Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Intended Collisions (2) - For Auntie Sarah

I was a prefect at school. Leavers year, age 16 and taking my badge seriously, even if I did mess about in maths - sorry Mrs Mellow.




Anyway, it was a day when all the junior school children were coming up to have a tour of the 'big' school they would be starting come September. It was my responsibility to show one of the classes around. 

This done, I was crossing the quad, when I came upon one of the young lads that had been in my group, somewhat harassed by a boy in my year. Russell Alcombe. Now I liked Russell, but he was a notorious thug.

As I told Russ to leave the little lad alone, unbeknown to me, the deputy head was watching the entire scene play out. All three of us ended up in his office. Russell got suspended - poor sod - and the 12 year old, Chris, was just happy to be on his way again, no doubt grateful that an entire summer holiday lay between now and his setting foot in his new school again. Oh and the fact that Russell would be long gone - on his way to some sort of detention centre no doubt?

Fast forward many years, a few continents, and a failed engagement, I'm travelling across the deserted north of Australia in Qantas. The ticket to fly was one of the last things in my possession, and pretty much after landing and reclaiming my dusty pack, I would be destitute and alone. Literally I had no money left and no onward ticket home.  

In these moments of madness, on the very last bones of my arse, serendipity has always stepped forward and taken over. And the funny thing is, at times like these when I've thought I've had nothing, I've ended up with everything. Trust is the string that holds all the pearls. 

Broome airport back then (1998) was a tiny tin shack with an air strip cut out of the pindan earth that surrounded it. So small, that everyone huddled collectively waiting for the luggage that some poor old outback Aussie was having to handle alone in 40+ heat. 

Wiping sweat off my brow and swatting flies in all directions, an extremely tall young man approached me. Friendly looking and a bit shy even, he asked quietly, "Are you from Portsmouth?" and immediately had my attention. 
"Yes." 
"Is your name Emma?" My mouth dropped open. 
"Yes. Who are you?" 
"You may not remember this, but when I was 12, you were showing my class around school. You stopped an idiot having a go at me. Thanks for that."
"Of course. Well isn't that mad! It's nice to see you again."
"Come and meet my girlfriend Sarah, she's just over here."

A pretty face smiled at me, saying hello and explaining how she had nudged Chris to ask if it was me, as he wasn't sure. (Ten years had elapsed after all).

And so serendipity lent a hand. What went around, came back around. I saved his arse all those years before, and here he was now saving mine. Although at the time, I couldn't appreciate that this was only the beginning...

No longer lonely, not only did I walk with them to a backpackers hostel, I managed to get a job cleaning it in exchange for my accommodation. That then led to another job and six weeks of hard graft that earned me £3,000 aussie dollars and further travels down the west coast of Oz. Eventually, I caught up with Sarah and Chris in Fremantle and slept in an over cramped houseshare with them, laughing a lot, hung over a lot and working as a waitress in a cocktail bar. Okay, not cocktail bar, cafe on cappuccino strip. Loved it. I'm wondering if the Freo Queen of Tarts cafe still exists?

Fast forward, six years and Sarah introduced me to a colleague that she thought I'd get on really well with. She was right. So well in fact, that three years after that we were married. Sarah of course was our bridesmaid, and a little further down the line, became fairy Godmother to our two girls. 

Needless to say we all adore her. Most especially me. THANK YOU Sarah x