Island Life by David Slack


Take A Chance on Me

ABBA! My favourite band of all time! You cannot begin to imagine how excited I was to read that they were coming together for one night only to play at the Sydney Opera House. And tickets were going to be just ten dollars each. With airfares thrown in for the first hundred buyers! Naturally I sat up until midnight to get the very first tickets when they went on sale. Naturally the server went down. Click refresh. Wait. Timeout. Click refresh. Wait. Timeout.

At seven the next morning, I was still there. My darling appeared at the door of my office in her dressing gown. Told you it was too good to be true, she said. Had she done so any sooner, she would have got an indignant retort, but to my great surprise and delight, at that moment the site finally came to life.

We sincerly apologgise for problems wit our server. We are working on it and will belive again very son.

Sad to say, I spent the next four days checking the site every ten minutes. No change. But then, just as I was about to give up, on Friday night up came a new message:

Due to problems with the Swedish currency, we regret to advise that tickets for the ABBA Rebjorn show will now attract a handling fee of $49. Also, our Jetstar airfare offer has regretfully been withdrawn due to fuel issues. We are working on a server upgrade and tickets will be on sale from midnight.

Well, fair enough, I thought, the cheap tickets were nice, but it's Agnetha and Frida I care about, so it's all good.

Midnight finally arrived and I was feeling a bit ill, having made the mistake of reading Cactus Kate while I waited. The way that woman writes, she must be super hot, for sure, but she's a bit too right wing for my taste. You wouldn't believe what she thinks should happen to people in prison.

Anyway, midnight strikes and there it is: a working server! But what's this? Tickets are now $110 and the handling fee is $99. Bastards! But there's no time to get upset. I've got to grab my seat. I click on the link to enter my credit card details. Uh-oh. There's a warning: the security certificate for this site is invalid. Do you wish to...

Of course I do. Click. Click. Click. Expiry date. Address. Send. Wait.



Small beads of sweat form on my forehead.

I'm about to pick up the phone. No, false alarm.

Thank you. Your card has been accepted and will be charged $ AU687.95. Follow this link to print out your tickets.

Motherfucker! Seven hundred bucks! You charlatans! It takes me a few minutes to calm down, but when I do, the warm glow of Fernando's firelight settles upon me. How fondly I remember those carefree days of the seventies, listening to ABBA on 2ZM. Back then, Paul Holmes was just a DJ, spinning hits and giving away records and movie tickets. It was only later that he discovered how dangerous a radio man can be on a Sunday night.

Anyhoo, the days pass and I start making plans for the trip to Sydney. Dinner at that Beefsteak and Bourbon place in the Cross. An afternoon at Randwick. I love jet-setting.

But then there it is in my inbox.

HMM entertainment wishes to advise a minor line-up change to the ABBA Rebjorn show. Benny will no longer be able to appear. In his place, however, we are pleased to announce that Billy Ray Cyrus will be taking over, and we look forward to an even more exciting night. Regretfully, we must place a $20 surcharge on your seat to cover this act upgrade, which we have charged to your credit card.

Well, you're probably getting the picture by now. Over the next two months, there was an email almost every week. Bjorn dropped out, then Agnetha, then it was going to be Frida with Billy Ray and his daughter Miley. Then Frida dropped out, and then Billy Ray and Miley. So they put up John Rowles, Suzanne Prentice, Ray Columbus and Yulia. It sounded like a good show, but by then my heart wasn't in it and I stayed home.

My wife said you must feel very let down.

I said: the thing that hurts most is I should know better by now. I'm the one who voted National.

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