“Hey look at this,” called Long Suffering Wife, “there’s a bloke from Gladstone in the Brissy paper.” I peered over her shoulder and inspected his mugshot but didn’t recognise him. I’ll bet he was surprised though, to find himself so far from home being accosted by a reporter, and having his photo, and opinion, printed in a state wide publication. Honestly, you’re not safe anywhere these days.
The world has shrunk to such a miniscule size that this sort of thing happens all too often. Like one hapless worker, whose boss had sat down to watch the cricket on tele one evening, and happened to see his employee galloping through the crowd, enthusiastically waving a large flag. Now, it wouldn’t have been a problem had the worker not rung in that morning claiming to be suffering from an illness which had left him struggling feebly, not quite at Deaths’ door, but definitely in Deaths’ front garden, somewhere near the letterbox. I’ll bet he felt genuinely off-colour after he fronted at work the next day.
Then there’s the legend of the Gladstone resident who was touring a Scottish loch one rainy day, and as a group of local fishermen rowed past, he was astounded to see one of them sporting a rain coat with the words “Property of Qld Alumina” printed on the back. Of course, photographic confirmation is yet to be produced…
And my own experience from last year when I went for a little drive, and thanks in part to a lack of maps, a GPS, or any sort of travel plan, I eventually found myself a fair way down the New South Wales coastline. Stopping at a seaside town late in the day, I was waltzing along a pathway which ran beside a picturesque river, when an old man pulled me up, “What sort of fish are those?” he asked, pointing into the water. I had a bit of a look. “No idea mate,” I replied with a shrug, “I’m not from round here.”
“Me either!” he exclaimed, shaking my hand excitedly, “I’m a Queenslander, from a little place you’ve probably never heard of called Calliope. So, where are you from?” Now, this paper can’t print the exact word I used, rather loudly, to express my astonishment at having driven over a thousand kilometres only to find myself bumping into someone from Calliope. His surprise at my sudden outburst turned to shock when I told him my address. Little wonder I often find myself speculating if I’m being secretly filmed for some sort of sick, reality game show.
Like the time I was strolling along on a remote and lonely beach and, overcome with a sudden hankering to go for a quick swim before heading back to my camp, started ripping my gear off as I walked to the waters edge. Somewhere in this country, a family will gather round their TV set from time to time and relive their beach holiday on video. Towards the end of that video, they will laugh as the four wheel drive they were travelling in, shoots over a huge sand dune revealing a white sandy beach, a clear blue sky, and a startled looking bloke standing near the waters’ edge with his thumbs hooked into the sides of his underpants.
I related this event to a mate, who listened to my tale of woe before giving me the following advice; “If you ever get caught with your pants down,” he said in a low and sombre voice, “don’t bother covering your privates, cover your face instead, that way they can’t recognise you later.”
He would reveal no more about ‘the incident’ which had lead him to this interesting conclusion, but the lesson was well learned, and I was also heartened to discover that I’m not the only one being secretly followed by that damned reality TV show.