Aunt Gertrude from Australia’s stay with us for a while is certainly causing me strain. It’s not just her accent of course … although Lord knows I’m fed up of hearing her say “Fair Dinkum, mate?” whatever that means.
It’s not her throwaway facts about Australia every now and then either. “Did you know a koala bear is actually not a bear.” She would say. “It is actually a gray furry marsupial which resembles a bear and feeds almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves.”
“Interesting …” I would reply hiding my total lack of interest.
“And the kangaroo cannot actually pass wind …” she would go on. Not that I cared to know that fact in the first place. Apparently, its gut does not have the necessary bacteria to create the gaseous emission which we all suffer from occasionally. And that’s probably why it keeps hopping around instead of walking or running like everyone else.
No … what really gets to me about Aunt Gertrude is her total and absolute obsession in saving money. She definitely is the ultimate housekeeper. She was widowed three times and every time she kept the house.
Whenever we go out shopping she insists on haggling and trying to get the price down. In the weekend market near us the price of fruits and vegetables is clearly displayed on each market stall; yet she insists on asking the stall-holder “Are you sure mate?” in her Australian accent. When they confirm the price she replies “You’re kidding me? Right! In Adelaide it’s at least half that price!”
Last Sunday we took her to a nice tea shop we often frequent in a small village near us and enjoyed tea with scones and potted cream and jam.
You know those little packets of butter they normally have on the table? And the small plastic containers with various jams, and the small sachets of sugar? Well, she insisted on putting all the unused ones in her bag as we left.
“We’ve paid for them cobber!” she said with a smile as I protested, “I can have them for breakfast!”
I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or insulted. After all, we have plenty of butter, sugar and jam at home.
The other day the phone rang once and then stopped. A minute later it rang once again and stopped.
“That’s for me,” she said, “may I use your phone?”
She picked up the phone and dialed out and spoke for about half-an-hour.
Apparently she had worked out that it is cheaper to phone from our home to Australia rather than the other way round. She had worked it out to the nearest penny including working out the daily exchange rate between the two currencies.
So she agreed with her friend back home that her friend would phone twice and put the receiver down as a signal for Auntie to ring Australia.
I don’t mind the ruse, but not once did she actually offer to pay me for the calls; so she effectively phoned for free.
The other day I caught her bending down in the garden and saying to the bush “Give it to me … give it to me …”
I thought her Australian mind had gone walkabout in the outback.
She was actually talking to the cat who had just caught a pigeon. Eventually she retrieved the pigeon and brought it to the kitchen and prepared it to bake in a pie. Apparently back home she often makes pies with all sorts of road-kills to save money.
No one would eat the pie when it was finally baked and we convinced her to share our turkey roast instead and give the pie to the cat.