Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My Little Police Mystery - plus a pictorial tribute to my childhood home.

At last, here's my explanation for some of those earlier cryptic comments about why I was away and why I was so grumpy about notions of pastoral idyll. Be warned, this is quite long. Feel free to skip ahead to pictorial tribute at the end. *********************************** Don't you just love surprises? Surprises like birthday presents, like the sixpence in the Christmas pudding, like a new rose. Like taking the kids to the Royal Easter Show and having a great days and then getting a phone call at lunchtime from my sister-in-law letting us know there'd been a robbery of Dad's home (that's Dad who is still in Sydney with us in his fourth month of serious illness including three weeks on life support) in the sweet little country town of only 1000 people where we all grew up. Where everybody knows everybody. Where our parents contributed tens of thousands of volunteer hours to improve services and facilities. You know. The one with the fruit trees and the morning sun and the dew drops all glistening... Here's a reminder And now wait, there's more! They stole his car, maybe used it to transport some of his tools and tv, then brought it back covered in mud and crashed it in the side paddock. Just near the fruit trees in the pic in that link above. But hold on. I've been keeping the best 'til last. They stole my mother's ashes. Let me just repeat that for the hard of hearing. They STOLE my mother's ashes. Admittedly, they probably didn't do that bit on purpose. But - assuming they could read, which may be way too big an assumption - the box is topped with a large silver plaque with her name on it, and two sticky labels, also with her name, and the address of Rookwood Crematorium. And she was a pretty well-known person up there. So well known that, a week after the robbery, with the support of police, we released the information to the media and appealed to the community for the return of her ashes. Her Order of Australia medal and engagement ring would have been nice too. But still. It was the ashes that were important - and completely worthless to anyone else. We didn't really expect a result. But it was great that I got the front page of the regional daily, and the best rating tv news, and another local weekly paper, and three radio stations. She'd been their Mayor for eight years, after all. And getting media interest has been my job for a lot longer than that. ***************************** So in the meantime, I've been dealing with Dad's insurers. Same company for building, contents and motor vehicle. Their motto: "We can't help but help". So how come I have to deal with three separate claims assessors? ****************************** And then we go away to Dubbo for the second week of the school holidays with the kids and we're having a great time and we're driving back on the Thursday and my brother calls. He's heading up north to Dad's place to start cleaning up. The phone cuts out. Country reception is pretty bad. While we're driving along and waiting to get back into range, I look at the Prof and the Prof looks at me. I don't have to be back at work until Monday and my usual reasons for not travelling are sitting in the back seats, fully sated on Mummy time over the past six days. I leave for our home town with my brother at 6am the next day. ****************************** You know how I said I love surprises? The surprising thing is that I really don't. To whit: I badgered radiologists with both pregnancies to make sure I knew what all three kids' genders would be. Who has time to wonder about that shit? ****************************** So we get to Dorrigo after a fabulously easy seven-hour drive. We check out the wreck that the thieves left, and we have a laugh about the rooms where we can't tell the difference between ransacked and normal. I go to the bathroom. I'm walking out and a glint catches my eye on the top of the washing machine. Time stops. I call my brother. The one who found the place first when it had been robbed. I call him into the laundry and ask him if that was there before. It wasn't. They'd brought back the ashes. ************************************** Now Mum would have found most of this pretty funny. But she was such a lousy housekeeper that I'm pretty sure she'd have been a bit miffed to be left in the laundry. ************************************** We called the police. Because? Shouldn't we just have gratefully stashed them away once more? While the box wasn't damaged, there were two long strips of sticky tape holding the lid down. They weren't there before. There might be fingerprints, or DNA. Or there might not. All kinds of morons watch CSI now, and they know to wear gloves. But also the box, which I picked up only after it was in a proper evidence bag, felt only about half as heavy as I remembered when I collected it from Rookwood. It's been opened, it's lighter, you do the maths. ********************************** Wednesday update: the police couldn't find fingerprints, bad; but they're pretty sure the box wasn't opened, good. I'm choosing to believe the sticky tape was some weird thief precaution. Same kind of weird that has someone steal a car, damage it, and bring it back to crash into the paddock from whence they stole it. ********************************** So I'm now back talking to the media. And what to say? I can't bring myself to thank whoever let themselves back into my family home to return what MAY be all or part of my mother's ashes. If they think their conscience has been served, they are wrong. They didn't bring back her Order of Australia medals, or my grandad's war medals, and they didn't return all the loot and then eat shit and die on the doorstep so as far as I am concerned? This. Is. Not. Over. The restraint I had to show in the first interviews so I didn't offend the idiots and make them do something bad with her ashes? It's gone. And if I'm not imagining it; and they've done something to that box and its contents? Watch out, fuckers. Did I mention this media work I've been doing for a long time? I'm really good at it. Stay tuned. **************************************** And now, for the Pictorial Tribute to this little gem of a town. You may be picturing shanties and seedy streets, pawnbrokers and junkies on the streets. You'd be wrong. I'm not taking the chance of naming it again, although if you look back through comments you'll find it. But it's relatively popular with tourists and people who have visited always tell me how lucky I was to grow up there. So, as a public service, here are some identifying features to ensure that if you ever have the misfortune to pull over in this town, you will recognise the need to keep your purse close and your children closer... Historic war memorial and the popular Top Pub. I once shared a bar with Jack Thompson here. But no one would talk to him, because movie stars must be snobs, and they hate snobs in this town. Part of the World Heritage Listed Rainforest and National Park. I suggest you go no further into town than this. Oh and by the way, locals don't visit here, except on school excursions. Because if you visit here you must be a Greenie. And they hate Greenies. One of many stunning waterfalls. Local people are inordinately proud of them. As if they could somehow take personal credit for having inaccesibly high cliffs and lots of rain. Too much rain gives you toe rot. The alleged Steam Railway Museum. Some people travel all the way up there just to see it. They don't realise that it's not open yet. Because even after 25 years of working on it, it's not perfect. This is what happens when you put steam geeks in charge of a tourist attraction and surround them with locals who have two left thumbs and one set of grandparents. The town library. It used to be in the middle of the main street but they've moved it to the edge of town. I can only guess that too many people were getting access to books. And finally, I stumbled on this in Google images and thought I should try to end on a kinder note. This was where the Prof and I had our wedding dinner. I'm trying to think happy thoughts about it now. It's sort of working. Mostly because it was the only time I ever saw Mum and Dad dance together. Thanks for bearing with me. I'd have given you more pics but Blogger seems to have decided enough is enough and, for once, it's probably right. mtc (when I've caught my breath) Bec


Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

And can I please just leap in quickly, now that I've actually published this, to say that I am NOT referring to every rural situation in the world. There are some nice people in this town, as there are in many, many other country towns and there are many people who might have responded to this attack differently, too.

I just generally need to make the point that 'country' is not a word that can be used as a synonym for friendly, peaceful, relaxing, honest, welcoming, loyal, wholesome or resourceful, that's all.

That, and that someone should really blow the whole fucking place up.

5/03/2006 03:20:00 pm  
Blogger My float said...

I have nothing, NOTHING to say. Except may they rot. And may you use your great skills to make the fuckers pay.

Am raising my glass of red to your mum.

5/03/2006 04:25:00 pm  
Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Thank you!

5/03/2006 04:28:00 pm  
Blogger Kim said...

Pet - we've spoken at length about this so I don't need to say anything here about it...except you do mention the town in your actual copy - sort of in the top third. After Dubbo...

5/03/2006 07:06:00 pm  
Blogger Surfing Free said...

Grrr .... I'm putting a sbustantial bet on it being the kids of 'new comers', ie. families that arrived in the area 25 years ago or so and have fucked up the place ever since.
I also come from a country, well, it's not a town its a hamlet and it's in Queensland and it is full of the nicest but all the most bigoted, small minded, petty gossips I have ever met. I love the country, but I love the Berry, Bowral, Katoomba kind of country. Where the townies looking for peace and quiet find it while establishing fab cafes, bookshops, and art societies.

I'm soooo sorry that this happened to your Dad, and your Mum (I hope she blew back in their faces!), and your family. Lousy bastards!

5/03/2006 08:01:00 pm  
Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

Editing now...

5/03/2006 08:31:00 pm  
Blogger Joke said...

Is death by impalement still allowed in Australia? Because I'd support that.


5/03/2006 10:35:00 pm  
Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

If you mean the kind of vertical impalement that makes use of an existing orifice, Joke, then technically no, but I think there might be some kind of local bylaw that makes it acceptable.

5/03/2006 10:52:00 pm  
Blogger Badger said...

Dude! OMG! I don't even ... holy shit! That sucks. I'm with Joke on the preferred method of execution for these motherfuckers. Better yet, extradite them up here to TX. We off people for far less on a daily basis.

5/03/2006 11:01:00 pm  
Blogger Kim said...

Bugglers are fucktards.

The end.

5/03/2006 11:38:00 pm  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Oh Bec. Unbe friggin lievable.

Good luck finding the culprits! I've had friends who've gone to pawn shops in the area and found most of what was stolen from their homes, and in some cases even figured out who did it, when the police couldn't!

5/04/2006 03:08:00 am  
Blogger BabelBabe said...

oh christ.
I am so sorry.
what...what... what total fuckheads.

5/04/2006 04:32:00 am  
Blogger Suse said...

Wow. That was unbelievable. I'm just catching up on what now feels like a week of your blog, and am blown away. Like your mum, as surfing free said.

So sorry for you.

Keep an eye out at local antique shops for the medals turning up.

I'm going to pour a glass of red right now and raise it to you and your mum. Does your dad know of all this or is he blissfully unaware?

5/04/2006 08:29:00 pm  
Blogger julia said...

Things like this just reinforce my long-held opinion that People Suck. Unfuckingbelievable.

5/05/2006 02:20:00 am  
Anonymous Angie said...

I am just speechless! I am glad you got her back. Just ... dayumn!

5/05/2006 10:27:00 am  
Blogger Lazy cow said...

I have to say that is is some bizarre story!
Glad that your mum is back. I'm drinking the dregs of my red wine to her right now.

5/05/2006 08:35:00 pm  
Anonymous sueeeus said...

WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING? I'm glad your mother's ashes were returned, but for heaven's sake... I can't even fathom...

Even so, the pics are gorgeous.

I used to have a place in a quaint small town that was repeatedly vandalized over the last few years (pop 226, and nobody claims to know who was responsible... right...) It sucked. Being a rich city slicker and all, I guess I deserved it.

5/07/2006 01:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Tony Park said...

Glad to hear you got your mum back, but we really should hunt those fuckers down and kill them.
I'm a starter.

Did Jack Thompson have his two girlfriends with him when you met him in the bar?

The pic of your wedding reception place brought back good memories, including one of your mum, who tried to be so discrete when she busted me and julie in the sauna. (readers note: no naugtiness was going on - Julie and I heard rebecca's mum's footsteps on the stairs and hid in the sauna, as we were mid-way through placing biscuit crumbs and a cactus in Bec and Prof's matrimonial bed).

5/08/2006 10:56:00 am  
Blogger Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

She never let on! I bet she thought there was something else afoot. Indiscretion is the only thing that could have inspired such discretion.

You weren't the only two using that sauna for illicit purposes that night, either...

And yes, I remember the breadcrumbs and cactus very fondly. As I recall we just gave up on the sheets and moved elsewhere!

5/08/2006 11:33:00 am  

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