We dropped into our new ( but feel like old ) friends, the Gordons in Belmayne, New South Wales. They had asked us if we would like to stay over with them on our way back to Sydney as they had the room, so we jumped at the chance of good company, a real bed , and accepted immediately. We turned up at their beautiful house and felt at home straight away. Tim had just gotten back from work. He was trying not too hard to get back into the swing of the working week after his few weeks off. Gerri was the same, back on the school run, making the lunch’s. The boys, Oscar and Xander were back in school with plenty of catching up to do.
Axel was so happy to see the two boys again. He had spoken of little else since we said our goodbye’s in Byron Bay. He would have murdered us in our sleep if we hadn’t kept good our promise to at least drop in on the boys on our way back down the coast, well he couldn’t complain now that we were staying with them.
Elka was also happy to see “moy frenns, ther moy frenns” and to get out of the camper and into a real house where she could run around and rummage in someone else’s toy box and find a quiet corner to watch a video in peace.
Myself and Lisa were happy too, Gerri preparing the food, Tim operating the barbie. The toughest thing I had to do all night was crack open beers and open a couple of bottles of wine, life is tough. All Lisa had to do was ask how the salad’s were made, eat them and swallow down a nice red.
Tim’s mom, Robin , who live two doors down dropped in. She was on her own for a few day’s owing to her husband being in hospital where he was recovering from phneumonia. She works at the local junior school where Oscar and Xander attend. She suggested Axel might like to go to school with the boys the next day. We thought it was a great idea. I‘m not sure if Axel did but he warmed to it when he was told Friday was an easy day at the school and he would only have to look and listen. I thought it might make him see how easy he has it with his one or two hours every couple of days with Dad, maybe he would come back a changed boy, fat f**king chance.
So we eventually got the children off to bed and drank late into the night. There were a lot of dead men lined up in the morning. What a hangover, I think it was the worst of the whole trip. I don’t think anyone was feeling too smart the next day, certainly not Tim and myself.
We had breakfast, not too much for me. Lisa got Axel dressed up in the closest approximation of the local school uniform we could manage from his meagre wardrobe. We had to borrow a pair of shoes from Oscar, jandal’s wouldn’t do, and off we headed to school.
Tim headed off to work looking the worst for wear and we all piled into Gerri’s car, Robin, Lisa, Eric, Oscar, Axel, Xander and Elka who thought she was going into school for her first day too.
We arrived at the school and headed into the office where Robin was going to square Axel’s attendance with the V.P. who she get’s on well with. The V.P. was off sick that day so the Principal who was supposed to be off was in. It all went smoothly and his day in school was approved by her. The principal came out to meet us and we had a nice enought chat, as nice as you can with a school principal. There were a gaggle of girls in the office when we were there and they were talking loudly together when the principal shusshed them. It was years since I had heard a room go so quiet so quickly, what power, what absolute power, it brought me back.
Axel headed off in to the playground for assembly where he was being introduced to the class by Xander. He had forgotten about us in the background so I headed off for a girly coffee morning with the girls.
When we picked Axel up later he was shattered. I think the day at school on top of the previous late night was too much for him. He wasn’t particularly forthcoming about his Australian educational experience, but that wouldn’t be particularly unusual. He was very muted for the rest of the day, poor fellah.
I can remember when I was the same age as Axel saying goodbye to pals I had made on holidays and how it always seemed like the end of the world. I felt a little sorry for him, he has had to say goodbye so many times this year.
Lisa and Gerri said goodby like old friends, knowing they will see each other again somewhere , sometime . Myself and Tim made our goodbyes a little more stoicly, mano o mano, to quote my favourite U.S. president.
We were on our way again, back to Terrigal to meet the incorrigable K. Price and his lovely wife Pam.