SINCLAIRE SOLOMON | PNG Post-Courier
BARRY BLYTH HOLLOWAY (pictured right late in life) and wife Ikini were with an older, quieter crowd in one section of the Bird of Paradise Hotel, Goroka, but as the evening wore on they found the younger, whiter and rowdier bunch of drinkers next to them more to their liking.
It was May, maybe June, 1977.
When the night is still young and never one to refuse an offer of a night cap, “no” was far from the Holloway mind when the younger revellers, including me, suggested that we retreat to the Post-Courier pad at West Goroka for “one for the road” and “let’s have one more just like the other one”.
This ritual constituted more booze, and a healthy drag of Goroka Gold, maybe a Henganofi Hedge, preferably the Hagen variety, Kundiawa Kool or the latest Weed from Wabag. Barry Blyth, not to be outdone by his hosts, produced from his pocket his own Kainantu brand.
Whatever was available, there was enough grass smoke, alcohol fume and noise to bring in the fire tender from the next street, or the cops two blocks away to drag off the dimdims and the only two natives among them – myself and Ikini Holloway.
Ikini single-handedly almost did that – she did not take too kindly to the hubby chatting up a budding Aussie painter by the name of Glendys. To demonstrate her displeasure in true Morobe fashion Ikini wacked her husband across the ears with the pointed heel of one of her ankle-length shoes.
Holloway retaliated likewise, a flurry of uppercuts landing on Ikini; the fiery Finsch curled up and covering her small body with both hands absorbed the punches. All seemed well orchestrated, rehearsed moves, as if done many times before in the past for a live audience.
The warring parties were eventually separated but not without a few more scratches to the battered, bruised and boozed bodies and torn clothing.
As Holloway bled and all hell broke loose a passing police van dropped by to check the commotion yet commonsense prevailed and all was forgotten as the drinking and the grassing resumed, and that was not for too long; it had been a long day, an enjoyable night and tomorrow was another day.
Ikini returned to Port Moresby the next day to her work commitments with the national radio and Glendys got what she craved after that night – Barry Blyth Holloway on canvass, in oil. She spent many days at the Holloway residence in Kainantu, with and without the model, to produce the masterpiece.
Wow! It had been an honour sitting in the tiny flat which I, a second-year Post-Courier cadet journalist, shared with senior Melbourne colleague Tim Grimwade, drinking and smoking with a well-known and liked politician who had just been elected to represent the people of Eastern Highlands in first post-Independence general election.
This very human side of Holloway was a one-off encounter I never saw repeated but whenever our paths crossed, in Port Moresby, thereafter – I in the Press Gallery and Holloway on the floor of Parliament, moving his heavy frame about awkwardly, clumsily when making a point - I used to wonder with amusement whether he had just “let’s one more just like the other one” before entering the chamber!