Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hooray for Sydney holidays - and happy holidays to tow men everywhere

We have just staggered back into the house after a week away, three days camping in country New South Wales followed by a blissful four days at a beach house on the South Coast. For obvious security reasons I am always nervous about broadcasting that we are going away – I don’t actually think any of the readers of this blog are of criminal intent but I would feel a mite silly saying to the police “and of yes of course I did put up on my blog that we would be away for a week, and I also mentioned where to find the spare key, etc.” According to The Week – another great publication in the life of the expat, the Exeter boys in blue have been staging burglaries in houses that they find unlocked. Once inside they rummage around, find a few valuables and place them in a sack marked SWAG on the kitchen table – sadly they have had to stop this jolly prank as there is apparently the potential for them to be sued for trespass.

With hindsight absolutely amazing that we pulled out of the driveway on our camping adventure – the car was packed to an inch of its life to the extent that the DQs were just visible as faces pressed to the glass surrounded by all the paraphernalia needed for camping. The car had in fact staged a Lazarus like recovery from the vehicular equivalent of a nervous breakdown last week. The straw that broke its camel like back was possibly my habit of reversing out of the driveway and with what I like to think of gay panache whizzing the car into first before the vehicle came, as they say in the airline trade, “to a complete halt”. I don’t know what broke mid manoeuvre but I can categorically say gay panache were not words that sprang immediately to my lips. Even to one of my limited technical knowledge of cars it was obvious it was a tow job – top tip when you can hear bits of metal grating against each other, it’s mechanical shorthand for fatal and expensive.

When we lived in the US I had another car die on me and the tow man on that occasion berated me for parking the car in a spot in my driveway from which it was going to be impossible to tow it out from. I bit back my immediate, cutting response that I don’t actually park my car with a weather eye to the possibilities of having to be towed out. In my mind that would be a bit like going to a party and considering where to stand so that in the event you fall pole axed to the floor, you won’t block traffic.

I am happy to report that Australian car rescue people beat the US team into the ground in terms of charm and people skills and the car was borne off on top of a tow truck to be resurrected. Though to be fair to my US tow man, who unnervingly looked as if he ate squirrels for a breakfast snack in between auditioning for ‘wild man of the woods’ shows, what he lacked in customer skills he made up for in effectiveness. Faced with the car that was untowable owing to eccentric British parking habits, he asked me if I had a hammer. I went and fetched a large hammer with the timorous air of a future ‘bride in the bath’ slaying victim, whereupon he promptly gave the steering column a hearty whack, and lo and behold we had action.

It has been such a spectacular sunny weekend in Sydney that there seemed to be an inordinate number of brides fluttering around the place yesterday as Balmoral, our local beach, is a very popular wedding spot/picture backdrop. While on the topic of brides having spent three or four days camping on a property belonging to great friends I have discovered ‘the bride’ seems to be a term of jocular endearment in country company amongst people who have been married for a staggering amount of time, as in “pass the bride the wine” and “ask the bride”. I have informed Simon that if he refers to me as ‘the bride’ in public company he’ll get more than a whack with a hammer to the steering column.

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