Sam, the brilliant physicist who inspired Something Wonderful, once said he was looking into the possibility that particles behave differently when you're not watching them! Theory confirmed...
Losing Margaret Mahy is so very sad. Too many national treasures gone since the Chch earthquake. I am grateful that I at least got to thank her for launching my first big trade title, Monkey Trix. I also got to tell her that I keep a copy of her book, The Kaitangata Twitch, nearby when I'm writing, just to remind myself what good writing looks like. I have the strongest memory of MM holding Jack when he was a tiny baby and him vomiting all over her. She didn't turn a hair, the dear lady.
Yesterday I decided to hit the highway, (seeing as I'm writing a novel about living on the highway,) and something happened. I decided to go to a place 2 hours North of Perth. Not quite the Nullarbor but there would be roos, red dirt and road trains and I would surely be reminded of the feeling of riding one of West Australia's big, straight roads. I followed so many massive trucks laden with MASSIVE mining machines and flimsy looking accommodation units. (WA is single handedly keeping the world economy ticking over.) Anyway, when I reached my destination, a monastery, peaceful but for the 300 road trains driving straight through the middle of it every day, I stopped and looked around. There on the side of the road was a tiny, black and white kitten. It was dead. No sign of injury, I imagined it caught in the rush of air as one of the big trucks passed. And there I was, once again faced with a body to pick up. (I couldn't leave it, there were children visiting.) 'It's just a kitten,' I told myself. All those years ago I remembered saying, 'It's just a boy...' Yesterday reminded me of frailty and ferocity, and caring. No more pats and purrs for the kitten, no more adventures for the boy. The kitten's owner, a child perhaps, would have been so sad. I thought again of the boy's parents, his father who came to see where it happened...
Last post. There were two things we needed to do before we left. We needed to drive across the Nullarbor ourselves and then we needed to see the sea. First we borrowed our Assistant Manager's clapped out Cortina and drove to Eucla and back. We stopped at Mundrabilla where the aliens supposedly picked up a car. The boy at the the pumps had definitely had medical experiments preformed on him. He stood at the car window, staring. Never said a word. And yes, the Cortina broke down on the way back. A guy fixed it for us by shoving a tiny pebble in the fuel sender. It turned out he was the boyfriend of our first cook. It really is a small world out there and the co-incidences too crazy. He was just driving along the Eyre Highway, coming the other way. After that we took the site Ute and drove down a dirt track to Esperance where we bought Terry a huge beach fishing rod. We hand picked a dozen international premium beers from the bottle shop and then I sat on the beach while Terry threw rig after rig into the wild azure coloured water... And then we left...
This will be my last roadhouse post. It is the tough one. Our big ambulance call out. I can still hear the St John's guy's voice on the phone. We had a body to pick up. A young English backpacker biking across the Nullarbor had been hit by a truck. I remember the things some truck drivers did to keep awake, like seeing how close they could get to cyclists... Some 4 wheel drive enthusiasts had been doing CPR for 40 minutes before giving it away. We had to put him in a body bag. One of our staff ran around the site before we left with a big, black garbage bag flying behind him. A bad joke. He helped pick the body up off the highway though. Everyone coped differently. 80% of the police who attended were heroic, 20% fools and idiots. 20 years on I still want to cry. A priest from Norseman came out a few days later and we held a memorial service for a boy none of us knew. St Johns decided we could use some training after that. We did a First Aid course on the sticky carpet in the public bar. On second thoughts I'll do one more post. Our goodbye to the highway..
The local station owners included a lawyer who gave up city life and bought a huge dirt bowl of a station called Woolbah. Every time the weather came on the TV there would be a cloud band either side but never over his station. He named it the 'Woolbah Gap'. Another great character was Johnny Crocker. Johnny graded the airstrip for us and his mother was the artist who painted the pictures of the camel trains. Johnny's pride was his yellow Corvette Stingray. He used to race the police up and down the highway.
But the best story was the story of the family who owned Frazer Range station. The Pauls were a massive tribe with very little knowledge of farming. The father was a retired clown. They'd pull up at the roadhouse occasionally, masses of kids fighting for position on sofa on the back of the truck. Local aboriginies told them how to catch water by building run offs on top of small mounds with rows of stones but they never listened and their station was always a dry and desperate place...
It must be a good idea!
This blog is a kind of stream of thought. It's all about where I'm at right now with my writing, and all kinds of other things!