Anton was banned for drink driving and he lost his mining job when he lost his licence. Now, mining in Australia isn’t the same as it was in 1920’s Barnsley – Anton was on 185 thousand Aussie dollars but now he had to get about this small town, south of Perth, on a skateboard. It seemed a kind of odd way for a forty-odd year old bloke. He was a bit like a too-old Linkin Park fan.
His house was OCD amazing. We were renting a room for a few nights through Airbnb. It was newly built and had a pool and a trampoline and sexy hammocks that overlooked a beautifully manicured, Stepford Wives-type park. We had a swanky room with ensuite double porn shower, fluffy towels and a clean fuckin’ dunny. The only problem was he was on meth and wanted to hang out.
He kept stunning himself by finding half-drunken stubby cans of Jim Beam and Coke that he’d forgotten he was drinking. Little surprises. ‘Awwww Bonus!’. It was golden.
He talked so much one night that I just shut the door on him. He was in a seriously invasive amphetamine monologue and I simply needed to be not listening to Anton anymore. #shutupnowanton
We had kitchen therapy sessions. I made spaghetti and he itched and paced around taking his cap off, putting his cap back on and getting angry about his estranged wife and kids, his legally-aggressive father-in-law, banks and the farm he used to have.
He was in a particularly sad ebb of his life, which seemed – from what we could reasonably establish – to have been otherwise quite remarkable. He was quietly struggling. Knocking around alone inside this beautiful home that was meant for four.
Margs was a bit like that. All these pretty houses. Perfect suburbia. But underneath what was really going on? Was there another side to Margs? It certainly felt so. It could have been that it was Halloween but the few people that we did see – moving from car to house or nipping next door – were fucking hammered. Proper deadbeat shit-faced.
One night after we’d had a couple of glasses of local wine, we walked back to Anton’s in the cool of the night. We held hands through the dark, empty streets of perfect suburbia. It wasn’t late. Maybe 9pm. We passed ideal house after ideal house. But there was a distinct lack of any type of soul.
We didn’t hear one bit of music playing. We didn’t see any kids smoking. No one had let their garden get even the slightest bit unruly. There were no tags on the bus stop. All of the lines on the road weren’t just freshly painted, they were absolutely unsullied. No one was laughing because they’d planted a remote controlled random fart generator under Granny’s chair at the dinner table. Everything was present and correct. But everything seemed totally wrong.
We imagined all of the Antons inside their showroom homes with their silent struggles, meth angst and legal bothers. We considered how different this kind of walled living was to the places we’d been in the ten months prior. It seemed sterile. But there was dirt. It just had a white picket fence around it and carefully applied, thick gloss.
Meth aside, the scenery and the wine was proper mintox. Check out these pictures from the wineries, Injidup natural spa and the woods near Anton’s gaff.
And remember, Anton:
‘I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter’
Ciao for now.