The word Bogan, I am reliably informed, is Aussie slang for redneck. 100 miles north of Brisbane the glasshouse mountains provided the stunning backdrop to the (bogan) wedding to two people I had never met before, nor as it turned out, would ever do so again.
‘Wear a suit, don’t look anyone directly in the eyes and be prepared for a Dukes of Hazard style bar-brawl,’ were the three pieces of advice given to me by my antipodean girlfriend.
‘Will some of the men be wearing cut-off, sleeveless jackets?’ I asked in jest.
Due to a series of mishaps we arrived an hour late, just in time to witness the service end. Everyone was already drunk. How was that even possible?
In place of a formal meal the couple had laid on a selection of strawberry bon-bons, licorice allsorts and sherbet dips. The crashing highs and lows of a sugar rush provided the final ingredient to an already lit powder keg.
The speeches arrived at the optimum point of inebriation and the father set the tone with his opening gambit: ‘Let’s be honest. This isn’t a particularly special day. They’ve been living in sin for ages and tomorrow is just business as usual.’ Remonstrations from his wife were met with a firm ‘Now be quiet darlin, I’m doin the talkin,’ before going on to refer to his daughter’s time at university as ‘the lost years.’
The best man’s speech was interrupted by two utterly annihilated women, one of whom bellowed: ‘Big shout out to Nat’s sister for getting discharged from the institute in time for the wedding.’
At the back of the room a barely sentient goliath – bedecked in a bright yellow garment that would have constituted a dress on anyone else, but on her was barely a bib – raised her massive head and grunted.
Next up was the groom – the spit of ‘Donk’ from Crocodile Dundee’s walkabout creek. ‘When I first saw Nat I thought wow-you-are-byoo-ti-ful. Then I got a couple of drinks in me and I thought she was even better looking.’
Without the use of a mike the groom had to speak up so as to drown out the sound of his new wife projectile vomiting just outside the tent. Shortly thereafter his uncle knocked a woman unconscious whilst attempting a pirouette, whereupon it all properly kicked off.
The wedding had been a gloriously unique experience, but had also brought into sharp focus just how badly my girlfriend and I had been getting on. After several misfiring attempts to get things back on an even keel I made the difficult decision to leave the country late the following evening – a tragedy (truly). An inappropriately cheerful Kenyan taxi driver called George arrived to take me to the airport.
‘How has your day been young sir?’ he asked over the sound of chipper calypso pop music.
‘To tell you the truth George I’m having a shocker. Packed up my life and crossed the world for a woman, but it hasn’t worked out so I’m heading home.’
‘Oh man I’m sorry to hear that.’ Given a moment to consider what I’d just said he added. ‘Martin, that woman is a WHORE!’
‘She’s not a whore, we just didn’t hit it off like I’d hoped.’
‘Nope, WHORE,’ he affirmed, ‘and whatever she did, it will be done to her ten times as bad.’
‘I didn’t say it was her fault.’
‘It was and it will be done. Mark my words.’
Lamenting that I couldn’t even have the sombre, regretful transition the moment deserved I asked George about his family which padded out the remainder of the journey nicely.
Ten hours later I found myself in Kuala Lumpur airport licking my wounds. I wanted to write down what had transpired in order to make sense of events, but more pressing practical matters presented themselves: I stunk. A chemist was located and I stood in line waiting to pay for some deodorant. When the queue was jumped by a Malaysian couple my fragile temperament bubbled over and I demonstrated the rare British trait of giving voice to my outrage rather than merely mumbling it under breath.
‘Don’t let him talk to you like that Darwish,’ the woman egged.
‘Darwish,’ I replied with a semi-deranged smile, ‘you’re wife talks tough, but you’re the one who’s gonna have to wrestle a sleep-deprived, recently single, bald Englishman with epically bad B.O for queue jumping.’
Darwish decided that his wife’s wrath was preferable to mine.
Back in Blighty I discovered that a fox had massacred my one remaining pet chicken. Wary that the school run passed by my house I scooped up what was left and placed it in a bag. The next morning I was accosted by an excited little girl as I attempted to dispose of the aforementioned cadaver.
‘Where’s the birdy?’ She inquired enthusiastically.
In my defence the child caught me at low ebb and there was no time for conjuring a more fuzzy response such as it’s gone next door or it’s in Disneyland.
‘Fox killed it. I’ve just put its headless corpse in this bin.’
The glowing realisation that I will one day make an excellent father was somewhat marred by the knowledge that I had just made a young mother my mortal enemy.
So, internet dating – always a good idea immediately after a break-up. Joined a free trial and was instantly messaged by a woman whose tagline read: ‘I have already fallen in love with a man. His name is Jesus.’ to which I replied: ‘Thanks for asking, but I must respectfully decline. I fear I may find your current squeeze difficult to compete with.’
…Maybe come back to that in a saner time and place.
All of which leaves me jobless and sleeping in the lounge (as I’ve rented out all the rooms in my house). What to do?
It occurs to me from my recent travels that no one sells koala bears in this country as pets – surely a goldmine waiting to be plundered? It can’t be that hard to fake their habitat – a few strands of eucalyptus and some of those high-powered lights they use in illegal cannabis farms. I could rear them in the attic. I might even tip off the police. Think of all the free marketing that would come of a dawn raid by the drugs squad finding me in the attic surrounded by koalas…