Thursday, 17 May 2007

Not Crocodile Dundee

Well hello again. It's late, Mel Gibson's on the tv - a film I've seen before, but he's still lovely to look at - but I'm knackered after working all day.
Now you may think that sitting in front of a computer telling stories is a doddle, but believe me it isn't. There's the research to do, the putting down of the tale clearly and with as little waffle as possible, and that's all after I have worked out how to use the computer. There are times when I could throw this infernal machine through the window. Why is it that when it's needed the most it goes off-line, crashes, has a menopausal day, or simply just doesn't like Mondays? Better not push my luck, it's working today.
I was going to tell another story, but as it's late it will have to be short.
I was in the Northern Territory in Australia, travelling down from Darwin to the Alice, when I stopped at a servo - petrol station - to fill up the car, get a good slug of coffee and something to eat. Like all good Aussie servos the place was spotless, with plenty of tables and the delicious smell of coffee wafting in the air. There are two girls behind the counter, and one man in front of it - but he's not a customer, for he's wearing a badge which says manager.
I order coffee and a sandwich and pay for the petrol.
The man eyes me and winks. 'Reckon you must be a Pom.'
'Not really,' I say with a smile. 'Born in Australia, but lived in England for so many years I learned how to talk like them.'
'Jeez, you musta come a long way. Why you over here?'
This is the point where my husband pipes up. 'She's a writer. She's over here to do her research for her next book.'
There are times I could kill him, so after kicking him hard on the shin, I smile sweetly and try to ignore the man who is now wide-eyed and eager to talk.
'Jeez, you must have to know a lot of words to be a writer,' he says.
The plump face and beady eyes are glistening.
I nod. I have to know how to spell them too, I think, but concentrate on my coffee.
'I wrote something once,' he says proudly.
Okay, so I'm going to play along. 'Really? How lovely? What did you write?'
'I wrote a story for the local paper,' he says. 'It was going on the front page and everything.'
I'm delighted for him - a fellow writer, who has managed to get front page coverage. Now that's impressive. 'That's brilliant,' I reply - and mean it.
He shook his head, his expression doleful. 'It didn't happen though,' he said sadly.
He shrugged and stuffed his hands in his pockets. 'Cos some bloody woman got eaten by a crocodile and they put her story on the first three pages and I didn't get a bloody look in.'
There's no answer to that, is there? I try to look sad, but actually I daren't meet my husband's eyes, because I'm about to collapse with the giggles.
'Reckon I betta get back to work,' he says gloomily, eyeing the girls who so far have managed very well without him behind the counter.
'Nah, you're right, Vern,' one of them calls. 'We aren't too busy.'

He shakes his head and smiles. 'Lovely girls,' he says admiringly. 'But it's better I go and keep an eye on them, they can't really manage without me.'
We say our goodbyes and watch as he strolls back to the counter and leans against the wall. The girls raise their eyes heavenwards and get on with what they've been doing while they walk around him. Poor Vern.

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