There are times in life when a series of events follow each other and somehow combine to make one’s life more difficult than it is. These are times to have Faith, patience, perseverance, and most of all the absence of one’s Aunt Gertrude.
A few days back we heard that our Uncle Herbert from Dundee was not well. So we decided to drive up to Scotland as a family, with Aunt Gertrude from Australia, and stay with him for a few days until he is better. The old man lives alone, and for some unknown reason he got to like Aunt Gertrude. So we decided a visit would do him the world of good.
Unfortunately, the day before we were due to set off I fell off a ladder whilst cutting a tree in the garden. Not much damage done but I twisted my ankle badly and could not drive.
So it was decided that I’d stay home and the family with Auntie would travel by train. But she refused. She said the journey was too long for her and she’d rather not go.
This is a woman who came a thousand plus miles from Australia and yet is refusing to travel a few hundred miles to Scotland.
I tried to encourage her to no avail. I would have gladly paid for a one-way ticket to anywhere in the world to avoid being in the house alone with her but I could not shift her. The last time I was alone with her she fed me cat food!
On the day in question they all left and I was alone with Aunt Gertrude who decided to make me better. She prepared chicken soup which apparently is good for invalids.
I told her it was mid-summer and that I hated chicken soup, and besides a twisted ankle does not make one an invalid. She said it contained pearl barley which is good for you!
After I was fed the soup she suggested we pray together for me to get better.
What? I had no intention of praying with her. But she insisted.
She started with the Rosary and then a number of readings from the Bible followed by other prayers and pleadings to the Lord for my health and that of the whole family, including their safe travel there and back, and not forgetting Uncle Herbert.
To be fair, not once during the prayers did she say “cobber” or “fair dinkum” or “no worries” or any of her other Australian sayings; which no doubt pleased the Good Lord no end.
Then, to make conversation, she said she’d been to that posh department store in London on her last visit and bought something unusual to send back to a friend of hers in Adelaide.
“Oh yes …” I said feigning some interest.
“It’s a Santa Claus costume” she said, “I bought it for a friend who has been asked to be Santa at the local church fete!”
“But … it’s the middle of summer!” I mumbled with a smile.
“I know, cobber … I’ll be posting it to him on Monday … I’d like you to try it first to check the size is right. My friend is about the same size as you and well rotund round the waist too …”
She has a nice way of flattering people, I thought. Before I could say anything she’d been to her room and returned with the red costume. I tried the heavy coat on, and put on the white beard too, to humour her. As I stood up so she could check the costume for length I accidentally stood on a stupid plastic toy which had been left on the floor.
I heard it crack underneath me and felt the pain of my twisted ankle shoot up my leg. I let out a cry as I collapsed back on the sofa.
“Dear Lord … are you OK cobber!” she cried in a panic, “don’t move fella …” she continued as I nodded that I was OK.
She went out of the room and left me alone to recover slowly from the shooting pains. About ten or so minutes later I heard voices from the front door. Two ambulance men entered the room …
Apparently, when she heard the loud crack under my foot she thought I’d broken a bone and phoned for an ambulance.
The two paramedics checked me out and said I was OK. I tried to explain why I was wearing a Santa costume and one of them said: “Don’t worry sir. We’ve been to a number of call-out situations and have seen many sights. We’ve learnt to be discreet and never ask questions!”
What exactly did he mean by that?
I am so angry at the mad woman that I am still fuming days afterwards. The rest of the family think it is all very funny.
Auntie Gertrude said “Lighten up cobber … if you’d lost some weight round your waist you would have seen the toy on the ground!”