Leaving Britain for Australia was a bit of a blur if I am totally honest. I was feeling apprehensive and agitated on the day we vacated our little room at the Heritage House Hotel. Jumping on an underground train we headed straight to Heathrow Airport, no hesitation, no looking back. It felt a little surreal leaving for a new life with nothing, but I was happy to say farewell to a period in my life, that had become self-destructive and painful to endure. Darrell and I had got to know one another more in the last few days, than we had in the year I had known him. Wearing a brown baggy v neck top he had bought me from a small shop in Soho, we were finally at the end of our journey in the UK. Our time in London, was the stepping stone we both needed and a fitting goodbye amid all the melee we had left behind.
On the way to the tube station I popped to a cashpoint, to withdraw my giro check, that had put deposited by a friend Mark. He had lent me his bank card, so I could gain access to the funds. It was the early 1990s, I had no bank card and very little money to live on. Even today I wonder how the hell I could afford to live a 'party' lifestyle on little or no cash; but I did and the rest is history. Social fund loans, double cashing unemployment cheques here or there, disguised as an old man with dark glasses and a hat at the Post Office counter; somehow, I ducked and dived, lived under the radar and muddled my way through. Mark was probably the best friend I had and true to his word, the money was there, and I had something for my new life in Australia. This was a man who was instrumental in helping me make up my mind to leave, he was the strength I didn't have and a voice of reason at a bewildering time.
Heathrow was packed was travellers, as we made our way to check in.
'Do you have any bags to check in Sir?' said the middle-aged lady on the British Airways desk.
'No,' I replied, 'just me!' Confused, she looked at my passport, closely examining my photo, looking me up and down, moving the document this way and that. Handing it back rather tersely, a scowl on her face, she muttered succinctly to a colleague, who smiled broadly. I turned my back abruptly and walked away, mimicking her hoity demeanour as I went. It somehow felt liberating to be free of 'stuff,' I could breathe again, without the restraints of goods and chattels around my neck! A little nervous, Darrell's bag checked in, we left walking towards immigration, to wait for our flight. This really was the final goodbye, the end of an era, the beginning of something new and exciting; an adventure like no other.
Darrell had paid a premium for the flights back to Australia, and we were lucky enough to have three seats to ourselves. The food was fantastic, wine free flowing and the love we shared for one another clear for all to see. We chatted, laughed, planned and discussed our life together, living in the moment, like each hour was our last. I'm not entirely sure either of us really believed we would still be together today, but the bonds we formed then, cemented our relationship together, in a way we couldn't otherwise have done.
The flight was long; except for a very brief stopover in Singapore, we were travelling non-stop, twenty-one hours to Perth. For me however, as I drifted off to sleep on Darrell's lap, looking out of the window, at the twinkling lights of India below, it passed all too quickly. It was my first and best long haul flight I had ever been on and unlike today, I enjoyed every minute. When you are at the beginning of a new relationship, no obstacle seems insurmountable, no chasm too big. As a couple you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, and with age on our side, we relished this new journey; the same one we are travelling today.
As the jumbo jet approached Australia, I had no idea what to expect. Of course, I had my preconceived ideas about what it would be like, but nothing could prepare me for the reality of life down under. For now, I was happy to go with it; there were no plans in place, just a desire to be together and the opportunity to succeed. This was the start of a partnership that has lasted the test of time and the opening of a new chapter at the base of a mountain, we were yet to climb!
Darrell and Luke - The love we share for each other will see us through. The story of our life together!
Our Weekly Photo!
Darrell and I have been separated since November 2019. Due to the pandemic, he has been unable to travel here, nor I to Australia.
Following our weekly 'Family Toast' between April - August 2020, keeping in touch during challenging times, Darrell and I continued to take our weekly photo together, as if we were still in the same country. These photographs below document that time.