A JUNIOR RUGBY CAMP

Rugby camp with my son, was always one of the annual highlights, until –

Years ago, sixty dads and our Hornswood Junior Rugby-playing sons, attended a Northern Beaches fitness camp, bonding weekend. Canoeing, archery, orienteering, climbing, swimming and watching rugby with our sons all day. Then at night the dads sat around with beers, while the kids ran wild.

But this year there was a new Camp Supervisor from Germany, a big, serious guy.

Bartlet Bachler (addressing all the dads and kids) – “I am Camp Supervisor Bart Bachler. Fathers are not allowed to drink zhe alcohol outside of zhis dining hall, which will close at nine o’clock.”

I was way up the back, the sixty or so kids (and plenty of the dads after hearing the rule) were nattering loudly.

Me – “SORRY CAMP SUPERVISOR, I CAN’T HEAR YOU VERY WELL. DID YOU SAY YOUR NAME WAS, BUTT BUTLER?”

That’s what I thought he said. The place erupted into laughter.

Bartlet Bachler – “BART BACHLER!” He shot me a look of German Camp-Supervisor wrath.

Me – “THIS NON-DRINKING THING, I ASSUME THAT’S MORE OF A… GUIDELINE… THAN A RULE?”

Anyway, ten dads and kids had been allocated to our room. On the second night, one dad (who I didn’t know) had to head back home for some work emergency. His son Tyrone, was a really fat kid, played in the front row in another team.

Dad I didn’t know – “Can you keep a rough eye on little Tyrone for me tonight?”

Me – “It’ll be a very rough eye indeed (I waved my beer). Isn’t there somebody more responsible you could ask? It’s a classic how you call him little Tyrone by the way!”

Dad I didn’t know – “What do you mean?” He looked at me quizzically.

Me – “Nothing…”

We swapped mobile numbers.

We had eskys strategically hidden around the camp. If anybody saw big Bart Bachler coming, the call of JEEVES would go out and we would all hide our beers.

At 11:45pm I was still sitting around having contraband beer. All the kids and the Butt Butler had gone to bed. I got a text from “Dad I didn’t know” – I’m confident you’ll still be up Jase, ha ha. Just checking on little Tyrone.

OH SHIT. LITTLE TYRONE!

I hadn’t thought of him since “Dad I didn’t know” left that afternoon, about eight hours prior.

I text back – Will advise.

I rushed to our room.

Little Tyrone’s bed… IS EMPTY.

FAAAARK.

Me – “WHERE’S LITTLE TYRONE.”

My son (half asleep) – “Dad I haven’t seen Ty for ages. He hit his head on a bit of metal and ran off into the bush crying. We were going to find him, but Charles hit me with a wet tennis ball, so I had to chase him. And then I forgot.”

FAAAARK.

My mind flashed back to when the Butt Butler came to our room after dinner to do a head count. There seemed to be more than enough running around, so I just assumed they were all there.

The Butt Butler (checking his list) – “You must do zhe ‘ead count.”

Me – “We got no Ed’s here Butler… but we have two Johnny’s!” The Butt Butler didn’t smile. “YOU ALL HERE KIDS?”

The kids – “YES!”

Me – “They’re all here Butler.”

So little Tyrone is somewhere out in the pitch-black bush and has probably bled out. I told my son to go and check every room.

I went to wake up the Butt Butler.

He was not enthused to see me.

The Butt Butler – “VHAT ZHE ‘ELL? Is zhat a beer in your ‘and?”

He crossed his arms angrily. He looked like he was ready to annex Austria.

I rushed to the bin a few metres away to throw the bottle out. I went to swallow the last sip and in my agitated state, underestimated the amount I had left. I tossed the beer into my mouth and a lot more flooded in, than I was expecting. I coughed and the beer went up my nose and sprayed out like a fountain. I erupted into a terrible gagging fit.

Spluttering as my nose and eyes ran, I got a text from my son – All good. He’s asleep in Harry’s room.

THANK GOD.

The Butt Butler was REALLY pissed off, but I no longer had to inform him that I had potentially, irresponsibly, drunkenly killed one of the kids.

The Butt Butler (in that loveable German accent) – “VHAT YOU VANT???”

I was inebriated and had just been on a roller coaster of adrenalin-laden emotion, so I struggled to think of any explanation for my knocking.

Me – “Sorry… for calling you Butt Butler.” He slammed his door.

Then I get a text from “Dad I didn’t know” – Jason I’m concerned.

Me – Found him!

“Dad I didn’t know” – You’d lost him?

I wondered why these things always seemed to happen to me.

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A DIVORCED MATE

The old cliché that men have a mid-life crisis and leave their wives, in my group of Hornswood (being my term for the curious little suburbs from Hornsby to Chatswood) friends, seems to be outdated. I know eight couples who have sadly split and in every case except one, it’s the wife who has left. Not the bloke.

I think we are going to find our Hornswood generation is going to be different from past ones, in that regard.

Two of our Hornswoodian friends put on a dinner party, with the express intention of getting our buddy Stu (whose wife had left him a year or so earlier) to meet their friend Kelly, who had split with her hubby years before. So there was my lovely wife and I, Stu, two other couples, the hosts, Kelly (who we’d never met) and her sister-in-law Lana.

Stu, being pretty nervous about being out with the woman who was potentially his first, post-separation date, got a bit… pissed.

Now Stu, is a truly lovely guy and a great mate. He was broken for a long time by his wife leaving him. He’s polite, concerned with other people’s feelings, never swears in front of women, is just a really nice bloke.

Two things happened that night, which he wished… didn’t.

We were all sitting around the table, eating, drinking and having a great time. Stu stands up and in his courteous way, asks if anybody would like a drink.

Me – “Water Stu!” I had a large, orange, plastic tumbler in my hand and threw it to him.

Stu – “I don’t get water for blokes. Alcohol only Cool Hand! (most of my mates call me by this self-ascribed poker call-sign) He threw the tumbler back.

Me – “We’re not freaken sixteen here Stu. You know I never need encouragement to drink beer, I just want a water too.” I threw the tumbler back.

Feeling a bit loose and crazy, with a loud Seinfeld Soup-Nazi voice, Stu yells “NO WATER FOR YOU” and theatrically swiped the tumbler out of the air. It went flying into the living room.

It turns out, that some expensive glassware, actually looks and feels like plastic.

The tumbler slammed into a painting on the wall and shattered! Shards of glass went through the living room carpet, all over “John Howard” the Cavoodle, into the couch and covered the floor.

A relaxed, pre-“incident”, John Howard

Mortified.

Stu was mortified.

He appeared to Kelly and Lana to be a man who had just deliberately smashed a glass all over the next room, because he didn’t want his friend drinking any water.

Anyway, after about half an hour of vacuuming the floor, the couch and John Howard, we all settled back down to the table once more. We all laughed, but Stu felt terrible and kept apologising to the lady of the house.

Meanwhile, I kept mentioning to Kelly that I knew her face from somewhere, but she didn’t know me. We finally worked out that she was the sister of a good friend of mine Roger Angler from school and they look incredibly similar.

Me – “So Kelly, that means Stu took your sister Amy to our Year 12 Formal.

Stu was in the kitchen apologizing again to the hosts.

Kelly – “Oh wow! And Amy is now Lana here’s sister-in-law. Small world.

Thank God, something they could talk about to drag the attention from Stu smoting glasses. I knew he really liked Amy and they were still friends, so they could all sit around saying how lovely she is. What a great conversation piece.

Stu walked back to the table.

Me – “Hey Stu! You remember our mate Roger Angler from school?”

Keep in mind that Stu was quite inebriated and was still recovering from the emotional roller coaster of having glassed the living-room.

Stu – “I do indeed Cool Hand (he said with a smile and a cocky head wobble). He was a dick! Now I don’t wish to talk out of school, you may want to block your ears ladies, but Hot Amy and I lost our virginity together behind Curzon Hall at the formal, with an old Fijian kitchen-hand looking on. She was a wild child and loved the fact that he was watching. Amy was an aaaaanimal. I loved Amy. I thought I was the only one for her. Turns out, I wasn’t even the only one for her that night!” He laughed loudly.

I was not quite expecting that.

Kelly – “My little sister Amy?” Kelly looked perplexed.

Stu – “Huh?” He looked to me and I mouthed the word sorry.

Lana – “The Amy who married my brother?” I wasn’t expecting that either.

Stu just stared blankly. Wordless. Unmoving.

It’s funny, Stu and Kelly never ended up going on a date. There must have been no spark.

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