We've relocated to the scungy passenger cabin on the ferry. Outside are mangroves, brownish sea and rain. Inside, the small talk continues. There's something naggingly pathetic about a bunch of middle aged climbers, who met on the internet, sitting close together on plastic chairs and playing the 'getting to know you' game. Reminds me of the group bonding shit which seemed to be all the rage while I was in school. I feel like passing out pens and asking people to “break into pairs for 2 minutes, then tell us everything you've learned about your new best buddy” Vomit!
Stuart and Simon flew up from Melbourne with Dan. They know each other from the old days at Araps in the 80's, but have gone in rather opposite directions since then.
Stuart pursued climbing intensely for fifteen years, put up some beautiful (and difficult) routes at Moonarie, obsessed, travelled, wrote passionate and clever stories about the sport, then quit cold turkey. He's now married with two kids, and its his birthday today. As far as his wife knows, he's catching up with old climbing mates...........how could he tell her that “Instead of spending my birthday with my family, I'm going to Queensland with a bunch of wierdo's I met on the internet, in order to string a random bloke across a gorge”, without it sounding selfish and dumb? Stuart looks nervous, unsure of how to act amongst this group of strangers. I reckon, from the look on his face, that he also thinks this thing is a huge mistake. Stuart has one simple request, he would like to keep the event low profile. “We don't want to end up on the evening news!” Maybe he's worried that his wife will be watching.
Simon is a minor celebrity in the Australian climbing scene. Author of guidebooks and magazine articles. Never good enough to be famous for his skill on rock, but always involved, always in the frame. He didn't bothered to quit climbing, but just lingered around in Natimuk and kind of drifts in and out of the scene in a non-committal way. In fact, if I had to choose a hyphenated word to describe Simon, non-committal would be it. He opened the Nati cafe , but can't commit to running it. He has started relationships with all sorts of fantastic women, but can't commit to any of those either. The only things he seems really committed to are small town afl, and pursuing casual relationships with many more fantastic women. He's one of the friendliest, most easy going people I know. I'm glad that Simon has joined us, for two reasons. Firstly, he owns a camera and apparently knows how to make films. This w/e is likely to yield a good story. Secondly, Simon is pretty level. Not in that annoying, positive about everything, 'Christian on Prozac' way though. He never gets too excited, never too down, and is willing to call “bullshit” when things are.......bullshit.
I have a great idea for a film we could make during this adventure, involving characters who are exaggerated versions of ourselves, and a doco within a doco. Simon calls “bullshit”!