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These pages are a collection of stories from the Writer's Group at Box Hill U3A.

A Close Shave

We decided to go to Canberra, partly to visit children and grandchildren and also to have a look around. We usually go there by car when we take take two days and stay over for a night at Holbrook. On this occasion time was of the essence, tied in with school holidays and work commitments. Flying meant we gained an extra bit of time there. We had to be back by the following Saturday. It was a good trip, Qantas was, as usual efficient and helpful,
The quick round of a snack and drink in the short flying time and then the whipping away of the remnants in time for landing is rather breathtaking.
We had booked in at our usual place, Olims Hotel which is close to the Canberra Centre. We know our way around from there. We had a loan of a spare car from one of the relatives. The National Library had an exhibition entitled "Treasures", being the forerunner of a proposed new segment including many very interesting exhibits such as original manuscripts, paintings and Frank Hurley photographs. Another visit to old Parliament House was worth while as usual. On this occasion they were doing role playing with visiting students from Wangaratta West Primary School, where, with a very competent educationalist using clothes and articles such as a mace and wig, they acted out the parts of a Parliamentary sitting in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A day visit to the township of Boorawa to see a friend and a day at Yass all ensured an interesting time and a chance to spend time with the family. Saturday arrived. The day for our departure. It had been arranged for a large family luncheon in one the their houses. We purchased some cooked chooks, rolls and other delights. It was most convivial and enjoyable. Getting towards time to leave for the airport. Megan was to drive us in their car. Two of the girls wanted to come along for the ride. Megan said, "What time is your flight and when do you need to be at the airport?" Wendy said.,
"Our flight is 5.10 they say half an hour before for domestic but I think we should make it an hour"
So it was arranged and after saying our goodbyes we set off, making quite good time, sad at parting but happy and relaxed. We were well on the way, probably about half way there when the car started to give warning signs. The radiator water was boiling.
We stopped.
"Has anyone got water?" Only a small bottle of drinking water and anyway we could not open the radiator immediately.
We needed to call for help. I was the only one with a mobile phone. Trouble was that I had forgotten the charger so some doubt whether it would last out. Twilight was Approaching and we were concerned about the children, also about being in time to catch the plane. We contacted NRMA who eventually sent out a tow truck but they could not take Megan and the children. Then a taxi, the 'phone still lasted. A taxi mini bus arrived eventually, we loaded our luggage but very concerned about how Megan and the children would manage. Before leaving them gave strict instructions to the tow truck man, who was only contracted by NRMA "Look after my beautiful daughter and grandchildren" Then off in a cloud of worry.
The Taxi driver very co-operative, said he was sure we would just make it but no time to spare. Airlines nowadays do not allow even a few seconds delay. The baggage handlers turn off the automatic conveyor.

Arriving at the departure door we paid the driver, rushed in with our cases to the self booking machine entering numbers and details but kept getting the message. "Do not recognize this number" until somehow miraculously we got boarding passes, rushed to the bags desk and were able to get our bags through with just under one minute to spare. Then through the camera check. I had put everything metallic into my bag and went through without a beep. But when I went to collect the bag the man said "Have you an umbrella and a nail file?" I replied "I have a folding umbrella" and turned out my bag and showed him everything in it. He put it through the camera again and said, "You have a nail file" I was feeling desperate, we still had very little time to get to the gate. Started searching through everything I had, then opened a shall zip bag in which I keep keys and similar things. No nail file but then pulling back the whole things to reveal the lining, there, in the lining, were two small nail files which must have been there for years and I forgotten about. He said, "Well. What do you want to do with these? We both said, "Just keep them, bin them or whatever. We have no time to waste" Funny thing is that I had been through airport cameras many times before with that little bag.
We caught our plane, but know of others being just seconds, late have had to lose their flight and purchase another ticket. The NRMA driver who had replaced the tow truck driver had fixed Megan's car sufficiently for her to drive home, and had followed her most of the way to ensure she would be alright until she could, later, have the car fixed properly.

Charles Dickeson