Doom’s Day (4 February)

Wednesday 4/2/87

A Life in Words
a candid shot during camp pack-up

[Since I typically make my diary entries at the end of each day, it stands to reason that the likelihood of that happening on this particular day is slim, even though the wording seems to suggest otherwise…]

TRAGEDY. After packing up etc this morning I took heaps of photos. Then we boarded buses. Erica, Monique, me, Fiona, mima Mark, Brent, Steven, Keith, Cameron, Chris, Glyn, Judy Jason P, Brett H, Becca G Michelle W. . . all on our bus. At first we had fun .. food fights too. Down the Gillies range I swapped places with Mark- he got the window seat – I snuggled back into his arms. Half Dozing (???) I felt us going really quickly around a corner, too fast .. I saw gravel and the bus rolled. I blacked out. When I woke Erica was on my left – head covered in blood; Jody K & Lee-anne W on my right and Mark underneath me, under a seat too. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t accept it as real, my right leg was jammed under the bus. After ages I was “pulled” out & soon taken by helicopter to hospital. The rest of the night & events are blurred. I went into theatre . . saw heaps of people .. Fiona, Kay H, Jacki W, Miss (MF) DeJourdan and Miss (R.) Bowles were in my ward. I was very tired.

A Life in Words[Make sure you’re comfortable: there are seven pages of the scrapbook dedicated to this one day, with as many details as I could recall…]

Yes, it really was the last day…time to leave. Absolute chaos trying to tidy up & pack up our belongings. Out came the cameras too…until now, we’d forgotten all about them. […that was something I later considered a prescient phenomena: how lucky were we to have remembered our cameras and gotten as many photos as we did, within just hours of the tragedy?] With the cameras came some candid shots, of course! A few misplaced items, but mainly the problem was fitting things back into bags and boxes. Most of us couldn’t wait to get home to get clean – shower, wash hair & clothes. A Life in WordsAfter taking down the tent (I’m sure we left some pegs or something behind) [ooh, Dad wouldn’t’ve been happy about that…] we lugged all the gear up to the covered area, where everyone else was, with theirs. Then, a barrage of photos taken as people stood around talking, fighting & mucking around until the buses arrived. When they did there was a mad rush to pack the buses and grab the best seats, but we were stopped by the teachers. We had to wait till they let us pack…then there was a longer wait til we were finally allowed on the buses. Only one bus was filled at a time: girls got on first…

A Life in Words
Waiting for the word. Our bus is on the left.

We chose the second bus because of its big sliding windows [better ventilation, for a cooler ride] (I also thought we’d have a better chance of getting good seats). Jemima was the first on, and I second. She sat in the second last seat on the driver’s side [what I call the ‘right side’ for future reference…] and I, after a quick decision, [aware that others were very likely queueing up the aisle behind me] slipped into the seat in front [of her], instead of the one opposite, where Monique and Fiona sat. [I have no doubt that the choice I made in this fleeting moment was pre-determined; not a (conscious) choice at all. I was destined to survive.]

The rest of the seats filled quickly: we saved seats for Erica, Monique, Mark and Brent.

A Life in Words
The last photo I took. Erica asleep, Judy’s legs beside her and Jody & Leeanne’s heads visible in front

We left second; the journey started great: we ate any leftovers we had (including Coco Pops and 100’s & 1000’s fights!) Elisia E. had a drink container of water [the contents of] which disappeared as it was passed around the whole bus.

Up a steep hill, the 3rd bus passed us, but we soon overtook it again, as it stopped for Alan D. (Who was sick).

Down the range, we began singing songs…Beatles songs mostly. Soon we all settled down, snoozing and talking quietly to each other. Mark compained about the heat, so we swapped places: he had the window seat. I leaned back against his chest…I don’t recall what time it was. I must have dozed off….

A Life in WordsThe first thing I remember just prior to the crash, was as we were just nearing the bend…I was looking across the aisle, over Jody & Leeanne’s heads, to the view, thinking “we’re going a bit fast”…then (it felt like) we took the corner really wide. [In fact we didn’t at all: the bus driver apparently sounded the horn – of which I have no recollection – as a warning to any oncoming traffic that he intended to – and did – actually cut the corner in his valid attempt to avert disaster.] I must have stood or leaned up because I remember seeing the gravel (the road shoulder) before the drop…then looking to the front of the bus, past the driver, to the bank on the other side of the road, thinking, “Come on bus driver, keep turning and we’ll stay on the road” (which was really wierd when you think about it, because I didn’t know what was happening: that is, that we were actually going to go off the cliff…maybe I subconsciously knew) [Yes, I would have, we all would have…]

I remember the front of the bus seemingly stopping, while the rear slid [out, sideways], and slid over the shoulder, the left side dragging the rest of the bus over. [Which makes sense considering that only the front brakes were operational: with no functioning rear brakes and the added weight of the undercarriage storage also located at the rear of the vehicle, there was no stopping the ‘tail-swing’.] The rest of this, the actual descent, seemed more dreamlike than the events prior to it…I remember pitch darkness…flashes of light (where perhaps windows were?) I couldn’t see anything besides that but I could hear metal crunching and glass breaking…and feeling, well, I was thrown once, twice, then I recall nothing: [I deduced later that the bus would have rolled one & a half times, because it came to rest upside down: that amounts to 6 ‘throws’ in total.] I must’ve been knocked out, but as I was rolling it felt [as if it were] in slow motion, bodies and things brushing past me, not roughly or painfully. It felt much like I was floating…doing flying somersaults.

When I came to it seemed very slowly: like the dream (nightmare) was continuing. […emerging from an inky abyss…] My body was in almost total darkness (I was under the bus) [the roof had sheared off as we rolled down the embankment and, since it ended up upside down, the bottom effectively became the ceiling] and I felt an incredible pressure upon my right leg.. I only remember thinking I was dreaming & telling myself to scream, because you have to TRY to scream in a nightmare, even though your screams are inaudible. There was a hole in the bottom of the bus [the ‘roof’] so I could see out, up a slope. [This confused me in the weeks & even months to come (until I was able to return to the site) because I couldn’t fathom why I could see trees still upright: if we had rolled down the hillside, wouldn’t we have taken out everything in our path? It turned out that the angle at which the bus came to rest in the gully was different to that at which we left the road, so I had a ‘room with a view’ of the untouched environment.] I remember screaming to get the “fucking bus off my leg” and yelling the names of people I saw walk past…some of whom told me to shut up. Slowly I realised it wasn’t a dream. I noted Erica’s head on my right, sticking partly out from under a seat, and I could only just see (from my trapped position) two bodies, whom I believed to be Jemima & Brent, at first, on my left: they were in fact Jody & Leeanne.

A Life in Words
The bus as it came to rest. Apologies for the quality of these photos: I took them from video footage stills

Astia held & stroked my left foot outside the bus and helpers tried to comfort me. There was a pair of legs sticking out from the far end of the seat on top of Erica & I finally realised they were Mark’s. I must have been out for a little while because all those people [teachers & students from the third bus] were there when I’d regained consciousness. [The third bus was apparently only minutes behind us, but long enough for some of the lesser injured to scramble back up the hideous slope and flag them down.] When Mark did, he frantically yelled at and abused me…to “get this fucking person off him” Of course I couldn’t & his anger at me distressed me more. [I had to assume it was Erica’s body, and knowing she was (therefore they both were) under the bus seat that I was also partly on top of, I tried my best to keep my bodyweight off it. Pinned as I was by my right leg, with the earth significantly dropping away into the base of the gully, I had to use my left arm to hold my bodyweight off the seat.] It seemed my mouth & my mind were two separate beings because, although I was yelling and screaming, I was thinking “don’t panic – they’re getting help – they’re doing all they can…” [the Mind versus the Witness?]

A Life in WordsMichelle W. was nearby, but I couldn’t see her…she touched my right leg and also tried to reassure me. [I have since discovered that one of the ambulance officers was periodically ‘manhandling’ my pinned leg for signs of response from me; because it was clamped so tightly but my femoral artery was still pumping blood into it, it had swollen to “twice the size” of my left leg, and I was in serious danger of losing the entire appendage if I lost sensation…] 

I was arguing with Mark…I tried to tell him I couldn’t move Erica because she was…unconscious.  But somehow I knew she was dead. There was fresh blood all through her beautiful blonde hair, and a pool of it in her ear (none on her face). [That still amazes me, to this day.] I heard Jody’s breathing, if that’s what you can call it: he was having tremendous difficulty: wheezing & choking [his lungs were punctured]…but I don’t actually remember hearing him stop.

I didn’t think of Monique, nor Jemima or Fiona. I was thrown into oblivion by the shock, I think. I thought only of my immediate surroundings and not even of what had actually occurred. [Talk about being ‘in the Now’…] I remember at one stage, reaching back to feel my right leg…drawing my hand back into view, I saw lots of blood and dirt and fragments of skin hanging off my fingers.  Mark’s left calf had a tear in it: a ‘hole’ and bright red flesh was hanging from that. Possibly the only reason I was not sick (physically) from the sight of all this gore, was the fact that I was in shock. [Absolutely.]

A Life in Words
An aerial view of the hairpin bend we failed to negotiate. You can just see the bus at the top of the picture

I remember, what seemed HOURS later, when they first attempted to lift the bus off my leg…there was a new sensation…painful only in the sense that it was uncomfortable: the rush of blood to supply the rest of my leg, or be released through my open wounds…but it was shortlived…the great tonne [or more?] of metal was again allowed to rest on my leg, as, I found out later, when the bus was first lifted with only one set of ‘Jaws of Life’, the weight was transferred to the other end of the bus and consequently put more pressure on a victim (Cameron) who was trapped by his chest.

So a second set was [finally] applied and the bus levered up evenly. Again, the horrible new sensation.

A man told me he was going to take some metal out of my leg, “Hold still and I’ll do it gently” But I couldn’t bear the thought of him slowly edging foreign material out of my leg, and so yelled “No! Just RIP it out!” [Actually, from memory it was more like “no, just fucking rip it out”] He must have, because I don’t remember the pain from that.

Possibly the most pain I experienced was when they dragged me out from under the bus…up onto a stretcher…I kept my eyes closed for most of that time. I remember chatting away, as they hoisted me off the ground and carried me (upside down – I remember – possibly to stem the flow of blood?) [or to keep the leg elevated, to drain some of the swelling & keep the blood in my torso, around my vital organs?] to the ‘top’.

A Life in Words
Anyone & everyone (who was able) helped SES workers in the rescue.

I was placed under a yellow tarpaulin…still talking to anyone who was there. [Clearly my automatic shock response defaults to Chatterbox.] They tried to put up another tarp adjoining the one I was just underneath and I remember it falling and me putting my hand up to stop it landing on my leg. [It was overcast but I believe there was minimal rainfall, so the rescue operation wasn’t hampered. Lucky us.]

I have no idea how long I waited up on the road, before I left by helicopter. [Days later, two of my friends said their watches had stopped at exactly 12:57pm, so we all assumed that that was the moment of ‘impact’ …and apparently it was pretty much spot on. As for how long I was trapped, then lying on the roadside before my transit to hospital I still have no idea, other than my sister guessing I arrived at Cairns Base around 4pm] Although, I remember seeing Kay standing up…looking at me and saying “You’ll be alright Elissa.” [God knows what her perception of my leg was. I cannot imagine what it must have looked like.]

When I was lifted and told I was going by helicopter (and wasn’t I lucky?) and to shut my eyes, they carried me past a familiar pair of legs sticking out of a familiar pair of shorts…I tried to reach down to him…”Mark! Mark?” But they moved [lifted] me higher up and away faster. From then I kept my eyes closed…it seemed a fairly long trek to the helicopter. [It would have to have been… I almost can’t picture where the chopper would have been able to land on the narrow mountain highway] Then I felt the overhead propellors and I was loaded inside the ‘copter.

I could see the [back of the] pilot’s head, a man sitting to my right (to whom I kept babbling on) and the perspex roof, through which light grey clouds and raindrops could be seen. [Hardly a memorable helicopter ride, when all you get to see is the sky above you.]

I remember borrowing the man’s handkerchief for some (unknown to me) reason and making sure that I returned it to him when we landed. [Courtesy instilled in me by my great parents.] I remember lots of people in white putting me on a trolley stretcher and wheeling me somewhere, [most likely from the Cairns Esplanade (the nearest open space suitable for a helicopter to land) which is fortunately just across the road from the Cairns Base Hospital] but I don’t remember actually entering the hospital.

I remember being wheeled past partitions in a room, wheeled into an end one: directly opposite a set of swinging doors, Just before I was put in there, I recall turning my head to the left and seeing someone, in the partition before mine, with a totally red face….blood-covered & bloodstained…at first I thought it was Brent but realised later it must have been Brett.

I was in that partitioned area for quite a short period of time…some doctor looking at my leg and asking my name, address, parents’ names and home phone number…then I was wheeled through the swinging doors into an unpartitioned room and placed quite nearby Sean D…who was sitting up, looking OK. Again the nurses asked personal details and, whether they gave me a ‘shot’ or not, I remember nothing else…but passing out.

A Life in Words
The shorts I was wearing were cut off me: I don’t know if the discoloured areas are old blood or faeces stains. I would have had no idea (nor care) obviously whether I’d soiled myself or not…

When I came to again, it was only extremely briefly and I felt extremely groggy…I was in a white room with lots of silver machinery [theatre] and they were putting a gown on me, and taking off my ring and earrings. Then I passed out again.

I came to in a corridor; I was being wheeled somewhere [probably to the ward]. As I was still under the effect of the anaesthetic, I was trying my hardest to keep my eyes open. I saw Julia, Mum (very concerned-looking) and Dad and Jenny, then I said “How’s Monique? What about Mark? How is everybody?” [but don’t recall any responses] I vaguely remember Mum nearly fainting and the nurses putting her on a trolley too. [My poor beautiful mother… I can’t imagine the stress she was under. She had had the utter misfortune earlier of sitting with two of the dead children’s mothers at the very moment they were called to be dealt their worst nightmares.]

The next and last thing I remember from that day was finding myself in my room in Ward C West (floor 3). There were lots of people, mostly visitors, milling around. I can only remember talking to Sharon and Harry B. I was unaware of any pain in my leg(s) or the catheter they had ‘implanted’. I didn’t even realise I had no underwear on. I was wearing a hospital nightie. I remember being quite ‘chirpy’ (obviously still in shock) and asking people questions. I had missed the news but heard that it was a ‘national disaster’. [Oddly, I must admit I felt a little ‘thrilled’ about the whole country knowing and talking about us. It goes to show just how powerful Ego can be. Shock can deny you the gravity of a situation but may have no effect on Ego.]

Although visiting hours officially ended at 8pm, I think the hospital staff had quite some difficulty in removing all the visitors (especially relatives) by 8:45pm.A Life in Words

I remember still wanting to talk when everyone had left: Jacque seemed the most willing, aside from Miss Bowles. Miss DeJourdan seemed very quiet and Kay appeared to do much more listening than talking. Fiona was quite absent from this world…it would take at least 3 calls of her name before she would turn to look at whomever was calling, then when asked a question, would either nod, or just look at you, not understanding or comprehending, even ignoring. She slept the most and longest out of the six of us. I wasn’t sure of my wounds, thinking I had a deep cut in the back of my right thigh, and a severe cut on my left knee. I don’t remember whether I was fed painkillers, but I fell asleep quite quickly and quite soundly.

Leadership Camp, Day Three (3 February)

Tuesday 3/2/87

I kind of ignored him today. After the 1st group session – group dynamics, he walked past me. I didn’t react in any way. I didn’t think he wanted to see me. Bush dancing was next. I had a swim after that. A really long one. He came up to me finally. We talked about it . . he said most beautiful, caring things. I’m sure they’re true. A Life in WordsWe kissed, yes, near the yacht. [I vaguely recall that small yacht anchored in the dam] (mima, Brent & Glyn saw us) After adventure walk, we, or I swam quickly again to get clean. My ringworm is drying & scabbing – my feet are absolutely covered in blisters and my colds not gone yet. [I completely forgot I’d had a ringworm. I think it’s the only one I’ve ever had in my life, too. It’s somewhat ironic that I was suffering so many ‘minor’ ailments considering what was about to befall us in less than 24 hours’ time.] We had the concert, for which we sat together, Mark hugging me. We got those “warm fuzzies” that we wrote about people back – when I didn’t [get any warm fuzzies] Mark whispered about 10 in my ear [privacy omission]. The concert was great entertainment. So funny then there were “awards” after it. That was funny too. Mark & I [privacy omission] went inside our tent. I spent the next hour or so completely elated. [OMG, what is this? Mills & Boon? FYI, is still not what y’all think either…] we ate a bit before we finally crashed. (when? I don’t even have a clue!)

[Part of the text on this page in the scrapbook has begun to fade, mostly because of the colour I chose to write in…]

A Life in Wordsduring the night last night, jemima woke .. sick & sick still this morning .. we assumed it was the dip she ate last night. [But no one else was sick?] After breakfast time (& a swim!!!!) we assembled to find out what activities we were doing next. Jemima was allowed to sit out of her first two activities. We did “group dynamics” ..another basic get-to-know-each-other exercise + ‘trust’ activities.. being led blindfolded by a partner around the camp for example. After our break, we did bushdancing .. that was .. hmm .. funny (a scream!) At lunch time today, I had a very long swim .. much longer than usual .. (my cold is still there, but not quite as bad.) Adventure walk was the last activity & I thought the best. Exercises to do with balance & co-ordination and strength→ great fun! […and I end up teaching this kind of stuff to people 20 years later…] (Minus the pain of blisters & sunburn) After that I ‘dipped’ quickly to wash off mud while Erica & Monique washed their hair After dinner break, were called for an (earlier) assembly. First we were “lectured” about leadership & those responsibilities etc, but afterwards, the “warm fuzzies” (written by each & every person, for each & every person) were handed out. (However, some people (me for example) didn’t get them because the people who’d written them (or supposed to have written them) didn’t hand them in (or forgot to, like Trina for example)) After this there was a short break when concert entries  prepared (or began to prepare) for their items. Then came the awards . . Monique got one for the ‘most pitiful expression’ (the ‘feel sorry for me’ look) [I have absolutely no recollection of that at all] . . [privacy omission] (along with Jody & Lee-anne) for the inseparable couple . . and Mark & Steven the ‘camp scabs’. (To name a few) Finally the concert began and it was quite funny. The first item was a fashion parade (of, of course, the oldest & most daggy clothes) then others followed. . A Life in WordsMark M’s (winning) impersonations, [ha! “winning”! Eatcha heart out, Charlie Sheen] Jody K’s Kiwi warcry [the ‘Haka’] & a few other ‘singular’ & group efforts. This was the best night . . people (surprisingly) had rather early nights .. generally turning out lights & getting shut-eye when the authorities asked. Of course.. the last night & day are usually always the best anyway.

Leadership Camp, Day Two (2 February)

Monday 2/2/87

Woken quite early – tent’s going thru’ rain – well, have no worries about getting wet. [Dad always owned good quality camping equipment] Got in groups today- I have Fi, Justine, Lynette C and others. we did “PERSONALITIES”. Was ‘interesting’. we have to write nice things about someone in our group. I got Tricia. Did canoing this arvy – I thought I got my periods Lucky I didn’t. A little boring canoeing was .. too windy to enjoy. Spent little time with Mark today. I can’t handle being around him in group situations like this camp. It’s hard for me. We’re better off on our own. [But hardly realistic…] A Life in WordsTonight we had the bonfire & joke telling Trish & Mark were in a tent together I was really worried. Later they had a “dance”. I stayed alone in the tent crying a little etc. I didn’t see anymore of him that night. I was really upset when everybody came back to the tent they tried to make me feel better. It was a late night, but not quite as late as last night. I was very confused & upset, being told “Nothing happened”. I couldn’t help doubting

[And the scrapbook entry, providing no clue about my emotional condition:]

A Life in WordsWeather’s mostly overcast, although there’s not much rain After breakfast time (& a swim) the airhorn sounded & we had an assembly to run through the camp routine. 6 groups & 6 activities were to fill Monday & Tuesday. The groups were mainly of alphabetical order [by surname] Eg: Jemima in group A, me & fiona in group B, monique in group E and Erica in group F. Group B (ours) did “personalities”. Were given out name of one person to write 6 nice things (known as “warm fuzzies” about. The main ‘object’ of this group was to discover differences in arguments. Eg: aggressiveness (aggression!).. we talked about things like smoking, homosexuals, etc. After a free-time break, we did second activity . . canoeing. Justine & I went in Mr Dobe’s canoe .. the safest! Fiona, with Alan & the others had trouble first… we didn’t get too far, before Mr Dobe decided the weather was too bad to carry on. Lunch & free time next (& a swim, of course, for me, anyway) then the last activity for today; the bushwalk . . fantastic. HA HA . . most of it was along bitumen road . .  up to a lookout (through some rain of course) & back (oh. .blisters!). another swim & free-time for dinner. Tonight a big bonfire was lit & there was ‘mass’ joke-telling… we sat dozing on David’s lie-low .. Erica, Monique, Cameron, Chris & David. After there was a (sort-of) dance (but I party-pooped & stayed in our tent) When that finished we were allowed time before lights out, so we had some visitors . . Linda & Justine to mention a few. [Some of the ‘comforters’ or ‘reassurers’ I spoke of in my diary, perhaps?] A Life in Wordswe all (not me though) ate corn chips & hot dip. Rather a late night.

Leadership Camp, Day One (1 February)

Sunday 1/2/87

I still had my cold. It was really hot once we got to school. Altogether we took heaps of stuff. Mark sat next to me on the bus.. mucked round. After discussion on arrival, we put up our tent. I was so hot. It was overcast. [Perfect conditions to increase humidity] We went for a swim and just mucked round. I was cold, then not etc.. [ooh, feverish?] tonight we had bush dancing. A Life in WordsBoring! [Hmm, that’s not what you wrote in the scrapbook…] Mark was rather unenthusiastic Kept looking for me (??) I kept looking at him Later; after lights out, Mark [privacy omission] came to our tent. Mark didn’t seem ‘interested’. But it was good getting with [just kissing, people!] him. [privacy omission] Mark spent his time worrying about being caught too. I daresay that night was bad for the teachers – kids swapping tents etc. Probably got to sleep around 3:00.

[My scrapbook begins to include more text, more detail: I tried to record everything I could recall. But – not surprisingly – there’s minimal personal disclosure, since, unlike my diaries, I was expecting people to read this. It was as much for public (friends etc) as it was for personal posterity…and ‘processing’ of course.]A Life in Words

Erica brought the eski over early – we packed it & luckily, were able to put it on the lorry that the school had hired from the Fishers [our neighbours] to take equipment up, along with our tent. Excitement mounted as people arrived & assembled at Croswell Hall. It was very hot. Our group had a massive pile of gear! (then again, so did some others (not to mention any names, Steven, Mark & Brent) We loaded the remainder of our gear & scrambled onto the bus to get the best seats. Waiting ages in the still heat till we finally got under way. Music, muck-around fights & food all the way there. Once off the bus, people frantically begin to grab gear & best tent spots, but, called for an assembly first, many people had to give up their chosen sites. [From memory, there were separate tent site zones for the girls and boys. Not really surprising.] After putting up the tent, (a very long, tiring task – we were one of the last groups to finish) [I’m fairly sure we had one of the largest tents there, however…] there was freetime. We all went for a (very short) swim, then stood watching some of the guys playing cricket. After our dinner, the air horn was blown- signalling assembly under the covered area. Bushdancing was the activity & almost everyone enjoyed it! [Aha, almost everyone…] For some, this was the longest night (ie. the latest) [….oh? I wonder who…?]

Tent Erection & Pill Popping (31 January)

Saturday 31/1/87

Boy, has it been one hectic day. Dad came round, about 8:15 I think [with the tent]. Fi was the only one who came. [Um, not according to your scrapbook…] We put it up quite easily. I was sweating – Dad said that’s a fast cure for a cold [actually, no: that’s an old wives’ tale] – I’m feeling better now; not coughing anymore; just mainly dripping nose. A few sneezes & of course, mucus-but not quite as bad.. Tonight I [will] sleep without the fan . . . sweat it out for the last time. Gosh it’s hot, but I must ‘hack’ it! So many people called and came over today. A Life in WordsDad, Fi, Monique, Jemima, Sharon Erica & Brent. Finally everything is organised (I popped [cold & flu] pills almost all day) Oh. yes – I’m boiling. wanted to ring Mark but – too late. No real need, really. I must be better for tomorrow. Fuck – this ‘tickle’ in my throat is making me cough – but I can’t stop it – the tickling. [Why don’t you just drop some cough medicine? You’ve been downing a truckload of other pharmaceuticals…] Better get some sleep. 9:20

[And the scrapbook record:]

A Life in WordsPersonal preparations for the camp today, mostly. Monique & I (& Fiona who came down quite early) were taught how to put up our monstrous 5 man tent (with fly-screened annexe) by my father [I’m not sure how clear it is, but you may be able to discern a sketch I did of it, underneath the word ‘Saturday’] . . was hot, but rewarding ‘work’. Also began packing food into cardboard boxes. Monique (too tired to ride home) [no doubt, heat fatigue] got a lift around lunchtime. The afternoon was spent packing my bags & on the phone to either Fiona, Monique, Jemima or Erica and even Sharon & Brent. I popped pills all day to try & rid myself of my cold. [except that pill popping fixes nothing; simply masks the symptoms…]

A Life in WordsMy handiwork during the packing of food . . labelling each and every item in case of theft!!!

Army Shorts & Camp Food (30 January)

Friday 30/1/87

A Life in WordsFUCK, FUCK, FUCK. IT IS HOT. I can’t stand this heat much longer. I am going to have an air-conditioned house, for SURE when I’m older. [Hmmm, nope. Not yet. And I’m fairly sure I’ve changed my mind about that.] Today was good indeed, Apart from the frigging heat. Mum dropped me at Monique’s early. It took us about 15-20mins to get to school & even then we were boiling. [I’m assuming we rode our bikes from her place. Why you would do that in the very heat you are complaining about is beyond me?] Mark came late. Talked a fair bit. Esp. big lunch – his dad drove in to give him my letter. Can you believe it? And he showed Duane and Brent. Wonderful. SHAME!! [Well… you did show his to your friend/s… fair’s fair.] It’s almost 9:30. After school, whipped in to get army shorts & home (took ages!). Tent wasn’t here ..Dad said he’s bringing it tomorrow – wouldn’t let mum take it BASTARD. [I can’t figure why he’s a ‘bastard’ for this. Unless it was because I’d made my mind up that it had to be there TODAY and he simply messed up my ‘plan’?] So about 6:15 we went to town. talked to mima. Did shopping at Coles ($63-shit!) [That’s under $13 worth for each of us. Ah, if only food was still that cheap…] Didn’t see Mark’s lot – Glynn said they were at Woolies [privacy omission]. Umah. Cameron even talked to me today in chem. [Privacy omission] Oh dear. Such nasty boys.. Mark paid a lot more attention to me after getting that letter. Wunda why?

And the scrapbook entry for this day:

A Life in WordsMONIQUE & I, the fitness freaks (HA, HA) rode to school (from her place) This lunch hour we finalised “preparations”: Jemima writing for each of us a list of requirements (although we were given a typed sheet by teachers during one of the numerous camp meetings. [I’d glued both of these important pieces of information into the scrapbook, as you can see] All getting so excited. Although Jemima had to work, we decided to do shopping for the camp tonight.

Before Monique & I rode (the long trek) home we cycled into town so I could purchase my pair of 2nd hand army shorts. Monique barely made the journey home .. it was rather hot! [She never dealt well with heat.]

Shopping at Coles New World, in town was a scream.. our total came to about $63 and that was minus a few necessary items!! [Coles tacked on ‘New World’ as a sales slogan in the 1980’s… and my, how prophetic this was: the ‘diversification’ tactics these large supermarket companies (now conglomerates) employed has created a ‘new world’ ….of corporate greed!]

Monique & I pretty-well ‘carked’ it at home: we were rather exhausted!!

Camp Preparations Begin… ACE! (29 January)

Thursday 29/1//87

Well, we talked again today. T’was O.K. He found his letter in my bag (plastic bag – I’d better use my port tomorrow; feel silly cos’ everyone else is. A Life in Words[Yeah, and um, didn’t you just buy a new one? Can’t think why I would be taking just a plastic bag to school] Think I have worms) [Ok! If that isn’t the most random thing to say? And maybe too much information? Just, maybe?] and told him it was only for Jemima’s eyes. See, he rang me.. (yesterday he came over; in Jason P’s car with him & Cameron just stopped for a minute or two, in the gutter) and we talked a fair bit. [Privacy omission] The main thing was I talked about people. Asking him all the girls- he told me who he hated etc. Up to [privacy omission] he was secretive. I asked but he said “we had a few words before you arrived at the party” – (Angie J’s) I asked the “outcome” – “good and bad.” I rang fi straight after. She made me feel a bit better. [She was a great listener, and her objectivity almost always helped me through my issues & insecurities. Until the next time…] I spent the rest of the night cutting up pictures (magazines) in my room. It’s now about 8:45 & I haven’t had a shower yet. STINKING HOT.

[And the story per my scrapbook:]

A Life in WordsErica is in my biology class as well. FANTASTIC. This will be an ACE year. . .an ACE camp to start it. Began preparations for camp. Our group (of course) is Jemima, Fiona, Monique, Erica & myself. Would never have guessed, right?!!

[We created an acronym from the first initials of our names, which we used to ‘label’ everything: J.E.F.E.M. J-emima, E-rica, F-iona, E-lissa, M-onique. The picture below actually comes from Saturday’s page in the scrapbook.]

A Life in Words

 

First Day of the Last Year (28 January)

Wednesday 28/1/87

A Life in WordsSCHOOL! Just watched a blooper show while writing back to Mark said a lot of (soppy) stuff. Today was GREAT!! I loved it! It’s 10:35. Poor Jules was crying this morning, [first day at a new school… stressful for most people…] but she was fine later on. Bus was quite full. All classes are basically the same – timetable has changed a fair bit. In art, we are in the textiles room-it’s “ours” [meaning us CAD art kids] um, in english Erica’s with me [I knew her from primary school, as did Jemima & Fiona. She was just starting at Cairns High, moving over from Smithfield where Fiona & I spent our first 3 years. I wouldn’t have mentioned her too much in the past because she associated with a different crowd there. Being a newcomer, but also a Freshie kid, we took her into our fold immediately] (& Jemila’s at CH in eng. too. (ung!!)) [the girlfriend of the guy I snogged New Year’s Eve… uncomfortable much?] – our class is so big now. Didn’t have bio -but it’ll be the same – possibly bigger – Erica also (possibly) in it! MaI [that’s an abbreviation for ‘Maths 1’] – Mark’s class – for computers! [Oh so we did have them back then …so I’m not a real dinosaur?] mim, moni & Justine are in the other class. In chem..we’re one big class now-but not quite too big. Talked to Mark a fair bit too. Showed him my dad’s watch (to me) Yukky! [A poor way of saying I showed him a watch my dad must’ve given me, that I clearly wasn’t fussed on.] Went to see Nana – walked to hospital from school. Was so hot today Hate the yr 12 area – too hot & crowded [As I have previously mentioned, there were traditional ‘territories’ students occupied, relative to their year level. To be honest, I have no idea where the juniors tended to congregate but in Year 12 we were obliged to move to the much less spacious, weather-exposed (opposite) side of the same building we had previously ‘owned’ in Year 11. The only ‘prestige’ I can attribute to it is that is was street-side… great for the exhibitionist licence-holders…] Oh well. Can’t wait for camp. Can’t wait God it’s hot. Hope I don’t get periods for the camp- will be just my luck.

And on the opening page of my scrapbook (created after the ‘event’ so therefore may sometimes sound ‘reflective’)… 

A Life in WordsFANTASTIC START to (what I thought would be) the best year of my life (so far) anyhow. Discovered few changes in timetable: my classes: Erica in my english class & in computer maths also …with Fiona, Steven, Mark, Brent, Cameron.

Walked up to the (Calvery) Hospital [Cairns’ only private hospital.. which is now actually named ‘Cairns Private Hospital’] to visit my grandmother after school.

JASON, [no idea why I wrote his name in ‘caps’] Mark & cameron visit me in Jas’s Hoony car, after school.