33.   The number that won, won, won

Since Isobel couldn’t run away I took the opportunity to explain as gently as possible my thinking. I told her the way I had been operating for a number of years, or at least ever since I thought people were reading my story and testing, if it was really true: 

“Because people are unsure if my writing was all true, and my actions really inspired by God, they may test it in ways, such as placing a J on the road. Would I see it? If spotting a J, like the one you saw me pick up, is just my mind going crazy, then nothing is lost. Plus the roadside has been cleaned of some litter.

But if somebody had read about my story, what took place right on Christmas last year (I wrote, how I believed God was speaking to me via a J-shaped spaghetti while doing dishes) and wanted to believe, by testing my credibility, HE again passed the test”.

I was not successful in convincing my wife to join me in this kind of possibility thinking. I knew I had a very good product, but despite all my creativity, I had never been a good salesman.

Driving through Orroroo I spotted to my left a whole lot of caravans. They were parked as if ready to go on a tour. People were milling around in small groups, talking. I asked Isobel, if she wanted to stop and have a look. Really, it was I who wanted to see what was going on and I hated doing things, which Isobel wouldn’t approve of.

Somehow, it felt as if the Suzuki turned around all on its own. I parked, got out and started chatting with the nearest group of caravan-travelers, waiting for departure. I had a joke with them when I asked: “If I wanted to get away from my wife (Isobel stayed in the car watching) could I just come on tour with you?” Did they really think I wanted to get away just from my wife? They knew more, I knew by their name tabs. 

The group had started that morning from Peterborough, a nearby town we were planning to have lunch at. I couldn’t work out, why 20 or so caravans were parked such a short distance away from their original starting point that day. The time was already ½ hour away from midday.

Just as I was leaving a man yelled: “We are called” and we all went our ways. As we drove away Isobel gave me a further clue, which would fit into the bigger picture.  She noticed and told me that one of the lead vehicles displayed a sign. The group organizers were based in Bendigo.

Within ½ hour we were at Peterborough. The J-tape incident and the caravan group kept me on a heightened state of alert. Not that I was going high as in a manic high, I just found it marvelous that my story brought such response so far away. I no longer entertained the option that it was all in my mind. 

How could faulty thinking continue for so long, bringing one co-incident after another? Scientifically, there must be a point where mere chance is eliminated. I had crossed that line at some point in the past and was not looking back.   



Moments after parking in Peterborough, walking near the steps to the railway station, I picked up this artifact. Only after scanning today, did I notice the number at the top. Take away the 282, all that is left is 17. 

Walking my dog less than an hour ago, I picked up a flyer. It was folded to show only the first 3 digits of a local business’ phone number. They were 828, as in Romans 8,28?


It so happened that while we were there an art exhibition was held at the local hall in Peterborough. My suggestion to go and have a look met with a negative response. I didn’t really want to look at weird works of art either. But this show was different. Entry was affordable. A huge tapestry, which was quite a famous work of art, hanging in the foyer area did the trick. Isobel was fascinated and agreed we have a look.

The other peculiarity about this exhibition was that the visitors were the judges as to who wins first prize in each of the 3 categories, Junior, Open and Photographs. Since the artworks were also for sale, I saw a problem. A picture worth $ 1000 dollars has a better chance of winning, rather than a simple one at $ 150. There were no instructions how to judge the best entry. 

Still, the fact we had to be judges made us spent quite some time in the hall (free coffee!!) looking more closely than usual at the hundreds of paintings and photographs. 

Shortly before leaving Isobel called me over, saying she noticed an artist’s name, R….W… We knew an artist by the same name. We had been friends in Tasmania. He had painted an excellent portrait of Isobel’s late father, which we still treasure. Suddenly, my eyes seemed to open. It was as plain as 1 and 5 in Habakkuk.

RW’s painting, the one I voted for as first prize, was of a jetty viewed from underneath, looking through to a distant beach. Two boys on top of the jetty were walking back towards shore. Both carried fishing rods in their hands. One held three rods, the other only one. The supporting structure of the jetty consisted of heavy timber beams, criss-crossed. I pictured the timber beams as crosses. Days earlier I had uploaded my story of visiting another exhibition of paintings and seeing a cross on a frame.

But the boys returning from fishing on a jetty later stirred a memory of the Brighton jetty, south of Adelaide. I had discovered how a boy told a story of fishing on a jetty, and how certain facts of the story didn’t make sense to me. This boy saw Magistrate Peter Liddy get out of a car and pick up two young boys at the end of the Brighton Jetty outside the Life Surfing Club.

(It only came to me a few months ago – earlier in my story I had been fascinated by the two colours red and yellow. These two colours are the same as the two colours of the posts Life Surfers use to indicate a patrolled area of the beach). 

Another factor about the painting made me think deeply - the entry number of the painting – No. 111 and the cost - $ 500. On 11/01/05, I purposely wrote the date in that fashion, 9 people perished in South Australia’s worst bushfires since 1983. 

I asked the attendant, if she knew, or could find out, where the artist RW lived. She perused some papers under her desk and answered - Moonta Mines. But something inside me sensed this was not so – Moonta smelled so much like - (am) on a cross. And why not just say Moonta? Why bother with the detail? Moonta Mines does not have a separate postcode.

There were another two paintings by RW on exhibition. One, which I only briefly scanned, was of a girl sitting on a rock, looking out to sea. I knew this wasn’t the last time I would be thinking about RW and the jetty painting.  

Continuing our journey we had a brief stop in Jamestown. Isobel and I sat on bench seat in the main square for a few moments, enjoying the warm, sunny afternoon. She would not have taken notice of a car driving by, registration … LV 150, pulling a trailer. Nor would she have bothered picking up a tiny piece of cardboard, the size of a postage stamp, which showed four squares in the colours blue (dark and light) and yellow and red. I took it home to colour the pages of my diary.

Strolling through the main street we heard music coming from inside a hall. I was attracted to it and went inside to check it out, while Isobel rather enjoyed window-shopping. There were about a dozen or so couples, all dancing or learning to dance. I watched for a short while and enjoyed the music, the dancing and the smiling faces. My diary entry says that this is what I had done during my US trip, and written about it on my blog.

Our last stop was the cute little town called Clare, where an interesting observation is worth mentioning. Isobel was driving at the time and parked the car in the main street, right outside a variety store. It had not long opened. Before getting out of the car I saw it. I couldn’t help it. Isobel had no idea that she parked the car right there, so I would see it.

In the shop window a few meters away, I saw a large stack of Sunkist Orange-Drink boxes. They were stacked as 6 in the bottom row, 5 the next, then 4 etc. This would make a total of 21, if the stacks had been completed. But the crowning box, the top one, was missing. So there were only 20. I can’t remember, why I hadn’t taken a photo. I may have run out of film.


Not long after uploading a picture showing the three letters DEN, I noticed this in the newspaper. Go DoDo, you're my hero.


Later after arriving home, we compared RW’s, the artist’s, signature, with what we saw at Peterborough. It looked almost identical to the artwork we possessed. Isobel said she detected a slight difference. I was still puzzled. After a few days I tracked down RW’s email address. Originally from South Australia, he still lived in Hobart, Tasmania.

I explained in my email about our weekend away and how we had stumbled onto the art exhibition. I described the painting in question and asked, if it was his artwork. His reply came a few days later. It was not a straight out no. His answer was a little ambiguous, which left me still wondering. He used the phrase – "I am not responsible". This could mean either – not responsible for painting the paintings or not responsible for setting up this little ‘white lie’.

I would have preferred a definite no, with a comment, how co-incidental it all was – two artists, identical name and very similar looking signature. I suspected a set up, a little game play. Why is anybody’s guess.

On Monday 21/3/05 the day after our memorable weekend I took particular note of car registration number …RW 159. I liked the letters and numbers, even though they may have had nothing to do with our RW or the numbers in my story. Registration plates still popped up regularly, but I took less notice and seldom reacted. I was running out of business cards, anyway.

But how can you not be encouraged, when a car approaches and you read the word TRUST? You make an effort and turn around just to get encouraged again as it drives away.

Let’s legislate in favour of nice words as car registration plates. LOVE, BEAUTY, JAY, LORD, NUMBER etc. Forget numbers altogether, except perhaps 1 and 5, maybe 7 or 9.

Then again, we should really include 3 and …

Chapter 34