Oh what a night…

Well, it looks like act 2 of the screenplay that is my life has been written for me, courtesy of the events of yesterday — and most notably, the events of last night. But before we begin, a quick bit of scene-setting, via a recap of yesterday’s more ordinary daytime activities.

Zoe’s health has improved nicely, so it was off to preschool in the morning for her, after which I settled down to do some serious painting. Not of the artistic canvas type, unfortunately — I’ve always wanted to paint a multi-million dollar masterpiece, just so I could pay off the mortgage — but painting the new rails on the deck, something that’s needed doing for a month or more. About five hours of painting got about half the rails done, but by that stage, I was stiff and sore, and in need of a wash up before heading out to the fourth annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalist awards. The soreness from painting didn’t fuss me too much — I figured I’d take it light on the beverages and basically just help drive a dining table’s worth of conversation while applauding the winners.

Special plaudits clearly have to go to the publications I write for that won gongs, especially CNET & Netguide. I was also very personally touched when CNET’s Pam Carroll got up for her second team gong and thanked her freelancers — and especially me. Now that I was not expecting…

As previously noted, I was in the running for two gongs — for best technology reviewer, and best games journalist. And, as I predicted, I didn’t win either, although I was rather surprised that the organisers made the simplest (and oldest) error in the book and erroneously named me in the nominees category for Best Consumer journalist. Not that I wouldn’t like to win it, but it was my brother who was actually nominated. The real fraternal-level hijinks were just about to begin, however.

My brother is many things — a damn fine journalist, an afficionado of peroxide-style hair bleach, and collector of all things Paddington. He’s also not averse to the odd drop of fermented grape product, of which he’s known to partake liberally. On this occasion, he partook deeply, something which was commented upon to me by several people, especially when he took to the dance floor. Eventually, the time came when the management informed me that he’d have to leave, at which point I attempted to take charge. My brother can be a somewhat stubborn creature at the best of times, but events accelerated (as they have a tendency of doing) and we were eventually out the door. By this point it was around 10:30-11:00ish, I’d had 1.5 beers (the other 0.5 being sadly spilt over a journalist friend of mine, thanks to the staff presenting me with a beer in a wet glass… sorry Roulla!) and I was feeling tired. T’brother had wisely booked himself a hotel room in a small hotel just near World Square, and we were in Star City, and so we set off walking.

A brief diversion here: I hate Star City. Not just the gambling thing — if people are stupid enough to burn their money, then so be it — but primarily because the whole complex has been built in such a way that it’s deliberately very difficult to get out of there, or even to find certain bits of it. Especially when one member of your party is a little the worse for alcohol.

Now, there’s an expression that goes along the lines that what goes on tour, stays on tour, so I won’t mention too much of what went on on that fateful walk/heft/drag, except to note that what should be a 15 minute walk took us close in the region of one and a half hours. It’s also worth noting that my shoulder probably would have given out were it not for the entirely chance meeting up with an old school friend of mine, one Jonathan Maddox. A quick Google search reveals he’s been a busy chap, developing software and writing into the SMH on an intermittent basis. When I saw him last night, he was propping up a traffic light in a semi-inebriated state. Still, any help in a crisis is still help, and between us we eventually sussed out where the hotel room was and deposited one brother. The time then was about 12:45, I was extremely sore and about three blocks from Central Station, where I headed in order to see if the trains were still running. Thankfully, they were, so I waited the requisite fifteen minutes, called Di to let her know I was still OK — she should have been expecting me home around then — and caught a train to Hornsby. I was quite glad of the train — my original plan was to train to Hornsby and cab home for around fifteen bucks, as opposed to the seventy-five to one hundred it would cost to get a cab from the CBD. Now, you may be thinking that my night was more or less over there, and to be honest, I expected that it would be… but I was wrong.

Arriving at Hornsby at around 2am, thanks to a very slow-running train, I headed for the cab rank, only to discover that the pub over the road had just done its throwing out of patrons. About fifty of them, at best count. And no cabs. I waited around for about 20 minutes, and the crowd grew. One taxi came in, and somebody — not at the head of the queue — jumped in. The nervous looking cabbie sped off — I don’t entirely blame him — and the crowd grew ugly. Well, actually, given that it was 2am and I’m surrounded by some very drunk looking seedy types, perhaps “uglier” is a better word to use. When the same thing happened to the second cab to turn up, it quickly became clear to me that:

a) Nobody had any idea what the queue actually was any more, or who had “been there longer”
b) There were about two cabs in the whole of Hornsby.
c) At least one, if not several fights were about to break out.

That left me with one option, which I regretfully had to take, namely walking home. I did spot one or other of the two taxis heading towards me as I trudged, but naturally they didn’t stop for me, because a rioting crowd at the station is a far more appealing prospect than a lone sober guy in a suit. Now, on a fair day when I’m well rested and I have a decent supporting wind, I can make it home from Hornsby in about forty minutes. It’s now 2:30am (or thereabouts), and in the preceeding 18 hours I’ve painted for around five hours, travelled for about two hours, schmoozed for the best part of four hours and walked/hefted for an hour and a half. Let’s just say that my chances of scoring a personal best time were never high, and about an hour after I set off, I got home. 3:30am is no time whatsoever to be going to bed, especially when you have young children.

I’m beginning to have second thoughts about who should play me in the movie version, though, as the running time seems to be getting a little long. Perhaps a mini-series would be more appropriate…

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