Mondays Column – The Great Australian Dream

Some time ago, after many years of renting and chasing work around the State, we felt the urge to settle down and let the taxman and telemarketers have a shot at a sitting target for a change.  Long Suffering Wife and I managed to extract a loan from a financial institution and we bought our first home; a little fibro box in the ‘burbs described as, “A Handyman’s Delight!”      

I spent the next two weeks lying awake at night worrying about how we were going to pay back the loan, because at the time, it seemed like a horribly large amount of money.  These days, that ‘huge’ loan would barely be enough to buy a couple of cars. 

While we were waiting for the settlement day to arrive, we took to driving past our new home, in order to scrutinise the house, and our new neighbours.  I learned later that they were also scrutinising us.  Taking in the sight of our old car, my scruffy clothes and suspicious looks, they must have been wondering if they should have taken the opportunity to sell up prior to us moving in, before real estate prices in the street plummeted like a machine-gunned duck.

The great day finally arrived, and things started going wrong from the moment I backed the moving truck into the carport, knocking the gutter off the roof.  At this point it dawned on me that home repairs were my responsibility now, not the landlords’.   

This was driven home moments later when I switched on the kitchen light and was stunned to see the bulb flicker to life before dropping off the ceiling trailing wires behind it.  At least the power was working.  While we waited for an electrician to arrive, we unloaded our belongings, and by the time he turned up, we had pretty much finished unpacking and I was trying to tune in our TV.

After a quick check he informed us that our new home was an electrical disaster area and turned the TV off, “You’re wasting your time mate,” he said, “because you’re also missing a cable to your aerial.”  He added a few more zero’s to his quote and handed it to Long Suffering Wife who went white in the face.

I put my arm around her and said, “Don’t worry love, the worst is over.”  Seconds later a power surge roared through our ancient wiring effectively killing the fridge and washing machine.  The electrician started writing another quote.     

Long Suffering Wife disappeared into town with the last of our savings to replace our dearly departed electrical goods, while the Sparkie organised a team of expensive sounding folk to assist him with the necessary repairs.  Grabbing a warm six pack from our dead fridge, I staggered out to the backyard and sat on the grass wondering how we were going to get out of this mess.  My new neighbour, and soon to be best mate, ‘No Worries’ Neville turned up, and sitting down next to me, smiled and said, “Can’t be that bad, can it?”

I silently handed him a hot bottle of beer, which he held like it was a black snake.  Leaping to his feet he dashed off, returning soon afterwards with a couple of beers under each arm.  “No worries,” he beamed, removing the tepid beer from my grip, and replacing it with an icy cold bottle, “We’ll have a couple of sociable drinks then I’ll give you a hand to get the place fixed up a bit ok?” 

And he did.  Together we quickly turned a nightmare into a home, while Long Suffering Wife made us sandwiches, poured cups of tea, looked after the children and kept an eye on our dwindling finances. 

After many years of saving and renovating, our little home was finally completed.  At which point we stood back, smiled in delight at our handy work, then sold up and moved to another house that needed renovating… as you do.

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Filed under Columns, Writing

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