WEDNESDAY 9 FEBRUARY DARWIN
Breakfasted again at the Sunset.
As part of our check in here, we’d been given some free vouchers and needed to use them up today, as they would expire when we left tomorrow. So claimed our free coffees at the Aqua Bar. In the casino section, played five free games of keno.
John was being bothered by problems with his glasses that the dog had partially wrecked at home. We drove to the large Casuarina shopping complex so he could visit optometrists. None of those he saw could do replacement glasses, at a price John would accept, before our departure in a week’s time.
I bought a small black handbag, for tonight. The large brown leather one I travelled with really would not look appropriate with my planned good outfit. That was something I’d overlooked when packing.
At the food court there, John had an Asian lunch; I had a salad roll.
Drove on, to Paradise Landscaping, out beyond Berrimah. This was where John had sourced African mahogany timber slabs he’d had shipped home, in 2006. He wanted to seek some advice from the man who’d sold it to him, but man wasn’t there.
Headed back towards town. John wanted to see some coastline so headed for Nightcliff and drove along Casuarina Drive which hugged the shore. Parked and walked out on the little Nightcliff jetty. It gave a reasonable outlook north towards Lee Point.
Back at the Nightcliff shops I bought some fruit, for me to snack on, nuts and crisps. Contingencies for when lunch got missed!
Back to the hotel to relax for a while in the cool. I had a nut snack because dinner could well be late. John scored some of “my” snack, too.
As we arrived back at the hotel, John made a quick decision that we would cancel the Kakadu trip. The road was still flooded and there continued to be some rain, on and off. So he accepted the offer that had been made and booked us into Sky City for another two days. I phoned our booked Kakadu accommodation. The lady was understanding and our deposit was eventually refunded – less a $25 fee – via Wotif, through which I’d booked it originally.
Dressed up to go out and went down to the foyer just before 7pm to wait. P was on time, arriving in a rather rattly old car. He told us a somewhat convoluted saga about the car. P had been sharing a rented house with J, another former colleague of mine. Somehow he’d managed to have the use of J’s car, when J married and moved out. Then, a friend visiting from Melbourne took P to the airport but, when getting back to the house, couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. He called J, who took a couple of days to get round to coming to do something about it. In the meantime, the car was stolen. It hadn’t been insured, so P ended up having to pay J for it. So now, his car is an old ’96 vintage clunker. Was the sort of tale that could only happen in Darwin!
We stopped, briefly at P’s rented house but stayed in the car while he had a quick change of shirt. The house resembled a large tin shed in an overgrown garden – rather a far cry from the time, around 1990, when P owned a rather lovely town house in Fannie Bay.
Bogarts was interesting. It had once been a strip club, and the decor was little changed! There were definite bordello overtones.
P indicated that past student M would be generous and pay for the meals and wines. That probably meant that P had kind of dragooned him into it. It seemed that P was low on funds and M knew that. It was one of the reasons that he provided P with an office space at his law firm. Since “retiring” in the late 90’s, P’s superannuation funds had suffered from the GFC, plus his propensity to give money away to assorted good causes. The occasional consulting or advisory contract he picked up for governments and their agencies did not fund a rich lifestyle these days. It was rather sad to see him reduced to have to worry about how to live – although he did have a rental income from his inner Melbourne house.
M arrived before his wife, who was delayed settling their three children. I’d taught M, in the early 80’s – meeting up with him as a successful lawyer, married with school age children of his own, made me feel quite ancient! But he was thrilled to see me, and through the evening there was much talk of old times. He really did believe that our school had been unique and that he owed his present status in life to it. I was pleased to find that he’d turned into a lovely, intelligent, warm and caring person – and his wife was delightful, too. She and John got on really well.
The meal was excellent. My steak was cooked perfectly. M’s salmon looked great, too.
Being a weeknight, with work tomorrow, M and wife left at a reasonable hour. I walked out with them and got the man who settled up with M to phone for a taxi. I think P would have liked to make a real night of it, especially if we bought the drinks. He was enjoying talking with us and had become rather tipsy. I wasn’t inclined to linger on, though. It had been a really enjoyable evening, to this point and I was so appreciative of M’s hospitality and company.
Our taxi driver did not meter our ride back to the hotel, which was not far – just charged us a flat $20. I wasn’t sure if that was normal Darwin night time practice, or a bit suss.