Thursday, 14 December 2006

Coming home

Apologies to all those expecting to receive postcards. I forgot to take your addresses. I left all the scribbled names and roads and postcodes on a pile of papers in the hall, underneath a yogurt drink for Shark and a cheese sandwich for Dig. The addresses and the perishables had disappeared by our return, one month later, so I guess someone in the house couldn't stomach the smell. (Something's going on. The inhabitants of the flats here are immune to the stench of three month old crysanths, so a mouldy cheese sandwich and an exploding Tesco probiotic drink should be nothing.)

We also left the driving licences behind. I blame Dig. He was so busy selling the family pile in Northumberland to the revolting Scrimvers, with five thousand pounds off at the last minute for distress caused, that he abandoned the driving licences on his way out to the taxi. The single piece of documentation required, apart from a credit card, in order to gain access to a well-valeted Vauxhall look-alike for our once-in-a-lifetime family driving holiday on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. In a box, somewhere in the office, in the middle of England.

Our moment of realisation came over a mouthful of cornflakes in St Kilda, Melbourne, on Day 1. We then spent the next few days working out a plan. Get Aunty Dee to drive five hours down the motorway, break in, find the driving licences, and sort out DHL document express to Melbourne. We had to do a lot of weeping on the phone about how the children would never see a wombat without her.

As it turned out, the children became uncontrollable within three minutes of getting into the hire car. No-one could see out. There were no arm rests to show who owned what bit of the seat. No-one could breathe because we controlled the air conditioning. It was too cold. It was too hot. There were no koalas. There were too many koalas. And no-one could see them. Shark sat in the middle where she could wollop both sisters simultaneously, one on either side. Tiger sat behind the passenger seat, kicking it mostly, and shouting. Squirrel sat behind the driver and wailed. We bring back lots of memories of the three of them fighting in gullies by the roadside and photographs of them scowling under roadsigns 'Mind the Wombat' to show to Aunty Dee.

You may wonder why we didn't just ask Mr Pod or Pastry - the other inhabitants of this glorious house-made-into-flats simply to come downstairs and unlock our flats with the keys which we left hanging in the cupboard on the landing. In actual fact I'd rather not say just right now. Maybe I'll wait a while and see what turns out before I feel I have to confess on that one.

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