Sitting behind the Billinudgel Hotel, we introduce ourselves to a visiting couple from the Gold Coast. Down for the weekend, they are recovering from having emptied their wallets in nearby Byron Bay.
I am sitting with my friend’s friend Jack. In profile we share an aquiline nose. In practice we share a love of the written word, finally meeting after I’d returned my friend’s borrowed publications to his home. He is in his seventies and of my late father’s generation. His sharp mind takes it in, observing the contrasting postures of drug consumers visiting their dealer in the adjacent premises.
Occasionally Jack excuses himself to replace the empty beer glass in his right hand. He wanders closer to the band and checks out the female talent that has appeared on his patch this afternoon. We share the poet-writer’s habits and talk shop with raised voices over keyboards and guitars. As I depart, the visitor says it was nice to meet us and to pass his regards to my father. I laugh and explain: “Oh no! I’ve only just met Jack. He is a good friend of a friend of mine.”
Later Jack consoles me by offering to be my ‘uncle’.