LETTER FROM MANLY— Day 2

I’m ill.            

     Last night I took to my bed at 7pm with a high temperature, shivers, a massively swollen left foot and muscles that felt like I’d gone three rounds with a Great White that had just kicked the crap out of Mike Tyson.

There are three probable causes:

Man flu — who'd want it?

Man flu — who’d want it?

1) Man flu: I’d picked up a chesty cough from a sickly colleague a week ago and hadn’t managed to shake it off. Combine this with re-cycling other people’s ailments (even in business class) for 24 hours and I was well on the road to a chest infection/pneumonia.

Possible solution: antibiotics. That may mean a trip to a doctor, as they probably don’t sell them over the counter here.

2) Joint infection in foot: A mystery swelling and a pain reminiscent of standing barefoot on a piece of Lego appeared in my left foot a few days before leaving. I can remember no such incident so I’m inclined to think that, following my tendon operation last December, my foot must have somehow become infected; I’m usually inclined to think the worst.

Possible solution: either death by morning or a trip to hospital, intensive I/V antibiotic followed by emergency repatriation. Or, if still alive, continue with anti-inflammatories and keep foot raised.

3) Sun stroke: I’d fallen asleep in the sun yesterday afternoon and my face is burnt to buggery. Ah yes… this is, I reflect, the most probable cause.

Possible solution: drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun tomorrow. I wake at 6am to another glorious New South Wales dawn and am on the balcony watching Manly’s Stepford Wives jog off to their aqua-aerobics class.

Motivated by this, I drop and give myself 50, reminding myself that there’s another probable cause for my illness:

4) Hypochondria.

Possible solution: get on with it; man up. My temperature has gone and although my foot’s still swollen and my face resembles that of a man who shovels coal into the furnace of a steam engine, I feel much better.

Day 1 confirmed my initial suspicion that Manly is a curious blend of retirees, back-packers, aimlessly selfying their way around the globe, and a smattering of city commuters, presumably married to the Stepford Wives.

On the beach, two of the three generations presented. The Stepford Wives were away tidying their perfect homes or

Manly's Stepford Wives — too busy jogging with the buggy for the beach?

Manly’s Stepford Wives — too busy jogging with the buggy for the beach?

driving their white Holden estates to shop in classier supermarkets than Coles — where they wouldn’t be seen dead — and who can entirely blame them for this?

Either that or jogging along the front while one-handedly pushing the designer buggy, phone jammed to ear with the other hand. In fact, climate apart, it’s a lot like Sidmouth.

We breakfasted in Ash’s kitchen, where everyone was dressed for tennis and had a good ten years on me (I’m nudging sixty, by the way).

Australians, along with their love for the Great Outdoors, live for breakfast, and the Eggs Benedict were to die for.

Most of the bars and cafes are worked by Brits (ditto Sidmouth for Aussies) and there is a general air of euphoria that this, for them, is a transit post only. They’ll soon be moving on to bigger and better things.

Maybe.

On the shore, the beach-bum back-packers remind me of dogs sniffing each other’s bottoms for clues as to where they’d been and who’d done what to whom. I can’t make up my mind if I’m envious or not.

Youth today is a constant treadmill of tick list experiences, driven, in the main by a desire to put off the inevitable. A journey fueled by either sobriety or over-indulgence. The road ahead is long and dreary with only the prospect of paying off the Student Loan, living with mum and dad until one or preferably, both, snuffs it, and the near certain knowledge that the world they live in is only going to get worse.

… And, on that depressing note I’ll end my account of day 2.

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