Why, in the name of all that’s good and nice, did I agree to wear this outfit? I guess it was to see the children’s faces light up, or something to that effect. Little did I realise that a style of suit designed to be worn in Lapland in winter, recreated in cheap synthetic, should never be worn on a baking hot summer’s day in Australia. It sounds obvious in retrospect, but someone could’ve given me a heads up.
Anyway, here I am, sitting in the ute and waiting for the carols to finish so I can jump out, do the thing, and get out of this get-up. I’ve had a bit of time to suss out the effect in the rear-view mirror, and I’ve got to say, it’s not a very convincing look. The beard is too white, for starters – it needs a bit of grey in it – and it looks like it’s just been unpacked from a plastic satchel that’s been squashed under a pile of boxes at a costume shop for months.
Oh well. I’m watching a guy over the road yelling down his phone – something to do with a failed roadworthy certificate inspection. Northcote sure has its share of angry city slickers, doesn’t it? Mate, just because your car’s a BMW doesn’t mean it’s automatically considered roadworthy, and you’re dreaming if you think otherwise. I feel a bit bad for this bloke, though – clearly, he just wants to get home to a cup of tea and sit down.
If I was really Santa, I could help him out with a magic car service that brings everything up to scratch. That’s how it works, right? Santa’s magic, so he can make anything, even if it’s unrealistic… or am I overestimating his supposed capabilities? Actually, no – I’m playing the role of Santa, so I get to decide if he can magically fix your lemon of a car for you. I also get to decide that my beard looks totally real and that I’m not experiencing heatstroke, because I’m magic. That’s what it’s all about.
I just popped around to my elderly neighbour’s house, as her power bill had been delivered to my mailbox. After a lengthy chat about the rising price of gift wrap and how they (the powers that be, one assumes) have gone and changed the texture of curling ribbon, I was sent forth on a mission to pick up some supplies from the garden centre.
While I’m happy to do this, I’m a bit apprehensive about it. Bessie can be quite fiery when she wants to be, and I wouldn’t know a bay tree from a bale of hay if it tap danced across the garden fence. I guess I’m concerned that I’ll mess up her order, and then she’ll….what? Tell me off, perhaps while brandishing her walking stick at me?
Or maybe it’s that I don’t want her to know that I don’t know squat about plants. You see, Bessie has somehow formed the idea that I have a green thumb, and my ego wants her to retain that notion. I suppose she thinks that because I have a beautiful garden, but in actual fact I rely on a professional gardener for things like plant selection, design and planting, as well as maintenance. I’ll occasionally crack out some secateurs and have a bit of a snip, but I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing.
Anyway, Bessie must have seen me at it a few times, and failed to notice the regular comings and goings of gardeners to my property. Now she thinks I’m an expert horticulturist, and has entrusted me with picking up some rare begonia tubers. She said she wants me to do it because I know my stuff (according to her), and last year her daughter got her the worst batch she’d ever seen.
Of course, I could have just told her that I don’t know begonias, or plants for that matter. But alas, I went along with it, and now I’m knee-deep in deceit.
New year, new shoes: that’s always been my motto. I guess it was drummed into me in early childhood via the ritual of shopping for new school shoes, and it seems to have stuck. I simply can’t go into February without a new pair of toe-tappers. What, you don’t call your shoes toe-tappers? Get with the program.
School shoe shopping, for me, always coincided with getting a new pair of heel supports to help correct my mildly askew tootsies. It may surprise you to hear that it’s actually quite exciting to go for a children’s orthotics fitting. Cheltenham used to have a podiatry clinic that specialised in kids’ foot conditions, and I’d always get a jelly bean after my feet had been measured up. That was enough of an incentive for me to consider the whole exercise a fun outing. It’s possible that it made me feel special, having slightly weird feet.
Anyway, making the most of these interventions meant having well-fitting shoes, and when you’re a kid that essentially means getting new shoes every year. According to that Cheltenham podiatrist, this was the most important thing that could be done to correct my foot posture, more so than the orthotics themselves.
It makes sense, then, that I absorbed the idea that annual shoe shopping is of the essence. As my feet tend to stay the same size from year to year and I no longer have a foot issue to correct, it’s not quite so applicable these days, yet I continue to behave as though my foot health depends on it.
What can I say? Maybe I just like having new shoes – the factory-fresh smell as you open the box, the point-of-no-return moment when you take them outside for the first time, the slight awkwardness of the fit for the first few days of wear. Of course, there’s also the excitement of ‘new year shoe shopping’. That in itself is worth the price of admission.
Even though I’m immortal, I never thought I’d be operating a band of raiders in the Australian outback. Yet here we are, driving a fleet of cars around Queensland. From town to town we travel, just like we did in the old days when we used boats. It’s just as exciting, just as dangerous. Police cars have replaced navy ships, but the chases are still the best part of the job. We’ve just bought two new vehicles, and had a handful of people join the crew. Finally, we’ve got some four-wheel drives, letting us get to the harder spots and put our treasure there. It’s nice being on the land as well, because we’ve got maps on our phones, and can find buried treasure ourselves through the Geographical Caching Service. It’s a lot more convenient.
At the moment we’re taking stock, getting our fleet fixed up at a 4×4 mechanic. The break is a much-needed one because we ran out of sunscreen a few days ago, and the crew is starting to get a bit burnt. That’s right, although we found the secret to immortality hundreds of years ago, we can still get sunburnt. While everyone is resting up, I’m getting to know the area. Toowoomba is a nice place, about an hour and a half out of Brisbane, where our usual hideout is. We’re planning on heading back into the middle of the country, though. I’m not sure when we’ll go back to our base. We’re all having a lot of fun out here.
The best mechanic in Toowoomba thinks we should never go back. He says it’s better out this way, more liberating away from the busy roads of the big city. I’m starting to agree with him. Regional cities are simple, but they have everything you need. I think we could find a good hideout here, and get the rest of the crew out this way. We’ll have to have a team meeting about it.
– Cap’n Large