The Human Enigma

27 Mar

Our usual crowd, minus James of course, decided to spend a weekend in the Blue Mountains for a friend of friends’ photography exhibition. Draftsman by day and a moonlighting photographer, Matt, helped by his girlfriend Nicky (not to be confused with our English friends Matt and Nicky, although this Matt is from Liverpool originally) exhibited a series of his photographs taken during a long overland expedition through Europe, the Middle East and Asia. They were displayed in a small art space above a restaurant in Black Heath in the Blue Mountains. The exhibition was entitled the Human Enigma, hence the title of this post, although it also seems quite apt for other reasons, namely nothing short of a miracle quite recently.

Wind the clock back a couple of weeks and I received an email from a friend asking if she could stay for a night as she urgently needed somewhere to stay in Sydney. Her dad was on holiday over here and was rushed to hospital after a heart attack. The hospital had called Penny telling her to come as soon as she could as the prognosis was not good. I have known Penny since we were ten years-old but as with many school friends, we had lost touch bar a few messages on facebook (although we had spoken more recently because we coincidentally got married on the same day) and our parents remaining friendly. My mum also contacted me, saying Penny and her mum had been in touch, wondering if I would mind putting up Penny and her husband just for a couple of nights. Of course, it goes without saying I agreed and arranged to meet Penny at the hospital on the Saturday night after she landed. After driving round the sprawling mass that is The Royal Randwick, we eventually found each other and I have to admit I was a little concerned as to what the situation would be, wondering if I’d be faced with a distraught and very jet-lagged Penny and Matt (another one just to confuse matters). However, they were all smiles and just seemed very grateful to have somewhere to stay, insisting they would find a hotel as soon as possible but they had had to get the first flight out. I told them they could stay as long as they needed. After all, we have the spare room ready and with the parents gone, it was ready to be filled again!

The miracle I referred to earlier was this: Penny’s dad had ‘died’ three times on the way to hospital after a blood clot in his heart artery caused a cardiac arrest, he had been put into an induced coma and the outlook was bleak; yet by the time Penny and Matt landed in Sydney, he was awake and talking and as the days progressed, so did he. After four days with me Penny told me her dad was almost ready to be discharged. It was incredible and meant that although Penny and Matt went each day to the hospital, we also went out in the afternoons and they got to enjoy a bit of Sydney too. After the emergency was over and her dad was no longer critical, it was a few days of lots of catching up and laughing about various wedding day moments.

Clearly word had spread that I was now running a B&B as within days of Penny and Matt leaving, another friend asked if she could stay a couple of nights as she needed ‘some space’. I won’t go into all the details but I got the spare room ready again… The company is good while James is away!

The last weekend was also spent with good company: The group of Matt, Nicky, Peter, Andrew, Sophie, Shannon and myself stayed in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains ahead of the grand opening of the photography exhibition on Sunday. We installed ourselves in the least-closed looking of all the town’s pubs and soon a large group of us had assembled – all friends of friends – and all making the journey up to the Blue Mountains for (Liverpudlian) Matt’s exhibition. We pretty much took over the entire place but I don’t think the staff minded as I’m sure they got their money’s worth judging by the state of the dancing (if you could call it that) which happened once a live band started playing.

Five of us checked into a motel for the night – all in one room and all a little inebriated but it was probably the only reason I didn’t feel any pain when half the ceiling fell on top of me in the night. I exaggerate slightly, but it was a large piece of coving and it was very heavy and certainly if I had been sleeping any closer to the wall, I would probably have been knocked unconscious. Note to self: there is a reason hotels charge a little more – they don’t use pritt stick to attach ceiling decorations.

Breakfast was in a wonderful little cafe run by a religious group of some sort, but the prayers must help because even though they serve ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ the smoothies were amazing!

The exhibition itself was a huge success for Matt. He gave a short speech on his thinking behind it all and there were a lot of appreciative murmurings as people wandered round the room (although I’m not sure what else really happens in those situations anyway). More free wine and canapes and we were set for an afternoon driving and walking to various look-out points and admiring the stunning views in the Blue Mountains.

There was nothing enigmatic about the five of us on our journey home –  tired from the fresh air and all with fuzzy heads (although I’m not sure mine had anything to do with alcohol – probably just a mild concussion!)

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