Three days in the Gold Coast (Sober Paddy Edit)

I have just spent three days up in the Gold Coast in Queensland. For those who haven’t been, it is an area full of high rise hotels and apartments overlooking golden coastline as far as the eye can see. It sums up the great and the tacky about Australia. Beautiful beaches and people, mixed with outrageous commercial properties and nightlife. There are water parks and rollercoaster’s twenty minutes drive away. There are nightclubs and casinos for the discerning gentlemen and ladies of the night. There is surf and sun and swimming pools for those who want to just want to chill.

The area has a reputation for being soulless, a bastion of indulgence and excess. You go here to party and get wasted. You go here on your bucks and hens nights to get mental for one last swing of the hips. They come here in their thousands on “schoolies” week, when high school finishes and all the teenies get their first week away on the beer together. It is an area which prides itself on the ability to accommodate and spoil. You should be getting the picture. It has a soul, just a pretty vacant one.

I went there with two of my old buddies. We have spent many years partying it up…with a high consumption of alcohol and narcotics. Now into our mid thirties, it seemed unimaginable that I could last the three days without getting fucked up. I mean I had no wife and no job here, no nothing to keep me on the straight and narrow. Nothing except for myself. There was no way for anyone to know what I got up to and deep down I was positive I would get on the lash and let the hair down. Oh how wrong I was!

Over the course of the three days and nights I indulged in four separate cases of alcohol imbibing. The first day we spent at Movie World, getting a great buzz off all the rides they had. As the evening drew in we did a quick shop and picked up some beer, fruit, cigars, eggs and port. We got back to our apartment and sat out on the balcony. We cracked open the cigars, the beers and the port. I poured myself a glass of port. It was strong, syrupy and sweet. I just let it brush my lips and tongue and it only really served as something to prevent the Romeo and Juliet No. 3 cigar from completely drying out my mouth. I pretty much had a single glass and that was it.

We headed out on the town and ended up in a bar with some really shit live music. The buddy ordered some mojito’s and I accepted the gesture. We sat outside and drank them slowly. Well, I drank mine slowly savouring the sweetness of the sugary rum with the sharp bitterness of the mint and lime. I have driven into the main stretch which ensured I wouldn’t drink. When the lads went to get their next I ordered a red bull, then another and before long we were off on our merry way. We went to a few of the clubs and had a good laugh, but I was holding back. In the halcyon days I would have been swinging from the rafters…this time I was propping them up.

The next day we spent in Wet n’ Wild, the waterpark, not the strip joint. Great buzz doing all the slides and rides they have there. In the evening we went to the Hard Rock Cafe. We had a lovely meal and at the end I ordered three Irish coffees. Again I drank this slowly and with relish. Whiskey, sugar, cream and coffee is a beautiful combination and one I miss. Suitably drunk, we headed over to the casino where we gambled for a few hours. I came out with roughly the same as  I went in with so was pretty happy. We made our way back into the main drag, parked up and headed into a club where all the pretty young things were. It was wedged full, people dancing all over the place. It was jammed full of blokes posing and prancing around. Girls were wiggling away to pop and R’n’B rubbish, mixed with the latest commercial dance bollox. It was the kind of place where you’d need a bag of coke and a litre of bourbon in you to have a good time. No joke. Being sober highlights how shit some places are. I had one bourbon to see if that did anything. I realised that one would never be enough, so I just blanked it, had a red bull, tried to waggle a little, before the lads both decided they too had had enough and we legged it.

Our last day we went to Sea World. I was amazed when I found out there was a polar bear area –  A fucking polar bear in tropical Queensland, sponsored by coca cola. I lost the plot. I headed back out to the reception and asked who I could speak to about the animals. A lady told me I could talk to her. I vented more than talked.

–         Did you know you have a polar bear here in Sea World?

–         Yes

–         A polar bear?

–         (Blank look)

–         You have a fucking polar bear attraction in Sea World in tropical Queensland in Australia?

–         Eh…

–         Polar bears are hunters from the Arctic Circle. They hunt for hundreds and thousands of miles, in sub zero conditions. How can you have them couped up in a cage in Australia?

–         They have air conditioning in their areas

–         Air conditioning? You have got to be kidding me – you should be ashamed of yourself. You and coca cola and Sea world are a fucking disgrace.

I stormed off like a petulant fuck, headed back to the car and waited for the lads to finish their wanderings. What hit me as I sat there was that ten years previous I would probably have been up from the night before. I would have seen the polar bears and tried to do something to antagonise them, or feed them, or climb into their cage for the “craic.” I would have found the whole thing hilarious and would have loved sneaking in booze to guzzle while watching the dolphins perform tricks and the like. Now I was sitting fuming in the car, reading the business section of an Australian newspaper talk about how messed up the economy in Ireland was and how little it mattered to the economy in Australia. And this got me angrier.

We spent the rest of the day in the RSL where we had a good punt and I blew a few quid. I slurped down more ginger beer and energy drinks and headed back to the apartment leaving the lads to have a few on the town. I sat back in the apartment, watching some rubbish on tv, staring into the night. I had shocked myself that my resolve was as strong as it was. I had found that although the desire to have a few drinks was still there, I couldn’t see the value in just having one or two. And by one or two I mean six or seven. I could only see the value in getting absolutely wasted. And by getting wasted I mean that fearful state where you put yourself at huge physical risk by stumbling around incoherently late at night. There was no middle ground. There was no point in trying the same old same old.

New days dawned. Parrots sang mad mischievous melodies. Old trumpets crashed and splashed and were slammed into oblivion. Discoteques opened in mid morning and the sun drenched the moon. I covered myself in the emperors new clothes and smiled. I had turned the corner. I have turned the corner. I can’t do moderation, but I can do going away with the lads and not needing to get messed up. It’s a weird and wonderful way to be.

8 thoughts on “Three days in the Gold Coast (Sober Paddy Edit)”

  1. Serena – it is true that things can change in a very quick time. Like this evening, I changed my tune really quickly, when I went to watch a movie after being upset for losing a poker hand.
    Dec – You are the king Malaka. I salute you.
    Gabrielle – Not sure if I managed the lads, but felt better about the poor polar bear. Think I’m going to write a strongly worded letter to someone.

  2. I was wondering how you would manage, and Im glad that you’re happy with how you did. Turning corners is good eh..I must turn one soon.

  3. Well done and well written. As regards the Polar Bear, it would be great to send those people to the Arctic Circle with a small blow heater each and see how they do.

  4. That Polar bear is on $35 per hour plus bonus’s.
    He has a lovely apartment overlooking Surfers paradise and has been seen around town with Lara Bungle! Dont feel sorry for him…….. and he gets all the coke he can drink… magic


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