You had to feel for Sos…He was one of those people raised in an institution from a very young child…”Minda Home”…that’s what it was called once, but the name was changed to “Minda Incorporated”…there was a personal slur in this state by using that original name…ie; to call someone a ”minda” was to imply that they were simple-minded…Minda Home being an institution for the disabled.
The first time I “met” Sos, was when he was coming out of the double doors at the front-bar of the Seacliff Hotel one night…I was crossing the esplanade with a couple of friends, headed to the pub for a beer or two. Sos had just pushed the door open rather roughly…he was a bloody big bloke, so he filled the entire door-space up..and his shadow stretched in a jagged elongation out onto the expanse of Wheatland Street. He suddenly turned and yelled back into the bar..; “ I can dream!…” he stabbed his finger into that space and repeated..: “I can dream!”….he let the door slam shut and turned down the verandah when he spotted us and he repeated the fact that he yelled into the bar..; “I can dream”…though this time not as forcefully…he then took a push-bike from where it leant against the wall and awkwardly mounting it, pushed off clumsily onto The Esplanade heading toward Brighton jetty….we could hear him repeat the “I can dream” mantra a couple more times as he rode away.
I remember I said the obvious to Mark (I think it was him) .;”I wonder what that was about?”…”Dunno” he shrugged “ But I’d hate to know of Sos’s dreams…be a pretty wild trip more likely.”..It turned out Sos was standing near some group of blokes and one had told another in the course of the conversation that ; “ You’re dreemin’ mate..you’re dreemin’ !”….but that was Sos…he could get the wrong end of the stick anytime…it was his mental health…you had to feel for him…but he never got into any trouble that I can remember, though he could have a “dark scowl” look after a few too many.
But boy!..could he eat!..talk about a trencherman!..I remember once seeing him sitting at the front bar, drinking pints of Coopers Ale…now, I’m talking about that old Coopers Ale…back in the days when it was real ale…with twigs and sediment in it , as they would say…but cloudy…then the cook brought out this huge roast-platter…you know those big oval platters they’d serve up the Christmas turkey on…one of those big platters with three complete “T-bone” steak meals on it, replete w/ roast pratties, carrots, onions and sweet-potatoes….the salad was in a side dish, it wouldn’t fit on the main plate….and about half a loaf of bread to mop up the gravy!….AND all the while he was eating, he was tossing back those pints of Coopers Ale….THEN!..after he had finished that platter, he got stuck into his own packed lunch he had there with him!….Mark once told me that Sos had challenged him to an eating contest…Mark declined the offer.
There was a reckless side to Sos…Once, when I came down the road that led from Minda Home, toward Brighton Road (Brighton Road is a main road carrying most of the traffic from the southern sea-side suburbs), a very busy road. I was on my motor-bike and had stopped at the intersection waiting for a break in the traffic…when suddenly, this “maniac” on a push-bike swept right past me straight out into Brighton Road…his bike bell tinkling like Christmas chimes and he laughing his head off….cars were going every which way!….braking and sliding all over the place….Sos (yes..it was he)…just roared with laughter and crossed lanes and peddled away like mad!….bloody crazy!
Oh yeah…that push-bike he rode off on that night I first saw him?…..it wasn’t his, he stole it as it was just there…the owner..a bit of a misery-guts who had won some money in a minor prize in the lottery came wandering wide-eyed into the bar later that same night calling out in surprise..: “ Me bike…me bike!..someone’s stole me bike!…” of course, no-one ever told him it was Sos……it looked like a heap of shit anyway!
The last time I saw Sos was about ten years ago, in Goodwood…he was still riding a pushbike..I called out to him, but he was heading in a different direction to me and he didn’t hear….gosh!..He was old then..I suppose he’d be “gone” by now.