xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Font of Noelage: The Long Good Bye

Friday, 15 June 2018

The Long Good Bye

Well, hello again, Reader. I have been absent from these pages for well over a month. I hope that you did not think that I’d left you forever without saying “Good bye.”

I would never do that. Well, not  intentionally, at least. At my age you never know if that last and unexpected “Good bye” is just lurking around the corner.

Shakespeare’s Juliet told us, and Romeo, that “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” Well, I suppose it is sometimes. It depends who you are saying good bye to. Some people seem to take ages and ages to say good bye. Dame Nellie Melba spent years travelling around saying good bye to everyone…and being paid handsomely to do so. John Farnham has had about three “Good Bye Tours” and no doubt will have a few more.

Some retail outlets are always saying goodbye, but they never do. In 1962, I arrived in London at Charring Cross railway station. It was cold day in February. One of the first things I did was buy a green woollen overcoat from a menswear shop next to Charring Cross. I thought I had purchased a bargain because across the two front windows were signs saying, Closing Down Sale.
In 1983, I was back in London with the beautiful Lesley, and daughters Jane, Sarah and Emily. I took them for a walk down The Strand. There was that menswear shop. It had two big signs saying, Closing Down Sale.

In 1996 Lesley and returned to London and those Closing Down Sales were still there. Now that is a Long Goodbye.

Of course, “good bye” derives from “God be with ye/you (until we meet again).”  In France they say Adieu. I am not good at French. Apart from Oui, Merci, Bridget Bardot, Follies Bergere and Champs Elysee, I am not too strong in the  Parlez vous Francais department. But Adieu means “To God.” So, I guess the French are saying, “I will see again when you/we are with God.” Or maybe, in colloquial French it translates as “Drop dead”. Of course, the French also say, “Au Revoir”, which I am told means “In the future.” So, it is a bit like the Yankee farewell of “See you later” or “I’ll be seeing you”.

Some people take ages to say good bye. In my family it is mainly the ladies who are at fault. If a fault it be, because they seem to quite  enjoy their long good byes. What usually happens is that after an enjoyable social occasion somebody will say, “Oh, well, I suppose we had better  be going.” But nobody moves. They all continue on talking. After a while, someone will stand up causing everyone to rise. Usually, it’s me. Then they start saying goodbye to one another. But they do not go way. They stay, chatting and laughing. By this time, I have said good bye to everybody and make my way to the car. Generally, other males in the gathering do the same. The ladies all stay chatting. Eventually, they wander towards the door and start saying goodbye to each other again. After more goodbyes, the hostess will accompany individual ladies to their cars where they will exchange more good byes before driving off. It is a very protracted business.

Now, I am pretty good at saying good bye, which, as I have noted is quite unusual. When I want to leave, I leave quickly. I usually just say good bye and then I go. I can be even quicker than that. Some years ago, I was the General Manager of the Donnybrook Football Club. Often, I would find myself at the bar at the end of a game or at the end of a meeting. When I indicated that I was going to leave, I would be met with a chorus of “Don’t go, Noel. Have another drink.” Soon a middy of beer would be thrust in my hand and I was trapped into another round of drinking. So, in the finish, I would not say good bye at all. After I had paid for my round of drinks I would just say to my mates that I was going to the toilet. Off I would go. Unlike General MacArthur, I did not return.

I continued this strategy when I was Principal at Three Springs School. One afternoon, as school principal, I was invited to attend the opening of a new bulk handling grain facility between the railway station and the three huge wheat silos that dominate the Three Springs skyline. It was a big affair with some federal and state politicians, all the local Shire Council representatives, several big wigs from Commonwealth Bulk Handling and assorted locals, like me, from the WA Railways, the Agricultural Department, The Public Works Department, senior police officers and various other government departments. 
After the many speeches, that extended into the evening, we enjoyed a splendid buffet meal and refreshments. After the meal we all stood around on the well-lit train station, drinking and talking. At some stage of the drinking and talking I employed my strategy of taking an unannounced toilet break and wended my unsteady way home across the railway tracks.

The next day my neighbour informed me that my sudden unannounced good bye had caused  quite a stir. When he noted that I was no longer standing around drinking and talking, he made enquiries of others. It was feared that I had wandered into the darker recesses of the station and had fallen on the railway line or come to some other unfortunate end in the dark and deep recesses of the new bulk handling facility.

 A search was instituted and people set off in all directions to find me. There was about fifteen minutes of searching and the yelling out of my name. After that time, as I had not replied to the yelling and nobody had found my prostrate body anywhere, they started back into the talking and drinking.   
In the meantime, I was safely home in bed, asleep.

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