Lights flash
Drums beat
Guitars scream
The music starts
You’re my energy

My Energy M.S. 1993

My first evening of work went off well, we didn’t get back to the warehouse with the trucks until after the sun rose again but unlike a few days earlier this time there was not only two trucks there was also a two extra blokes, two cases of beer, three bottles of bourbon and no sleep, well not initially.

Dennis, actually no it was Frankie, made a comment when Brad handed me my first beer.

“He’s fucking under age. He can’t drink our fucking beer.”

“It’s not your fucking beer, it’s for all of us and he worked as hard as any of us tonight.” Brad replied.

Like I said previously there was some tension between the three of the guys and myself and I’m more than certain that Frankie’s dislike of my drinking wasn’t out of concern for the health of a growing lad it was more to do with me drinking beer he didn’t believe I was entitled too. Chances are given the up bringing most of the guys that worked the music scene in Adelaide around that time Frankie’s drinking, smoking and drug taking would have started at a similar age to where I was starting anyway.

“Next he’ll be smoking our fucking stash.” Frankie said.

I don’t know what hit me at the exact moment but no sooner had those words come out of Frankie’s mouth than I replied with.

“Got a light?”

Suddenly the tin shed echoed with laughter, even Frankie was laughing, although I think his laughter had more to do with not being the odd on out as it did actually being amused because I did hear him mutter the words “fucking smart arse” as the boys all continued to laugh.

By 8am that morning I’d found myself another new habit, one that was not going to end cheaply and one that was going to haunt me for a long time. That habit has many names but for me the names it carried was Jack and Daniels. In a short time I would develop a taste for other bourbons and whiskeys but Jack Daniels was where I always returned if I could afford it. See the problem I quickly found out was that Jack Daniels was dearer than most other drinks of its kind, that was good on pay day when I found myself with a wad of cash and little to do with it but was a bummer as that wad dwindled and I had to settle for less.

When I finally crashed, along with the other guys, about 10am I was far from sober but having never actually been drunk I wasn’t sure I was there either. What I did know, mainly because both Brad and Steve told me, was that they had never seen a fifteen year old drink what I had without passing out. What shocked them even more was when I woke up around four that afternoon and not only showed no effects of the booze or the hang over Brad had, but I hadn’t been sick either. It seemed that drinking bourbon and beer agreed with me, don’t ask me how or why, but the two drinks just did not effect me like they effected so many others. It was however a double edged sword I did not at the time know existed.

In 1985 Adelaide drink driving was a different thing, police checked people leaving pubs, not arriving at them, they checked people after dark, not in the afternoon when most people where heading home from work. So when I say we woke, all five of us, after a long night of work and a short booze session and some sleep then we headed off straight to another pub, you probably shouldn’t be surprised. Even many of the police of the day worked on the belief that a good sleep was all it took to wear off the effects of a booze filled night, the fact that our hours were different to most people didn’t change that thought.

Had we been asked to blow in the bag that day none of would have passed the test, I’m sure of that, but we weren’t and by the time the majority of the city were finished work we were just starting our work at the same pub where I had met Steve and boys, and heard those infectious tones of Cold Chisel that changed my life forever.

For a second night in a row we weren’t working for the band I had heard once and fell in love with but it was none the less good work and something I seemed to fit in with. I forgot a few of the terms the boys used, but for the most part I remembered what I needed to and worked my arse off for two hours while we set up the stage.

It was at that gig while the band was on stage, a band called Midnight Oil who would go on to huge success in later years and be known widely for their environmental stance which included stopping traffic in the streets of New York when they protested the Exxon Valdez disaster, that I met the second biggest influence in my future life.

I was sitting side of stage, just far enough past the speaker stacks to see the band on stage but close enough to duck back stage if the cops came into the venue. I was sitting on coke and not even smoking cigarettes as I tried to keep a low profile. About half way through the first set I realise a largish man was sitting on the chair beside me.

“Bit young to be in here aren’t you boy?” the man almost yelled in my ear and he leant towards me.

I could smell bad aftershave and beer on the man the closer he got. I shrugged my shoulders and said nothing, partly because it wasn’t his business but mostly because I was enjoying the energy of the band.

“You know you remind me a lot of me when I was your age.” he said.

The guy obviously wasn’t a cop but I was still being careful and remained silent.

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