"Why are you walking like an old man?" asked Hamish, as Charlie slowly made his way to their table. It was Friday night and they were meeting for Vietnamese at Song Que on Kingsland Road.
"My back hurts..." explained Charlie.
"Don't tell me that you've been back at Sweatbox again!" exclaimed Hamish.
"Sweatbox?" asked Kellen. "I thought that place was closed for renovations? You've been getting worked over at Sweatbox?"
"Well, yes - but not like that..." replied Charlie. "It’s still closed, but I'm doing some work for them."
"I thought you were going to be doing some communications work for them?" asked Marc.
"Kind of..." nodded Charlie. "It's more of a general team-member job to be honest. Anyway, today I was carrying huge pieces of wood from the basement up a flight of stairs. The place is still a total building site."
"I can't imaging you on a building site!" laughed Kellen.
"I have dust in every orifice..." confirmed Charlie. "Anyway, I need a beer and some spicy squid and I'll start to feel human again in no time."
"Where's Oliver tonight?" asked Marc.
"Oh, they've got an event at work or something..." shrugged Charlie. "It's just me, is that okay?"
"Of course..." nodded Kellen. "How long has Sweatbox been closed for? Is it looking completely different?"
"I'm not totally sure, to be honest..." replied Charlie. "I never really used to go there before, so I can't picture what it used to look like. I think it's all going to look pretty flash, when it's all finished."
"I only ever seem to go to saunas when I'm on vacation somewhere…" added Kellen. "I always have this niggling anxiety that if I go to a sauna in London that I'm going to run into someone that I know - that awkward scenario when the guy in the sling is your boss or something."
"Hot..." nodded Hamish. "Anyway, what’s everyone up to this weekend?"
"Well, it's Australia Day tomorrow...." said Kellen.
"How will you be celebrating that?" asked Marc.
"I thought I might have a barbecue or something...." suggested Kellen.
"Are you crazy?” exclaimed Charlie. “It's the middle of winter!"
"Where would you have a barbecue?" asked Hamish.
"You know that concrete bit out the back of the flats?" said Kellen. "I thought that I could set it up there. What, you don't think that a barbecue is a good idea?”
"I think it's supposed to snow this weekend…" suggested Hamish.
"Only an Australian would think that a mid-winter barbecue is a good idea!” laughed Marc. “Why don't you think of some other way to celebrate Australia Day?"
"We could have a movie night?” suggested Hamish. “Muriel's Wedding, Priscilla, Moulin Rouge..."
"I don't think Moulin Rouge counts as an Australian movie…" countered Kellen.
"It's got Nicole Kidman in it!" insisted Hamish.
“Fair point…” conceded Kellen. “I could make lamingtons?”
“What are lamingtons?” asked Marc.
“They're like a sponge…” explained Kellen. “They’re covered in chocolate and smothered in coconut.”
“Sounds disgusting…” dismissed Marc. “You can bake a sponge?”
"I'm not sure, to be honest…” admitted Kellen. “But I have watched a lot of Great British Bake Off. People make sponges all the time - it doesn't look that difficult.”
“Why don't we have an Australian wine-tasting party?” suggested Hamish. “We could all bring a bottle of Australian wine, maybe do a blind tasting or something, and then then we give each wine a score."
“Is that a fun night?” countered Marc. “I'm not sure that sounds like a fun night. We could just go out dancing? It's ages since we've all been to XXL!”
"How is that any sort of celebration of Australia Day?” protested Kellen. “There's nothing Australian about dancing around in a club full of sweaty bears!”
“You could pretend that they're koala bears?” suggested Charlie.
“I don't want to rain on your gay parade…” interjected Marc. “But, the reality is that you're the only one bothered about Australia Day. You're the only Australian. I'm just interested in having some fun.”
“Right, that decides it!” declared Kellen. “I'm having a barbecue. I'll go to Broadway Market in the morning and pick up everything we need.”
“What are you going to cook the meat on?” asked Hamish. “You don't have a barbecue.”
“Don’t tell me that you’re thinking of using a disposable barbecue…” threatened Marc. “If you say that you're going to use one of those disposable grills from the off-licence, I will punch you in the throat.”
"You don't like those disposable grills?" asked Kellen.
"They're so toxic!” exclaimed Marc. “You may as well just piss on the meat and call it breakfast!"
“I guess I could fry it all up inside on the stove…” considered Kellen.
"Now we're talking!” grinned Hamish. “I'll bring some Australian wine. What time do you want to us there?”
“I don’t know, I guess about four?” said Kellen. “Would that work for everyone?”
“Excellent…” nodded Marc. “After we've eaten some burnt meat, and drunk some cheap wine, we can all head to XXL!”
“This is going to be the best Australia Day ever!” agreed Charlie, raising his glass of beer in a toast. “Happy Australia Day!”