THERE AREN’T THREE seats on the Solomon Airways flight to Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, so I must fly out from Brisbane after Alaister and Flann. Before I leave, I ring a Drug and Alcohol Helpline. The counsellor advises, ‘Look after your own interests carefully. Remember what they say about alcoholics: they don’t have families, they have hostages.’ I resolve to enjoy myself as much as possible. Apart from keeping Flann safe, it will be a good chance to test the dictum promoted by Al-Anon, the fellowship for families and friends that complements the more famous Alcoholics Anonymous: It’s possible to be happy whether the alcoholic is drinking or not.
Al’s lack of eye contact registers immediately. O-oh, here we go, I think as I weave through the crowded Henderson Airport. What a start to Christmas. Flann, though, is thrilled to see me and, at eight years old, is lively with happiness.
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