YOU MAY NOW KISS THE BRIDE!
Let me say a word or two about the wedding.
Saturday before last and we were bussed out to a field near the town of Mossman. To be fair, the field — in addition to being situated on a slope you needed crampons to climb — had a pool and a kind of big open-fronted garden shed with sofas and a kitchen from which copies amounts of alcohol were dispensed.
Northern Queensland is hot in June — bloody hot, (we’re talking 35 degrees and 100% humidity) and once you spruce up in a suit it instantly becomes even hotter. We’re talking sweating like paedophiles in clown suits on bouncy castles here.
I spent most of the ceremony praying that the sun wouldn’t come out
and fanning myself like an old woman. One of the guests actually did pass out, but thankfully this was at the butt end of the ceremony, so it doesn’t involve any injury time to extend the formalities.
It was a very jolly affair — this might sound like a… duh… ‘weddings aren’t funerals are they?’ but actually, some weddings are actually jollier than others. Mine wasn’t particularly jolly, as the Dean of Belfast tried to hijack it with excessive evangelism. And as for friends who got married in Buckfast Abbey… well frankly, I have been to more cheerful funerals. And that was before the bride spoke for a solid hour at the reception. Needs must when the bride won’t shut up, so I had to pee into a pint pot beneath the table and pass it down to Sharks’ brother to throw it out of the window.
Chris and Sinead exchanged some quirky and entertaining vows — did I imagine this or did Chris promise not to fart in bed?
The wedding breakfast (yes, I know… but the Ulsterman in me likes to stick with tradition) was fab and the bride’s father’s (aka Sharks) speech was highly entertaining. At one point he accused the groom’s family of zealously over-breeding, but like the three bottle of red we’d polished off between us before he stood up, it all went down rather well.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA — NO COUNTRY FOR COLD MEN.
Tuesday and we fly out to Port Moresby.
We overnight at Sharks’ gaff in the company of the world’s two largest and smelliest dogs.
These are pets in name only, although for some reason they actually adore their owner.
But to anyone else, they represent a clear and present danger; Mugabe ( black, obviously — and the alpha male) demonstrated this by playfully ripping the arse out of my favourite shorts.
It’s even hotter here than Cairns, but at least the room we sleep in has a couple of fans and a window in addition to a procession of cockroaches.
We have a tour around the townships where the poor people live in Sharks’ new V6 Ford Ranger. It’s a sort of poverty sideshow — there are two classes in Port Moresby: the uber-rich and the uber-poor and there is absolutely nothing in between. If you are wealthy, or in politics, you skim off about fifty per cent of what should by rights go into the national coffers, and if you are poor you either sell betel nuts: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-31921207 or rob, rape and murder your way through life.
It is a very volatile and dangerous place to live, so having a couple of dogs capable of shredding intruders is a pretty good plan. Having said
that, if you have a few shekels, you can have a lot of fun.
Of course the natives are friendly enough, but you can’t duck the thought that if the Ford Ranger were to break down, you might end up in tonight’s supper pot before the RAC arrive.
Yes, here they will eat people as long as people are made out of meat — but that’s a tale for later.
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE BODY ODOUR
Wednesday morning, and we rock up at Moresby airport for the short flight to Alotau where Rob (who Spike called Ron throughtout the four day trip) and the luxurious MS Chertan await us in Milne Bay.
The domestic departure lounge is not a pleasant place to be. Personal hygiene is not a big priority in PNG and I had to move to sit by the gate door to avoid hurling. And the fact that I discoved evidence of cheese in my breakfast sandwich didn’t help either.
So we buckle in and take off for the thirty-five minute flight to Alotau on a reasonably structurally-sound looking Air Niugini Fokker 70. All goes well, and I always like it when the driver says that all’s good on the way and there’s no anticipated turbulence nor problems getting us out alive at the other end.
All’s hunky-dory until it starts to get a bit cloudy then suddenly there’s no visibility at all. Cabin crew are all strapped in for landing but there’s nothing from the driver and no wheels coming down.
And then he announces that the weather is actually fooken dreadful in Alotau and there’s about as much chance of getting this crate down as a native buying deodorant, except he doesn’t say it quite like this.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he goes, “the weather has closed in we may have to return to Port Moresby. I’m going to have a little fly around and a look-see to decide if I can get us on the ground.”
Fuck me, I’m thinking, is this going to be fifty-fifty, ‘cos if we go back to Moresby I’m not getting back on the fooken plane? To be fair, I’m only thinking this, but Mrs C actually says it, and that doesn’t help.
If you know me, you’ll know I only get onto a plane when I’ve had either a gallon of liquid anesthetic or a fistful of Valium and this morning I’d had neither.
Anyway, he banks to the left, we can see the runway and five minutes later he puts down for a perfect landing. I whoop like I’m on a pissed-up Scouser hen party to Magaluf on a Ryanair flight but nobody else joins in.
And so Rob picks us up and we’re ready for our big adventure in Deliverance Country.
Will we get eaten by cannibals? Will the Chertan survive a tropical storm? And will we get back to Milne Bay before Sharks consumes the entire ship’s supplies?
Look out for the next mildly exciting episode: THE BOAT TRIP AND A CAVEFUL OF SKULLS.
Hasta Pronto, chicos!