1991

 

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I had come to the end of my working visa and I was just about to leave for New Zealand when things contrived to change my world, I ended up staying in Australia for another 6 months.  I got a great paying job building a wharf crane, my relationship ended and my new life (travelling) companion ended up in hospital with meningitis.  After another wiz around (some of) Australia we left in August, and apart from a long conversation with an immigration officer, the last thing I did was to watch England get thrashed at rugby union.

We hitched around New Zealand, and became convinced the whole population, well those that gave lift’s to complete strangers, was slightly eccentric, maybe it’s the isolation of living so far away from the rest of the world.  On our first lift we were given a big box of kiwi fruit, dozens of them, we ate a couple then left the box by the side of the road when it wouldn’t fit in the next lift.  There was a lift that insisted that going to Rotorua via Hamilton on the main road was boring, we should go via the “highlands” and visit Waihi Beach and what’s more he could take us there.  To be fair it’s true and it’s not that far out of the way, but it did feel like we were being kidnapped.  That was followed by a guy who, on his first day out of gaol had “borrowed if you know what I mean” a mates car because whilst in prison he had “seen the light” and had to get to a religious group in Bethlehem that very day, it all sounded at bit cultish, perhaps this was the kidnapping.  There was the bloke who chain smoked while he regaled us with a story about being on the run from his wife’s brothers and the police – why is he telling us that, is he making it up?  Who knows, drop us off at the next crossroads!  Add to that enduring a lecture on the existence of God every few lifts, I suppose if you are in someone’s car you become a captive audience and one that must be at least relatively polite.  It’s a beautiful country with fantastic people, we had a great time…

Just as no amount of photos can do justice to Sydney Harbour nothing, no amount of research about what to expect or bravado can prepare you for your arrival in South East Asia as an independent tourist.  “Keep your wits about you at all times” they said, which can be tricky after a 9 hour flight from Auckland with free Steinlager.  We survived arriving in Bali, managing to get ourselves out of the airport and find somewhere to sleep for the 1st night without spending our entire budget on the taxi to go about half a mile and a room in a mosquito infested Kuta losman (Cheap hotel).  Arriving in September we hopped between the beaches, forests, temples, volcanos, monuments and cities, of Bali, Java and Sumatra in Indonesia before flying to Singapore and Malaysia, then crossing the border from Langkawi to Satun in Thailand just before Christmas.

The gig of the year was without doubt the Bhundu Boys, in an old warehouse on a pier in Sydney, it was an absolute joy to take a bunch of people who’d never heard anything by, or even of, The Bhundu Boys (it wasn’t as easy as going on Youtube and showing them the video) and were only going because I had persuaded them it would be a good thing to do on a Saturday night.  Yeah, by 91 the Bhundu’s were a bit past their best but we danced our socks off all night.  We are back to the basement bars of Sydney for this year’s track, it was always going to be something Australian and I’ve chosen Knockbacks in Halifax, by Weddings Parties Anything mainly because it reminds me of why I never liked nightclubs.

What else happened in 1991?

The (1st) Gulf War starts when a UN backed coalition kicks Iraq out of Kuwait.  A lot went on in central and eastern Europe, Boris Yeltsin becomes president of Russia and dissolves the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  There are parliaments being set up, secession votes, demonstrations and declarations of independence all over what was the Soviet Union controlled “eastern bloc”, the Warsaw Pact is officially dissolved.  Tensions rise in former Yugoslavia when fighting breaks out between Serbs and Croats.  Iceland becomes the 1st country in the world to recognise the independence of the Baltic states and Leningrad becomes St Petersburg again.

Dublin is European capital of culture, the World Wide Web is established and the first website, “info.cern.ch” is created.  In the UK, TESSAs are introduced and 1 Canada Sq (Canary Wharf) becomes the tallest building.  Stella Rimington is the 1st female director of MI5, Helen Sharman becomes the first British person in space when she visits the Mia space station and the RAF gets its 1st woman pilot.  The IRA bombs Paddington and Victoria stations and attacks 10 Downing Street with mortars.  The Birmingham 6 are freed after their convictions were quashed.

Los Angeles police officers beat motorist Rodney King and are captured on video.  Terry Waite and other hostages are released from captivity in Lebanon.  The body of Robert Maxwell is found near the Canary Islands, we later find out his business empire has debts of £1 billion and he’s just raided the Daily Mirror pension fund for £350 million.  PC World opens its 1st shop, Sonic the Hedgehog is published, (Everything I do) I Do It for You is number 1 for most of the year.  And RIP Freddie Mercury who dies (in Prince’s words) “of the big disease with a little name”.

South Africa are readmitted to the Olympic movement, and Australia win the Rugby World Cup, beating England in the final.

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