Having missed out at Swings and Roundabouts, I made like a squashed grape on Facebook and let out a little whine. My friends delivered support, ego-rubs and arse-kickings in equal measure and it finally dawned on me that the only person who was going to make sure I had a good time was me: “If not you, then who?” as it’s written in that important book of moral reference, Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry Pratchett.
So in the morning I implemented Plan Happy Traveller. That was the first important change, as recommended by Andy Myles. Being on holiday alone may feel sad and pointless. Travelling alone is exciting and challenging. I returned to the Augusta Bakery, purveyor of excellent pizza, and almost fell at the first hurdle. My accent was, apparently, impenetrable to the lady behind the counter. I tried a few times but got worse rather than better, because when I get stressed I start to stutter. After a bit of pointing I achieved my goal, which was a big black coffee with an extra shot and a vanilla slice, because what finer pastry could there be for a traveller’s breakfast?
Back at the Youth Hostel with my spoils, I found a the kitchen was full of interesting people, and best of all, for the cash-strapped lady biker, free bread. One of the girls staying in the hostel worked in the bakery and was allowed to bring home the unsold loaves in the evening. The tomato bread was particularly good. To maintain good karmic balance I put my bananas on the pile. I’d bought them in Collie and they had not travelled well. I am a banana fascist, there is a narrow window of opportunity when they are at their best but if they get brown and bruised I can’t bear them. But because we live in a universe of infinite diversity, my reject banana is another person’s bliss.
“Battered and free,” said Margaret, later. “The perfect banana!”
Margaret was travelling with her daughter Gill and was enjoying being the oldest backpacker in Western Australia. Her husband was at home with three weeks worth of meals in the freezer and a barn full of vintage bikes. I told her about riding with the Blue Knights and my RBR adventures. She laughed at my rubber scrambled eggs. We compared flight notes and I told her the story of my accidental oxygen tank. Sometimes I think I enjoy my disasters, because if my life went smoothly, what stories would I have to tell?