Here & Now with S Sorrensen

Brisbane.
Sunday, 10.30am:

I love being on the road.

I shouldn't. All that carbon spewing into the atmosphere. I'm burning fossil fuel at a huge rate in pursuing my freedom-of-the-road dream. Morrison (I call my van Morrison - and I love saying that) is a thirsty beast. Compared to my old Barina who died in an unequal battle with a cattle truck on the killing fields of Highway One just over a year ago, Morrison (a 1989 Hi-Ace with four on the column) drinks deep from that stinky well of fossil-fuelled fantasies. If Barry Barina was a frugal sipper, then Morrison is a bottoms-up, dripping-down-ya-chin guzzler. Its petrol gauge falls so quickly my ears pop watching it.

But despite the huge carbon footprint and those irritating 'My Family' window stickers, I like the road. I'm a traveller at heart. It might be my Viking blood. I've swapped the longship for a van and that raping and pillaging thing is now a corporate activity.

Did you know the word 'viking' comes from the Old Norse and means 'expedition'?

So I'm on a viking and cruising through The Gap, a northern suburb of Brisbane, having just visited my parents. There was no looting, I wanted to feel the love. It's an unconditional love. They would love me no matter what. (Though my not being in prison or parliament makes it easier for them.)

Hearing a familiar rumble, I check the rear-view.

There are two Harleys coming up fast on Morrison. Both bikes have high ape-hanger handlebars; both riders have matt black half-face helmets, leather vests, tatts, black jeans and big boots. They have the uniform of the bikie non-conformist down pat. Even the obligatory fat gut is bouncing on the Fat Boy petrol tank. Despite the tummy tickle, these dudes don't smile. They've got attitude.

I have this weird habit when I go on a viking. I listen to classical music as I drive.

I don't know if Eric the Red listened to the Viking top ten latest unplugged folk hit as he sailed to Iceland, but beside me on Morrison's middle seat is my iPad playing Brahms through my headphones. (There's also a flask of water from the home tank, some leftover mashed potatoes from Mum, my wallet, my phone, my journal, and a small hemp bag from Laos containing toothbrush, fish oil tablets and anti-fungal cream. One must be well provisioned when one goes vikinging.)

What makes it weird though, is that I love to conduct the orchestra as it plays through my headphones. Yes, I make those corny conductor arm movements using one of the many biros that stick out of the broken air vent on the dash as a baton. I get right into it. I'm like Bernstein on amphetamines.

With a blast of acceleration the bikes pass me. Both blokes look at me as they go by. They see me conducting Brahms' Fourth Symphony, urging on the braying brass section to greater gusto with some energetic waving of a biro from Marques garage. I feel a bit silly. I smile at them. They don't smile back.

Ahead on the right is a church. It has one of those message boards that churches and schools have where you stick up red letters to convey the spiritual message or sporting congratulations of the day.

This message board reads "ALLERGY FREE HOLY COMMUNION".

The bike brake lights flash on, and with two blasts of throttle signalling two gears shifting down, the bikes indicate their intention and turn into the churchyard.

Bible bikies. Yep. We all need some unconditional love in our lives.

Some of us go on a viking to see our mum; some of us search for a rash-free Jesus.

But we all need love.


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