Aquaman has forty-something hats. Not like a collection of fancy hats. Forty-something identical hats. Forty-something identical straw cowboy hats, in a stack. He doesn’t know where they came from. He found them in a box in the garage a couple of days ago. A box in the garage of the house that he owns.
But there’s no use dwelling on mysteries. “Want a hat?” he says with a grin, in place of further inquiry. Gramma insists I should take one. I’m going to a festival, after all. I’ll need a hat. She also tries to get me to take half of the rest of the house: the contents of the kitchen, the manchester, and most of Aquaman’s clothes. Her gut feeling that I’m not sensible may not have been soothed by my arrival for a winter festival with no camping gear. Even Brisbane gets cold in winter, I’m about to learn.
Walking down to the crack-of-dawn train, the first watery light of day starting to trickle through the sky, the combination of borrowed and owned form a curious image. My original steel caps and ripped jeans, now with an army coat, large ladies’ sunglasses, the aforementioned hat, and a giant bag of tent bits on tiny little suitcase wheels, towed by the handle. I look like a cowboy hipster crossed with a feisty 80s movie chick, the kind you see towing her matching luggage down a Nevada highway while the heat rises around her in heaven-bound pythons. Judging by the glances, I don’t think that early-morning suburban Brisbane likes me very much.
Two trains, some negotiations, and a maxicab full of randoms later, we near the Splendour site in a blaze of conversation and Arcade Fire on the stereo, and cruise past a spot called Old Cove Road. I can just imagine the old cove himself, living in a ramshackle Queenslander stilt house out at the dead end of the rutted track that bears his name. The sun would lie in fat stripes across the boards outside, while we would sit on his porch and chew papaya and tell cowboy stories.
More Splendour stories at http://www.rhum.org.au