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The House of Books

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Weird things and surprises constantly occur in my life — I have often found that I know less about others than I realise and other people seem to know about me than I realise.

How does this happen? Is it because I simply jump in and talk to anyone? I have no idea.

This is a story about the synchronicity of flying to distant places with an odd story about the “THE HOUSE OF BOOKS”.

Once I was waiting in the departure lounge of the Bangkok airport for a flight to London. I noticed a man I recognised from the streets of Fremantle also waiting for the same flight.

I would often see this man his wife and children walking together around Fremantle. When ever I saw them I imagined that he was a kind supportive partner and father.

The plane was a jumbo with hundreds of seats and as life would have it — he ended up being allocated a seat next to me.

The flight was 12 hours so during that time I was able to get to know this man fairly well — particularly as he seemed extremely happy to talk about himself.

I learned that my imagination was wrong and that this man was unkind and abusive. He said things about his wife that made my thick straight hair curl.

He told me that he was leaving his wife and I could only think how lucky she and the children were to get away from him. What a lesson about my imagination!

On another flight which was to Indonesia from somewhere I was seated in the middle row of five seats.

In the first four seats were my daughter, then me, an Asian man and a blond Australian surfie who was in his 30’s. I have no idea who sat in the fifth seat.

The Asian man sat there with his coke bottle glasses, his quiet demeanour, his beautiful jet black hair that was completely in place. He was quiet and tried to keep a low profile.

The Australian Surfie had wild blond hair bleached by the sun and rarely done! It was quintessentially “surf hair”. He was happily drinking beer. He would call the air hostess as soon as one can was finished to get another one. Can after can went down the hatch.

As he drank he became happier, louder and friendlier so eventually he started trying to talk to the Asian guy.

The Asian guy was extremely shy and he kept looking away from the surfie. In doing that; he would turn towards me and then feel even more awkward. Finally he tried to not look either way and simply tried to make himself shrink back into his seat. Surrounded by Australians seemed simply too uncomfortable.

The surfie guy was oblivious to his affect on the Asian guy so he kept drinking and getting more or more “friendly.”

Finally I decided to join in—who can resist such an awkward situation?

I started quietly by asking Surfie about himself. He told me that he was a professional surfing promoter and was going surfing with his clients in the back blocks of Indonesia.

He garrulously talked about the terrible lives and conditions in the villages in that part of Indonesia.

He spoke of the health problems and about an Australian Surf Charity that he belonged to that was helping these people. Immunisations, medicines and all sorts of practical help was flowing from that charity to the people who owned the beautiful surf beaches. Rahdah, rahdah … on and on he went.

The Asian guy stopped shrinking back and started to look relieved and then finally became interested. With my chatting and the Asian guy joining in the Surfie relaxed and he proved to be a kind and good-hearted bloke who was simply a loud, chatty, friendly drunk.

Finally the Surfie started talking to me and the conversation went like this —

Surfie: “Where do you live?”

Me: “In Fremantle”

Surfie: “Where in Fremantle?”

Me: “Solomon Street.”

Surfie: “Oh, I know you. You live in the house that is raised up from the road with a view. You have a the limestone wall at the front and you go up the stairs to the front door.”

Me: “Ahhhh….”

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Surfie (oblivious to my response)

“I call your house — the house of books— Your house has books stacked everywhere… You had so many books about all subjects it was the most interesting house ever. You have so many books — yes the house of books.
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I was feeling rather strange at this stage, as he was thoroughly correct about all of this.

Me: How do you know my house?

Surfie: “I went out with Libby who lived across the road from you. She was a really great person and I still think the world of her.”

Well, Libby she was the daughter of the people who lived across the road from me and she was also a surfer.

Surfie: “When you went away once you had her looking after your house and dogs so we stayed there together.

 Yes, the house of books— I loved staying there….”

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