8. Victor Harbour fun ‘n names
Humour, which I inherited from both my parents, was one the keys in winning the battle in my mind. Prompted by an online competition early in the New Year 05, I had opportunity to put this creative humour to good use. A professional speaker, in his online newsletter challenged readers to a contest to come up with the best creative line. The subject given was - toasters. He launched the contest by giving some examples to having fun with the word toaster:
If Philip Morris made toasters, as soon as you plug it in, it would start smokin’.
If Las Vegas made toasters, you’d lose your bread but have fun anyway.
If the Chinese made toasters, all of them would be shipped to the USA. etc.
Reader were challenged to come up with a quota of ten humor lines, which will fit the “If BLANK made toasters…” format. I emailed my contribution the next day. It came as it often did, with an underlying serious message.
If the Catholic Church made toasters, they would be coin-operated with all proceeds going towards the ‘Toasters for the poor Project’.
If Baptists made toasters they’d all be waterproof - for total immersion.
If Seventh Day Adventists made toasters, they’d include a ‘Never on Saturday’ cut-out switch.
If Pentecostals made toasters, the instruction manual would come in 150 different languages.
If Mormons sold toasters, they’d be sold only door-to-door from the back of a bike, by shorthaired men in white shirts.
If Jehovah’s Witnesses sold toasters they’d claim that only 144 000 will ever be made.
If Anglicans made toasters, they’d ask the Queen’s permission to change the words of Jesus to read: I am the toast of life.
If Muslims made toasters they’d only function, if used 5 times a day, facing the birthplace of its inventor.
If Buddhists made toasters, buyers could choose any colour, as long as it’s orange.
If Lutheran’s made toasters they come with 95 warnings about Catholic toasters.
Around Christmas 04 I had the opportunity to visit church services of several denominations. One of these was during one of the most pleasant excursion I remembered for 2004. It took place on Sunday 19/12/04. My diary headline simply reads ‘Victor Harbour magic. It actually was only half a day, but filled with magic right from the start.
After watching the Hour of Power, as I usually do, I was listening to the radio while doing dishes. I overheard a brief comment by Ian McNamara, a popular ABC radio personality and host of an Australia-wide Sunday Morning program. He used the words “…here in Victor Harbour”. I knew Ian had been in Adelaide the previous Thursday, signing his latest CD and books in the busy Tea Tree Plaza Shopping Centre. I had paid a brief visit.
It was a lovely Sunday morning and I made of those impulsive decisions. Why not take the opportunity to see Macca (as Ian is called) on location, broadcasting his show and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Victor Harbour at the same time?
Within 20 minutes I had packed a snack, a drink and my bicycle and kissed my wife good-bye, giving a brief outline what I was planning to do. She was used to me doing crazy things and would enjoy half a day on her own.
As I turned my Suzuki from Regency Road, Prospect into Prospect Road I must have felt a little guilty, driving 100 kilometers each way for no real reason. At that point, I remember clearly, I re-set the trip meter to zero. Driving down South Road I noticed opposite the Thebarton Oval, just past Weber St. a garbage bin that had fallen over, its contents spilled all over the road. I re-called an earlier incident, where I had cleaned litter off the road and put it back into a garbage bin.
I continued with an increased sense of … It’s hard to describe, but it caused a sensation of mild anxiety. I did a U-Turn, a right turn at the traffic lights, another U-Turn and a left turn to get back to the spot, where I did my civic duty. Only then did I notice it was right at bus stop No. 7, outside No. 69. (Number 96 played a big role around Christmas 04, more later). Now the name of the suburb – Thebarton - made sense, plus the location - opposite the Oval. Who arranged all this, I wondered, or was it really pure co-incidence?
A few kilometers further into my journey I glanced at the trip meter. It showed 15.1. My next thought was: I wonder what’s coming up at 15.3? I was astounded; when I looked up a few seconds later – right there as the trip meter clicked to 15.3, I was passing the business located at No. 1053. I knew I had an interesting day ahead of me.
Continuing south on the road with the unique name South Road (it’s as unique as the name of our State – South Australia) I noticed a Police Motorcyclist in the lane beside me. The registration number was …070. Both the policeman and the number were reassuring. Not so reassuring was what came out of the radio. Ian was talking to a person who had moved to Mount Compass. I would be passing that township ½ hour later. So far so good.
Next thing he talked, as if he was talking to somebody in Stawell, Victoria, almost a day’s drive away. How could this be? Slowly it dawned on me, as I kept driving, listening to the radio, that I was rushing to a non-event. Ian was broadcasting from the ABC studios, possibly in Sydney, and replaying pre-recorded interviews.
I felt like the family who, after watching the forecast for glorious weekend weather on TV, decided to pack the tents and make use of the warm sunshine for a trip away. Except, they had watched a video recording and returned home after a disappointing, washed out camping trip.
But the weather that December Sunday was bright and I had no inclination to return to Adelaide. On the way into Victor Harbour I noticed a sign – Southern Gateway Church. I turned to enquire what time their service would be held. There was no other sign and I got lost a little. I spotted a red cap of an old man outside his house. I stopped and asked, if he knew where the church was and what denomination it was.
He knew neither answer, but within moments, as if we’d known each other for years, we got talking about God and religion. He was a seeker, he told me. I encouraged him to keep on seeking and he will find. His name was Hugh and he had lived in the same street for 39 years. His red cap in large letters joked: Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder - or something similar.
The church service was to start in about an hour, which gave me time for a bike ride along the foreshore to Encounter Bay. How this all happened, I do not know. All I know is that as I looked I noticed street names, which just sprung into my face and all fitted into my picture. Inman Street, how could I not see ‘man in’? I also remembered that somebody I worked with at the MCA had a house in that street. Right outside it, I noticed a small Honda parked. It was totally neglected and literally filled with rubbish. Initially the rego number …596 drew my attention.
Newland (Street) was the name of the Liberal Party Branch I had been President in. Gibson (Street) I read as ‘give son’ (gib in German means give). I noticed a house for sale (more a little later). Wagenah (Avenue) struck me as identical pronunciation as the name of my (Suzuki) Wagon R. I took a photo of the street sign and my car together.
As I cycled out to Encounter Bay, I only encountered a few walkers and one particular parked car, Rego W..153. The 3 letters of the full rego plate made up a word, which I associated with my website, plus they were the first three letters of the street, near where I had picked up the rubbish 1 ½ hours earlier. I imagined somebody was there for my benefit. But they certainly couldn’t have known about my encounter with 15.3 on the way there. This is why I was astounded about the mysteries taking place.
Adelaide hosts a Classic Car Rally every year. Just before the official start I lived a childhood dream, admiring the cars under a large tent in Adelaide's Victoria Square. I was surprised, both by the many German Models, plus the interesting numbers attached. The Mercedes on the right, with the 'tells a story' registration plate, comes from Wuppertal. My brother lives only 10 kilometers or so from there.
Back in Victor Harbour I decided to check out a small chapel on the main road. A short, stocky man in a maroon shirt was just entering the place. He told me the starting time is 9.45 am. I would be most welcome to attend. He didn’t clearly answer my question, what denomination the church belonged to. I had the feeling he really wanted me to attend the service, but why hide that it was a Pentecostal church, a branch of the Christian Revival Centre (CRC)?
A few weeks earlier I had an exchange of emails with the CRC Headquarters in Adelaide. On another one of my wanderings I had noticed in their shop front window a car registration plate sitting lonely on a table. The number prompted me to later log onto their website and email them; another untold story.
I had no problems attending a Pentecostal service. I knew some of the songs and felt much at home. A sign hung on their pulpit. It read: “No fear here”. It teased me in a way. Surely, this group of people didn’t put it up just for me? Did they expect me to visit? Had any of them read my story, understood it and put up this sign? There was a time I had lived with fear, even amongst Christians.
Toward the end of the service a song popped into my mind. A week earlier I had been to a Pentecostal Church Service, at the World Harvest Assemblies of God, Ingle Farm. It was Dec.12th and the church celebrated its 25-year-anniversary. (My probing mind read 25 as the date, 12/12, plus 1). They sang a bright song, with a catchy tune by Hillsong: “My Saviour, Redeemer, you rescued me from the miry clay … You lived, you died and you rose again on high. Hallelujah, for all that you’ve done”.
Now, exactly a week later in another Pentecostal Church, this song entered my mind. Would they sing this one to finish off? A moment later this is just what happened. I had to try hard to hold back the tears. God is wonderful, but why did he show all these things to me? Why me? I mentioned this little incident to the lady song leader, before getting onto my bicycle to return to my car for the journey home.
But there was one more puzzle to follow up at Victor Harbour. The phone number of the real estate agent’s sign in Gibson Street had me intrigued. I had a closer look and noticed that by changing a 5 to 0, all digits, rearranged, would be identical to my business phone number. This was good enough reason to visit the office, which I located easily in Ocean (Oh, see a N) Street in Victor Harbour. When I saw the sales agents name, Nina, I knew I was on the right track.
To my surprise the office was open that Sunday morning. I felt a bit strange walking into this business making enquiries, knowing well I was not a buyer or seller. I was just being nosy, following a trail that started in Gibson Street. If somebody at this Real Estate Office was playing games, I could understand it.
Only weeks earlier the same Real Estate Agent’s Para Hill Branch and I had played a little game together. Amongst our junk mail we received 2 copies of a flyer, advertising a house for sale in the neighbourhood. I was about to throw them away with a whole stack of other junk mail, when I spotted two things: the agents phone number … 1777 and later a misprint on the flyer - a missing T. This triggered my fun-button for action. I corrected the misspelling on one of the flyers, put it into an envelope together with a T-bag, and left it at the Agents front desk. (I received a personal Christmas card from the sales lady a few weeks later).
I had no idea, if the Victor Harbour Branch would know any of this. But after enquiring about the Gibson St. property, which I had seen advertised at $ 260 000 in their shop front window, the sales clerk in attendance (not Nina, but Natasha) printed a picture and description of the property for me. The price shown was $ 410 000. It didn’t take Einstein to see a 1 with a 5 plus 3 zero’s as the difference.
If I was correct in this assumption, and people were playing games with me, perhaps they were also playing the main game?
Wouldn’t that be magic!