Monday, 30 May 2016


A week is a long time so they say, in football, or politics, or in my case, a simple trip to Melbourne. I had very little on the agenda. Visit my brother and sister in law, and buy a car. Now what could be simpler than that? What could possibly go wrong?

First obstacle was wandering up and down escalators and going in and out of Tullamarine terminal,  trying to find my friends in the new Jetstar pickup area I’d never been to before. How on earth did we find each other before mobile phones? “Can you see the carpark opposite the terminal?” “Which carpark?” There are carparks every which way, lanes for buses, lanes for taxis, nowhere could I see a lane for cars to pick up people. “Am I on the right level?” In again, out again, getting hot and bothered, then suddenly “Ah, I can see you” coming from the opposite direction I was looking of course.

Visited my brother and sister in law, driving my friend’s car. Hate driving other people’s cars, and the more I drive in Melbourne traffic the less I like it. Made it there and back in one piece. Proceeded to sit in their snazzy Stressless chair to chill out before dinner, when SPROING, disaster struck. Not the chair, but my back, the thirty two year old ‘war wound’ legacy of my first and last aerobics lesson.

I’m not one to say the acclaimed Stressless chair needs to come with a health warning from the Surgeon General (unlike aerobics which in my case should have). When lowering myself to the point where I expected my backside to meet said chair didn’t bring the desired result, the extra space was instead covered in a swift thump that sent discs popping out where they shouldn’t be and me wanting to shout some rather unsavoury words. Thank goodness I’d brought my back support belt in case of such a mishap, have been down this road before. I knew I was in for a grim week, so armed with painkillers and happy pills I hoped I’d be able to move the next day.

Couldn’t sit up, slithered out of bed backwards, crawled on my knees to the bathroom to soak away some of the pain under a luxuriant warm shower. Knew I wouldn’t be any better for a couple of days so we decided to go buy the new car as scheduled even though I was in no condition to drive it. Gingerly got myself in the superb red Mazda 3, was taken for a drive, money changed hands and my friends drove both me and it back to their place. Heat pack and more pills, will I make it to the boat by Friday?

As expected, not much better, more slithering and crawling, spent most of the day standing, walking, even in the rain, which was quite enjoyable actually. Have long since believed that resting with a back injury is the worst thing I can do. As long as I’m upright and moving, things can only get better. Much like Linus with his blanket, the heat pack has become my constant companion.

Enough misery. Put on a brave face, manoeuvered myself into the car to visit my brother again, who is seriously ill, so to put things in perspective my back trouble is a mere triviality by comparison. Freaked out driving in the pouring rain as every car, truck and bus looked as if they were making a beeline for me. Oh for the uncluttered roads of home.

D-Day, drive to the boat day. Thought I’d go to the loo just before leaving, undid my back support belt, when lo and behold a big splash took me by surprise before I’d even sat down. Woops, forgot about the heat pack under the belt. Toilet soaked wet wheat ain’t gonna cut it any more as a heat pack. Into the bin it went.

Had a break at Southland shopping centre so I could keep walking around and stay mobile, bought a new heat pack, even managed to find my way back to the same entrance where I came in, quite a feat I thought, remembered to look for my new car rather than the old one then had a major panic when I couldn’t find the key. A woman’s handbag can be a mysterious bottomless pit, had to literally empty the whole thing to find it had landed in one of those little side pockets. Big relief.

Made it to the Spirit without any mishap, and wouldn’t you know it, I’d been assigned a top bunk. Impossible. Definitely not going to work. Fortunately a young Taiwanese girl sharing the cabin happily swapped, and we had a long conversation about all the places she and her boyfriend planned to visit while in Tassie. A bright spot in the day.

Crawled out of bed at the unearthly hour they always wake you when you’re nearly at your destination, breathed a sigh of relief to get the car back in familiar territory. Stopped in Deloraine to do some shopping, have never been to the supermarket at 7.30am before, but certainly helpful. Went to pay, and a red card that shouldn’t be in my wallet glared at me. That’s right, my cabin keycard. In all my umpteen trips back and forth on the Spirit, not once have I managed to abscond with one. Mind you, it probably happens all the time, but it’s now sitting in an envelope with a note of apology ready for tomorrow’s mail.

Ah, home sweet home, beautiful sunny day, thought I might as well do the washing straight away. Checked the sleeves and pockets for tissues, but obviously not thoroughly enough, for partway through the cycle when the machine got unbalanced and came to an abrupt stop, there were those telltale bits of tissue distributed over everything. Pulled the clothes out of the machine, rinsed off all the tissue, chucked them back in the machine, finished the cycle, only to find when I lifted the lid things weren’t much better. I mean, just how many pieces can one tissue fragment into. Shook everything to smithereens as I hung it out.

All was not lost though. The sunshine on my back was a real tonic as I walked around the village, and as the temperature cooled off, I surprised myself by even lighting the fire without having to play damsel in distress.

It seems I have a habit of not being able to have an adventure without a corresponding misadventure. The last two times I’ve flown anywhere I’ve jiggered my back severely the next day, so maybe there’s a lesson there somewhere. What did cheer me over the last few days though, is how important family and friends are. It’s easy to take each other for granted, but rather special to find an enormous amount of generosity and extra support there when it’s needed.