I dashed off on Saturday afternoon to Launceston to attend Joe Crawford's 40th birthday. Joe and I go back to about grade 8. I caught a ride up with Ado, Pete Wilson (No. 1) and Olly, who I have variously seen not much, hardly and not at all in the last five years. We had a good trip up the Midland Highway, although it was squeezy in the back as for some reason Ado had left Jordy's child seat buckled in there.
When we got to L-Town things were pretty hot and steamy. I met young William Richard Douglas Crawford for the first time, but I think he thought I was part of a dream. He was starfished out on his little blanky to keep cool, and just very slowly opened his eyes and closed them again. Jill whisked him away to a safe place to spend the evening.
Joe had booked out the Cascade HQ downtown. It seems to be the main Launceston office of the Cascade Brewery, with a pub attached, although it is just around the corner from Boags' Esk Brewery, which is confusing. Drinks were paid for until 11. Joe anticipated thirsty hordes coming back to his place, so he had asked a few people coming to stay to bring eskies with them. The house emptied as a posse went to the bottleshop to get stuff to fill the many eskies.
I finally met Pete Wilson (No. 2) for the first time. He was living in Scotland at the time of Joe and Jill's wedding in 2002, and was to be Best Man, but couldn't make it as his wife was unwell. I stood in as Second-Best Man. I said something about this to the nice blonde lady he was with. She pointed out that that wasn't her, that was his nasty wife, who he can hardly bring himself to discuss, and the missing-the-wedding thing was the last straw. He is now with Nancy, who is French Canadian.
The party was grand. I had travelled light on the assumption that no-one would care if I rocked up in shorts and sandals, and I was right. It stayed warm and humid throughout the night, and I spent much of it out leaning on a railing with the smokers and the more outdoorsy non-smokers. Joe was circling, urging people to down the grog he had paid for, as he saw the 11.00 curfew as a "bet-you-can't-get-your-money's-worth" challenge. Older and generally wiser than before, most of us were drinking beer keenly, but drinking water as if we were landed fish.
Two of the guests were lifesize cardboard cutouts of a young Matthew "Richo" Richardson. They were ritually abused by the generally non-Richmond supporting crowd. Even long suffering Tiger fans like Joe and I found ourselves turning on him after a few hours and berating him for his kicking style, poor body language on field and narcissistic habit of watching himself on the big screen.
Joe ruined his prospects of pulling in eager drinkers at his place, by insisting everyone traipse over to another pub at kick-out time of the first one. Apart from we six who were staying the night and Joe himself, only about 3 or 4 others showed up. One of the Richos had his head ripped off at the second pub, and the other one was badly karate-kicked about the gonads.
After borrowing Sal's sleeping bag I had left it behind, as I couldn't imagine myself wanting to get into it at the end of such a hot day. I lay on a couch and had about one hour of sleep, in cumulative five-minute bursts. Ranald, one of Joe's dogs, was trying to get between me and the back of the couch most of the night.
In the morning I got on the go before any signs of a recovery session started. I felt that the beer in the eskies would be calling out to everyone by about twelve, especially as the last day of the test match was going to be unfolding on telly all afternoon. I hiked into town and caught the Redline bus home.