Since he has accepted with confidence the role of international story teller, Molly now delights in recounting his adventures to human and monkey friends alike. He disnae mind a wee blether and now has a grand opportunity.
A large part of his agenda for inviting his monkey business mates over for a sleepover was clearly to lock them in the same room and assail them them with his his new tales.
I sneaked in on them just before bed time and was confident they did not notice me. Sure enough, there was Molly, his big eyes bursting with enthusiasm, recounting his tales from the Australian bush, specifically, those involving the big grey Kangaroo. That’s Kangaroo tales, not tails; that would be another story.
Och Pal, they were awfy big. Their ears were my size and one of them had this pouch thingy with a wee kangaroo kind of squizzled inside. All of us could have comfortably cosied into that pouch and there still would have been room for more.
They stood upright on their powerful haunches. I was feart at first, but after a while I could see them picking out little seeds from the ground and chomping on them. I guessed that they were vegetarians and, of course no threat to me, nae bother. They managed to extricate these seeds with their smaller front paws and deliver them swiftly into their gut. The lassie kangaroos seemed a wee bit smaller but equally determined and efficient.
All they did was sniff me, ken? Mind you there was a lot of sniffing going on. I was told that just before dusk hundreds of Kangaroos descend on the township of Halls Gap in northern Victoria. It was like a wave of them, a gentle grey wave gradually passing through the town and into the campsite. Kinda like midgies but more pleasant. I watched the other tourists ogle them, like me, feeling quite special to witness these glorious creatures so close and in so many numbers. Ah kept the heid awright, yet lost my wee monkey heart to those creatures.
After a while the sniffing ceased and as they had arrived, they departed, a gentle creep back into the bush. Imagine that Pal, jist imagine that. Haste ye back my new friends.
Earlier that day we had traveled from Geelong by the sea all the way here to the stunning Grampian Ranges in northern Victoria. I had never been in a car for longer than an hour, and that was only because of Glasgow traffic, so was surprised at how long this trip was taking. I was propped up for the journey, a great view oot the windae and saw mair brown, dry, sun drenched land than ever before. Nae dreich stuff here. When the door flew open at Mortlake, our fuel and lunch spot, I had an experience I will never forget. Naw, niver!
You know those hand driers in the lavies and the jet of hot air they produce? Well, that is exactly what it felt like when we left the car. Forty-Two degrees declared the petrol station attendant, almost disappointed that it wasn’t any hotter. Yep 42 degrees she smiled, indicating that monkeys, especially Scottish monkeys like me wouldnae last five minutes in these temperatures. Och you were right Hen.
Back in the car, the air conditioning ramped up to eleven, I reflected on the last temperature I experienced in Scotland, just before I left. Minus two degrees, and that was inside the hoose. From minus two to forty-two, there has to be some sort record in that. This is serious monkey business Pal, far too much for a peely wally creature like me.
You know what tastes grand on a bursting hot day? No idea said the monkey pals, hangin on fir mair stories. Right now Molly was the Big Yin.
Well, I niver thought it would happen, but the Australian owners of the Halls Gap Tavern introduced me to the quenching power of ice-cold beer. No the Tennants or McEwans variety mind, this was jist what the doctor ordered, Victoria Bitter, the only antidote for forty-two degrees. Trust me cobber’s, as they say in Australia, but dinnae drink tae much oh the stuff, I wis a wee blit bladdered when I got tae ma bed. As an Ossie icon, my namesake Molly Meldrum once said, “Do yourself a favour.”
So, ma monkey brothers and sisters, I lay listening to the drone of the air conditioning unit, reflecting fondly on the rich and striking first impressions Australia had already delivered. I had smelled the breath of kangaroos, tasted the golden chill of Australia itself and traveled across a small chunk of this great dry land. It was pure dead brilliant!
The mixture was intoxicating, enough to make this wee fella greet, but greet with joy. Aye I had sweet dwams that night. Aye indeed.
Alan Forsyth Silcock 4th April 2019