In which our intrepid hero journeys to the place of his birth.

It all began at the Crystal Palace on Friday night, over a nice, quiet drink or four. I stepped outside to answer my phone, and returned to discover that my flatmate Simon had drafted me to spend the long weekend at our friend Matt’s place in Canberra.

Sometime around 3.30pm the next day, I found myself on a coach, winding through the back streets of Sydney, trying very hard not to pay attention as the driver dictated the fundamentals of operating a flush toilet. Apparently, this is standard procedure.

Over the next couple of hours, I chatted intermittently with the 30-something blonde beside me. That night, in a parallel universe somewhere, a parallel Dave got laid.

The next morning—Sunday—Canberra proper began.

Canberra is not the nation’s capital. It is not a tourist destination. It is not a sleepy little town with infamously icy winters and scorchingly hot summers. It is a reality terrorist’s wet dream. Pavements talk; beggars lecture on metaphysics; geomantically inspired streets curl about the minds and souls of the city’s inmates.

After a particularly intense hollandaise-induced rapture at Gus’ Café, I wandered over to Jolimont to see off fellow expat Bel, and to contribute to her steadily expanding collection of interesting small change.

And thence down memory lane to Electric Shadows for What the Bleep Do We Know!? Nothing remotely like Electric Shadows exists in Sydney; nowhere can you find a cinema with a foyerful of hardened Bleep junkies. Not even Dendy’s slavering horde of pretentious consciousness-expansion trendies can compare, for Canberra’s cinerati seriously grok the film’s message in a way that Sydneysiders generally cannot.

And that message is: Reality is an infinitely cool and interesting place. Shut up and think for yourself for a change.

Simon, opted out in favour of Revenge of the Sith. Simon is from Sydney.

Yeah, whatever. Get over it.

As I waited for him to emerge, I had the fortune to bump into Daniel "Filthy" McFadden, local underground celebrity and guerilla portraitist. Filthy is another peculiarly Canberran object: the homeless scholar.

Shortly thereafter, Simon headed off to meet his girlfriend. Matt and I decided to meet up with a mutual friend at ANU to pursue a quintessential Canberra Queen’s Birthday weekend activity, namely, getting drunk and blowing things up. And, hopefully, carousing with beautiful, intelligent, intoxicated members of the opposite sex.

When we got to the bus interchange, however, I realised that, in the dozen or so years since I left for Sydney, Sunday services had not improved. The last service to ANU had left some half-hour previously.

I inhaled a VB at the Labor Club, thoughts abuzz with murder: parallel Dave must die.

A couple more beers at the Lighthouse followed, and Matt and I launched into a discussion on graphic design theory, which lasted well into the early hours of Monday morning.

Monday began uneventfully enough: a late breakfast at Oporto, and then onto the coach back to Sydney. Simon had decided to stay a few more hours and get a lift back with his girlfriend, but the seats had been booked in his name (on Matt’s credit card); nevertheless, Canberran apathy shone through, and I was allowed on without so much as an ID check.

I found myself seated next to a Hongky princess, and an iceberg at that: 90% of her mass lay below the waterline; her butt took up two-thirds of our two seats combined.

I was not to dangle over the armrest for long, though: ten kilometres north of Goulburn, the bus’ gearbox seized. I spent the next two hours listening to the life story of the same excessively informative driver that I’d had on my inbound journey. Sure, opportunities to leave earlier had presented themselves, but I didn’t want to risk sharing my seat with Bargearse again.

(Yes, I’m picking on the poor girl, but she could’ve at least crammed like everyone else on the coach, and let me have a little more of my own seat. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being arsed out by other passengers.)

I finally arrived home at around 8pm, exhausted. I scoured the house for food, finding two packs of instant macaroni, but no cigarettes—off to the convenience store, then.

Returning with my prize, Simon and his girlfriend pulled into the driveway, nearly running me down.

As I stared, dazed, into the headlights, as parallel Dave hanged dead by his belt from a hotel-room doorknob, I thought to myself: Well, it could’ve been worse.

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