Who would have thought I’d make my 50th birthday the way I eat! This year on Friday 1 May I was able to celebrate 50 years ex utero. Few people know that in the eight or so months of my gestation I travelled around the world in utero. You see I was conceived on the Indian Ocean on a merchant ship with my Dad as the ship’s doctor. He and Mum were travelling to England so Dad could sit examinations. On the way to England I visited Cairo and while Mum saw the pyramids I was busy with organogenesis. On learning she was pregnant Mum wanted to return to Australia to confine. If I’d been born in England I’d be a citizen of Britain and Fiji. Dad was born in Fiji and was yet to become an Australian citizen. Mum wanted me to be Australian. So Dad’s youngest brother, then an engineer for Qantas, flew over to England and picked Mum (and me) up and took her (us) to Brisbane via Boston, Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Nadi.
I had arranged with work to take my birthday as a formal leave day. Normally on Fridays I’m working at The Canberra Hospital in ACT Pathology as an Hon. VMO. I cleared it with both workplaces first. I wouldn’t normally take a day off work just to celebrate a birthday but I’ve noticed it’s a growing trend and I really wanted to share my 50th birthday with blood, kin, family.
I had booked a flight and arranged with Qantas for an upgrade in my seat to Business Class as a present to myself.
Breakfast was a salmon and boiled eggs plate which was served with some bread and a small bowl of yoghurt. It was quite delicious.
Prior to boarding I’d been called by my daughters and they had mentioned South East Queensland was about to be hit with a deluge of rain because of the formation of a significant tropical low pressure depression off the coast. My eldest also told me that my birthday present was a ticket to the Rugby League test match between Australia and New Zealand that night at Lang Park (very close to where I spent the first few years of my ex utero existence). I was so excited. Miss19’s voice quavered a little though because she was concerned about the weather. The other bonus was that she had arranged tickets for Dad and wheelchair access because he’s now quite frail. Dad’s birthday is later in the month.
As QF950 began its descent into Brisbane the turbulence become noticeable and as we flew lower the bumps were increasing in amplitude and frequency. I tightened my seat belt a little more. Out of the window it was grey. Just grey.
The pilot of QF950 on Friday 1 May did a splendid job, despite the bumps the landing was smooth. I was in Brisbane. It was noticeably warmer than Canberra so I removed my coat and let my skin drink in the moisture in the air.
Sitting in a Hertz rental (a Ford Mondeo…my first Mondeo) I quickly learnt where all the windscreen wiping actuators were and quickly put them into use. The rain was quite heavy but nothing out of the ordinary.
On reaching my parents’ retirement complex we arranged lunch. We would be joined by Miss17 and Miss19. Next Friday they will become Miss18 and Miss20. Mum had booked the Aspley Oriental Chinese Restaurant for yum cha. We’d been to this place before. It was local, convenient and the maître d’ was well known for his brusque mannerisms and behaviour. He didn’t disappoint! I wouldn’t say that the Aspley Oriental Chinese Restaurant has the best yum cha in Brisbane. Not even close but for Mum and Dad convenience is key.
We enjoyed some steamed and deep fried dumplings, some Chinese tea and finished our meal with some custard tarts.
This is when the fun began. I had to pick up Miss14 from school and drop Miss17 at gymnastics training (she’s competing for Queensland in a fortnight in Melbourne at the national championships in WAG Level 10). The rain was now very heavy but nothing I’m not used to. The radio was calling it a super storm.
For what should be a 15 minute drive took 35 minutes to pick up Miss14 and then drop off Miss17. Sandgate Road was moving at a slow pace. It took about 45 minutes to get to Gympie Road in Lutwyche and then I spent three hours on Gympie Road trying to get to Chermside.
By this stage the rain was sort of reminding me of a decent shower in Darwin. I love this sort of whether and don’t mind driving in heavy rain.
I had the radio on the whole time and listening to 4BC for updates. I like 4BC because they carry most of the good rugby league news and much better than the ABC. I was even sending them road updates via twitter
Hi @NewsTalk4BC northbound Gympie Rd Chermside covered in water. Cars traversing Middle island to get through
— Gary Lum (@garydlum) May 1, 2015
Up until about the last 100 metres of our journey the footy match was still on. I’d been calling Mum and Dad and Miss19 throughout the traffic hold up as well as Mr43 (youngest brother) to discuss the logistics of the evening and how to get to Lang Park. After many iterations of how we were going to do this, we ended up with catching a bus from Chermside. Then on the radio the message was read that the NRL in conjunction with the television broadcaster had agreed to reschedule the game to Sunday 2015-05-03 1600 AEST. Poor Miss19 was so upset. She and her sisters had been planning this as a big surprise for me and my Dad. The weather got the better of the situation. I’m not sure as you read this if you’re aware that as of Saturday 2015-05-02 1400 AEST five people have been confirmed dead as a result of the water. I’m guessing they were in motor vehicles trying to cross flooded roads and were swept away. The Queensland emergency services and state emergency service undertook a large number of swift water rescues. We saw some quite extraordinary scenes. Water covering the entire northbound lanes of Gympie Road in two sections in Chermside. Later in the evening we saw cars floating on Shaw Road.
Once we got to home base Mum had burgers ready for us to eat. The original intention was a quick and light meal to get Dad and me to the footy but in the end it was my birthday dinner
The next bit to this story was the trip to pick up Miss17 from training. The rain was still pretty heavy and we knew there were numerous road closures. The added importance of this trip is that Miss17 had made me a birthday ice cream cake at Cold Rock (she has a part time job at a local Cold Rock Ice Creamery). We set out and immediately got stuck in some traffic. We eventually got to Miss17 who told us she’d seen that her Cold Rock had suffered a power outage that evening because of the bad weather and she didn’t know if the freezers were affected or not. By the time we crawled past the lights were out and no one was there. Who knows if my birthday cake still exists or if it’s a milky creamy mess on the floor seeping out of a freezer. Determined to celebrate my 50th birthday with cake after an hour being in traffic we got to a Coles and bought a cake (only a few were left).
We got home and Mum added candles. There was singing cutting and then eating. Mum thought it would be funny to get a 40 candle and surround it with 10 candles to signify 50. This would also make it easier for me to blow out the candles.
All in all it was a memorable 50th birthday. I was with my parents and daughters. I spent about 5 hours in a Ford Mondeo in traffic. I enjoyed some nice tropical rain. I ate well and I laughed a lot. I smiled the entire day. Check out the next post to see if the ice cream cake survived.