Columbo investigates the Swedish Postal System.

Tuesday 21 November 1995  9:16AM

Hey S,

Tuesday mornin’, strollin’ up Collins Street, wading through a block and a half of baby-puke stink-smell that’s swirling invisibly around me from Elizabeth to Russell Street.  I’m wearing a new shirt.  It’s an ugly blue, gonna buy another two today, maybe.

Just missed Princess Di’s diatribe on morning TV.  Not sorry really, I think she’s ghastly.  Goddamned show-pony, got no idea of dignity whatsoever.  And when is she gonna drop the blue eyeliner?  1988 was seven years ago, let’s let go of the past shall we?  She talks about protecting her boys – ha! Destroying the monarchy so they’ll never get a chance to be rich and idle and titled – does she call that doing the best for her boys?  Stupid twat.  I don’t know why Charles hasn’t had her killed really.  I’d be sending ’round one of those guards with the big bear skin hats to her place, a nail bomb concealed in his hirsute headpiece, timed to go off just as he bows good morning ma’am.  BOOM! 

God – just realised, by the time I mail this, and by the time it flutters its way across the Atlantic or whichever bloody ocean/sea it is, you’ll probably have left the UK.  You and the letter may actually pass one another mid-air, you hurtling one way, the letter rushing the other.

So I guess I should do the traditional recounting of Friday evening.  I was sitting next to Erin, and I asked what she was doing, and she said she was going to “The Club” in Smith Street Collingwood.  She reciprocated, asking what my plans were, to which I replied a bald “Nothing”.  There was a silence, and then Erin said “Well, why don’t you come along?”  I said “Sure”, but then the doubts started kicking in.  Was she asking me along just to break that awkward silence that was highlighting the embarrassing bleakness of J’s social calendar, or did she actually want me to go.   I stayed about another quarter of an hour, then trammed it home and sobered up, rifling through my wardrobe, trying to find something funky.  It was a harrowing quest.  I ended up going in my work duds – black Hawaiian shirt, polyester trousers and Airwalk trainers – just changed my t-shirt. 9.30pm I get a call, Erin is taxiing through shortly. I put on some upbeat music and trying to choke down the feeling that I’m encroaching on her private social life.  The cab ride was awkwardly quiet.  We arrived, and strode down the black and white striped corridor of “The Club” (God it’s disorienting when you’re pissed, that corridor) and peered through the smoke to try and spy out the people that Erin was supposed to be meeting.  I felt like a lost dog, following her around like that.  She eventually spotted Lou to the left of the stage, up on the stairs.  Threading our way back through the crowd, past the support band’s finale (“Snout” I think they were called) we claimed some territory just behind the motorized wheelchair of a mohawked guy called Tony (I think). Lou’s boyfriend Quinn was outside, trying to coax some of his friends into shelling out the $8 entry fee.  Quinn used to work here, I like him, he has a dry sense of humour.  Well-dressed too.  I was sloshed and chatty, I managed to assuage my gate-crasher fears with booze and sedately nodded with the crowd to the strains of the main attraction, a quartet called “Custard”. Catchy tunes, natty lead singer.

After “Custard” finished we climbed the stairs to the second floor where it was a bit quieter and had one or two drinks more until weariness scattered us all home.

Spent Saturday mooching ’round the house.

Sunday I finally made it to Henry and J Nott’s place.  Nice pad, man. You can see the city from an astro-turfed patio out the back, two storeys up.  They plied me with Midouris and pineapple juice with a cream floater, Black Sambucca’s and vodkas.  By 5pm, I was sloshed.  This excessive socialising is no good for my frail frame, Sis.  It seems like you can’t have more than two people in a room without someone pulling out a bottle of booze and exhorting you to pay your respects to Bacchus.  Dunno what I’m gonna do, it seems like the more friends you have, the more you have to lose, the more complicated life becomes.  There’s a queer sort of security in isolation, you know?  Self-sufficient, beholden to no-one, not at the mercy of others’ opinions and whims.  When you worry about what others think of you, the less opinions you have to worry about the better.  God, what a nut.

I guess I should explain why I’m still at work (I should have started my holidays by now). The boss has kicked up a bit of stink about me being away for so long (8 weeks), and has offered to pay me for the 70 hours of recognized over-time (it’s really more like 90 or a 100) in return for me only taking six weeks off now, and a few more later on in the year, maybe at Easter.  This means that the trip to Sydney with Josh is off, I’m kinda grateful to tell the truth.  I’m just not an adventurous traveller. When I came to UK in ’93 and after you and Jack left on your Honeymoon, I just watched TV and commuted into London every day to shop.  I travelled half-way across the globe to watch TV and shop (and see you get married of course). No sir, I’m the sedentary type.  A bit embarrassing considering how intrepid you, Mum and Dad are.  No matter where you go, you’re always there, you can’t really get away from yourself, you know?  I don’t think it’s about where you are, I think it’s about what you’re doing. Can I think of any other excuses for my bone-idleness?

So I guess this is the last printed word exchange we’ll have before your arrival.  God it’s so close now, only a fortnight.   Oh yeah I forgot I got your “Yackadoo Countdown Flyer” the other week.  It had me stumped – how the hell did you manage to get a Swedish postmark on it?  I peered into my letterbox and saw the window-faced envelope and the familiar typeface and thought “Oh goody S’s written to me”.  Then I get it inside and check out the postage, and there’s no stamps with the Queen’s dour profile gracing them, no “Par Avion” adhering at some rakish angle to the front, just a red Stockholm  ink-stamp.  Puzzled, I open it gently thinking about letter bombs, and there’s this gaudy “Yackadoo-doo-doo staring me in the face.  Tell me how you did it. Mum didn’t know anything about you and Jack skipping off to Sweden.  Did you mail it to a Swede inside another letter and get them to re-post it? Why would you do such a thing? Are you committing some massive mail fraud with counterfeit Swedish postmark stamps?  The Columbo inside me wants to know.

Anyhow, I’d better be off, I’m going clothes shopping with Donna this afternoon.  We’re gonna check out “Revival” down Flinders Lane, maybe stop off in the “Sportsgirl Centre”.

‘Til December the 6th my dear sister, adieu.

J

J Columbo 001

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