It’s been a busy few weeks since I last checked in with you, promising to report more on my revived creative journey. In those weeks our 18 year old car needed some repair. Covid conditions of shipping to remote places like ours proved to make that a protracted process. It was our only car so we hired a rental for a couple of weeks. When it looked like that wasn’t going to be enough, we quickly agreed, we deserved a new car. With the money we saved from the lack of travel over the last year, happily, we could afford it. And as it turns out, so can a lot of other people. The car dealer says they are selling cars as fast as they can get them into town! It’s interesting to see what areas of the economy are leaping ahead, while others languish behind.

Fortunately, our modest needs were only for a town car that was small enough to fit into most of the parking spaces at the grocery and other places we frequent. But after sitting in the smallest car we thought we would buy, the salesman said he had one that was a step up, both in comfort and size if we wanted to sit in it for comparison—a tried and true sales tactic, I’m certain. This salesman was very laid back and applied no pressure whatever, but he didn’t have to. The minute I sat in the driver’s seat of the Corolla it was evident the comfort and amenities were better. Since we are of an age which means it may possibly be our last automotive purchase while we are able to drive, we decided to treat ourselves.

Let me digress a bit. The aforementioned 18 year old Barina (Holden/General Motors) was purchased new when our daughter was testing to get a driving license. The agreement was that we would purchase it, in all its spearmint-metallic-green-glory, and that when she decided to purchase a car, she could buy it from us, knowing she would have a car that was looked after and that she could afford. There were a few errors in judgement on her part (and an obvious one in ours!) that meant the car had a couple of dings in it, which we had deemed a fools errand to repair, given that many people will open their doors and not care if they dent the car next to them. So the dings stayed.

Then one night our daughter drove the car to a party. Alice can be a rough ole town at times. Lately we have been all too aware of it as our house, and many others, have had attempted break-ins. On this particular night about 15 years ago, a young woman set her sites on revenge when she thought Allison was flirting with her ex-boyfriend. Seeing Allison get out of the mint green chariot was all the inspiration she needed. Allison returned to the car after only dropping off a friend and visiting for few minutes to discover the rear windscreen wiper wobbling at a very odd angle, the radio antennae broken off and the word ‘slut’ keyed into the relatively new paint. We knew who it was because as most criminals do, she had to brag about her handiwork to someone, and that someone was friends with one of Allison’s friends and by the next morning it had gotten back to us. But we couldn’t prove it. So we paid for the antennae and the windscreen wiper to be replaced but we were loath to repair the paintwork, for obvious reasons. Allison’s detractor was still in town and she had friends.

When Allison decided to buy a car, it was not the dinged up Barina she longed for, but a flashy, used silver Honda, one of the early hybrid cars. Right thinking, but wrong car and wrong time of her life to make that expensive decision. Live and learn, right? We have generally let her make these decisions on her own with some guidance but knowing whatever we tell her she must do, she would do the opposite back then.

So, for the ensuing 15 years we have driven the small mint green car, emblazoned with ‘Slut’ on the side. Fortunately you could only read the word when the car was very clean. Living in Alice Springs, a car is rarely that clean. Dust storms see to that. I have always felt it was good penance, for what I wasn’t sure, to have to drive the slutmobile around town for all to see. No one would claim I was living beyond my means, nor that I had exquisite taste, and I never had to worry about someone stealing it or parking it where someone would ding the paint! The years caused the paint to chalk and peel and the poor little thing looked like it was peeling from a bad case of sunburn. But when we bought the Corolla, they actually paid us $1000 for the 18 year old Barina, that was clean on the inside, generally in good driving condition and had only 54,000 kilometres on the clock! It will have a new life with someone else and served us well.

My deepest anxieties have been realised, however, learning to drive a brand new car with all the advances that the automotive industry has made in the last 18 years, not to mention that it is about six inches wider and about 20 inches longer than the old car. It really adds a layer of anxiety to my days that I could do without. 

Take the day recently, when I went to the grocery store…

In my relatively calm and controlled life there is not much that scares me more than a big Huntsman spider in the house or a deadly Eastern Brown snake in the house both which I have experienced…unless it is either species in the CAR! That morning as I pulled into the parking space (having backed in and was so proud of myself) I looked toward the passenger window and crawling down the outside of the window was a large huntsman spider the size of the palm of my hand. I tried to get out of the car quickly so that the spider couldn’t crawl across the car and get inside. They do bite but are not aggressive or terribly poisonous but I didn’t fancy testing that bit of scientific knowledge. And the shock of having one drop down from the roof of the car into one’s lap, could easily cause an accident.

I did my shopping and stopped at the pharmacy and by the time I returned to the car I’d forgotten about the spider. After putting things in the boot I came around to the driver’s door and there was that blinking spider again! Shivers. The only thing I had to swipe at it was my grocery list so I swiped—trying to get it off the car. But they JUMP. So it jumped back to the windscreen and across to the other side of the car again. I walked around and found it, cleverly trying to flatten itself out so as not to be seen. I took one last careful aim and swiped at it and it disappeared.The other worst outcome. Where had it gone? I quickly tried to locate it and thank goodness it was on the ground out in front of the car a couple of feet. I quickly got into the car and closed the door. Because I had backed into the space I pulled out fairly quickly and left Mr Spidee behind.

Clearly my days of penance are not over. 

Updating you about my continuing creative efforts will wait for another day.  Have a great week.