A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
Rock 'n' roll royalty and the Solomon Islands haven't traditionally gone hand-in-hand but there he was, in the steam of the Honiara night, the frontman of one of the biggest-selling bands of all time. It was 2016 and I'd been sent on a travel writing assignment to explore the jungles, shipwrecks and culture of the Solomons — but I hadn't counted on this.
Among our planet's poorer nations, the Solomons have emerged in recent years from the fear and poverty of civil war to be a peaceful destination with some hugely rewarding drawcards. They are located between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, but walking through the most substantial remaining rainforests in the South Pacific, visually it felt like I could've been in the Amazon or deepest Borneo.
Then there's the World War II history. You can be diving or snorkelling with all the coral and fish of your dream undersea vacation but doing so while discovering a sunken vessel from the 1940s. Add to that the welcome of locals eager to showcase their culture and hospitality — old Jandals as floppy drumsticks whacking bamboo of varying lengths to create tuneful, percussive music is a lasting memory — and you have a holiday you won't forget in a hurry.
Perhaps that's why Roger Waters — yes indeed, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, that Roger Waters — chose it as his mid-year getaway spot a couple of years ago. Or at least I thought it was Roger Waters.
It was during the dinner buffet at Honiara's premier international standard hotel, the Heritage Park, that I spotted Rog dining alone while reading a book and drinking a glass of red. I was with a couple of fellow writers and did the ol' hushed routine of, "Don't look now, but correct me if I'm wrong, the man at the table over there is none other than Roger Waters from Pink Floyd." Pointing with my eyes and talking in conspiratorial tones, it was all very exciting, but we needed a closer inspection.
Pretending to be shy of a bun, I walked unnecessarily near to Rog's table, en route to the buffet. With bun on plate, my suspicions that the man behind Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wall likes nothing more than to recharge his batteries with books, wine and Honiara were confirmed: if he wasn't Roger Waters, he was an identical twin separated at birth.
Now if this was somewhere like London, Los Angeles or New York, I would've let the gentleman dine in peace. The last thing someone of Rog's fame wants when they're at a restaurant and reading no less — don't forget the reading — is to be interrupted by a pesky fan. But Honiara felt different. I felt like Rog might've been up for a chat.
Throwing back a swig of Dutch courage, I decided to make my approach. The longish, fine grey hair was there, so too the understated beard. Arriving at his desk, his eyes were locked on his reading. "So sorry to interrupt, you're not Roger Waters are you?" The dumb question hung in the air for a few seconds that felt like about half an hour. Looking up from his book, the answer finally arrived: "No."
Not, "Hahaha, no!" Just, "No." Realising I was now in the process of making an almighty fool of myself in front of a man who clearly did not suffer them, I had to do something to salvage the encounter. I laughed and said, "You're such a doppelganger of him and I just had to come and say hi!"
He looked at me like I was the single dumbest human in existence. "I'm from Perth, so…"
He never finished the sentence and aware I was dying a painful death, I told him I'd let him get back to his book and meal and wished him a good rest of the night. I'm unsure if he said anything in reply. Humiliated, I retreated to my table and informed my companions that perhaps it wasn't Roger Waters on holiday in Honiara after all.
But if it was him, "I'm from Perth, so…" is a most effective repellent. Hmmm ... well played, Mr Waters.
• Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com