Sunday, May 24, 2009


Cairns is like being roasted in an oven that hasn't been cleaned. It's hot. It's tacky. Outside my hotel window a band is playing the Macarena followed by The Birdie Song.

Getting here was brilliant - the train took 32 hours through endless not-very-much. Occasionally we'd stop at a station surrounded by even less. On board was like a 70s Travelodge on wheels, with tutting pensioners, camp staff, and strange strange food ("Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, as we approach Townsville may we remind you that the buffet carriage is now open serving a range of teas, coffees, non alcoholic beverages and alcoholic beverages, sandwiches, wrapes and cookies-in-a-cup." Cookies in a cup?).

Actual Cairns is... oddly like the beach before the end of the world. I went on a disastrous date with an Austrian masseuse called Harald who'd just been stung by an anenome but really wanted to talk about the fascinating fluctuations in the exchange rates ("But that should be like fourteen euros, which is crazy...").

The gays of Cairns are co-dependant hairdressers and trolley-dolleys, clutching their manbags, i-phones and fag hags as they stagger around a bar called Sapphire. They want to talk, which is nice. Well, normally their poor best female friend forever has to do the talking while they stare moodily at distant strangers ("Hiyaaa! Oh, I hate her.") or occasionally reveal their Dark Night of the Soul ("Well, I tried being brunette for a week but no one paid me any attention...").

Strangely, implaccably, the bar is run by a very nice man from Nottingham. He says he came here for a quiet time.

It's like a soap opera made for the deaf by the blind. All the evenings have merged into a blur of early Britney blasting out as a smug hyena from JetAir slides his hand across my jeans while Ainslee wails "And he said 'bitch, bring me more ice cream', and i'll do that for him even though he treats me like dirt!', and the JetAir Hyena will wail "You're a prick Ainslee" and spit in her drink and then turn to me and scream "I am such a whore!" and I will go home and sit on the balcony and read Agatha Christie.

Oh. The Barrier Reef was nice.

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