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Amanda Dweck


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ID:	33629My husband Alan went to a posh English boarding school Stowe in Buckinghamshire. I went to a state school on the rural/urban fringe of Sydney.

Stowe school was the Duke of Buckingham's country residence and he built a similar looking residence in London, you probably know it as Buckingham Palace. Stowe's 250 acres of landscaped gardens were designed by 'Capability' Brown and are now maintained by UK's National Trust.

Stowe has produced some of our global leaders from Richard Branson through to the latest Superman, Henry Cavill, an array of notable people. Alan's friends, Rupert, Charles, Roddy, Jerry, George (we call him Nick), too are some of our captains of industry and are gentlemen

After living for ten years in London, we moved back to Sydney via Hong Kong. My first son, Jasper, was only 6 months old. After a few months, I got a call from my old school chum, Sharon. She invited us to her 4 year old son Rick's birthday party. I thought it was such a great idea it was Jasper's first birthday party invitation and a chance for Alan to meet some of MY old school friends.

Alan asked what the "dress code" was and I said to him it's probably smart casual. So he wore his powder blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt with cream trousers. Jasper dressed in his smart Baby Gap overalls and I was wearing navy blue trousers and red polo. Gold jewellery. This was the late 1990s

In the days before GPS, we managed to find the driveway to Sharon's house, hidden by a forest of thick dense lantana and although we had a 4 wheel drive, the driveway had huge pot holes and rocked the car side to side on the ascent to the house. We, as par for the course, were running about half an hour late

The house was ... modest. A white fibro shack with net curtains. Outside, the garden was a couple of bricks that lay across each other surrounded by long weeds

We parked the 4 wheel drive next to the front door. It seemed that we were the only people at the party and I started to feel a bit sad for my old school chum, a single mother, who had not had an easy life also after all these years, we may be her only friends

As there was no answer from the front door, we walked up the side passage where we could hear some voices. As we rounded the corner we thought we had walked into a motor biker's convention. Sharon, looking similar to when I last saw her at school well over sixteen years before, was wearing a halter top and leather mini skirt, saw me and said "Hi" come and meet little "Rick". Feeling a bit uneasy we walked through the crowd of the toughest looking bikers you have ever seen. It felt like we were moving in slow motion, we didn't know where to look and Alan carrying Jasper kept smiling, walking forward following me.

We walked into four year old Rick's bedroom where there were five or six other children playing with toy cars. Sharon said "Rick this is my old school friend Amanda". Rick didn't look up. "Just a sec" Sharon said, and led us out to the adults. At the BBQ, Sharon introduced us "this is big Rick; little Rick's dad, Brad and Bong. Rick, Brad and Bong were standing around the BBQ holding beers and cooking king prawns, sausages and chops

"Hi" I said, "This is my husband Alan and son Jasper" None of them looked up from the BBQ. But Bong whispered something to Brad and they laughed

Sharon said "Alan there's a jumping castle and trampoline for Jasper to play on" and Alan walked off in the direction she was pointing. The back yard was about three acres of land with a large shed that now housed approximately 100 motorbikes. The back yard was a sea of black and silver ...

I realised, all too late as it turned out, that these bikers were the notorious NOMADS. To my knowledge the NOMADS have the reputation as being the meanest most dangerous bikey group in Australia

I caught up a bit over old times with Sharon but she was busy cooking her signature dish "BBQ king prawns" although I had suddenly lost my appetite. I went in search of Alan and found him at the trampoline. He looked vacant and drained, he said "OK after the cake we leave straight away ..."

Behind us Bong called his two year old boy, "Nail it's time for your bottle Nail come on its time for your bottle"

Bong was as wide as he was tall, with tattoos of Maltese Cross and roses running up and down his arms. And earrings around the entirely of both of his ears

Jasper was sucking his thumb, Alan was nursing him against his shoulder when Bong came up behind Alan, which made us all jump and said with a gravelly voice; "Take that thing out of your mouth!" Alan, Jasper and I gave a very nervous laugh .. and tried to start up a conversation with Bong discussing the intricacies of parenting. Bong ignored us, smiled and picked up Nail saying it's time for your bottle

Every one ate but us. The place didn't seem that hygienic and besides it may have meant getting in one of the NOMADS way. Let's not forget that Alan, Jasper and I were the ONLY people in colour at this BBQ. We'd get something when we get home, which we hoped was very, very soon

Suddenly I recalled the scene when Daffy Duck as Dripalong Daffy shares a drink with Nasty Canasta ... Nasty Canasta sticks his gun down Daffy's throat and says in a gravelly voice "Have a drink"

While Alan went off to grab us both a lemonade, I was holding Jasper. Two shirtless guys were talking next to me. One was about 50 with a grey beard plaited in the front of his chin and a heraldic coat of arms tattooed across his back. The other had what looked to me like "The Last Supper" tattooed across his back. I turned my back to them so I could surreptitiously listen to their conversation. I just caught the end of what they were saying The Last Supper was telling the Coat of Arms that this 4 year old's birthday party was surrounded ... staked out by the police ... now there seemed to me like there was no escape and if the police decided to raid the party ... we'd all end up in jail with a criminal record!

My heart was beating in my throat

Alan returned with the lemonade and was chatting with "PIG" about motor bikes

When he reached me, Alan said "Jolly nice bloke, turns out these guys are all in the same club" He had no clue that this "club" was known coast to Australian coast as "extremely dangerous and approach only with caution" I don't know why but I didn't want to tell Alan about the NOMAD's reputation besides it seemed that he had broken the impenetrable shield of NOMAD silence

Sharon yelled out "OK time for pass-the-parcel!" She walked up taking my hand and said "Come on Alan take Jasper in pass-the-parcel" I said "O, I think Jasper is too young." "Nonsense!" said Alan. So Alan sat on the ground with Jasper between his legs.

Pass-the-parcel is a game where this huge parcel, made up of layers of newspaper and gift wrapping, is passed around children sitting in a circle and when the music stops the child takes off a layer of paper to reveal a $2 gift

I sat at the table close to the ring of children. Sitting next to me was the reincarnation of a Viking Warrior who turned out to be the NOMAD's boss. I didn't catch his name I think it was "GRILL" and his wife "PEARL" was sitting on Grill's lap. To break the ice, I asked them where they lived. Grill said "Here" I smiled "Nice ..."

Pearl, sensing my apprehension, said "How do you know Sharon?" "I went to school with her" I said
Pearl smiled and then Black Sabbath's N.I.B. started to blare through the speakers

The music stopped and the first child unwrapped a plastic life-size Jim Bowie knife. He held it up in the air like Arthur holding Excalibur.

Grill said, "I never got to play pass-the-parcel when I was their age. I would have loved that knife"

Pearl said "don't be silly Grill you had your own REAL gun when you were six ..."

O yeah, ha!

Bong came over to Grill and said "did ya hear that the police have staked out the party? I'm surprised they haven't got POLAIR helicopter up hoveren' over the top of us!"

Alan came back with Jasper. "What did you get?" I said nervously and now starting to get very nervous indeed. "A small plastic orange dinosaur" Thank god!

Sharon walked over to us, stating "... I could handle a rum and coke about now but I'll wait until after the cake in 10 minutes."

Thank god!

8 month old Jasper was sitting on my lap when Bong came and sat next to me and said to Jasper "get that thumb out of your mouth." And Bong pulled Jasper's thumb out. Steely eyed baby Jasper looked Bong in the eye and slowly but with intention stuck his thumb back in his mouth

Bong laughed

Thank God!

They bought the cake out and sang happy birthday

Thank God, I said goodbye to Sharon and that we would catch up, Happy Birthday Rick!

Now we could leave but where was Alan?

I looked around and he was standing with his lemonade in a ring of leather clad bikers talking about England, where he had grown up and the Duke of Buckingham losing all of his fortune through gambling on snail races

Alan I think its time for Jasper's nap

Alan "OK" but he didn't leave just kept on chatting so I went to our car and put Jasper in his car seat and waited

Some of the motor bikes were leaving and Alan came to the car on the back of PIG's Moto Guzzi

"Good bye. Good bye, jolly nice to meet you! Yes we must catch up some time yes bye, bye!"

As Alan got in the car he looked at me and said "I'm slightly jealous of these guys you know, they are living the dream ... "

Alan, always the gentleman, waved the motorbikes in front of us through. As we wobbled back down "The goats track for an excuse for" the driveway, I started to relax and still couldn't really bring myself to tell him about the background of his "new" friends

To this day my husband will see red when he sees "revenue raising" policemen. We turned onto the tarred road and there was a police breathalyzer contingent stopping some of the bikes. I had forgotten all about my husband's pet hatred of police

They pulled us over and Alan launched at the police who wore a plastic glove holding a white plastic straw, "How dare you chaps pull us over, we have only been at a child's party, how dare you"

With that the police said they were going to frisk Alan and that he should step outside the vehicle. Reluctantly he got out. They checked him and the car for drugs and guns they asked him to empty out his pockets and there was a the plastic orange dinosaur

"Where is your driver's license, sir?"

"I can't find it" Alan said defiantly

"well you can't drive a car without a license in Australia. Can your wife drive?"

Yes, but you people are just causing trouble for the sake of it. We have done nothing wrong! O I get it you have to steal some money off me somehow ... don't you!"

"Because you have broken the law by driving without a license, we are going to have to take you to the police station until you or someone can provide your driver's license." They hand cuffed Alan and put him in the police car

In our car I just stared out of the passenger side window at the view of a carnation farm

I followed the police car for a way watching the back of Alan's head and a glimpse of his pale blue Ralph Lauren polo shirt's collar as they drove humiliatingly away.

I went home put Jasper down for his nap in the cot. Made a cup of tea, watched "Sex and the City" then looked for his driver's license, which I found in the last pair of trousers he wore

When Jasper woke we both went out to the police station, collected Daddy and drove home in silence

[This is a true story although a number of the names have been changed to protect the innocent]

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