Glen and Mrs. Wright.

 

Did I ever tell you about Mrs. Wright and Glenn?..no?..Well, they were two “locals” down at the Seacliff Hotel…back in the old days, some of the last of that “war generation” that were retired or on the point of when we younger folk came along and taught them how to drink!

Mrs. Wright was a spinster, retired teacher who drove what I reckon was one of the last registered Humber Super Snipes…A big black beast she parked in her “reserved ” spot just out the front of “the ‘Cliff” when she went for a quiet drink at night…almost every night…looking back on it, and her being a local, I wonder if she bought that Humber off the deceased estate of Mrs. Herreen…now THERE was a tartar…a wealthy widow who lived opposite the Primary school I went to…I know she was a widow because she always wore black and wealthy because she was chauffered around in a big black Humber Snipe…She donated large sums to the convent school I attended and in return, she was sometimes given “control” of a class for an afternoon…she would stalk up and down the aisles of us fifty-odd kids swishing a cane into her cupped hand and looking threatening…she had the physique of Hatty Jaques and the eyes of Myra Hindley….but I’m getting off the subject…

Glenn was a council employee, whose job for the last years of his working life was seated on the council’s ride-on lawnmower…all day every day…out in the sun, which is why he got such a ruddy complection..and more melanomas cut off his face so he looked like a Jose Greko scupture..though it was a rumour that it was not at all to do with his affection for “poor-man’s port”..he was a very tall bloke who developed a kind of stoop which some tall people get from leaning down to people and perhaps a self-conscious compensation to not look too obvious…

Now, you wouldn’t think two such diverse characters would meet and become a “unit”, but they did..it happened like this…

There came to pass that Don Dunstan increased the tax on beer which raised the price of a ‘pony’ glass beyond what Mrs. Wright (we’ll call her Betty!) could budget in her retirement…BUT!..there was salvation.; Ron, the barman, informed her that there was no increased tax on wine, therefore the price of a “hock, lime and lemon” was now cheaper than the “pony” of beer she was used to having…

“Righto”, she decided “I’ll give it a try”….the first drink was “on the house” said Ron…a kindly chap…and she liked it and would have another thank you very muchly!

Of course, wine is a very different alcoholic beast  than beer, and so by the twitching hour of ten oclock, Betty was seen sitting, glazed eyed on the bar -stool, a cheroot-cigar stub hanging loose in her fingers..eye-witness accounts state that the cheroot first slipped from her fingers, did several somersaults to the bar-step in a spray of sparks…a close acquaintance stooped to pick it up , but was stopped in his action by a “teacher’s command” to “LEAVE-IT !!”…which were the last words she spoke that evening as she then slid ever so gracefully off the stool, gathering her heavy skirts modestly around herself and sunk to the floor…Ron, the barman witnessing this, to him so familiar ; “float to oblivion”,  leapt across the bar in what must be termed “the Barman’s Flop” for it was equal to an Olympic effort and calling for assistance carried her “wheelbarrow style” out to place her on the back seat of her Humber to sleep it off…it must be mentioned that Ron took her arms while the only other sober-ablebodied man in the front bar ; Glenn took her legs…”In a kindly and gentlemanly way” as Betty later assured all who would doubt otherwise.

When Glenn retired, they sold up their respective houses and moved to Kangaroo Island…Betty drove with the Humber and a huge trailer of their possessions to take the ferry across..Glenn, waving goodbye to all his mates, set sail in his restored clinker-built fishing boat to “chug-along” to the island…it was a long afternoon in the front-bar while he said his farewells..it was a long “goodbye” drinking toasts to all the good times…and it was noticed that one particular old mate..little Johnny, the SP. bookie, in a teary moment, slipped a ruddy flagon of “Rovalley Rich (poor-man’s)Port” into the prow of the boat before he set off…”in case it gets a tad chilly in the ‘passage’ (Backstair’s Passage)” he comforted…then Glenn set off for Kangaroo Island..a delightful island just off the coast of Fleurieu Peninsula, approx 200 miles long facing the mainland…You can’t miss it.

It DID get chilly out on the water….Glenn DID consume the entire flagon, fell asleep in the bottom of the boat, was swept through Backstairs Passage which flows like a river with the tides…and missed Kangaroo Island, to end up on “The Pages”..last stop between Sth Aust’ and Antarctica…but that’s another story.

 

 

 

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