Thursday, July 24, 2008

On yer bike!

This week I said a final farewell to a fellow writer and friend. Her name was Wendy Evans, and for eight years we’ve both belonged to the same critiquing group. Wendy was ill, but she kept writing until the end. She died in her sleep on the eve of our last meeting, after telling the rest of the group she was going to concentrate on writing short stories for the next month. I’ve never met anyone quite as talented as Wendy. Apart from writing, she was a geologist by trade, adviser to government ministers, and an accomplished landscape artist. I will miss my friend - I’ll miss her honesty, her astute mind, her writing and her pity comments. There will never be another Wendy Evans. They threw away the blueprint.

In four weeks time I head off to Melbourne to attend the Romance Writers of Australia conference. I booked my fare well in advance, and due to the fuel crisis, airline schedules have been rearranged, and so far my flight times have been changed twice. The rearrangement consists of a five minute change in taking off from Perth, and a twenty minute change from Melbourne on the return journey. I’m hoping it won’t change again.

I once flew to Melbourne and there was a delay of six hours. There was a problemo with the plane, and the airline didn’t have an engineer in Perth, so had to fly one in from Adelaide on the next available flight to change a faulty light-globe (Yes, I do know it was a precaution). I spent the six hours at Perth airport, munching on body-clogging food. I arrived in Melbourne at midnight, five hours after the dinner I was supposed to attend had started, and two hours after it finished. Not bad timing!

Last January I paid a visit to my family in the UK. Coming back I was delayed at Heathrow for two hours. Luckily, the connecting flight from Singapore to Perth waited for us.

Another trip to UK, I went to Liverpool by bus to visit my sister-in-law. This was a nine hour trip. Returning to the point of departure, the bus was delayed (without reason and without being the fault of anybody) and we arrived in Birmingham just as the bus station w as about to close. As I was supposed to be changing buses there for Cheltenham, and that bus had left hours before, I found myself alone in an unfamiliar city with darkness rapidly falling.

The staff were great. To get rid of me, they hired me a taxi which took me on to Cheltenham at the expense of the bus company. The original bus fare had cost me £21.00 return at the time. The taxi trip racked up over £50.00 for the bus company. Strangely, however, the taxi driver refused to drop me off at the address I was going to, even though I offered to pay the extra. He insisted it had to be the deserted bus station, a dark and gloomy dropping off place for a lone female with overnight bag to be left at 2.45 in the morning. You can have no idea how exposed I felt when that taxi drove off into the night.

Cheltenham was also an unfamiliar city, though I’d driven through it a couple of times. I was just wondering if a shadowy hedge would be a safer place to sleep in than the creepy bus shelter, when along came my lovely daughter-in-law to rescue me. Luckily, she’d discovered what was going on, and had possessed the good sense to come back and find me (not something that all daughter-in-law would do). Just as well, since mobile phones were a novelty at the time and I didn’t have her home phone number with me.

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