OUR Christmas was eventful in a non-eventful sort of way.
My family’s intention was to spend a few days – including the Big One – at the Waratah Bay caravan park. Beachside, it’s perfect, despite the inches of grime on the barbecues and the rotunda that has fallen into the hands of a band of substandard graffiti artists. Because art is subjective you can never argue that it is neither good nor bad. A two day old dog turd with a cocktail frankfurt flag stuck in its middle could be viewed as the pinnacle of modern art (‘A bold statement on the juxtaposition between love and hate,’ or some other such bullshit). Anyway, in my own humble opinion the bad graffiti said more about a lack of care by management staff – ditto the barbecue grime.
But that was not why we left. My wife was feeling ill – and really, as Dorothy always maintained, ‘There’s no place like home.’ Especially at Christmas. I should have turned around at Fish Creek, when we were almost hit head on by a driver who tried to pass a half-a-dozen cars at once. I swerved to miss the moron and my caravan fishtailed. One of the van’s tyres blew out and we skidded for 50 metres (our tyre tracks could be considered by some their own artistic statement) until we came to rest on an embankment, with the van threatening to take the car and my family with it.
We all got out and I considered the situation. My brain moves into a slow-motion setting in these situations. As my wife has always says, ‘Poor love. You’re a bit vague, aren’t you?’ And it’s true. Our van teetering on the edge of the embankment was like Rubic’s Cube times twenty. To me there was no solution.
The kindness of Christmas was everywhere and people offered to do whatever they could. Someone said they had seen the whole thing and they would stand up in court to testify against the dangerous driver in the hope that he would be given the electric chair.
A Fish Creek local drove past in a 4WD and asked if he should go home to get a strap to pull us out? He said, ‘I can’t do much, mate. I’ve got no legs. I’m literally legless.’ (My wife almost burst into tears at this lovely gesture yuletide gesture.) A car full of young guys just stopped for a bit of a chat and to ask us about the best local sites. Eventually another 4WD guy – complete with van, entrenching tools, water and fuel supplies to last for six months – came by. This impressive, well-muscled man, asked me: ‘Have you put it in low gear and just tried to drive forward, mate?’
It certainly was something worth considering. ‘Yeah, that was my next move. I was just getting the kids and the misses sorted.’
I tipped my hat, pretending to be part of that brotherhood of men who think practically all of the time – those blokes who could survive if you dropped them in the middle of the Simpson Desert with nothing but a paperclip, a rubber band and tennis ball.
Turns out putting it into low gear and driving it forward did work. Soon we were off the road and not teetering so close to oblivion.
As far as Christmas events went, it was not such a bad one. We survived, and we had a story to tell. I remember some of my childhood Christmases, and one in particular when my drunken uncle tried to punch my drunken aunty (his annoying sister), but hit his sober eight year old niece. As you can imagine, things didn’t go well from thereon.
We had nothing like that. Back home, amongst the detritus and debris of wrapping paper and boxes, we were happy. We were off the road, and free from drunken uncles (although my mother did get a bit tipsy). I just wished the Bear Grylls guy who told me to put my car in low gear had been there to put the kids’ toys together.