Monday 1st December – Vineyard tour! Pinch, punch, first day of the month and all that shit!
It’s off to be a good start. I’ve been looking forward to today’s wine-tasting tour since we booked it last week. OK, so it’s another coach trip where Bev and Rachel get to sit together and I ride behind them trying to join in, but this time there’ll be free booze too. I’ve forgotten what a decent pinot tastes like. Recently, if it’s not been served in a cardboard cube on a two-for-one offer I’ve not even bothered.
“I’m SO taking advantage of all the freebies today,” I told Bev. “I like being a bit discombobulated. Inebriation is so in right now. The kidneys are evil and must be punished!”
She grinned enthusiastically. “I have no idea what you’re saying, so I’m just smiling and nodding.”
I know one thing. The three of us won’t be doing any of that swill-and-spit wine sampling nonsense. I guess that’s something else I have in common with the girls. We all swallow.
To: “My Great British Contacts” Group
Subject: Pinot, penguins and pillocks!
Date: Mon 1 Dec – 21:55
G’day ya Pommy bastards!
Today, we unexpectedly boarded a mini-bus for a ‘mystery tour’ and were totally surprised to find that the first stop was wine-tasting at a local vineyard! I was in two minds whether to bother going in, because I’ve been planning on cutting out alcohol until Christmas, but the girls wouldn’t have gone without me and as I’m a good friend I wasn’t about to let them miss out.
And just as well I didn’t. It would’ve been rude not to accept all the free samples that the Gurdies Winery kept throwing at me. Chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, shiraz, merlot (then a quick break for breakfast), sweet sherry, reserve port and muscat (whatever the hell that is). I’ll start the detox tomorrow, thank you very much. As you can imagine, the tour bus was a lot livelier after we left, although we needed to stop a few miles up the road for a communal pee. Ironically, this was at a town called ‘Tooradin’, which I’m told is the Aboriginal word for “A Great Place For A Quick Stop”. You’ve got to hand it to those Aborigines. Their names really do exactly what they say on the tin.
Pleasantly half-cut on the grape, next on the tour was the ‘Wildlife Wonderland’ theme-park (the theme, I assume, being ‘rundown and shitty’), where I hand-fed kangaroos (massive tongues), wallabies (cute) and emus (vicious), petted Alpacas (the big black mammas of the sheep world), cuddled wombats (steroid-fuelled guinea-pigs with armour-plated arses), and chatted with Sam – an adorable great-crested cockatoo who had a vocabulary to rival many Aussies.
Still booze-fuelled, we went on to bravely frolic with ‘tame’ wild dingoes, play Hunt-The-Possum and run away from some big-arse bird-eating spiders, before visiting a massive pickled-onion jar to press our noses up against a once great Great White Shark. Known as the Killer Of The Seas, this particular 1½ ton, 5 metre long toothy-bastard was still scary despite being slightly decomposed.
Next, we reached the dramatic coastline to witness Cowes Beach (lots of waves, no cows), Seal Rock (big rock, no seals) and The Nobbies (alas, no nobbies), until finally, as the sun set in a deep orange glow, we arrived at Phillip Island just in time to witness the nightly Penguin Parade. Tens of thousands of tiny male penguins (manguins?) marched up the beach as they returned to their families after a hard day at sea. These ‘blue penguins’ are the smallest of the species, each at around 30cm high, and as Bev correctly pointed out, just because they were the size of a packet of chocolate biscuits it didn’t mean they were made by McVities. The little critters waddled and flapped and squawked beneath us as we watched from a raised platform, and it was a strangely humbling experience. These tiny creatures were completely uninterested in our looming presence as they went about their daily routine, yet they had once managed to cause uproar for us giant humans.
You see, Blue Penguins used to be called Fairy Penguins, a far more suitable name due to their dinky size I’m sure you’ll agree, until some anonymous old biddy in the 1970’s decided it was politically incorrect and would most likely offend us notoriously-sensitive Gays. The PC Brigade adopted the cause, and all those addicted to outrage and with nothing better to do petitioned for it to be changed immediately. The government, desperate not to be seen to offend anyone, complied and so Fairy Penguin, which had been the name of the species for centuries, was dropped like a hot turd. Meanwhile, the Gays hadn’t actually given a rat’s arse because they were too busy worrying about something worth worrying about at the time, like the shadow of a new disease called AIDS. Unfortunately nobody had been that bothered about that.
Can I just take this opportunity to say that interfering do-gooders really wind me up. If it affects you personally, fine. If it affects someone you love, go for it. March, campaign, petition, demonstrate, and good luck to you. But if you are just concerned that something somewhere might possibly cause someone offence at some point, at least ask the relevant person if they are offended before you go off on one. Speaking as a Gay, I can tell you with authority that it is ok to call something a ‘fairy’ if that’s the name of its species. I promise you it’s not homophobic. Call me a ‘fairy’ however, and you’re just being a plain old bitch. Honestly, I think we all need to become a little less sensitive about words, and a little more aware of the tossers who use them deliberately to hurt others.
Anyway, rant over. It’s been a long day, but we’ve managed to squeeze so much of the Australian experience into it. Exotic animals, awesome scenery and a shit load of alcohol. It’s been a ripper.
Love Kev x
Mum – Yes, of course I told them.
Dad – I know you’re ‘worried’ about me. I’m starting it tomorrow.
Oh my god. I been sat next to a right cockwomble on the coach ALL DAY.
Florence-Elizabeth Butterfield, a young cardigan-and-Croc wearing spinster-in-the-making, had pushed my bag, which had been deliberately placed on the seat next to me to avoid me getting a neighbour, onto the floor and plonked herself down without an apology. She’d then spent both legs of the journey bitching about everyone onboard. OK, it was fun for a bit, but then it got uncomfortable and when she started on my girls I felt surprisingly defensive. Only I get to slag them off.
“Do you think those are skinny jeans, or are her legs just fat?” she whispered about Bev.
“Do you think that hair-style is actually intentional?” she giggled about Rachel.
“Do you think you could shut the fuck up about my friends?” I asked her. I actually did!
She’d looked at me with wide-eyes and fluttering eye-lashes. “What? I’m only being honest!”
I hate that. People who confuse being mean-spirited and insecure with being honest. Grow the fuck up and quit being a douche.
Florence-Elizabeth, or ‘Fliz’ as she hates me calling her, is as pretentious as her name suggests. Burdened with a Roman nose that’s more Roman Empire in size (all the better for looking down at you from), she has an arrogant streak as wide as her jutting incisors and a nasal voice that is the vocal equivalent of a strobe-light to an epileptic. Hearing it actually makes me twitch. She is the only person I’ve ever met who I’ve instantly disliked, someone who seems to get off on confrontation. In fact, she is the exact opposite of me.
As a straight single female, she obviously felt qualified to voice her fears over gay marriage, and only seemed disappointed when I didn’t bite. Surprisingly it’s not a subject I’m that fussed about. Historically marriages don’t work in my family anyway, and besides, a piece of paper really shouldn’t make a difference if you love each other, right? But I recognise the importance of being seen to be equal to our hetero friends, and I suppose it’s nice to have the option if I ever want it. But Fliz’s calculated and consistent ridiculing of ‘the very notion’ just pissed me off, as I’m sure it was designed to.
“So, what exactly is your problem with it?” I eventually asked. “I don’t understand how two guys or girls getting hitched affects you in any way?”
She sniffed dismissively. “It’s icky.”
“Seriously? That’s your argument?”
“I’m allowed an opinion. You should at least try to see things from another perspective.”
I raised an eyebrow and gave her my best bitch face. “I can’t see anything from that particular perspective, because I can’t get my head that far up my arse.”
She wasn’t even a little offended. In fact she giggled.
“Well, aren’t you a feisty little fairy.”
I’d stared at her, open-mouthed.
“Fairy? Do you see me packing wings and waving a fucking wand?”
My friends can get away with calling me that, maybe even Rach, but Fliz hadn’t clocked up enough buddy-time and I was fuming. Patronising shit.
That being said, when Bev and Rachel told me they were going to bed the minute we got back, who else did I have to join me if I wanted a night out? I’m sure she knew the idea of it made me miserable when I asked her, so naturally she agreed, and after a quick spray of deodorant and a wet-wipe (oh my god, am I becoming a Tramp-packer?), the two of us grabbed a tram into town.
“Are you seriously planning on wearing those into a club?” I asked, pointing at her feet.
“What’s wrong with my Crocs? They’re comfy!”
“Can’t you see all your self-respect leaking out of the holes?”
“You’d know this, Kev. Why do fat people always think they’re funny?”
I rolled my eyes. “Fuck all the way off, Fliz.”
She took my arm and laughed. “So, where are we going?”
“I know the perfect place.”
Naturally I took her to Strikes, where I knew she’d have to change her hideous footwear. Two games of ultra-violet bowling later and we’d finished all our smuggled in wine-samples and were onto the cocktails. By the end of the night, rather surprisingly, we found ourselves slow-dancing down one of the lanes to an old Celine Dion song.
“I’m sorry I slagged off your shoes,” I whispered in her ear. “I thought you already knew how shit they were.”
They say keep your enemies close? Well, I couldn’t have been any closer to this one without penetrating the bitch.