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U3A Writing: A Load Of Trouble

Who is this old dame who keeps hooting at the bloke driving a double-decker load of scrub goats?

Merle Parkin tells a tasty Aussie tale.

The minute I pulled over to let the old lady pass, I knew I had a load of trouble.

She'd been sitting behind the semi I drive for eighty kilometres, tooting intermittently. Once or twice she'd pulled out to pass, only to spy an approaching vehicle, then she'd nervously creep back in behind me. She was driving one of those V8 gas-guzzlers that should have had the power to pass a swarm of semis.

She'd dropped back a couple of times and I thought I'd lost her, maybe she'd turned off somewhere. Then I'd see her in my rear view mirror, coming hell for leather down the highway. If there were a wide, flat verge, I'd inch over a bit to let her pass - as much as a bloke can do with a double-decker load of scrub goats. But no, she's take up station behind my outfit and started honking again - a voice like a diesel loco, that tank of hers had; I could hear it above my semi.

I'd driven down from a property beyond Mootwingie. Right down through Broken Hill things had been peaceful enough, and I'd stopped at Coombah roadhouse for a cuppa and a plate of sandwiches. When I came out to the truck, the Nannies and Billies gave me a quiet chorus, a sort of mut-mut-mut, as though to say, "Ah, there you are, father."

Somewhere just south of Popiltah, this dame started honking behind me. She'd kept it up right down across the Anabranch bridge, and I realised she was probably headed for Mildura. Silly old moo would probably try to pass me on the winding road through Curlwaa, when she'd had miles of straight highway with little traffic.

There's a fine truck parking area just out of Wentworth, a good sealed area where they took a bend out of the highway. I decided to pull over there for a minute or two, to let her past.

But it wasn't my day! She'd obviously decided to have a word with this truckie who'd been blocking her progress, for she pulled in right behind me. Beside me, indeed, and even put her bright-red vehicle slightly into the path of the prime mover.

Strangely, she was also taking some goats somewhere, not in a trailer as I'd have expected, but in the back seat of her sedan. They stared out from there glassy-eyed as she disembarked and strode across towards me with a murderous scowl.

"What the blazes do you think you're at?" was her opening gambit, "I've been tooting behind you for nearly a bloody hour!" I opened my mouth to reply, but she wasn't about to let me speak.

"One of your gates is loose, and you've been losing goats from back on those bends at Polpitah. I've picked some of them up while they were still winded, but a dozen more went bush before I could catch them. Now, do you want the mongrel things or not? I only came out to the highway to pick up me mail. It's been a damn long mail trip!"

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