I woke up feeling suitably human, greeted by a perfect blue Queensland sky out of my very large window…which, incidentally, I thought was odd given it had no curtains. I then discovered that it had an invisible automatic black-out blind that I hadn’t bothered to use.
I repacked, dressed and checked out before heading across to the terminal in order to board the shuttle bus to Caloundra. Naturally I had enough time to have a hazelnut latte at the Coffee Club first.
A number of people commented on the fact that it was chilly. It was not chilly by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, as I told the woman on the Con-x-ion desk, it was 2 degrees when I boarded the plane in London so the 24 I was now experiencing was about as far from chilly as Timbuktu. She shivered in reply.
I waited for a bit then boarded the shuttle bus. There I met Tim, once the Australasian Piano Accordion Champion, who I chatted to for the entire ride to the new switch over spot, the race track. The trip seemed to last about 15 minutes with Tim’s extraordinary life history.
I’m obviously not going to write everything that Tim told me but I feel the story below bears retelling.
Tim was visiting Hungary as part of a European adventure back in 1989. The country had just stopped being controlled by Communism but was still a bit twitchy. Tim was busking, squeezing his box on street corners not really making much money but more intent on meeting people and chatting about historic events.
While he didn’t speak Hungarian, his German was passable and, given the fact that prior to Communism, Hungary had been pretty much German, he could communicate with most people. His language skills however did not extend enough to convince the big burly, fully armed police brutes that he was not a felon.
He was charged with playing without a licence and deported.
In Hungary at the time, if someone arrived into the country with a car, they had to leave in the same car. This was to stop foreigners driving there and selling them on, flooding the market with illegal imports. So, needless to say, when Tim set off to leave the country, he drove his car to the border.
His passport had a big red stamp in it, courtesy of the Hungarian authorities, declaring him an illegal alien, stating categorically that he could not re-enter the country for ten years. He drove into No Man’s Land and headed for the Czech border on the other side.
At the time, the Czechoslovakian authorities didn’t allow convicted felons into their country which was a bit of a problem for Tim given the big red stamp in his passport and his conviction for illegal busking with a piano accordion. They didn’t want him to enter their country. And he couldn’t go back. He was destined to spend the next ten years in No Man’s Land, living in his car.
He eventually convinced the Czech border guards that he wasn’t a danger to anyone and they allowed him egress, but it was a close thing.
I bid a sad farewell to my travelling companion and switched to a smaller van for the short trip to Denise’s place and a much welcomed cup of coffee before we headed over to see mum.
We then all headed off for lunch before dropping her back. I organised to visit her tomorrow and we went shopping ahead of checking into my Airbnb accommodation for the next ten days.
By this time I was struggling to stay awake but I persevered, managing to stay out of bed until 8pm. It was a struggle indeed. And sleep claimed me quickly.