This is my piece for Wicked Wednesday, a weekly post where writers use the prompt offered to write something linked to the prompt. This week’s prompt is ‘Highlights’, and I’ve chosen to write about some highlights of my younger life, when life was sweet and free from responsibility. Click on the symbol to see other posts.
In my twenties I lived in London, and had an Australian boyfriend.
“Come back to Oz with me,” he said, “Four of us will buy a van and drive overland.”
“Sure,” I said, and handed in my notice at work. But it wasn’t to be. The other woman found she was pregnant, so she and her partner flew back to Australia. A few weeks later my boyfriend and I broke up. Darn it, I’d given up a good job. I’d bloody well go on my own.
Two months later I watched the white cliffs of Dover disappear from view, and all I had was a train ticket to Istanbul. After that I would have to wing it. (For youngsters who cannot imagine a world without the Internet, there was one, and I lived in it. There were also no mobile phones, and monthly airmail letters were all my family received from me.)
I will spare you most of the trip details because of space restriction, and its a whole other story, but I survived my bus and train journeys through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, and it was one of the most amazing times of my life.
I made it to Singapore a couple of months later, where to my surprise, on board the ship for Perth, Australia, was my ex-boyfriend, and another woman! He knew I was taking that ship. There was no need to rub my nose in it. But vengeance was sweet when we ran into a typhoon just one day out of port. I don’t normally suffer from seasickness, but the ex and his new woman did, as did the other seven people on our table. One by one they vanished, until there was just me and a very nice-looking Greek waiter, who asked if I wanted a conducted tour of the crew quarters to pass the time. Well I didn’t mind if I did.
Of course, it wasn’t quite as plush as the Captain’s Cabin. In fact it was the size of a broom cupboard, with two bunks. Let me tell you, sex in a narrow bunk, five foot off the floor, in a ship that is pitching and rolling through a typhoon, is a masterpiece in self-preservation. I survived it, and I got extra bacon on my breakfasts after that. Fair exchange!
I spent nearly two years working around Australia, much of it in the company of a man called Harry, (not his real name) and his adorable dog called Pebbles, (that was his real name). He was a chef, and together we worked in kitchens in motels and restaurants across that wonderful country. Harry taught me to play pool and snooker and poker, and as a hard-core gambler who would lay odds on two lizards running up the wall, would pitch me against one of the motel guests passing through and tell me to play badly in the first game. The bet was a dollar or two. Another round of drinks was bought, and a plea by Harry to allow me to play another game to try to recoup my losses.
“Sure thing,” said the confident punter, doubling the bet.
I then went around the pool table and potted every ball. We had some good sex that night, I recall.
He took me to Tasmania, his home state, and we both found work in Hobart. We didn’t have much money, but we lived the sort of hedonistic life that is probably only possible when you are young, free from responsibilities and a long way from home. We went down to Seven Mile Beach, south of Hobart and camped overnight. I say ‘camped’ but we simply slept on the sand and lit a campfire. We had the whole beach to ourselves after everyone went home. It was magical. Not a building in sight, sparkling blue sea, miles of golden sand and thick bush that met the beach, which was a good source of firewood, which I volunteered to get, dressed only in a bikini and rubber flip-flops on my feet. I’d been there a few minutes, when Harry called out.
“Watch out for the snakes, by the way.”
“You never mentioned snakes! Why the f*** didn’t you tell me?”
I looked down at my feet and there, six inches from my right foot was a snake. Another was a foot to my left, and one or two more in the vicinity. I don’t think I have moved as quickly, either before or since. They might have been harmless, for all I knew. After all, as Harry was keen on telling me, I was just a Pom, so what would I know about snakes.
Sleeping on the sand is not as comfortable as you might think, and even less comfortable for having sex if you get the sand into your tender parts. Then it’s like having sandpaper roughing up the soft skin that rarely sees the light of day. In the morning, still naked, I ran to the sea to wash off all the sand that was stuck to me as a result of our exertions. Swimming naked in a warm sea, under an already hot sun, was sublime. It’s a feeling like no other, being completely and utterly free and at one with the natural world. I should have had some photos to remind me of that great weekend, because Harry took some with my camera. Unfortunately, Australia at that time was much more prudish than Europe, and the shop where I took them to be developed (no digital cameras in those days) refused to develop them and destroyed the offending pictures, giving me back only the one they deemed acceptable.
After two years away I decided to return home, and Harry came with me. But our relationship fizzled out in the harsh climate of reality. He went back to the sunshine and I became a farmer. (I have often pondered whether I made the right choice, but there you go…). I went to agricultural college, and met the next big love of my life. I’ll call him Sam.
Sam was only nineteen, and I was then twenty-eight, and he was a babe-magnet. All the eighteen and nineteen year old girls would flutter their eyelashes at him, but I never felt threatened. I was able to flutter a whole lot more, plus he could even have a decent conversation with me.
In those days the college was very strict about sex on the premises, even going so far as to throw out people they caught (well it was the dark ages!), so we had to be very inventive. A clean pigpen with a straw bed and a hay barn came in very useful, but straw up your… well, it wasn’t comfortable. But we were young and obsessed with sex, in any shape or form.
It was with Sam that my experimentation moved up a gear and I had my first taste of kink, nothing heavy, just some role-play and restraints. He asked me if he was abnormal, wanting sex every moment of every day. No, I replied, you’re a 19-year-old guy; you’re supposed to be at your sexual peak. I certainly wasn’t complaining. Life was good.