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Chandelier Tiger

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It didn’t take long to realise, the only moving thing on the open road not likely to pass us, were two wheeler bikes and wheel chairs. “What’s your problem?” he asked. “There’s no hurry – we’ve got three months!” There were nine of us in a converted former mail bus touring interstate; what now was […]

It didn’t take long to realise, the only moving thing on the open road not likely to pass us, were two wheeler bikes and wheel chairs.

“What’s your problem?” he asked. “There’s no hurry – we’ve got three months!”

There were nine of us in a converted former mail bus touring interstate; what now was obvious was that half had not really thought this holiday through, or considered impact, of two extra companions. One came on a series of cassettes, the voice of Charlie Pride, the other a petrol-sniffing tiger.

Every day started and ended with Charlie Pride, as the camper rolled out every morning so did his music. Over and over for three months, crystal chandeliers serenaded sparkling salt lakes, hail storms, hot pastry from brown paper bags and slabs of watermelon on dusty red roads. After another long day of driving he would casually say, “Enough singing for today Charlie.”

Driving all day every day meant petrol use and its cost was a daily topic.

It was the late seventies and competing oil companies were fighting for market control. The winning company’s slogan proved to be contagious and was promoted everywhere.

“Put a tiger in your tank” lurked in all places, and these tigers claimed a persona of their own. At the petrol pump a quaint new language was adopted. “Fill ‘er full with tiger, mate.” When other travellers asked “How’s ya camper traveling?”, his answer came easy and informative. “Go’s well. It’s gotta tiger in the tank.”

When the voice on the cassette became too much, I would don dark sunglasses and sneak up the back grateful for sleep, unaware our thirteen year old was throwing notes from a window, ‘Save me, save me’.

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Permanently behind the wheel, he would listen for the harmony of rubber burning on bitumen. Changing gear he would revel with the feel of power needed for the road ahead. When red dust billowed, he’d comment.

‘Wonder how Ole Charlie feels, about dust on his chandeliers?’ Totally content, we’d hear him mutter as he felt the pull of power needed, for yet another hill, ‘Good on ya Tiger’.

Source: Tasmanian Times https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2020/11/chandelier-tiger/#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chandelier-tiger

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