Oh, it is so tempting. The line I went straight from Broke to the Casino is just gagging for it. But that really is what happened. I drove from this:
I’ve never been to the casino before but it was easy to find, rising over the skyline like a top-heavy cruise liner. Maybe a live sheep ship would be a more appropriate description, though it smelled a bit better.
The contrast in habitats that bookended my day was extraordinary.
A smoking fire, several dogs, a riffling wind on the skin of the inlet, peppermint tree flowers dropping onto black earth like snow. Five black swans in a line on the water, the air spackling as they shattered the silence taking off, their strobe flash of white and black wings.
A car park patrolled by casino security and a man in hi-vis, shorts and joggers carrying a plastic bag, looking for cigarette butts. Then marble stairs and escalators and psychedelic carpets and lights and bouncers and pokies and high heels. A constant heart throb of music.
I was lured to this fresh heterotopia as a story teller for the opening of the national seafood industry conference. That was the cool bit about being in the casino, because just about everyone at the conference were fisher folk and as I read from my book, I could almost hear their nods and smiles. They totally got what I was saying. Later I met Tasmanian lobster men (who complained about the seals), American and Indian delegates checking out the Australian commercial fishing scene, women-in-fishing advocates (who complained about the seals), South Australian crabbers, a vet nurse (husband to a fisherman who complained about the seals but wanted to protect them herself) and industry groups including the government fisheries mob (who complained, tinged with a grudging respect, about my old boss).
“They get a bit rowdy,” said K, who’d spent twelve months organising the event, “because they haven’t seen each other for ages. This is about the only time they get together.” And she was right. It was raucous, warm and collegial. After all that I drove to my daughter’s new house. Well, that’s a detour around the truth because I did get lost in the boondocks for an hour or so. Then I fell into a mattress on the floor and woke up the next morning to Pearlie and Gracie.
Gracie, ahh Gracie, grown so robust and talkative … I feel that generational heart skip when I look at my granddaughter. This child is of my own ilk, I think. She knows me. I know her. She is nearly three. I understand her moments of fury and cackling hilarity, her curiousity, aloofness and generosity.
“Nanna Sairwa,” she said, pointing to my tree necklace. “Can I put it on me?”