Counterpoint by Mark Nicol – Indulgence, injustice, and the book of fine scrapes

| January 18, 2021

Saga – I

I remember. I remember waking to a fine, consistent drizzle – the face refreshed, clothes slightly dank. Blinking, there opened a dreamy grey sky above. Looking to left and right – and there were my two buddies, nearby, happily dishevelled in their reveries. I looked again to that drizzling grey firmament above, and thought:

How perfect is this world?

O some are borne to greatness, but others, of their own conscientious industry alone, rise to thrust their manifold stupidity upon a whole indifferent world. And thus, in a certain and occasional vocation, as a leader of men …

We were travelling, mighty speedily in the Red Rocket, ourselves also gathering in intoxicant momentum as we headed towards Victor Harbor, some summer’s day of ‘79. Trevor, Daryl, Terry and I – manning the spacecraft, were intrepidly watching the numbers flick past on that spurious little dial.

See, the ‘58 Studebaker President has not the conventional speedometer, but rather a spinning, numbered wheel behind a small clear-plastic box. And, per usual, and in accordance with the consensual desire to make greatest speed to nowhere in particular, ultimate exhilaration came in 3-digit form. Trevor was looking a bit nervy, anxious already.

Trevor? Good-natured, but the measly specimen of the two Pevic brothers. Daryl? More robust, handsome, given to egoistic aggression, a touch of psychosis. Ah, a soul close to my heart.

Terry? One of four Crispin boys, closest to me – muscular, intense, always shifting between furrowed brow and fearsome laughter. They worked in the timber mill. And I? An indolent apprentice in the then State-subsidized school of academia in perpetuum. What had we in common? Dionysian commitment!

Victor Harbor came too early, the slab vanishing quick. For reasons of boisterous exuberance Daryl, and then Terry, decided to disrobe. I don’t know that that quaint jetty with Clydesdale-driven carriage has seen the uncouth like of such machismo revelers, clad only in jocks, entreating them to enjoin in some crude comic fare since.

But the denouement? The muscular, curly-headed frame of Terrence yields its Tarzan call from clifftop, doing full justice to the choice loincloth of a quiet leopard print.

As troupe manager I determined that such audience of meek holiday-makers as we had assembled, were not properly appreciative of our theatrical wares. Moreover, a clairvoyance spake, saying in mine ear that a certain plod might soon make hold of us – for not possessing a proper theatrical licence. Weird prescience?

We made leisurely to the town proper, where I espied wheelbarrows, several and sufficient, whence we sat to eat our cans of baked beans, ruminate upon Act II.

Ruefully, our attire and art did not please the management, a vendor to various trades. Thus, unappreciated again, we offed it.

The wild beach of Waitpinga was my chosen destiny, those hoary seas where wild souls such as ours might find solace, or deep sleep. But never were we to arrive.

Serious consumption of intoxicant liquids arouses, in the deep psychology of the healthy human specimen, an inverse impetus to partake of wares more nourishing. Thus, somewhere on that bumpy road to Waitpinga, a sober Trevor driving, mineself appropriating a navigator’s seat next, the vision of ultimate satiation came.

In a green field I saw’t – a herd of cows, which apparition did make one sayeth:

“Stop the car! I’m f’ in thirsty!”

Once the boys saw one of our number, climbed through barbed wire, racing towards the Grail of the Holy Teat, the mutual flabbergast was allayed, and verily did they enjoin. (Except Trev).

O it was a riotous time. But alarmed beasts on fours are apparently faster than inebriate ones on twos, which factor, actually, only enhanced the longevity of our rollick. In said field there were sundry depressions, of a bovine boggy nature.

And it reflected queerly on one Knight Daryl of Camptown, (ok, actually Campbelltown), that he did take unmanly opportune to grab, scrag, and fell me in such a bog.

O the raptures of grown boys are a sight to behold, such that tackling, scragging, and in-the-bog slinging became a considerable preoccupation, much to the delay of the nutritional task at hand, and much to relieve the sorry quarry.

You may say I have a certain genius of foretelling. And, perhaps assisted by the extraordinary telecommunication of some lowly agricola, a certain plod in blue DID thence arrive to despoil the finest affairs of grown men.

Inquiring, most discourteously, as to who owned that Chariot of Fire, and directed to a personage he deemed the master of miscreancy, thusly were his wearying words:

“I’m well known in this area for being an absolute and total C. And I thoroughly intend to live up to that reputation.”

Upon receiving warning that my Rocket would be defected as a transitory vehicle, should I in person even attempt to grasp its wheel, we were directed the long passage home, thus to renounce our slake-desirous quest.

With plod out of sight, as commandeer I immediately directed Trevor of Notestes to forthwith resume our Waitpinga course. Whereupon, after miles several, that spiteful plod having laid waiting did impend on us again. And to me as his mutineer, redirecting us backwards again, he gave this decree – he, the self-appointed sheriff of the Wild Wild West.

“You! You, do not ever, ever enter my precinct of Harborus Victorius, again! Or, if so, ye shall be placed behind bars of penalistic condemnation.”

Thus was I, an utter innocent, unjustly banned from ever entering said metropolis of Victor Harbor again. But I tell you this – buddy! I have been back, many times since. And a thoroughly mundane, civil, and languid affair of mankind it is too – a fine natural backdrop soiled, only, by geriatrics the likes of you.

(Such is my sagacious motto: Fair treatment, sober judgement in all things.)

Yet it is you, fine reader, who hath suffered injustice here. For that end, with which we began, does not tally with such narrative as ensued. Not to worry, by plodding steps, misadventures, devious redirections, we all eventually arrive – somewhere?

To the Iniquitous Den of the Old Lion we were headed, per habit, that Friday night. The dapper denizen of the discotheque, circa ‘77, was a saccharine human confection, only held physically upright by the most careful construction of cloth and coiffure. O, but could they prance and dance.

And then enter, the Debauchery of the Dionysians.

I’ll nod this lead to Lindsay, eldest of the Crispins, cocksure and crude. We were fine-tailored in black suit-tops, (op-shop elite), white shirts and tight black pants. He could pass for a bouncer – tall, jocular and menacing, and I for a lithe, androgynous narcissist, of unnerving anarchistic disposition. Thank God we had Terry, not that he could blend, in a disco, at all.

Lindsay’s lead?

The opportune scenario is this. When couples to the dance-floor take, upon propriety command their drinks, on tables, remain. Flock habit dictates that, from said tables, departures and re-arrivals are generally as one. And therein lays opportunity.

O Lindsay and I, (for Terry and others who were wont to Fridays enjoin us were too afeared), did become most eclectic in our choice of spirits. Dictated, true, was our selection, by the mores of our patrons – in that joyful place and time. Timing, a moderation of carefulness and abundance of cocksuredness achieved our ends.

Dear dreamer, that I may place this fantasy in your hand: Imagine, in your delicate sensibilities, the successive imbibement of such delights, the height of intoxicant fashion, for 1977 – blackberry nip, ouzo and coke, beer, brandy and coke, beer, blackberry nip. See – freed from morality, taste, the world is truly your oyster.

The complementary art? When males do retire from said dance-floor first, as is oft, to thence impose dance upon their finer halves, repatriate some inner warmth and joy. Lindsay’s moves were flamboyant, rude. The rapid blur of mine bodice in strobe-light left many a girl in vertigo. Terry’s whole move was a repetitive, macho neck-thrust.

Later, we negotiated upon a tender of that seedy establishment, to supply us medicinal weed. Such was our repartee – thrusting upon some unwary seating of skirts, having exhaled nearby: “Do you reckon someone’s smoking dope in here?”

Despondent with our failed station of hallucination, on departure from that den we refuged to nearby park. Readily did I convince the easily convinced that, by spinning at ever increasing speeds in ever diminishing concentric circles, we would imminently achieve the dervish’s plateau – of ecstatic revelation!

There were large hessian bags, of variety customarily used by those who vault the skies, in said park. And there, finally, we took our well-earned repose…