Sunday, June 19, 2005

War stories

Went to Brisbane today to retrieve my parents from the airport. They’re back from their overseas holiday, and they're so damn happy they nearly talked my ears off during the drive home. Everything in the world is marvellous, the people are lovely, the sights are beautiful, the food is delicious, the mountains are high, the seas are deep... and so on.

Mum and Dad have always been quite conventional types: they know what the social rules are, and they generally stick to them. Please keep that in mind for a minute...

They were on a train, going from a warm place to a cold place (can’t remember where; somewhere in Europe) and Mum started to feel chilly. She was wearing lightweight trousers, but had some long underwear in her luggage and decided to put it on. They had the train compartment to themselves, so Dad suggested she could change right there. Mum was reluctant, but Dad said he’d keep an eye on the corridor and if anybody walked past, he’d give her a signal, giving her time to sit down so the passing stranger wouldn’t notice anything. Mum was still reluctant, but feeling colder and colder, and finally couldn’t see much wrong with Dad’s plan.

So Dad stood in the doorway of the compartment, manning the lookout. Mum stood between the seats and took off her trousers, put on the long johns, and then pulled her trousers back on over the top, facing Dad all the time in case of a signal. The whole plan worked brilliantly... except for the one thing neither of them had noticed. The train had slowed to a near-standstill, and level with Mum’s backside was a large picture window looking out onto a railway platform full of waiting passengers...