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off the wall



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First of all Mum, what I'm about to write demands that I use certain words offensive to you but I hope you will cut me some slack as I don't want to have to go through changing everything.

Last night was looking like a pretty low-key night which was fine by me I'm going to the Billy Bragg concert tonight. I had a few beers in the fridge and it was just a case of where to drink them. I noticed Lee one of the guys I've been hanging with a bit and this new guy Nick bringing some big planks of wood towards the beach. They were looking to make a fire on the beach. That sounded like a good plan to me so I grabbed a big slab and followed in tow. It was an absolutely gorgeous moonlit night coming down on the ocean I wish I would have had my camera on me. We traipsed a little way down the beach where we could smell burning. We saw a little light coming from behind the dunes in the bush when we were over the hump we found ourselves smack bang in the middle of a hobo's bush den.

Before we knew it this guy came up to us. For those of you that know the record he looked just like the guy on the Jethro Tull Aqualung album. He was wasted and slow but somehow articulate and lucid. We mentioned that we saw the fire and checked it out. “Cam orn in brathers” he said in his hearty Aussie accent. “We get people dropping in all the toyme. Jast pull ap a cheer theer and mike yourseelf at howm.”

So we did. The place was just a bunch of tarps in the bush some damp old mattresses and some stinky blankets. But this man Dean had a gentle soul. The first thing he insisted on pointing out was a bag hanging in a tree above the beds. “You see that? That's a bag o' boybles (Bibles) brathers. I believe in the goodness o' the lord. E looks arfter me and moy brathers who are livin' ere. Oym an Alcoholic” he said taking another swig from his bottle of port. “but oym a spiritual man and anything oy can share with you oy will, moy brathers.” He offered us booze, weed, blankets and cigarettes. Most of which was declined due to sufficient supplies for the three of our needs. This guy Dean had the appearance of Aqualung, the heart of Ghandi and the mouth of Alf Garnet. He'd admittedly been drinking since sun up and so was understandably a little sluggish in form. He was however a seasoned alkie and was pretty coherent and interested in the conversation. When he would ask a question and you answered something that showed your lack of knowledge of the area or understanding of the Aussie way he would giggle and laugh at you.

This french guy wandered in briefly and when Dean asked him what he was doing he said he was leaving town tomorrow to pick fruit. “Weer you Gow'n buzz?” “Brisbane” replied Frenchy. Dean let out a cackle “Brisbane!! Whoy the Fack are you gow'n to Brisbane Buzz. There ain't now fackin' fruit to be picked in Brisband the place is fackin' concrete!!” IF he didn't call you brother he called you Buzz which was kind of cool. “IF you wanna pick fruit Buzz you gotta gow to --------(someplace) not Fackin' Brisbane.!!”  Another time Lee was saying he was cold. Dean sitting there in his open shirt and shorts cocked his head back and looked at Lee incredulously. “cowld.....YOUR FROM FACKIN' ENGLAND BUZZ!!!! I pointed out not only was he from England but he was from Newcastle. A place notorious for short skirts and T-shirts in winter.

Pathetic as he was. Dean was a good old soul everyone he lived with were drunks and he admitted it of himself several times. He wasn't proud or ashamed just resigned. He was talking about some story where somebody said you should get out and make some money. “OY don't give a fack abaat money buzz. Oy got no use for money. Look what oy gort look where I live (he did have a point on that one) as long as I got enough for the auld DB (the port he was drinking) OYM a slave to the drink but besides that oym free as a bird brather. The Good Lord looks arfter me and moy brathers he does?”

I believe him.

This afternoon I found my spot on the beach only to realise I didn't have my headphones with me so I started to head back to the hostel. There is just a little cut that has been cleared over the dunes for people on our hostel to cut through. As I'm coming back two guys were coming towards me with English accents. There are a lot of brits here so it's no big whoop. Then as I looked closer…

(sorry mum)

BILLY FUCKING BRAGG. Right there on this barely visible cut BILLY FUCKING BRAGG (it really is the only appropriate word to accurately express my shock)

“Bill!!” I said. He turned around. “I'm a big fan mate and I'm looking forward to the show tonight” He thanked me and shook my hand. I get succinct around entertainers because I know even from my own small experiences the small talk is really special for the fan but can be tedious for the artist depending on what he/she is like or busy doing at the time. As he was walking away just to claim a little bit more of his time I added, “Geoffrey Kelly said to say hi if I got a chance to talk with you” Geoffrey read my last email and had actually asked me to do that. He has met him a few times playing with Spirit of The West and he confirmed my feelings about the man by describing him as a true gent. He remembered Geoffrey and said hallo back (Geoffrey) I also decided to shamelessly name drop somebody else I know who knows him. “You know Alex?” he said “How's she doing I was just talking to her about 2 months ago?” “Then you know more than me”, I said. “Well say hallo next time your talking to her” I said I would and we waved and carried on in our different directions. He then called back “if I see you at the show tonight and don't recognise you it's 'cause you've got your clothes on” (I was just wearing shorts) I laughed and said “your loss”.

I went up to my room shaking my head and got my headphones. When I got back to the beach I noticed Mr Bragg still there at the foot of the ocean looking very English in open collared shirt and rolled up pants paddling in the ocean. The only thing missing was the braces and knotted hanky! I had my camera in my bag at my spot so I grabbed it and went over. I said it would really make my holiday pics to have one of Billy on Byron Beach. “No problem” he said. The other dude took the camera and took a picture of me and Billy Bragg at the foot of the ocean of Byron Beach. How cool is that? (one copy coming your way Cous.)

Anyway got to run and catch my good mate Billy Bragg down at the Great Northern. Rock on Tommy!!