As (bad) luck would have it

I have become unsentimental about occasions such as Mother’s Day as I age. So I wasn’t particularly bothered that I didn’t spend yesterday with my kids.

I drove to Newcastle for prawns and oysters on my parents’ balcony, but the youngest had tickets to a Manly Sea Eagles footy match. So the kids stayed behind and had lunch with their dad.

Mother’s Day didn’t go completely unmarked. I bought my offspring wings and fries on Friday night at a local bar and my gift is apparently in the mail.

I had to head back from Newcastle pretty soon after lunch because DD had booked tickets for a few comedy shows last night, with the first one kicking off unexpectedly early – at 5.45pm in Marrickville. It was quite the hike for both of us – 2.5 hours for me from Newie and 45 minutes for him from the Northern Beaches.

There was far too much movement in both our weekends because DD arrived back from a work trip to Adelaide late on Friday night, then turned around and headed to Darlinghurst on Saturday afternoon for a former flatmate’s 60th birthday.

I only knew one couple at the party until just before we were leaving, when a small, very stylish woman walked in. We stared at each other long and hard.

She said: “Well hello!”

I said: “Wow! Hello!”

She said: “Alana House!”

I said:

While I remembered her face very clearly, I could not remember her name for the life of me. I am always chastened when people that can instantly remember my name, in full.

It was a former work colleague I hadn’t seen for 30 years! We worked together on a collection of magazines called “Design Series”, including “House Design”. She was a writer, I was a sub editor. It was very entertaining whenever I called people to check facts in stories and announce I was “Alana House from House Design magazine”.

It turns out her girlfriend is friends with DD’s former flatmate’s girlfriend. The world is too small.

Fortunately she introduced herself as Nicky to someone else and her full name burst back into my head.

She also announced with delight that she had spent the last 30 years telling people the story of my yellow Mazda 121, the unfortunate car experience that preceded the atrocious orange Renault.

In the Mazda 121’s case it wasn’t the workmanship that was the problem, it was circumstance.

I was in my early 20s and decided to trade in my Datsun for one of those jellybean cars. I went to the Mazda car dealership in Cardiff to test drive one. Loved it, aside from the colour – bright yellow. I asked to purchase one in a different colour. Dealer said the yellow one was $12,000, but all other colours were $13,000. Back then $1000 was a lot of money, so I grudgingly agree to buy the yellow one.

I was working in Sydney at the time and was driving back when the new car suddenly groaned to a halt on the hill before Belmont. Being young and not very car savvy, I was terrified. I had no idea what I’d done wrong. Why had my new car suddenly stopped?

It was pre-mobile phones, so I walked into Belmont and knocked on the front door of the dog breeder’s house where our Bichon Frise, Casper, had been born and asked to use her phone.

“I rang the car dealer and wailed ‘The car … just … stopped!!!!!'”

The dealership made verbal eye roll noises and sent a mechanic out to examine the car. The eye rolling abruptly ceased when they realised they’d forgotten to put a single drop of fluid in the engine before handing it over, so it had seized up.

Everyone was very startled that it had made it 15km and I forget how I eventually got back to Sydney. Presumably I reclaimed my trusty Datsun.

What I do remember is asking if I could have a new car in a different colour. Nope. They were putting a new engine in the yellow car. Sigh.

A few years later, someone ran into the yellow car while it was parked outside my house in Petersham and drove away. Fortunately, a neighbour spotted their low act and gave me their number plate details, which I passed on to the insurer.

The car was repaired and I went to Europe on holidays, leaving my sister in charge of the car and the house.

To her horror, she walked out one morning to discover every single panel of the car had been stomped on or kicked in.

We presume the disgruntled person who originally ran into the car came back in the middle of the night and destroyed it in a fit of revenge.

It was towed off to the panel beater to be hammered back to shape and resprayed. It was only after I got the car back that it occurred to me I hadn’t asked if it could be resprayed a different colour …

So, yep, it came back bright yellow.

A few years after that I got a call from the police asking if I knew where my car was. I presumed it was out the front of my house, but no, it had been stolen three days earlier.

The police thought it was very suss that I hadn’t noticed, but I talked them around.

The car had been found stripped and abandoned in Greenacre, as there was a hot market for Mazda 121 parts back then.

And that was the end of the yellow car. I got $11,000 for it from the insurance company, which I thought was pretty amazing for a five year old car. I checked on Cars Guide yesterday and they’ve really held their value, a 1992 model is for sale for $4999!

Anyways, back to 2023 … Nicky was tickled by the tale of the yellow jellybean and has been regaling people with the story ever since.

How funny is that?

Hope you had a fabulous Sunday.

And now I’d better get cracking on my Monday.

Pray for my liver – Sydney Whisky Week celebrations kick off on Wednesday.

Song of the day: Madness “Driving in my car”

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