Sunday, July 27, 2008

rottnest romance #14


In Barry Humphries' memoir there's a passage where he's having dinner with his parents at a nice Melbourne restuarant. Without warning, a female guest a few tables away jumps up and screams, "This spaghetti is shithouse". Barry describes it as his first glimpse of alcoholism. There's no sign of our heroine Larissa Kidd being a dipso - but her seething could soon see her go postal...
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How could she, part of a small group with a deep concern for the environment of Rottnest, have any effect on what he planned to do? Was there any point in even trying? If she was thinking about a battle, then it was most likely over before it had begun. Her concerns and worries may as well not exist, for all the real importance they had.

Linda returned to the table, apologizing for not having taken their plates sooner. As he engaged her in conversation again Larissa reflected he was part of the real world. He was a businessman and he would complete his project in Parakeet Bay. That would create more jobs for people like Linda, as more and more tourists came to the island to take holidays in his cottages – it was the cycle of business, and it would never stop.

She felt a sudden spurt of anger. It may be unrealistic of her, but she was still worried about Nick’s development. There had to be some other way of doing things…there must be. She was damned if she was going to sit meekly by and passively watch things go ahead. And she definitely wasn’t going to assist him with his plans.

As Linda left she fixed him with a determined look.

“Nick, I have to tell you under no circumstances can I act as an advisor to you.”

He looked at her. “Well, as I said, you don’t have to decide immediately…”

“I have decided,” she said firmly. “I don’t want anything to do with your project.”

The expression on his face was still neutral. “Oh. Well, you seem to have made your decision, then. I suppose I must accept it.”

There was a pause, and he didn’t seem disposed to take the matter any further. After a moment she asked, with a trace of defiance, “Aren’t you curious as to why I’ve said no?”

This time his look had some wariness about it. “Alright then – why have you said no?”

“I don’t want anything to do with it because I think it’s wrong.”

“Wrong?” he echoed, mystified. “Why do you say that?”

Gaining courage, she continued. “Because all you want to do is make money from your precious development – you don’t care about anything else.”

“Of course I want to make money – that’s why…”

“Yes, that’s all you think about. Money, and making your fortune. Never mind what has to be sacrificed to make that happen.”

“Now, what just a minute – I think you…”

“Have you even begun to consider what impact your project is going to have on Parakeet Bay? Or what this island is going to lose because of your activity?”

He was frowning now. “If you’ll just let me answer, Larissa,” he started again, with irritation in his voice.

But she continued, carried away by the momentum of her anger. “You’re just going to breeze in here and finish your plans, and congratulate yourself on how clever you are. Then you’ll go away very pleased with yourself, too ignorant to see the damage you’ll do.”

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