I leaned over to claim the five pence from the kerb, examining both sides respectively to check it was real. It was rare to find money at school, a shiny piece of treasure that had been overlooked, quite remarkably, by a pilgrimage of eagle eyed teenagers; on their way out of the school gates for lunch. We weren’t strictly permitted to leave the premises, but now we were year nines, the teachers seemed to turn a blind eye to the few groups of 14-somethings playing truant every day.
I’d reached the ground floor of the Cairns International Pullman Hotel. It was mid-October and just rolling into summer in Queensland, I stepped over the threshold into the main foyer and was hit by an abrupt cloud of air conditioning. I was early to rendezvous with my sister (an incredible novelty for me), wondering through the reception a grand space with a marble floor, luscious soft furnishings and dangling, meters-long chandeliers. I eventually sank myself into the plush seating and winced at the sun reflecting on the blue and white balloon-arch, leftovers from the Scottish International Rugby team ‘welcome party’ the night before.