31 July—1 August 2002
Our last full day in Dunsborough was largely a service day. Susie and I had to take the car in to town to get air and oil filters fitted. Whilst we were waiting we went shopping to buy ingredients for a roast dinner that evening. We also went to the post office and booked the car in to get some new tyres, and stopped off at Tony’s book shop to say hello. I returned to Dunsborough later in the day to pay the mechanic and pick up some photos, and that evening Susie organized a marvelous roast dinner to thank our generous hosts, who had sheltered us from the bad weather and rained hospitality on us instead.
The next morning we said our goodbyes and drove to Busselton where I had booked the car in to get the rear tyres replaced. While the car was in the workshop, we went to an op shop and rifled through miles of junk. I was looking for a vaguely respectable shirt to wear in Perth, but I didn’t find anything I liked. Ruby bought herself a wallet, which I gave her the money for. At 50c, it suited my financial situation: I’m almost broke.
After we collected our car, we drove into Perth without a proper map, and Susie and I ended up arguing in the front of the car while the kids no doubt wondered what had gone wrong (we rarely argue). I was banking on coming across a sign to Dalkeith, or at least having the option to pull into a service station so we could buy a map of Perth metro; but it was all silky freeway from which there was no escape, and we had gleaned some wrong information about the location of Dalkeith in relation to the river. Our destination was the home of an old school friend of mine who had moved to Perth and settled there some decades ago.
We were supposed to arrive at the residence of Geoffrey and Penelope Drake-Brockman at high noon, but we were late. Geoff was having an art crisis. He had a sculpture exhibited in the Biennale of Electronic Arts in Perth, (BEAP) which was opening to the public that evening. Part of the sculpture required several computers to run it (yes you read that correctly), and only hours before the opening, the technology had gone to grass with its teeth upwards. Penelope had told us where to find keys to their home in Dalkeith, so we let ourselves in. Geoff eventually showed up, and I greeted him warmly, but he was a preoccupied with his crisis, so we let him get on with it.
Sometime later Penelope arrived home with the children. She and Geoff had two sons; Lloyd and Thomas. They spoke with English boarding school accents. Ruby, who is a great mimic, later did a hilarious imitation of the older brother, Thomas, which had me in stitches.
Our arrival led to a complicated re-arrangement of beds. The boys were relocated to the floor of Penelope’s office on our camp mattresses, and we invaded the boys’ room: Susie and I slept in their bunks, Ruby slept on a spare bed, and Clare had a cot from the trailer. It was generous of them to put us up, and our poorly-timed arrival was clearly awkward. Penelope nevertheless managed to prepare a light meal, after which we all packed into two cars and drove to the opening of BEAP at Curtin University.
We arrived late and had to wait outside with the masses while the artists fussed over last minute details within. Finally the doors opened and a huge opening-night crowd flooded the foyer. Notwithstanding all the digital wizardry, no one could get the microphone levels right, so the crowd murmured restlessly whilst dignitaries delivered speeches that were largely inaudible. The Dean of Health Sciences, who was standing in for the Vice Chancellor, told everyone to shut up, but the crowd returned the slight by murmuring even more loudly. Little did I know that a few nights later I would be having dinner with the very same man.
The actual exhibition was a buzz. It was packed. The exhibits were unusual and interesting, and Ruby and Clare interacted enthusiastically with anything that was remotely interactive – which was almost everything.
Geoff is a talented cybernetics artist. You can check out some of his work at https://www.drake-brockman.com.au