The Bali Journals (Part Seven)

Al McClintock’s re-telling of one rugby league fan’s descent into madness while searching for Braith Anasta’s wedding continues. Read on for Part Seven of this epic series

PART SEVEN: GILI TRAWANGAN

If you have never woken to a swimsuit wearing, slightly overweight, hairy dude, his budgie snugly smuggled inches from your face, you are luckier than me. Compounding this vision was his face leaning over me equipped with a snorkel and mask. I very near shit the bed!

It appears that Mad Dog, the crazy bastard, got into my stash last night when I was asleep. My own fault for leaving it out I guess. He was bouncing around the room still abuzz and was hell-bent on hitting the reef immediately. How he had managed to procure the necessary equipment overnight was beyond me, but on this island anything is possible.

Seizing the moment, and playing catch-up, I chugged a mushy and jumped out of bed. I was/am up for anything at the moment. These islands seem to have woken some party-mad beast within my soul and I feel it is best to appease him before I return to the daily grind.

Quality produce...

Mad Dog bounded out the door, already in his flippers, and frantically waddled down the hotel path towards the water giggling with glee – like some sort of giant, drug-fucked penguin.

I followed, but was stopped in my tracks by what appeared to be a Midget Komodo Dragon crossing the path. My first reaction was ‘Holy shit, these mushrooms work fast!’, but upon further deliberation I realised I was still entirely sober and this vision must in fact be real. The small reptile stopped mid-way and turned one wise little eye up at me, as if in assessment, and then sidled away into the scrub. I remained momentarily, wondering what the fuck that was all about, and why so many small things seem to be tormenting me on this trip, then regathered myself and headed down to the water, excited at the prospect of some hallucinogenic-enhanced snorkeling.

Mad Dog was already twenty metres out when I reached the ocean, and only another thirty or so from the reef. I quickly put on my flippers and waded in, desperate to see if I could catch up with him. After what seemed like a few minutes of frantic flippering, I stuck my head up to assess my progress. The shore was straight ahead. It is apparent I do not have a great sense of direction underwater. Somehow I had veered off in a wide arc towards the left and had completed an entire U-turn. By now Mad Dog had hit the reef, and was no doubt seeing all sorts of wonderful things, but I was left to retrace my steps and stop every few metres or so to make sure I was still on track.

I eventually made it and was immediately amazed by the colours that confronted me. Both fish and coral of impeccable blues, reds, pinks and greens, overwhelmed the senses, and ocean life breathed around you like some sort of Hindu festival. I no longer cared which direction I was going, I just followed whatever caught my eye and purred blissfully along without worry nor fear.

The overwhelming brightness of a Hindu festival

But then things changed.

Mad Dog began waving frantically at me to come over. He was a little further out, but I moved his way and we broke the surface and removed our masks.

 “Did you see that?” he yelped.

 “No. See what?”

 “Reef Shark! Quick!”

He reattached his mask and headed back under. I excitedly followed. I could see no evidence of the great fish, but noticed Mad Dog was taking me out deeper, to where the water got darker and the reef edge dropped off like some great precipice. My nerves began to fray, but afraid of appearing the coward I pushed on. In a cruel twist of fate, this is when the mushies kicked in…

I saw Mad Dog ahead, frantically pointing at a dark outcrop of coral below him and became mildly aware of a dark shape gliding around near his feet. It moved so smoothly it was surreal. I moved in closer for a better look and even though they are quite small as far as sharks go, and pretty much harmless, it was still an awe inspiring sight. Beautiful, so beautiful, and as the waves of mushroom madness overtook my very being, I felt an insatiable desire to embrace this dark creature, and make love to it.

The reef shark looked something like this...

Swimming down further in an attempt to capture my new love, I began to believe I was now one with the ocean and felt no need to breathe the air of the land – a poor lapse of judgement, I admit. The beast swum on ahead of me, its speed far out-rivaling my own, but it made a sudden about turn and then appeared to come straight at me. My joy turned to panic as my eyes played tricks on me and one shark morphed into a thousand – and an mountainous wall of orange coral rose up behind. All that was once my ally was now turning on me, and in a great sweep of orange, red, and razor sharp shark teeth, I was overwhelmed into darkness.

I awoke mid-afternoon back in the hotel room with Mad Dog passed out in the bed next to me. I was exhausted and felt as if my entire body was sapped of all energy. I drifted in and out of sleep wondering how I had made it out of the depths of the ocean alive. I write this now feeling mildly better and waiting for Mad Dog to wake. Was he my saviour? Do I owe him my life? God I hope not, I’ll never hear the end of it!

By Al McClintock

Read also:

The Bali Journals (Part One)

The Bali Journals (Part Two)

The Bali Journals (Part Three)

The Bali Journals (Part Four)

The Bali Journals (Part Five)

The Bali Journals (Part Six)

Sebastian Vettel Steals Monthly Guildford Award

In a month where Kurtley Beale proved again that rugby is no longer a gentlemen’s sport, the Australian Cricket team became a global embarrassment, previous Guildford winner Liam Jurrah beat all charges – then ended up back in jail a week later – and Dennis Rodman planted the seeds for an impending nuclear war, it was always going to take something special to take out this month’s Guildford.

In fact, just looking back over that paragraph makes me want to hand out multiple awards, but I am not one to fuck with a system so gilded in gold… so for sheer cuntiness (that’s not technically a word, but it should be), this month’s award goes to Sebastian Vettel!

Formula One drivers generally all seem like pricks, but Vettel has taken it to an impressive new level by getting one up on team-mate Mark Webber.

By now we have all heard of Vettel’s seemingly innocuous pass of the ever pouting Webber, which defied team orders while taking a huge shit on team etiquette in general (as did Beale for that matter). But did you know that the only animal with four knees is the elephant? No? Well there you go.

Webber, had already begun visualising his victory antics

The best part is, he played dumb. Like the Boy Scout found covered in blood, with his pants down and semen all over the dead cow, he simply shrugged and said “What did I do? Oh no, really? I wasn’t meant to do that? Oh man, I’m sorry…”

Webber has since fueled rumours he is to leave the sport completely, while Vettel has issued an expletive laden apology, complete with language warning and all. But the incident has done nothing to improve either driver’s image.

Webber still looks like that whinging little boy that blames everybody/everything but himself for his lack of success (and in this instance that is probably fair enough), and Vettel, well, Vettel comes across as a narcissistic gob-shite who will most likely win the World Championship again, and then all will be forgiven right?

Maybe not with Webber, but do you think he will care as he tucks the trophy up behind his Guildford? Another thing Webber will probably never win…

By Al McClintock

Fitzsimons v Waterhouse: The Lesser of Two Evils?

Peter FitzSimons will have you believe he is on a moral quest to save us from the relentless stream of betting advertising that is muddying the minds of our children.

He will claim that he is risking his livelihood by speaking out against the wealthy, powerful bookie, Tom Waterhouse, who is currently suing FitzSimons for defamation over a series of inarticulate, CAPS LOCK-laden rants in his weekly Fairfax column.

FitzSimons has made a career, of sorts, out of polarising public opinion. His belligerent style of writing dares you, somewhat violently, to either side with him or against him. He doesn’t care what you think, as long as he gets to have his say in a public forum.

The back page of the Herald is FitzSimons’ soapbox; his pedestal from which he is allowed free reign, under the auspices of his editor, to wax lyrical on any subject he should so desire. From Anthony Mundine to Michael Clarke, FitzSimons will paint said public figure in whatever shade he pleases, urging the reader to come along and join his human conga line of hate (or love, depending on the subject).

“Yes, I wasn’t mentioned in ‘FitzFiles’ this week!”

Don’t get me wrong: I hate the over-exposure of Tom Waterhouse as much as the next guy. His shit-licking visage grates me no end – and there is no doubt that the ubiquity of sports betting advertising on TV is harmful to future generations, who will see this as the norm should it continue. FitzSimons is to be commended for calling on the government to remove loopholes that allow TV networks to spruik betting odds under the guise of sports commentary.

But FitzSimons is a victim of his own vanity, presenting this battle as a popularity contest. His career is not on the line; he doesn’t stand to lose everything. His court fees are being paid by Fairfax, which means it isn’t really ‘Fitzy v Waterhouse’, as he’d like it to be. He shouldn’t slant the argument his way.

If he wants to take on Waterhouse, then perhaps he should cough up the fees – then he’d earn some real respect. Who wouldn’t back a columnist (I’m reluctant to call him a journalist) over a ‘scurrilous bookmaker’?

If FitzSimons had an element of finesse about his writing – which he doesn’t – then he wouldn’t be in the situation he is in. He would have neatly made his point while avoiding a law-suit. This issue should be met with reason, not rancour. But then again, FitzSimons, a former rugby union lock, has never been noted for his subtlety.

Waterhouse, a popular man

I’m torn. On one hand, I am glad that someone is taking a direct challenge to Tom Waterhouse’s overt efforts to cash in on an obvious loophole, on the basis that it is damaging for children to be exposed to constant gambling advertising. But on the other hand, I don’t like the way FitzSimons is positioning the battle.

One gets the feeling that FitzSimons likes to insert himself into his writing. I haven’t read any of his critically acclaimed books on Australian history, but I hope he managed to avoid using the personal pronoun when recounting the heroics of Australian WWII soldiers in his best-selling tome, Tobruk.

Perhaps these are the battles he should stick to writing about.

By Dave Edwards