GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XXVI)

The Call Of Winter

Before I started selling everything that wasn’t bolted down and spending the proceeds on French wine and Cuban cigars I had a number of investments, and the most curious was a share in a private lodge on the ski fields at Thredbo.

Actually I exaggerate. I still have a range of stakes in a variety of concerns and the nest egg is in fact many small nest eggs, and they are hatching all over the place as I write. My affairs have been managed very nicely, thank you, by me; and Nancy and I are enjoying planning our dotage as much as we enjoyed our earlier middle age, and indeed all ages before that. (But French wine and Cuban cigars are worth it, if you get the chance.)

It was the early 1980s, I was a political consultant, and I was used in local government areas all over Sydney as a facilitator. I facilitated the smooth transition of development applications through the slow and unyielding machinery of councils. I helped to make things easier. When my work was done I would be showered with praise: the Councillors were happy, administrators were happy, and my partners at Majestic Concrete were happy too. There was more than enough love to go around. My job was just to show people how much they had in common and how they could work together.

There was a man who I will call Ron who was usually present at negotiations, representing Majestic, and we became more than just business associates. We became mates. I attended his daughter Priscilla’s communion and he was present at a couple of the twins’ birthday parties when they were young. One day, at lunch with a mayor in a waterfront restaurant, Ron failed to show up. A younger man was sent by Majestic, and he handed me an envelope. In the note Ron said he had to go away. He thanked me and said I had helped him more than I could know, and he enclosed a present, the key to “a little holiday place in the snow”.

Well, Brandenburg Lodge was more than a little place. There were twenty rooms, all with ensuites, and it was just a perfect venue to retire to after a long day on the slopes. Or so those who actually did the skiing told me when we stayed there for the one and only time. I’ve never been one for skiing. The scenery is magnificent. When there’s snow all around, on the ground, and collecting in the leaves of the gum trees, and visibility drops, and everything becomes frozen the Australian Alps is a very special place indeed. I love it. But the view is enough. The view from inside, in front of a blazing open fire, with an Armagnac in one hand, or from outside, on foot, hiking up a steep hill and marvelling at the transformation in the landscape – these things are enough for me. But the kids loved the Brandenburg. They loved the trapdoors and hidden rooms and the tunnel out to the other side of the hill.

The police were also interested in the Brandenburg Lodge. They put up their tape and explored in it for days. They thanked me for my co-operation when I handed over the key.

We never again had a lodge to ourselves, but we were content to slum it with other families in a smaller lodge when the call of winter came.

Published in: on August 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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