You can't help but warm to a bloke who begins a good proportion of his sentences with, "And when they took me to court over it, I told the judge ..."
John of Bindi Bindi is a man who likes to do things his way. "She's a one-off," he says of his homemade six-wheeled Nissan. "Got everything that opens and shuts. A slide-out double bed, a couple of custom-made fridges with a compartment on top for your food - they unclip like this, there you go - aircons, a kitchen, the boat goes up top, and take a look at this remote control light." He pulls out a lantern, a remote magnetically attached to its top. "Once me and the missus are safely inside the truck, and the bugs outside are still whizzing round the light, you know, we just go click," he thumbs the remote, "and it's goodnight Irene. Ironing board!" John slides out a rusty old ironing board from somewhere within the labyrinthe Nissan. He has obviously picked it up from the tip. Setting it up at the side of the vehicle, he puts the gas cooker on it to make a cup of tea. "Yep, she's got everything." He pats down the pockets of his shorts and looks around. "Either of you blokes got a box of matches?"
His other car is a Mercedes. Well, car ... it's a former MTT bus. Modified, of course. "I used to tow the Nissan behind it on an A-frame," John says. Of course you did, i say. We sit by the lake, Safari Bob and i sipping our rediculously mudlike percolated coffee whilst John stirs his tea. "But it was three inches too long. I had to put those ugly OVERLENGTH signs all over it. So I chopped the frame down by three inches and welded it back together." He looks out across the lake. "And when they took me to court over it, I told the judge it was done by an engineer - I forgot to tell him the engineer was me - to improve the turning circle and reduce wind resistance." He sips his tea. "I don't tow it on the A-frame anymore," he says. Oh? Why not? "I got this caravan. One of those old four wheelers with a full chassis. I cut the back out of it," but of course you did, i'm thinking, "and my Suzuki Sierra runs up these ramps and sits inside the caravan, the wheels directly over the chassis. Now I just have to cut holes through the cupboards." Oh? What for? "Home brew kit. And the whisky still. Z-filters, you know. You blokes drink Scotch?"
I look at Safari Bob. A worrying gleam has appeared in his eyes. Well, young Bob's been known to take a sip or two, i say. I must confess i'm a bit partial myself. John goes to his truck and returns with what looks like a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label. "This isn't Johnny Walker Red Label," says John. Of course it's not, i say. "It's Black Label. Only with a few minor modifications of my own." He three-quarter fills an empty Mount Franklin water bottle. "I've used my Z-filters to check for bodies," says John. "Ran some 8-year-olds through them, the Red Label, the Black Douglas, Teachers, and they all turned up crap in the Z-filters." I nod, slowly and thoughtfully, as though i know just what the fuck he is on about. "Bodies. Mine comes out clean as a whistle." He hands the bottle to Bob. It's nine-thirty in the morning. Bob unscrews the cap, takes a sniff, and then pulls a couple of shots straight from the bottle. He passes it to me. I do the same. It is very, very good.
John screws the cap back on his bottle of homemade Black Label. "Been making Scotch since 1963," he says, a note of pride and satisfaction in his voice. "And when they took me to court over it, I told the judge ... "