Flying to Perth, Australia was an experience. The flight itself was ok, long but ok! Flying British Airways was a bonus and for me it was an expensive experience. I had flown in the past, but never this long. I remember when we landed at Perth International, the feeling of complete freedom on leaving the plane, into the strange new Country. It immediately felt different. The sounds and scenery were a joy, compared to the Urban sprawl of Southampton!
I had many expectations about Australia. I had many pre conceived views, thoughts and and hopes that were at stake. I knew very little about the place, least of all Perth. I guess Perth is one of the least known City's in Australia, so in reality, I didn't know what to expect!
We literally arrived homeless. The last Jason's friends and family knew was he was going out with a completely different person. Someone who was and still is a great source of support. I didn't know anyone, but was welcomed with open arms, by his friend Beth. She took us both in at a crucial time for our relationship. She picked us up from the Airport and we drove to her home, though empty highways, stunning views and streets with hardly any people. This was certainly different!
The road she lived on was literally just like the cul-de-sac in 'Neighbours'. So different from The UK. There was space, perfectly manicured gardens, all detached, just stunning. The house was also large, no narrow corridors or hall ways, just open and space. I felt happy to be there!
During those first few weeks we made plans. 'mad plans' as I call them. We planned to fake my death, in order for me to stay in the Country. Best laid plans of mice and men and manic Queens! It all seemed perfectly reasonable, of course. No reason it wouldn't work, right? I met many of Jason's friend, most of whom were amazing people. There were one or two who were typically Australian, arrogant and stand offish, even telling me, I should leave and let Jason live his life. Not the most welcoming of people, but I just got on with it!
We decided to get our own flat. I was on a short term Visa, but we were making long term plans. I don't think at that stage we knew exactly the implications of staying together on an inappropriate visa and really were just hoping for the best, blocking it out or thinking positively. Anyway we chose an apartment on Canning Highway, in Fremantle. I loved Freo. It was more colonial than Perth, situated on The Indian Ocean, friendly and in many respects quite British. The flat was large and spacious, with lime green carpets through out. Not my choice, but I didn't really care, I was in love after all! The kitchen was small and functional, built up on stilts. I later found out this was to keep the cockroaches out of the cupboards. Also the place was infested with fleas, which we flea bombed, immediately. There was an old TV and couch and crate as a table and very little else.
For me, a collector of everything, the minimalist look was horrifying. However it was our first home together and has a special place in both our hearts. I also became quite ill there. Probably the first time, I remember real pain. A sign of things to come perhaps!
I had spent the year prior to our time in Australia involved in a fast, tiring, party lifestyle. It had taken its toll. I had severe neck and back pain and could barely move. My muscles had seized up and I was taken to Fremantle Hospital, where I was prescribed medication for the pain. Clearly a year of constant partying and abuse had taken its course!
I spent the next few weeks laid up in bed watching Australian TV, which was a cross between old British telly, American rubbish and Kerri Ann Kennely....I loved Kerry Ann. A posh Australian with a talk show. Perfectly coiffured hair and that upper class ozzie accent I so loved. I watched SBS, all the foreign programmes and interestingly a British programme called 'Band of Gold'. Great fond memories at a difficult time!
We moved out of the apartment after about a month and moved in with a friend of Jason's called Graham. We lived in a suburb called Belmont in a modern Duplex unit. I loved living there. Graham was also gay and we were living with someone who I was at least very comfortable with. We were broke, had no money but bloody happy. In fact I think we were at our happiest there. I do remember getting ready to go out to Perth's Gay Club, The Court Hotel. Apparently, Boy George went there once. I had to use horse clippers to do my hair and was wearing hand me down clothes. So different from the designer stuff I had back home. I could not give a damn and remained happy until the end!
As time passed, I became more and more homesick. God knows why! The lifestyle I had left was calling me back day after day and I was missing the people I thought were friends!
Then came the phone call. That fucking phone call from my ex partner. I spoke to him on the phone, there was something wrong. Then he came out with it. He had been diagnosed with HIV. I was responsible. What a bomb shell. What the fuck was I supposed to do? Well I did what I had to do. I rearranged my flight to leave Australia as soon as possible, without Jason. I felt empty, destroyed and scared, but I did the honourable thing.
Even the flight home was an omen. I got on the plane to leave Australia and whilst on route to take off, one of the engines caught fire. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. We were removed, and taken back through customs, having left and returned to Oz twice in a day. A replacement was found and I left later that evening. I didn't know if Jason would follow, I didn't know what to expect, I was homeless and shitting a brick. Our relationship could have so easily ended at that point. Thank god it didn't!