Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Did you say we spend a week here?

I knew if I waited a few hours I would find out what is wrong with this place.

First off, we are living on a reclaimed swamp. Hence the tree frogs, who think it still is a swamp. And the mosquitoes, who have chewed off both my legs and are starting on my arms. Squirrel is slowly inflating in all directions. Her legs looks like weird balloons with measles.

And there are other disadvantages. Like in Australia it is autumn. And they don't ponce about with changing clocks back and forward like in the UK, just so the tourist class can loll about lawns in evening sunshine quoting Auden. None of that crap. There's nothing but dark round here at 5.30pm so that's your lot, mate. And then again, being autumn in Australia, it has done nothing but piss rain on me all day long.

After three hours locked in a tin cabin with CanwegotothebeachCanwegotothebeach reverberating between my ears I do what any person driven mad by constant whining of triplets locked in a tin cabin would do, and that is mount an escape attempt with laundry.

I leg it out the door, through the attack lines of mosquitoes and quaking thunderstorm carrying armfuls of soiled clothing.

Having achieved my objective of reaching a laundry hut I discover more pain. I cannot do the washing. I can make neither machine work and the owners to the site aren't here. There's a notice pinned on the door with an emergency telephone number. Calling to say I have covered my clothes in laundry powder might not be the type of emergency Australians respond to warmly, so I lug it all the way back to the tin cabin again, discarding knickers on the way, and with the rain pelting me in the face like this time it means business.

By lunchtime I am quite desperate. We have had eight fights and one near miss on a black eye. This is clearly Australia's fault. They have made such an outdoor culture for themselves with all that bronzed surf and bush stuff that everyone seems to have forgotten to provide anything sensible to do indoors at all. The British are good at indoor amusement like Monopoly, charades, and parlour games because we spend our lives imprisoned in the front room. And providing a life of field tramping in mild British drizzle for the gritlets means we are poorly equipped for proper Aussie rain bashing. Worse, I realise now the little grits have developed no inner resources and have lost the playing cards donated by British Airways.

Thus at 2pm I foolishly cave in to the constant demands to go to the beach and shout Yes! we will go to the beach!

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger clamber in the car. I admit that. I would rather burn up the ozone layer than rot to death in the 500 yard walk through the torrential downpour.

Life had clearly become desperate for all concerned. Two minutes later the gritlets are scampering up the river path to the beach and throwing themselves in the sea fully clothed before embarking on building a scale sand model of Jericho with three Hong Kong yogurt pots and a spade that has appeared from nowhere. And for the next two hours the rain pours down upon their oblivious heads.

I would very much like to make my escape at this point. Stupidly I do not. I stand on a ledge under a roof overhang of the surf hut (locked) which provides 12 centimetres of cover. Here I part read A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Since I am standing on a ledge two foot off the ground in the pouring rain contemplating a week's thunderstorming beach holiday with children in a tin hut where the world blacks out at 5.30 prompt, I can truly say at this moment I fail to see the funny side.

By 5pm things are looking worse than ever. To bribe the little grits off the beach I suggest I drive everyone to the shopping mall to buy sweets. I know this is off-the-scale demented but two hours on a ledge does this to a woman.

The roads are totally dark. I have no map. I do not know where there is a shopping mall. I am driving a car missing a pedal and it has no gears. The rain is tipping down and the wipers cannot keep up. Naturally, I drive at a speed of a one-legged echidna on a road with an 80 km speed limit trailed by fifteen pissed off Australians.

On the plus side, I note the koala had pushed off this morning. I am assuming it is not sick to death of listening to the constant references under its tree to its idle ways and fat arse but because eucalypts do not provide good shelter in thunderstorms. Thus I plan to go native and start observing koala behaviour as indicative of weather systems. This resolution provides a strong sense of place and is strangely satisfying.

Here is the ledge.
I drove back after the storm passed just to take a picture of it.
I have developed a strange emotional bond with this, and the koala.


The Gossamer Woman said...

It makes for good reading, but it probably wasn't very enjoyable for you having to undergo it all. Well, let's face it. I wouldn't have wanted to trade places with you for anything.

So, you're in the land down under at the wrong time of year now. Terrific timing on someone's part, you can't help it. I wish you all the best, my dear. Mostly I hope for a very long dry spell, so you can see some more koalas and maybe some sheep and kangaroos. Did you ever find the sweets shop?

Trevor said...

UK? Hong Kong? Singapore? Australia? Dammit woman, stand still so I can catch up!

I'm struggling to find time to read and every time I drop in here you're in another country and there's something or other about maybe moving to live there permanently and I don't know where that is or if you're serious and I can't keep up with the front story let alone finding time to read the back story and I'm rather confused and you do seem to be having a rather good time albeit with the usual triplets related chaos and just what the hell is going on? And can you provide a summary - in three sentences or less, preferably so I have a chance of getting time to read it and how in god's green earth do you find time to post so often, anyway?

All that aside - there's a cold drink and a spare room if you find yourselves over in the wilds of Perth at any time. Do feel free to drop by...

Grit said...

hi irene! yes! dig saved the day and located a bag of sherbert lemons. i have never heard him use the expression 'god help me' before.

trevor! should we go and live in hong kong for a year? you decide.

life is confusing because i live in a permanent time warp. on understanding why, i fare no better than you. i write late at night when it is cold and lonely and i press publish three weeks later.

and be careful what you offer. wife in hong kong had to put up with us and she is still in rehab.

Wife in Hong Kong said...

No I'm not! I loved meeting you all. Come again!