When my brother began the holiday plan, he wanted to depart on the sixteenth of December, but I was insistent that I have a family reunion with my half-brother and half-sisters on the nineteenth in Castlemaine to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of my father's first wife. He agreed, but with conditions that were very difficult for me to meet and which affected other plans I had had for upgrading the house, such as putting in a desk I had bought as early as January this year.
On the nineteenth, I got up unusually early in order to reach Castlemaine merely by midday, when I knew my relatives would be waiting to see me. (They had hoped to see my brother, but he does not have so good a relationship with my half-sisters and half-brother as I do). The weather was a warm 22˚C but extremely pleasant owing to the breezes, and though I had trouble finding the right house after getting off the train, once I did find it I enjoyed it greatly. It did show how much knowledge I can lose that twice in succession, much to the disappointment of the host, I burst special balloons for the party. After that, I had a quiet time and blew the balloons up much less hard than before.
We then had a great time talking about memories of our hostess. Given what all my half-sisters, half-nephews and half-niece said, I find it a desperate pity that I was not able to make a serious contribution. (I imagien that in my recently-acquired if limited colleciton of poetry I would have found something fitting to her). I did enjoy the music and poetry in her praise, and had a few mostly very vague recollections of visiting her. The most notable was in July of 1990 when I watched Collingwood thrash St. Kilda in a most overwhelming manner that showed just how good they were that year. Other memories of her come from much earlier but are generally very good. There was also a musical performance with an acoustic guitar of some tunes, and a parody of Toni Basil's awful 1982 hit "Mickey" titled "Nicky" (often used as a nickname for my father's first wife) that sounded a little better than the original.
It was unfortunate that I had to tell the many people present that I could not stay long because of my imminent flight to Táibèi. They were disappointed but very accepting of this, and I even asked many of them whether they had ever been on a major holiday before - and what their thoughts on my doing so would be. I was a little surprised that in her ninety years my hostess had not travelled outside of Australia and New Zealand!
The return journey to Melbourne was far from difficult, though I had a slight trouble finding the right platform for the 17 o'clock train that I absolutely had to catch if I was to go to Táibèi. I caught it very easily, and had little trouble cycling home from Spencer Street, to the great delight of my mother and brother.
Now, however, a much bigger adventure will begin for me - one quite unlike any I have experienced before.