GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XXXVIII)

Memory And Change

The mind can play funny tricks on you when you least expect it and I find that my memory can be a tad faulty on occasion. I’m not usually wrong about much, and I admit to being wrong about even less – an attitude which has served me well in boardrooms for the past forty years – but sometimes recall is tainted by emotion.

You remember being happy on a holiday somewhere and that means you make yourself also ‘remember’ that the location of the holiday was better than it really was. Of course it wasn’t that good – what was good were the fun times and bottles of Grange, before it was called just Grange, when it was called Grange Hermitage, and a humble lawyer could still afford a bottle. Well, perhaps not an especially humble lawyer, in my case – I have to be honest about that – and perhaps we’re not talking about a struggling lawyer’s wage either, even back then. How’s this? Back when an occasionally arrogant District Court judge could afford a bottle. (I’ve always had a section of the cellar devoted to Grange, but that’s another story.)

In any case, we’re talking about a long time ago. A long time ago when Nancy and I were courting and we went for a brief trip to Cairns. It was unspoilt and rough, but in a good way. We imagined we were pioneers and were on the frontier. Pubs had dirt floors and roads weren’t sealed. The beer was cold and the shade was cool and it was stinking hot everywhere else.

Nancy and I hired a small boat and I sailed it along the coast, navigating the inlets and showing off my seamanship, which must have been quite impressive, and Nancy sat in the stern and admired the view. The view included my youthful, vigorous legs, which had been praised by a swimsuit photographer we met in The Exchange Hotel, and my powerful yet lean torso, tanned in the tropical sun. It was necessary to sail shirtless for long periods. We were young and I was cocky and Nancy was a youthful Ingrid Bergman, glowing, radiant, and all mine as I took her exploring to the farthest limits of the primitive world we were in. We stopped at a romantic spot and ate our picnic and drank our crisp white wine. The weather turned stormy and I put my sailing sweater around Nancy’s shoulders and things became even more romantic. When it got dark we got back in the boat and I took her back to the marina, guiding the last part of our journey by the stars.

It was unsophisticated but that’s what we wanted. We were unsophisticated too – although not as much as the locals were, it has to be said. They were charming people though and we made friends and promised to be back soon and say hello again. But we never did. Work and children and other commitments got in the way. Until last month, that is, when we stayed for a weekend at Marlin Cove Resort, a five star development at the approximate location where we stayed all those years ago. The sheets were fresh and the room was clean and the complimentary bottle of wine was serviceable, but there was something missing. It was shiny and seemed too new and the place was full of people, all of which meant that the stillness, the end of the world quality, was gone. We looked around and couldn’t find our younger selves and we decided that we didn’t like the change.

If it had remained the same we wouldn’t have liked it either. Romantic very quickly becomes slumming it when you’re not twenty any more.

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Published in: on October 29, 2012 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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