It’s my turn to be the excited one when my phone rings and it’s Pete Goodlet; he the eighth child in the enormous and happy Goodlet family based here in Apollo Bay.
I had asked for his landline number, he said he’d called me on mine. The number that flashed up was a mobile and I immediately decided to relax the rules.
He is calling me from his home in Murwillumbah. The area is used for filming the British reality series that I was glad to escape from ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.’ Murwillumbah was also used as the location for the film Lou (2010) starring John Hurt, who went to the same school as me!
I said that it was really nice to hear his voice, never having spoken to him on any gadget before, and he said he found it ‘unusual’!
I thanked him for being my second man as I had only done one man so far, he sniggered and said ‘men are shy.’ Thankfully Pete is an exception to this rule, or he hides it well.
I tell him that I need to catch up as I’m already behind on my homework. Yesterday I didn’t phone anybody, it was the end of the Dad season, so I can stop talking about him so much now. In May he occupies all our thoughts as he went into the hospice on his birthday, the 17th in 2011, and died eight days later. I had just felt a bit quiet. I’ll call two today.
Pete is a very suitable friend for me to talk to on the day after the Dad season. He lost his Dad two years after I lost mine. His sister, Trish, had asked me to go and sing some hymns to their dad in the hospital after I told her that our family singing around my dad’s bed had made him more peaceful. I went in clutching Amazing Grace and Ave Maria. There was Pete, with his Dad resting on high pillows in bed, and Trish busily looking after him. I imagine that Jim Goodlet will be the only man that I will meet on the night he dies. He showed me his watch which he got after hitting a hole in one, and I remember telling him how good-looking his children were, and what great carers they made.
Pete and Trish are the youngest of the nine Goodlet children and they said that their Mum had been so glad she had gone on to have numbers eight and nine because they were both such attentive nurses.
Their dad was a Rat of Tobruk, a member of the famous Australian division who held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the German-Italian army.
Thank goodness he came home to father four of my friends, and five more equally lovely people!
Pete reminds me that his dad died on Easter Saturday, kindly leaving Easter Sunday for Jesus and giving them two days to remember him on, always Easter Saturday and always the date he passed away.
We talk about the project he is working on. He is redesigning the interior and gardens of the Sandpiper Hotel, here in Apollo Bay. It is going to be wonderful. I thank him because I can now mention my mum in my blog finally, because that’s her favourite place to stay when she comes to the Bay. (I have mentioned her once already as she’s my cousin’s daughter’s invisible friend in 3/365.) My Dad has been getting all the glory.
We both remember laughing uproariously last time we saw each other. He mentions ‘controlling moles.’ It’s a phrase I really like and he bans me, rightly, from mentioning any names, but I can write the words.
I have a postcard of one of his paintings of The Owl on the Pussycat on the fridge. I tell him I had wanted my niece to read that poem at our wedding but my mum (here she is again, hello mum,) had thought it was too solemn an occasion for Lear. If only we had all lived in Australia for a bit first, anything goes!
I ask him to look at a children’s picture book of mine, Miranda’s Verandah, his artwork would be ideal. He said he’s just been sitting around waiting for an editor to approach him one of these days.
I learn that Pete has worked in at least eight fields of work, which have been perfect for his aesthetic eye… building, carpentry, tourism, nursing, teaching, hospitality, art, permaculture. And with eight practical and down-to-earth brothers and sisters he has links to every skill in the world.
I saw his sister yesterday and I told her that Pete is my next page. We talked about my blog and asked her what she made of it.
‘You’re just deepening friendships’ she said.
On re-reading this, I realise that without thinking, I have put the eighth child, with the eight professions and eight brothers and sisters, on the eighth page.