Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Near Death Experiences

Pic source 
If I had a guardian angel, she'd be exhausted.

Actually, I hope she'd be getting some time off for good behaviour or something, because in my younger years, I nearly died so many times it's crazy.

All in the course of a very normal childhood, you'll understand.

The first time I nearly died, I wasn't even three. My family and their friends (it was the Richardsons. Bless you for your quick thinking)  were having a picnic at a gorgeous spot called Cumberland River, just east of Lorne.
You would think, living at Lorne, we'd walk to the main beach. The one where they have life savers on duty. Where you can swim between the flags.

Full of tourists, mate. Can't go there. So instead we head off to a quiet (deserted) beach where not-quite-three-year-old me is splashing in the shallows.

At which point an enormous wave comes in and sucks me straight out into the water. Water which didn't stop until it hit Antarctica.

My eyes were open in shock. Blue and Red picnic plates and cups swirled in the water around me. It was all very, very fast. The surface didn't seem that far away but I was too stunned by the events to fight the undertow and get some air. And I was, like, not even three OK, so it's a miracle I wasn't trying to scream.

A hand reached into the water (one of the Richardson kids. I think it was Amber. Maybe it was Hunter. This could explain the massive crush I had on him since forever. No, it must have been Amber) and yanked me towards the sky.

There were kids everywhere, grabbing what they could before the sea took it all. Soon after, we were all in the car (no seat belts back then. Yes, that's how old I am) and heading home. Not because my near death put them off their lunch, but because the sea had stolen everything in the picnic basket.

And the wine, which seriously put a dampener on things.
Lesson learned - cask wine floats away faster than bottles.

It took a couple more years before I almost died again. This time, I nearly took my brother Harley with me. At the time we hated each other (times have changed. I now have this bizarre masochistic dream where we team up to go on The Amazing Race. Where we probably will kill each other.) The year was 1978, our parents were on the verge of divorce. They'd already filed the papers .... 

.... but as they'd already booked and paid for the family holiday to Europe neither was going to let the other take it on their own. A holiday taken out of spite. Magnificently done.

So there we were, in a combi van. My father driving, my mother not talking to him, my brother and I way down the back crawling through the sleeping bags and pillows against the back door. Again, no seat belts.

Crucial plot point - when we bought the combi, we couldn't get the back door open. "It's jammed shut" the hippie told my dad. "We've never got it open. I'll take a hundred pounds off the price for the bother."

We drove all over Europe in that van, and never once could we get that open. On this near-death day, we were crossing the Severn Bridge from England into Wales.

Part way across, the combi's back door flies open.

I don't know if you've ever been driving, ooooh, 100 clicks and hour, and a door comes open, but the suction is phenomenal.

Anything not nailed down can and will fly out. Here's the other really entertaining part.

There was a massive semi truck right behind us (the Brits would say Lorry) and a pillow flew out the combi, went straight under its wheel and exploded in hot feathery death.

Determined not to be the next pillow (I was only seven, and barely weighed more than one) my brother and I screamed for our lives. Clever brother leapt over the bench seat to avoid the worst of the suction. Even cleverer, he managed to save a couple of sleeping bags too. Clever lad.

I was too dumb to leap over the bench seat, so all I could do was hang on to the back of it with one arm, clutch at the remaining sleeping bags and keep on screaming for my parents to stop the car.

Meanwhile, alarmed drivers all around us tooted their horns and flashed their lights, and screaming at the adults at the front of the combi to notice the impending doom taking place in the back.

They'd been ignoring us, you see, because my brother and I had fought the whole way around Europe and the only way they could deal with it was to not give us any attention.

Finally, who knows why, the parental units cast a look behind them and - hurrah! - they pulled over and stopped the van. The suction stopped at last, at which point I crawled into the bench seat and never played in the back again. If there had been a seat belt, I would have worn it.

Lesson learned: Don't use that "I'm about to die" scream every time you fight with your brother unless you really are about to die, otherwise your parents will ignore you.

I'm sure you're tired now. so I won't scare you with any more true tales just yet. Sleep well kiddies, more exciting bedtime stories another night!

No comments: