed us and provided a night's kip. Surely I should return the favour?
'Three boys?' they said horrified. 'Not a chance.'
I wondered if they thought I was going to dance around in the middle of the night to have group sex. A few years before, one of my friends had stayed for a couple of nights and my father had gone to great pains to point out that he set the burglar alarm every night and there were loads of creaking floorboards and .. and .. and .. leave my virginal daughter alone.
Billy rang back the next day. I was mortified. I had to say no. I never heard from him again. Sorry Billy. Got a great floor in Gib though if you ever pass this way.
Cooma, Main Street. Only street??