Thursday, 15 January 2015

Everything Has a Price To Pay

“This is a modern song, this is a social situation. Background for your casual conversation.” That is The Numbers doing Modern Song, Daniel Soames thought to himself as he approached the entrance to The Exchange Hotel, in Brisbane City, the venue for the gig by JFK & The Cuban Crisis he was attending that evening. That is a pretty good way to open the entertainment for the evening, he added.  Once inside he saw Tabasco Cortez, Felicia, Charisma, Trent, Hamish and Mirabelle. Others arrived a little later.

This group of roughly fifteen (15) to twenty (20) young people met as a result of attending music venues such as this one, night clubs and parties.  There was a roughly even spread across the sexes and they tended to continue to keep each other's company as they frequented the various performances and parties.  They could hardly be called a Scooby Gang, but friendships were formed, some of which were tighter than others.

Perhaps not surprisingly sexual experimentation takes place within the group, as does experimentation with so-called recreational drugs. Many of the group were "trying to find themselves". This all took place whilst they held down jobs and some were also studying at university.  For the most part they all got along, but it was not always smooth sailing within their respective relationships.

As the Disc Jockey followed The Numbers with Almost with You by The Church, Daniel thought there existed a reasonable sized original music scene in Brisbane for him to enjoy and he dismissed the talk that he so often heard from people from Sydney and Melbourne about the apparently limited entertainment available in Brisbane, Queensland Australia circa 1982.  He knew from experience the Brisbane scene included a diverse range of live bands, dance clubs and parties.  In fact later in the evening there was discussion amongst his group of friends about a party being held at Paddington the following afternoon, Saturday.  Daniel was told that he should come along.

A little later in the evening Daniel had the following exchange with Tabasco Cortez:
Daniel: Have you heard the new album by Blue Rondo a la Turk, Chewing The Fat?
Tabasco: I thought Billy Idol or Altered Images would be more your style?
Daniel: How long have we known each other?
Tabasco: About twelve (12) months.
Daniel: Where did we meet?
Tabasco: The same as with the rest of our group, at a music venue like this one.
Daniel: What do we talk about what we get together?
Tabasco: Mostly music.
Daniel: So how is it against all of that background, you seem to not know my taste in music?
Tabasco: I guess I do not pay as much attention as I should.

JFK & The Cuban Crisis then started their gig and the rest of the world could wait, as far as Daniel was concerned.

Buoyed by the wonderful experience of the JFK & The Cuban Crisis gig Daniel decided to attend the Paddington party Saturday afternoon.

Shortly after he arrived at the party Daniel happened upon a conversation involving Charisma, one of the females within the group, and a few other members of their group present at the party.  Charisma loudly expressed her opinion about Trent and Hamish, two (2) of the younger males within the group, both of whom were only months out of high school. Daniel understood each of them to have some heterosexual experience under their respective belts, including a dalliance or three (3) with one (1) or two (2) of the girls within the group.  However thanks to Charisma, he learned that those two (2) young men apparently decided to partner off or at least get together. Charisma was kind enough to share with anyone who was within earshot that she considered that this liaison was not a union based on love, but a youthful experimentation. Her disdain was clear for all to see and hear.

Daniel thought this was a surprise admission from Charisma because previously she had not expressed any sexual or romantic interest in either of the males concerned and ordinarily she was rather quiet and reserved.

Notwithstanding that obvious disdain from Charisma, Felicia asked the group if anyone had seen either Trent or Hamish that day.  Mirabelle said that she had heard they both were admitted to hospital, having taken too many drugs the night before.  She did not seem too concerned for either of them.

Charisma added “That is hardly surprising news.  It is not the first time they have done that and I suspect it will not be the last.  I expect it will mean days off work again for both of them.”

No one seemed to be arguing with Charisma.

Daniel then saw Tabasco Cortez was at the party, so he went over to talk to him.  They each said that they intended to go to The Underground night club that evening.

Reality Bites
Over the next two (2) to three (3) years the Scooby Gang stayed together, for the most part, but the demands of work and life started to chip away at the group and by 1985 it had all but disintegrated.

As far as Daniel was aware, the fledgling Trent / Hamish relationship continued during that period, even though both parties apparently saw other people from time to time.  Their life of experimentation had introduced them to not just social scarring, but also physical and mental scarring. Their at times rather obvious relationship was not generally accepted in the wider community. Charisma and her disdain was something with which they could deal, they thought, but dealing with the disapproval from their respective work colleagues was much harder for them individually and together. They found advancement opportunities were much rarer for them than their respective work colleagues and they ultimately realised that did not occur by accident.

Their drug taking caused them both health problems and their sexual experimentation introduced them to sexually transmitted diseases on more than one occasion.  It was not uncommon for them to have to spend days in hospital to deal with the consequences of their excesses.  The complications that created at work made their lives even more difficult.

Whilst they had each other they were fine and they did not notice the increasing isolation they were experiencing as the Scooby Gang chose to mix with them less and less. They also failed to immediately notice how the greater community was also not as accepting of them individually or together as that community accepted the other members of their Scooby Gang. They lived in their own bubble of youth, ignoring the outside world. When the bubble burst, the culture shock the real world had in store for them was severe.

The End Is Near, The Final Curtain?
By early 1986 the increasing tension in their relationship became too much for Trent and Hamish to bear and they ultimately ended their relationship. It was then that they found out the difficulties that their previous life choices had created for them. Their respective working environments were seriously not accepting of their homosexual disposition and lifestyle, whether it be one of convenience or genuine. They were also both experiencing increasing health problems from their considerable drug and alcohol consumption and carefree attitude to sex.  Hamish learned that his liver was failing and he would probably soon need a transplant.  Trent discovered that his kidneys were in a similar state of deterioration.

A future of increasing isolation and deteriorating health was not one either of them foresaw
when they decided to get together only months after they initially met. Whether their relationship was genuine or merely one of convenience, its ultimate consequences for them were very real and they both respectively acknowledged that they did not possess the skills to deal with those difficulties alone.

Hamish pursued relationships with women from time to time, none of which lasted any significant time. Both he and Trent foresaw no prospect of a reconciliation between them and they pursued separate lives.

Trent moved out of the home of his parents and into shared accommodation with two (2) other people he had met in his recent night-clubbing forays. He tried to form friendships that might offer some support to him in a life which appeared to be decaying relentlessly for him. His new friends liked to party and abuse alcohol and drugs. After five (5) months Trent realised that that shared accommodation was not a healthy environment for him and he moved back in with his parents. They continued to urge Trent to remain sufficiently focussed so that he would keep his job. To that extent they were successful. Despite his troubles, Trent managed to keep his job.

As his health deteriorated, Trent required more and more medical care and he spent considerably more time at his local public hospital. That also reduced the time available in his life to pursue social activities. Invariably Trent attended his medical appointments alone because he had no adults in his life supporting him, other than his parents.

Unbeknown to Trent, Hamish was also attending the same public hospital to receive treatment for his condition. Hamish had crossed paths again with Felicia when they simultaneously attended the same music shop. They spent some time together catching up over several months and whilst no romantic relationship was formed, Felicia was someone from whom Hamish gained support for his situation. In that regard, Felicia was more valuable to Hamish than any of the girlfriends he may have had at the time.

Felicia and Charisma
Whilst accompanying Hamish during one of his hospital visits, Felicia ran into Charisma, who worked as a Patient Liaison Officer at the hospital. Felicia and Charisma had not seen each other for a couple of years. They spent a little time catching up and Felicia told Charisma she was at the hospital providing some support to Hamish. Charisma told Felicia both Hamish and Trent were patients at the hospital and they had been scheduled for serious surgery: Trent for a kidney transplant and Hamish for a liver transplant. The surgery was scheduled to proceed in the next month.

Felicia and Charisma discussed whether there was any benefit in telling both Trent and Hamish they were patients at the same hospital. They decided not to tell them at that stage. However it was obvious that both women were saddened by the situations in which their Scooby Gang friends had found themselves.

Trent  - Kidney Transplant
When Trent was admitted to hospital to undergo his kidney transplant surgery, Charisma contacted Felicia and asked her whether she wanted to visit and support Trent. Charisma told Felicia she would be keeping a close watch on Trent and see how the surgery progressed.

“Can you let me know when the surgery is over and I will go and visit him?”, Felicia asked Charisma.

“Certainly”, Felicia replied.

Eighteen (18) hours later Charisma telephoned Felicia.

“I have some terrible news for you. Trent died during surgery earlier today. The liver transplant surgery for Hamish is scheduled for three (3) days time. I will leave it up to you at the moment as to whether you tell Hamish what happened with Trent.”

“That is terrible news about Trent, Charisma. I did not know him well, but he did not seem that bad. Tragic to die so young”, Felicia replied.

Charisma: “If you like, we can get together later and talk about it. We can talk about Hamish too. His condition is worse than Trent and his prospects were not said to be as good.”

Felicia: “Yes. I would like that. We can also talk about what, if anything, I tell Hamish about Trent.”

Charisma met Felicia at a café near her and they spent about two (2) hours talking about Trent, Hamish and old times.

Felicia said several times to Charisma, “I cannot decide whether to tell Hamish about Trent and I do not know how to tell him, even if I decide to tell him.”

Charisma did not pressure Felicia. She offered her support and tried to let her decide what she wanted to do.

Just before they left and went home Charisma said, “Felicia, I will do what I can to organise my schedule to be with you when Hamish is taken in to surgery.”

Hamish - Liver Transplant
Felicia saw Hamish the night before his surgery and told him about Trent. She could see the news was upsetting for him. Felicia tried to be positive with Hamish, but she could see it was all very difficult for him. She did not stay very long that evening and said she would be at the hospital the next day supporting him.

Not long after they arrived at the hospital for the surgery, Charisma greeted Hamish and Felicia and said she would do what she could to assist them. Hamish was surprised to see Charisma, but grateful and he thanked her for visiting and supporting him. Both women could see that Hamish was worried.

As the preparations for surgery for Hamish really got underway, Charisma could see the tears welling in the eyes of Felicia. It was something she had seen many times before in similar situations.

Charisma stood beside Felicia and hugged her as Hamish was taken into surgery.

A portable music player nearby was playing Boy George and Culture Club performing Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?