I’ve been threatening to update this for a while and thought I’d begin by introducing one of the more interesting characters I met on the road.
Jim introduced himself at the Coral Bay,Ningaloo Club backpackers while I drank a beer and strummed my guitar. The 67 year-old American’s faded tank-top dangled from his body along with the skin from his bones and he acquainted himself by rolling a cigarette and advising me he was a cousin of Crosby, Stills or Nash – I forget which one. Jim didn’t much care for their music anyhow, declaring that Crosby, Stills or Nash was better when he played solo.
Jim liked to talk – I dare say he still does – to anyone willing to listen. The staff at the backpackers had already heard his regaling ad nauseum and some of his bizarre behaviour made him a source of dread and skepticism amongst the occupants. And though I usually shy away from conversation with drunken weirdos, I was lonely enough to sit and take Jim off the hands of other people who otherwise might be aurally affronted by this skinny old-codger.
I trundled off to bed after a long drive that day waking bright-and-earlyish in Coral Bay, my favourite place in WA, readying myself for a jog to combat the beer, coca-cola and pub/servo food that makes up the greater share of my diet while on the road. And, as one could guess, as I wandered to the water’s edge I bumped into Jim who had been up since dawn and had been heard singing at the rising sun, loudly, from some hill top overlooking the small community. He told me he used to run marathons (he’d done many things) and would join me. I like to run alone – it’s one of the few centring things I have in my ramshackled existence, but allowed him to tag along.
And he talked. I thought it respectful when we got past the rocks to ditch him, galloped away and picked the shirtless man up on my return. To remain at his pace seemed ingenuine and, being quite open with him as he had me, I told him so as we wandered back.
As we walked,slapping occassional words in edgewise, I listened. I don’t really talk to old people. Am I biased against them, frightened by them, disconnected from them? Probably, but I don’t think I’m alone. And so I listened to a man, past his prime who had lived a life. He told me everything – no subject off limits, including his daughter who had taken her life, his failed marriage, his foot fetish and so on…and on…and on.
I think he just wanted to tell of his experience, the same as writing a song or making a movie, and his audience was any willing participant.
The next day I gave him a lift to Exmouth as he wanted to see it. I put my dictaphone on the seat of the whining O’Brien Hiace and told him to speak – and he did with barely a breath for 2 hours.
So I’ve edited a snippet for you to listen to and decide if you’d like to further delve into Jim’s story in the coming months.
Give me feedback – is Jim’s life worth your hearing??