Posts Tagged ‘Bali’

The Tent.

February 8, 2019
Image result for Tents

In our efforts to become leaner and not willing to burden our family with the washed-up flotsam of our earthly but temporary stay, we undertook to try and ditch some possessions we no longer use. The clutter of our third bedroom, used as an office is where we started some time ago. All those papers stored, ‘just in case’ but never looked at again. Do we really want to look at old gas bills, or Water & Sewage rates and taxation notices? Out they went.

We had stacks of photo albums. Hundreds of camping trips when our children were small. Holidays on the South Coast dating back to the sixties and seventies. Many recorded by my Agfa Clack camera bought from my savings while delivering fruit and vegetables to embassies in The Hague just prior to my parents’ adventure migrating to Australia. That camera was indestructible. Colour films at that time were sent to Melbourne for developing and it wasn’t cheap. Later on a new camera was bought and recorded our overseas trips to France, Holland, South America and a still lovely Bali, with some of our best memories from Santiago de Chile post Pinochet, and Argentina. We kept the best of those photos now stored in a blue Dutch Verkade biscuit tin and chucked the  empty faded albums in the recycle bin.

We have as a matter of getting away from inside our house also made attempts at cleaning up our garden shed. It seems that order of things don’t last even without actually using tools from within the shed. Sooner or later things become disorderly again out of their own volution. We discovered a rather large and bulky bag that looked almost as if it held an assortment of cricket gear. Most unlikely. We are to cricket what a herring is to a seagull.

It was a tent!

The tent was used a lot on our previous life on the farm. We can still hear the echoes of laughter from our grandchildren who, with their mothers, slept in the tent on many occasions. They would take books and read with light from candles. Did we not all do that when young? We did. I had rigged up a battery with a small globe and read Jules Verne’s adventures under the blankets during winter’s nights with the windows all iced up with frost designed flowering shaped greetings in the morning. Dutch winters were still cold.

With our grandkids now almost young adults and us on life lengthening medications we are most unlikely to go camping again. How would we get up from the ground? I suppose by the help of a tent pole. Over the last few weeks we did leave useful items on the ‘nature strip’ at the front of our housing complex. The nature strip is a green grassy area reserved for Australian suburbs. It also sums up to me a kind of terrible dullness. The noise of the petrol lawnmower doesn’t liven it up either.  Anyway, it held our small enamelled barbeque and several still working electric fans. They were all soon taken. However, I did not want to abuse this nature strip too often, and decided on a different method for ditching the tent.

Last Wednesday morning I went to the Moss-Vale Returned Soldiers Club for my weekly indoor bowling event. I thought that leaving the tent in the parking area, no doubt someone will get the benefit of this still in very good condition tent. The tent is one of those spring loaded pole affairs and easily put up. It was also large, for six people and a shade sheet for over the top with a floor sown onto the sides. Years of designing this tent went into its production.

After arrival at 10am, I parked the car out of sight from other cars. I opened the door and gently lowered the tent on the bitumen next to our Peugeot. No one had seen me doing it. But…just before the start of bowling who would walk in with a large bag? It was Peter.

‘Guess what I found next to my car, Peter said’?  It was my tent. He had parked next to my car after arrival. Other bowling mates advised Peter to unzip the bag to see what it was. I acted just as surprised and even said; ‘perhaps it is a gun’! After unzipping, it was found to be a tent. I wasn’t surprised. He decided to hand it in to the office near the entrance where members are always asked to show their identification before being allowed in. When I left after the bowling was over, I noticed the bag with the tent at the back of the office counter.

It had found a good home.

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The yearly friends party.

December 11, 2018

As I wrote earlier, last Sunday Helvi and I went to a party in Balmain, Sydney. We have been going there for a few decades now. It’s almost an institute except it is not a formal gettogether at all. Most of us have known each other through all sorts of possible combinations. Either through work, or living in same area, through our children or by sheer chance. You could say we are closely knitted. We generally know our life’s travails including the ups and downs. Lately, or perhaps over the last five years or more we now are steeped in each other’s medical journeys as well. A kind of bonus aiding intimacy. A common question last Sunday might well have been; how is your knee or is your hip holding up well? One inescapable fact is that of the 26 people at this party, there were just 6 men including myself.

We all bring own drinks and food. There was a delicious potato bake, which is always baked by the same person. The red cabbage salad was there as well, my favourite. Then salmon, different cheeses, and all sorts of olives, some hand stuffed with anchovies mixed with chili. It was a very enjoyable day.

Of course parties are held in all parts of the world. I thought I might share with you how in a certain part of Indonesian Sulawesi parties are held when someone passes away. The culture is totally different and one has to allow for that difference. Not just allow, but stand in awe of that difference. I am writing this because one of our grandsons as part of doing his HSC this year was treated to a schoolie trip with a group of other students to Sulawesi. We were glad he went there instead of Bali which is on the verge of becoming a kind of tropical Venice with millions crawling around looking for Star-bucks or KFC’s.

One of our grandson’s friends is from Indonesia so that helps a lot. They flew to Sulawesi’s Capital Makassar, and after an 8 hr bus-trip arrived at Taroja. You might know that in that area many mummified bodies of relatives long gone, are kept preserved and put up a mountain cliff. The Indonesian student told my son, that his grandfather was also treated with that respect, and that 50 buffaloes were sacrificed during the process of his funeral.

National Geographic put out a video on these cultural  rites and here it is;

 

I am so glad our grandson experienced this on his schoolie holiday. I find the video fascinating.

From Wiki; “For the Toraja people, life very much revolves around death, but not in a morbid sense. For them, a funeral is a great celebration of life.”

How about us, will our funerals be celebrations of lives well lived?

It is all too confusing

April 30, 2017
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garden

It is all so confusing.
 Our Prime Minister Turnbull, while waving his hands up and down, waxes on the TV endlessly how on the world stage, we take prime position in being the  biggest and most successful MULTI Cultural nation in the world. We are a blend of many cultures, it seems. I knew when garlic made its entry into the Australian kitchen back in the late fifties and sixties,  Anglo-Australia would be in for an irreversible change if not doomed as well. Blame the Italians and Greeks for that.
Yet, at the same time but on a different day, Mr Turnbull is urging us to turn into a more nationalistic focussed citizen. A good and special type of Australian not found anywhere except perhaps in the bars of Kuta’s Bali… (Totally drunk and disorderly!) A unique Australian. We are urged to become aware and stand up for a more mono cultural identity.
In fact ‘Unique Australian Values’ is what we should be sticking up for. Migrants will have to do a test on those unique Australian values with a good knowledge and sound understanding of these.  There is no more mucking about with those that don’t want to blend in. I thought this new requirement was obliquely, but none the less pointedly aimed at the foreign Islamic migrants.
Mr Turnbull, our Prime minister is brutally resolute in trying to pick up those voters that have left the Liberal party and who have drifted into the warm bosom of Pauline Hanson’s  far right anti-Aboriginal, anti- Chinese and now anti- Muslim ‘One Nation Party.’ There is nothing wrong with Mr Turnbull also adding the word ‘terrorism’ or ‘Isis’ to his plea for us to become more Aussie.  It is not direct Muslim bashing, is it? It goes down well with some, who think that a bit of xenophobia thrown in this multi cultural soup, it can’t do any harm.
Turnbull talked about ‘respect for the law, tolerance, giving everybody a fair go.’ The aspiring migrant is given 4 years to brush up on Unique Australian Values in order to get permanent residency status. ‘It is something one has to ‘earn’, he said, looking a bit shifty. I am asking if there are many other countries that don’t have respect for the law or respect, treating people disrespectfully? Are we the sole owners of those traits? Is that what makes us so unique?
People that were first looking for their lost new paradigms are now herded into finding Unique Australian Values. I have taken up to shouting Oi,oi,oi late in the afternoon, and trying out my waltzing techniques listening to Waltzing Mathilda. I tell, you when it comes to waltzing around the joint, Helvi reckons I am a formidable maelstrom. Would smearing vegemite around this town help?  I have picked up a couple of good Australian traits from watching ‘Crocodile Dundee’ with that big knife many times. I would be most grateful if someone can show me other Australian Values that I can add.

A previous prime minister, John Howard felt that we should all be interested in cricket and a good intimate grounding in a famous race horse ‘Phar-Lap’, and learn English. While many managed to learn English and dutifully viewed Phar-lap’s pickled heart in a jar, it was the reverse with cricket. It is a game that for many remains a mystery. I must admit, I fall under that category and am surprised I haven’t been kicked out. Even so, during John Howards reign as a PM, it was all so simple and sweet. Thinking back it was much easier to become an Australian with Unique Values.

It is all so confusing now!

Terror alert

July 22, 2016

Flight JQ27 was diverted to Bali, where the six men – identified as Bradley Beecham, Brett Eldridge, Michael Matthews, Mark Rossiter, Lynmin Waharai and Ricky William – were escorted off the plane by police.
Will our PM Malcolm Turnbull now get up in front of the TV and warn us about our Aussie born and bred terrorists? Totally radicalised by Christian culture and KB lager.

http://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/490a8f6028b6c34afaf6f4f611f8ec23

http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/07/21/07/30/jetstar-flight-from-sydney-to-phuket-diverted-to-denpasar-after-mid-air-brawl

One can just imagine if those people would have had an Middle Eastern or Islamic background.

The driver-license test for Seniors while spying through fingers.

June 24, 2016
 Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

Forgot the mirror image when printed. (Black square)

When the letter was received to go through a medical test for renewal of my driver’s license, I got up, and immediately searched the eye test charts. Did you know that this chart was an invention of the Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862?

I thought I could perhaps move things along a bit in my favour by remembering the third bottom line of letters. Apparently, having read up about it, the test usually insist on adequate vision in order to maintain the driver’s license for those over seventy five. Last year I passed with flying colours. I did spy through my good eye that required third line of letters. I had a nice nurse who kept looking at the chart instead of my hand with fingers slightly ajar.

Some years back I had a vitrectomy done on my right eye to try and straighten out my macula. There was good vision in that eye but it did seem to have a slight curve on the horizontal plane of vision. Now the curve is straight but the vision pretty crook. I should not have gone in for this operation. Helvi is forever pointing out not to dwell on what is past. It is a habit of mine. Even so, I was heartened by a recent ABC TV program that pointed out that business and health make bad bedfellows. It had doctors even agreeing that the medical profession in Australia is getting more like the US system. More and more groups of medical professionals are forming Market listed empires which employ people with MBA degrees instead of caring doctors.

My operation was certainly a nice little earner for all involved and I coughed up more money than for a six week’s luxury stay in Bali. I even had an overnight stay in a luxurious private hospital with nice smouldering coal-dark eyed nurses waking me up every few hours and gazing tenderly into my eye. Above my bed I had suspended a computer on which, after I lowered it to my good eye level, I could order a bewildering variety of luscious snacks and even complete meals. From memory I had a lovely Angus-cow eye fillet with mashed potato and kale for lunch.

However, scanning the eye charts, I noticed there are many different ones. The top letter is usually an E, but the rest could be anything. I thought of visiting the medical centre under some pretext and study their eye-charts, but each doctor might well have a different one hung on the wall usually opposite a mirror for creating the required six metre distance. The medical centre is a warren of offices. I could study just one and than insist on that particular office. It could arouse suspicion.

My attitude about the whole thing is a bit sus anyway. Surely, safety is what should dominate. However, that is supposing a moral forbearance or aptitude, a straightness of character and responsible citizenship, that is perhaps somewhat lacking. Helvi often tells me there is something sneaky in my mind’s eye. A kind of slyness and cunning.

However, and this is what I tell myself in this eye-chart conundrum. I have never been involved in a car accident. I have never claimed damages on my car. One reason I do not have car insurance. ( apart from the obligatory third party one.) Twice I have been booked by a camera of speeding but both were in a low range. I am a very safe driver.(lots of I’s here.)

So, I have asked Helvi if I should wear a solid ring on my left hand so that scanning the eye-chart my ring-finger will be somewhat ajar without any deliberate input by me. This will give me a chance to enhance my ability to read the third line from the bottom of the Snellen chart.

It is the best I can come up with.
What do you reckon?

This life of camping out. ( Autobiography)

August 31, 2015

The moving about, even just in the mind can be unsettling. Ten days in Bali, ok, let’s move there. Two days at the Eco-village in Queensland, lets go! No wonder my Helvi is getting nervous. “You will still take your own with you. The black curmudgeon sits on your shoulder night and day”, she says.  “People know that,  they can see it,”  is added for extra impact.  The dream of living in like-wise communities is what plagued me since birth.  And that’s how it goes. The attraction of living somewhere were low impact on nature is shared within a community, does pull. That’s apart from the bonus of a ban on fences, especially colour-bond fences, and  electricity burning air conditioning.

It is true that the social skills of easy laughter and merrymaking in company of others is wanting. A demeanour of a seriously looking  man exudes around, and leaps in front like a warning, well before actually meeting.  It can’t be helped, even when wearing my partial dentures.  However, lately I do go around smiling more which helps, but only in combination when walking with our Jack Russell ‘Milo’. I got a smile back last Tuesday at Aldi’s tying up Milo at the trolley bay. I saw her again inside the shop as she was bending over the carrots next to the capsicums. My H is the opposite. She has a Mona Lisa smile. It comes naturally. She feels the smile. People often talk to her which I envy. She draws in people. I seem to repel but am working on it. It is never too late and I can still climb stairs two steps at a time. That has to be worth something.

With the autobiography or memoirs if you prefer, it seems to have stalled. The moving about has rippled into the consciousness of everyday living. The living in a town- house  of seven others in the compound is magnifying the stark differences between communal design and the exclusive or excluding design where privacy dominates.  People might peer from behind the blinds. Perhaps not even that! A garage door rolls up but the owner is already in the car. We can’t see him as he drives off.

In Eco-village last week we saw people moving about inside their houses. There was proof of life. Some were working in the garden. Children were running about. Kangaroos were lulling about sunning themselves on grass with the black water-hens picking morsels out of the compost bins. A man with binoculars was trying to spot birds. He had lost his wife some time back but he had not given up. He recorded all birds and had bought cameras to photograph whatever he felt like photographing. He was happy.

You know that at the age of over seventy five, the egg-timer is slowly running out of sand. One is not totally without optimism. My mother was 96 when she quit. A good omen. Dad smoked but enjoyed it till the end. At his funeral and going back afterwards, my mum cleaned for the last time his ashtray. He was still alive the day before and drove his car. He hated hospitals and going to the doctor.  No sooner when he was taken to a hospital, he died. He died at 78 but not because of smoking. So all up. If we split the difference, ( one has to be fair) it would allow another ten years before the egg-timer would run out of sand.

I would be happy with that. So much still to smile about.

Children, tripping over and business. ( Auto-biography)

July 21, 2015
The flooded creek

The flooded creek

After we settled in King’s Cross there was a flurry of marriages in the Oosterman clan. My friend Bernard married a Japanese girl and went to live in Japan. I continued with the painting business on my own.  One of my brothers married a girl from Russia but born in Peru, another from Polish background, my sister married a man born in Germany with just one who married an Australian. I of course married a lovely Finn. Apart from my brother who married an Aussie and has died since, we all are still married to our first love.

They were busy times all racing to get home and hearth together as well as bonnie babies. There were nappies and the smell of them. Toys on the floor. A variety of bassinettes and other bouncing contraptions that we would easily trip over.  They were the years when tripping over was normal and totally safe. Of course now a fall could easily result in an ambulance racing over to lift you on a stretcher and to a hospital, nurse putting on the gloves and a worried doctor looking you over. I haven’t as yet reached that stage yet, but it will come about!  Helvi urges me to take a firm hold of the handrail coming down from the computer upstairs. It pays to be careful! I sometimes wish that recklessness could continue. It was such a part of being young. Reckless and foolish. Now we play it safe and pretend to be wise, but really just give in to ageing, play it secure, getting old, sip our coffee and remind each other to take medicine. We have learnt our lesson.

It seems odd that when we were young and had a life ahead, we were reckless, took our chances when at the same time so much was at stake. One fatal mistake could easily result in having to pay for it over the rest of your natural life. Yet, now that we (I am) are old and with our lives more behind than in front we have far more solid reasons to be reckless. Throw caution to the wind. What is there to lose? What is holding us back?  Do a bungy jump or fight a crocodile, live in Bali or Amsterdam. We might just, with luck,  squeeze in a couple of years more or so. Of course many of the old do amazing things still, but by and large we have become more cautious and play it safe. I never ever thought I would reach that stage. Yet it is has come about.  Even so, we still have no insurance of any kind except third party property car insurance which I suppose is proof of some lingering recklessness. harking back to youthful risk taking.  I mean, does one not get buried without having any money.  Does it matter? Mozart got buried in a pauper’s grave. Perhaps, that is just bundied about to encourage budding composers to keep on trying, regardless of fame or fortune.

But going back (to those years of recklessness),  and having settled down it came about that families were sprouting up all over the place. Our first was born within a couple of years after arrival in Sydney. Our second daughter two years after that, delivered by the same doctor named Holt. I renewed previous contacts and gained quickly new jobs. Some years later, I won some really substantial contracts including the painting of the extensions to the NSW Art Gallery and the International Flight kitchen at Sydney’s airport. I tried as well to keep on with painting pictures and even had, optimistically, bought a huge  fifty metres by two metres roll of raw cotton canvas together with varied sizes of stretchers on which to span and make canvasses ready to paint.

I was an optimist and Helvi the supporting wife and mother…They were very good years,

many good years were yet to come.

Bali again, but last for the time being.

June 25, 2015

A pot in Bali

  • The above pot photo was taken minutes before the taxi arrived to take us back to Bali’s airport. We were anxious if he would turn up at all as we had arranged it the day before by someone who had approached us on the street in front of our stay. He was a delightful character who spoke very good English but also appreciated someone talking a bit of his language as well. He imitated sour tourists who would rush by as if possessed by a need to pack in the absolute maximum into their holidays. They had paid for the air-fare from Europe and accommodation and by Jo, they were going to get as much out of it as possible. They talk about ‘ the holiday of a life-time’ as if on a first marriage or  facing an examination for a possible doctorate or appointment to The High Court in The Hague. This delightful  Bali man than expressed this mania by some of those running tourists in Bali by pursing his lips in a very good and with comical disdain, the deadly frowning serious foreign tourists. 
    Gloriously beautiful Bali

    Gloriously beautiful Bali

    It was all a bit quiet in the taxi to the airport. We looked at the passing hustle and bustle, lives lived at full speed yet in calm consideration and seemingly without the concentrations of Aus. frayed nerves on edge. Who would know? But an observer such as myself gets an opinion based on picking signals. It is the best one can do, isn’t it? If not and observed totally wrong, what’s the point of getting old (er)?  There has to be a benefit or pay-off. “Have you got your passport handy, H asked me?”  ” Yes, I answered a bit curtly.”  We were dropped off at the front of the departure lounge. We shook hands with driver; selamat tinggal, terima kasih.
  • Bali

    Bali

  • At almost seventy- five I just write down words and am glad they get read on WP. Actually more than glad, I am grateful for anyone to read them and respond by a ‘like’. That’s all I can hope for. I can’t take those words with me nor eat them. They will be finally found in a drawer when my descendants clear out my room. For anyone to actually have a book published is a feather in a cap of an almost unimaginable achievement. I stand in awe of those that have achieved the dizzying heights of ‘being published’. They can say with pride, ‘I am an author’. My writing started back some ten years ago and might have left it a bit late. I do print my bits and pieces and reached post Nr 712 a couple of days ago. Who would have thought? I love it.
    PS: I don’t know what those numbers are doing. They came here on their own accord!

Goodbye Suit and Attaché case

June 10, 2015
Japanese Windflowers

Japanese Windflowers

In life we think we make choices that determine our future. Is that true? One could have turned left or to the right. So much is due to the unforseen. The past is never a sign towards the future but only something to mull over in old age and even then it hardly ever surrenders wisdom or insight. That seems to only come about by a presence of mind while doing the dishes or polishing ones shoes or writing a few words.

I do remember feeling euphoric walking to Centraal Station in Amsterdam. I must have taken my suitcase and just bought the train ticket, walked up the flight of stairs to the platform taking me to Italy. It was the absolute right thing to have done. My job at the bank with the daily routine of balancing the books to zero each day had run its course. There is only so much you can do with a zero. It wasn’t easy. I had to make sure there wasn’t a cent in between. This is the essence of good book-keeping. The cost of a postage stamp could throw my day into turmoil and cost me hours of having to work after hours. No one could go home till the books were zero.

Even the director on the swivel chair had to stay back. All the branches had to give the daily figures to head office which would then print the all important statements and post them to the bank’s customers. I often used to offer the bank my own money if there was a discrepancy of just a few cents in order to be able to go home. No, that is not what banking is about. The books had to balance. You can see, dear readers, can’t you, how my career at a bank had to end? To think that at the very best I too could end up a director and swivel around a special chair. Is that what I had to look forward to? Of course to become a director could only come about by appointment. The director at my branch wasn’t too impressed, especially not when I laughed after he fell backwards with a cigar in his hands. It was doomed.

All my sense of importance wearing a finely pressed suit in the tram of Amsterdam had come to not much more than working on the Czechoslovakian Capstan lathe back in Australia, (bar the strange rituals). When my friend Bernard had secured a lovely chalet in the North of Italy I decided to chuck in the job and join him. This decision was made within a split second. The spontaneity of it was breathtaking. I loved it and still tend to act rather rashly which Helvi finds sometimes a bit hard to deal with. Of course, one could question how the bank would feel not even been notified of my choice to leave. I simply vanished.

They must have enquired at my address of the dying uncle. In any case, the book-keeping must have been done by the director till a replacement was found. I never collected my wages or holiday money as I felt it a just penance for not having given notice. The train trip to Bressanone started in rain but ended in glorious sunshine, a good omen. But of that…more to come!

(We will be in Ubud- Bali till the 23 of June. I hope to be able to post but am dependent on doing it on a tablet. I am not sure how that works. We shall see) !

The Beach resort and large Stomachs.

January 10, 2015
Holiday fun at Port Macquarie.

Holiday fun at Port Macquarie.

We came back last Thursday from 5 days at Port Macquarie. It used to be a small town about 400 Km North of Sydney. Now it has grown into a large town with own airport and is overrun by hordes of sun and beach seeking tourists during the summer months, especially during the Christmas school holiday. We too went there as tourists and had booked a 3bedroom apartment. The building was called North-Point and bravely admitted to being a ‘resort’. The resort title was somewhat overstated. It did have a ping pong table and a pool with barbeque as a concession to recreational features. I mustn’t be too chagrined!

The apartments are being advertised as being air-conditioned and well equipped. The combination lounge-dining-kitchen did feature one of those wall mounted air conditioners. I seem to always be switching those types of air cons on and off continually. They blow cold air down on my knees at a rate that seems to vacillate at its own selfish will. Their remotes, as a bonus, are often incoherent with little things indicating mysterious options. The rest of the apartment had ceiling fans, a much preferred option. I like the reassurance of whirring fans. Perhaps seated on a cane chair one could easily drift into a Somerset Maugham at Raffles adventure. A kind of Razor’s Edge recall. In any case, with fans you can chose ‘low or high’, so simple.

Our five days at Port Macquarie, after reflection, made for a somewhat minor observation. Holiday makers, especially the beach and surf fans seemed to have grown in size! Our apartment was on the second floor of a ten story building. Each floor would have five or six entrances to other apartments. There was a continuous movement and shuffling in the corridors of people clad in skimpy bathers. Christmas holidays in Australia traditionally always included entire families on the beach and swimming. In earlier times, it was the rent of a sea-side cottage, the caravan or camping ground. Today, many seek Bali, Thailand, or, if staying home, go for the ‘resort’. Well, we chose the ‘resort with ping pong table’.

A much lamented complaint by overseas visitors in Australia is the lack of availability of Wi-Fi. Of that we were not disappointed. The resort did not have Wi Fi but did offer the name of a provider, who, for a cost, sold different packs of access to the Internet. We tried several restaurants but all offered no Wi Fi. Now, last time in Bali, the waitresses would politely ask if they could type in the Wi Fi code on your device, all part of the service. Same in Koi Samui- Thailand. North-point resort at Port Macquarie did not even gave an excuse. Of course, for us and our grandkids it was a bonus. Instead of tablet fiddling, it was swimming or table tennis, water slide and strawberry picking on a farm.

They, the tourists, came or entered the lifts all day till late in the evening. You could not leave the place without being confronted by swimmers. The lifts stated a maximum of fifteen people. Perhaps when this building was erected people were still of a moderate size. I felt like printing a sheet stating that 8 might be the maximum now. The bathers would have normal limbs but when the lifts opened up, one would be almost pushed aside by stomachs appearing first followed by the bather. There was no modesty, coyness, reticence or any kind of holding back. Why would they? Oh no, everyone was large now. It is normal. I am the freak in my long skinny RM Williams stock-yard jeans and heavy boots. Not them.

A good time was held by all. Daughter and grandchildren enjoyed themselves. I played table tennis and was surprised how my form had slipped. I used to always have a good way of putting enough spin on the ball for the opposing player to miss a return hit. All gone now. In fact, with my dodgy eyesight the ball slipped past the bat on a few occasions. How dreadful this matter of ageing. Still, I loved the salt and pepper calamari. The reason for large stomachs soon became clear. All day and at all hours people now eat. They eat while swimming, walking, driving, crossing the road, even talking. Entire streets, towns are taken up by roving eaters. You can almost even hear it.

Eating has become our raison d’être.

Me, no complain.