…At 3am, somewhere between Singapore and Adelaide, I decided to write a postcard to the guy who sits next to me at work. For the purposes on anonymity we’ll refer to him as ‘Vegan Graham’ – a masochist developer who gave me his address on the proviso that I bombarded him with abuse.
‘You are aware that this is not a normal request?’ I asked, to which he replied ‘But I like it,’ accompanied with a Gollum-esque snarl.
By this point in the journey I hadn’t slept for nigh-on thirty hours and was starting to question my powers of reasoning. I noticed that the guy next to me was watching the same film and we had a cheeky wager as to how many people Liam Neeson would kill by the end (I got closest with 26 – You have now been spared the need to watch ‘Taken 2’)
‘Dear Vegan Graham,’ I began, ‘the only thing that would make this holiday more perfect is if your corpse washed up on the beach in front of me.’
A bold opening I felt. The man next to me agreed. We swapped notes before composing a further stanza:
‘Having successfully harvested your DNA I am now in the process of manufacturing large quantities of a potent musk with the intention of chumming the coastline of southern Australia. It is my heartfelt desire that the predatory fish who inhabit these waters will then develop a taste for vegan flesh and go on to hunt both you and all of your kind. Next year I shall holiday in Thailand, the following year India, slowly but surely luring the ravenous beasts across the ocean. The intervening period will grant we enough time of overcome how to get at you in a land-locked English county.’
A week into the trip I booked a 6-day trek into the outback. Stepping onto the bus that first morning it was immediately clear to me that I was the eldest person by at least a decade. The other people on the trek regarding me with suspicion.
‘Can it talk? / Is it incontinent?’ their fearful young eyes seemed to plead. When I said ‘Hi,’ well…that was simply too much. They began to poke and prod the wizened old seer and ponder how it was still alive. I gave my age (36) to which one replied ‘Oh…that’s…not too bad.’
A few days in I was able to repay the compliment. Arriving at ‘Coober Pedy’ – a mining town populated exclusively with murderers the very same individual accosted my at length about the political situation in China.
‘How old are you?’ I asked.
‘Why are you discussing macro-economics? You should be out chasing girls. Here, drink this.’ A beer was bestowed upon him.
The young man regarding the gift as if I had just presented him with a unicorn made of heroin. ‘If you think I am ready?’ He tingled with excitement.
‘Clearly not,’ I replied and snatched back the beverage.
In the days that followed we slept under the stars in swags (a cross between a sleeping bag and a tent), saw stunning landscapes and began to bond. I in turn was accepted into the group as one might a benevolent teacher or creepy uncle.
On the third day, in a monumental scheduling error, we were served kangaroo in pitta straight after a visit to a baby roo orphanage. Two German girls tried to complain about the mishap but, being teenagers, only knew how to say ‘I’m bored,’ and ‘It’s too hot.’ I tried to placate them, but succeeded only in further exacerbated matters when a novel about the Third Reich dropped out of my suitcase. In the ensuing hilarity / tears my thoughts returned to Graham:
‘I am going to deliberately put insufficient postage on this card so that you have to pay to receive my insults you son of a bitch.’
At a pit-stop in the middle of nowhere a sun-burnt man pulled up alongside our bus on a super-bike and asked if we had any food or water he could buy. I suggested to the tour guide that we take the man’s details and he was obviously ill-equipped to be traveling long distances in obscene temperatures.
‘Natural selection my friend,’ was his only response.
Finally we reached the zenith of our travels – ‘Uluru’ (Ayers Rock). It was a breath-taking event to watch the sun explode across the horizon, and there, amidst the beauty and splendour of enlightenment, I was able to finish Graham’s message.
‘You owe me two dollars for this postcard asshole.’