Friday, 23 September 2011

Aunt Gertrude

For days on end the house was full of excitement because “Aunt Gertrude is coming! Aunt Gertrude is coming!”

I can’t understand all the fuss myself; since no one has met Aunt Gertrude and the last time I saw her was millions of years ago in the Jurassic era I believe.

Sure, the old fossil does keep in touch, once a year, when she sends a re-cycled Christmas card which someone else has sent her. Yes, I mean it … a re-cycled Christmas card! She sticks a piece of paper on the card where previous well-wishers have written and then she writes her Yuletide Greetings. We often peel off the paper carefully and guess who originally sent her the card!

She has always been very tightfisted as I remember. So miserly that she looks at you from on top of her spectacles so as not to wear out the lenses!

Anyway … this distant relative, (she lives in Australia), whom no one has ever met except me has decided to visit us. Apparently her husband, a successful business man, had planned a business trip to the UK before he died suddenly, and she did not want to waste the airline ticket!

As soon as he was underground she was over ground and flying.

And I was tasked to go and meet her in the airport. I took the day off work and left early to get there on time. I waited endlessly in the reception area and eventually my eyes set upon the much awaited relative from down under.

She walked very slowly and carried a small case in her hand. I offered to carry it for her and she refused holding it tightly to her chest. We waited for the rest of her luggage which I loaded onto a trolley and then into my car.

No sooner had we left the airport that she started complaining. “Why do you drive so slow?” she asked, “where I come from we walk faster than that!”

I smiled politely, looked at her from the rear view mirror and said: “There’s a speed restriction area up front. Road works I believe!”

“Why do they have to fix the roads at inconvenient times and near a busy airport? Why can’t they fix them elsewhere?”

I must admit I had no good answer to this one. Why indeed do they fix the roads near the airport and not the ones in a desert somewhere, in the middle of a jungle or up a mountain? How inconsiderate of these road mending people!

“Do you live far?” was her next question.

“It’s about an hour away, I’m afraid!” I replied hesitantly.

“You should consider moving nearer the airport.” she retorted quickly, “it would be more considerate when you have visitors from abroad.”

Once again, she was right of course. We should all leave our place of employment locally, and where the schools are close to hand, and move near the busy airport on the off-chance that our distant relative, (not distant enough right now), might one day in a lifetime get hold of a spare airline ticket and choose to use it rather than attempt to get a reduced refund.

I remained silent and then started to panic as I saw the traffic build up right ahead. There had been an accident and we soon came to a stop on the highway.

“Are we there yet?” she asked.


“Why have we stopped then?”

“There’s been an accident. The police is re-directing us another way.”

“Not many accidents in Australia.” she claimed, “My husband drove for fifty years and never had an accident. Except once! When he reversed on Aristotle, the cat! Didn’t like him anyway … the cat. Didn’t like my husband much either …”

I said nothing and left the highway slowly as directed by the police.

A few minutes later my cell-phone rang. I stopped the car to answer it.

“Where are you? Why have you not picked up Aunt Gertrude from the airport?”

It took a few seconds for my slow brain to realize what I had done. I’d picked the wrong aunt from the airport!

How was I to know? She wore spectacles. She walked slowly. She looked old … she WAS old! She looked Australian, she spoke in an Australian accent and came off an Australian plane!

Was I to check her identity in her passport double-locked in her hand bag held tightly against her chest?

Why is it always my fault when everything goes wrong?

That evening I opened my Bible and read: “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43: 1-5.

I bet He knows the right Aunt Gertrude better than me!


  1. So funny, Victor! You have a very weird collection of relatives. I had to keep reading when I saw Aunt Gertrude was from Australia. (I would have kept reading anyway. Your endings are so good.) “Not many accidents in Australia.” Are we talking about people or animals? I passed a dead wombat, two kangaroos and a fox on the way home from town today. Pity you are so far away and won't be able to use them in your restaurant. Or was that a friend's restaurant...

    Great story, Victor! And I haven't forgotten about the prayers.

  2. Thank you Sue for your continued prayers.

    The restaurant I believe is in Oxfordshire. I read about it somewhere or other. Never been there.

    Foxes in the UK are becoming quite daring and come into town. There's a whole family living in the back garden.

    God bless.

  3. This was so funny, Victor! Sue's right, you do have strange relatives (is it a genetic thing?) but I'm glad this particular woman was NOT related. (Though you could have done your entire purgatory in a few weeks I suppose.)

    Did the false Aunt Gertrude become fish food for the goldfish pond in your garden when she accidentally tumbled in while trying to check if they were male or female? You DID ask her to check, right?

    Or maybe she was just too cheap and was fishing in the goldfish pond for dinner and her spectacles fell in so she went in after them?

    Ahh! I know what you did with her! Sue, left a hint above! I am so slow...

    Enjoy your new bicycle, Victor :)

  4. Hello Crystal and Mary,

    Actually I had to turn back to the airport with a continuously moaning false Aunt Gertrude. I dropped her in the waiting lounge. Searched for ages for the real Aunt Gertrude, only to find that she had taken a taxi and was already home enjoying a good cup of tea.

    I'll never live this down.

    On reflection, and looking closely at the real Aunt Gertrude, I've come to the conclusion that all Australians look the same.

    God bless.

  5. Oh Victor, I soooo enjoy your stories and your humor! What a great start to my day - I will try to keep the smile on all day!

  6. Hi Andie,

    How great to see you visiting here again. Thanx.

    I'm glad I made you smile.

    God bless.

  7. Oh my, what a story! I had to chuckle, as I hope you do now that the adventure is over. I hope you ended up having a good visit with the real Aunt Gertrude!

  8. Hello Karen,

    Thanx for your visit. I'm so pleased you liked this short story.

    God bless.



God bless you.

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