25. Remotely controlled
An early riser I was on my way not long after 5.30am, driving east on the Sturt Highway (note the name) into the sunrise across the Hay Plains. I wanted to knock off two hundred kilometers and stop for breakfast in a town called Narranderra. It was a wonderful morning, no wind, a few fog patches low to the ground, which in places looked like snow. The time went quickly - thinking, singing or listening to tapes or the radio.
I wondered, if I would catch up with the two girls I had met the evening before in the main street of Balranald. They were traveling in an old VW Kombi-van. One girl was from Canada, the other from Switzerland. This young lady had not heard of the huge floods, which had caused much damage in Switzerland only days earlier.
I had seen pictures on TV of houses under water up to the roof in Interlaken, an otherwise pretty place between the Thuner See and Brienzer See, in central Switzerland.
ABC Local Radio was the only station with clear reception outside the major centres. Driving along that Friday enjoying the music I heard a report in between songs. Journalists seem to have a talent for picking up controversial, mind-teasing material to brighten up their program. Nothing wrong with that, if it is all true.
The following story, however, before it had concluded, I placed it into my mind's 'doubtful- basket'.
A school student in his physics class had invented a devise to keep his mobile phone charged continuously, without needing a power point. He kept a hamster (nice word that) inside a walking-wheel. As his pet turned the wheel, an attached generator fed power into his mobile phone, keeping it permanently charged.
The brilliant young inventor, however, was only rewarded with a C, for his effort. What kind of teacher did he have, one who dishes out C’s, because he or she can’t see?
But there were far more serious stories in the media, which I found lacking, both in substance and the way they were reported. A man named Murdoch was handed a 28 year non-parole life sentence on the day of writing. He was the one, who allegedly murdered British tourist Peter Falconio.
I was in no position to email my doubts, even though under the freedom of speech, I could express what I wished and have done so, as you are well aware. The way I expressed my thoughts, without having to fear lawyers knocking on my door, was humour.
On 14/12/05, as I was having breakfast, I watched what I considered the funniest ad on TV in years. A man speaks with a persistent whistle, the kind that comes whenever he says he letter S. His wife Susie is being driven insane by a persistent whistle of their car, a Statesman. But the people at LT-Tune fixed the Statesman on the spot and Susie hasn't heard a single whistle since!
Not until that morning, when my brain came up with a classic in a flash, which I promptly emailed to the breakfast program's feedback line:
Email to Sunrise 14/12/05
I just bumped into Susie at LT-Tune. The Statesman started whistling again; even more persistent than before.
She had just finished mowing the neighbours nature strip, raced to the airport to pick up her husband, when the whistler came back. Her husband arrived back from Darwin. He was involved in the Murdoch trial.
He tired to tell them that you can't convict someone of murder, without any body - not anybody, he meant any body. He reckons the whole DNA is all rubbish. You could rig the blood sampling stuff, nobody would know, and the poor guy... (OK he's no angel, but that doesn't make him a murderer.)
Susie told me her husband is a little luny. He says the whole thing is like the walls of the pub at Barrows Creek - full of Bullshit! She is tired of hearing him go on like that, but she really loves the normal side of him.
The boys from LT-Tune fixed her Statesman on the spot. She reckons, she'd ought to bring her husband in for his fix, his whistle is worse than that of the Statesman!
Great humor my neighbour Susie.
Kind regards from Susie's neighbour in Adelaide
The alleged murder scene is near Barrow Creek on the Stuart Highway (Hey, it just came to me - how does that fit into this part of the journey - totally magic!) The local hotel, which I had visited in 1997, has a display of "Bullshit" on the wall of the Barrow Creek Hotel bar. (The attraction is free as long as you sign the visitor's book - Under comment most people write - what a lot of bullshit! Go check for yourself, it's only 2000 km or so north of Adelaide.
The reference to Susie mowing her neigbour's nature strip came, because a moment earlier on the same show, a lady talked about the kind of things her organisation suggests we should all do, to make Australia a better place.
I had always understood that there must be a dead body, before anyone could be convicted of that person's murder. Otherwise, the possibility exists to fake a death and bribe corrupt officials. Depending on the insurance payout, each would get a slice of the action.
If I were to write fiction, this is the way I would approach this case. Question: Did Mr. Falconio have life insurance? Did they pay out, without his body being found and identified?
(Aren't you thankful I only write the truth, with love and humour?)
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One morning, not long after uploading the registration plate JOY 4.. in chapter 21 I was in our bedroom, contemplating about this car registration plate.
Precisely at that moment I walked across to the other side of the bed, where I saw on my wife's dressing table this book: 'Surprised by Joy', by C.S. Lewis.
The book was a surprise, therefore the photo - the arthritis cream, and the 'Aussie Bible' by Kel Richards, were not. My wife loves reading the bible.
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(Back to the Sturt Highway)
Narrandera was the place, where I took the photo of the Joy 4.. registration plate. It was around 8am, when I arrived after having crossed the Hay Plains. As the name suggests, it is a very flat, plain region of Australia, but still has its own unique charm and character.
I parked the Suzuki outside the main Square, opened the back and boiled water on my little gas cooker for coffee. I was conscious that a person in a parked vehicle nearby was watching me. It had the right numbers on the registration plate. Numerous others vehicles drove by, where my mind started to think, wait a second!
The one I recorded in my diary was a truck by the Ditch Witch (Pumping) Company. For a moment it didn't click. When I made a possible connection I nearly laughed out loud.
For those not familiar with Australian slang – to ditch means – to dump, to throw away. I just was not sure, who the witch was that one should dump?
Surely this was not to suggest I dump … Not a nice thought, but certainly a unique way of getting a potentially serious message across in a humourous way.
Another truck drove past, while I sipped my coffee and stretched my legs.. It carried rego no.…501, the business name read BIDVEST. Had somebody learned my code and knew my ID?
From what I have seen in rural areas, Australians pride themselves in keeping their towns clean and user friendly, public toilets included. This fountain is in Victoria Square, Narrandera, in New South Wales.
The town is situated at the crossroads of the Sturt and Newell Highways. (Nice names - Sturt and Newell). For those who wanna know - the phone number of the truck in the background ended in 111.
It was a wonderful opportunity for a brisk walk, refreshing walk to fill the lungs with country air. I walked up Bolton Street and discovered a Christian Bookshop, attached to a church. I bought a copy of Every Day with Jesus, which turned out full of surprises. (I would later link this purchase to a clue, I picked up in Sydney - details in a later chapter).
Just as I was leaving Narrandera I remembered that on arriving I had seen a South Australian registered truck, a tanker, driving just ahead of me. The driver was indicating left, but failed to turn. I was momentarily confused, as every motorist would be.
Crossing the Murrumbidgee River bridge the incident came to mind. I argued with myself – should I drive back and …then what? Thus a mental struggle, lasting only seconds took place, the kind I experienced constantly in this, my most unusual journey. Looking back, I believe, God can place a thought into our mind - any thought, anywhere, anytime.
Our challenge is to know, if the thought is from God or not. If we decide it is, what are we going to do about it? This walk on the tightrope, as it were, was happening in my life 24/7. You may ask, how did you ever cope with the stress. All I can say, together with a seemingly impossible task, God gives us the right amount of strength to cope with it.
Across the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River I noticed a street sign, Lizard Rd. (The aboriginal meaning of Narrandera is lizard, goanna). I turned around thinking, no harm done by driving back and checking out where the street would lead to, the one the South Australian tanker failed to turn left into.
A few hundred meters further on that road, I saw a sign ‘Lavender Farm 2 kilometers’. The lavender incident in Melbourne had happened only weeks earlier. My mind immediately recalled the chance encounters, with a film called 'Ladies in Lavender' and two ladies, dressed in lavender. They also had a plastic bag with a red/white logo shown (read on).
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An hour before editing this chapter I had made myself a coffee. As I perused the junk mail on the kitchen table I came a cross this. ('Dreaming of a red Christmas' - inside: 'Invite us to your Christmas party' - love it).
Where is the reference? Adelaide United chose a team name recently. They are known as the Reds. Any other red thoughts for Christmas?
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An inner prompting, but not a real voice, seemed to say, why not pay a visit to this Lavender place? I followed the signs, drove over another bridge to the edge of town, and found the place with no trouble.
I parked the Suzuki and proceeded toward a small shop, which was surrounded by rows of lavender plants. The smell in the air was unmistakable, a very pleasant aroma. A lady, (dressed in… just kidding) came from a nearby house and opened up, just for me.
I browsed for a few minutes, after which I felt obliged to buy a little something. I chose a small bottle of Lavender Oil as a present for Isobel. The way the lady asked me on leaving, how I had found the shop, I sensed, she knew something. I said: “It’s a long story.” Not wanting to complicate things I added: “I saw the sign”.
I felt sure this short interlude was meant to happen. As if on cue, on my way back to the town, just over the bridge, I noticed two people walk in close proximity. One was dressed in red, the other in white.
In times like these I take notice of street names – Adam Street, Waterman Street, Erwin Street; they couldn’t have been more Da Ninci. One of them, looking on the map, as I write this chapter, may have been King Street, which I turned into to lead me back onto the main street, the Newell Highway.
Moments after visiting the Lavender Farm and seeing two people dressed in red and white, I snapped this photo. It was only a few seconds after turning onto the Newell Highway from King (or Erwin Street). I loved the name of the shop - Sweet 'n Crafty.
Little wonder I nearly missed the kick-off for my football match that night - too many distractions.
As the day progressed I became conscious that I had a deadline to meet. Kick-off for the very first match of Australia’s new A-League in Newcastle was 8 PM and I still had hundreds of kilometers to go; about 800, to be more precise. I had tried to buy a ticket before leaving Adelaide, but this was not possible. If the match were a sell-out, wouldn’t I look a fool?
As much as I would have loved to take a look around, I drove through Wagga Wagga without stopping. I listened to popular radio host John Laws and the music and songs of the station. I liked the sound of it.
A few kilometers east of Wagga Wagga, near the RAAF Base, something kicked in (according to my diary).
It is hard to describe, but as I recall, it was road works in a side road, which caught my attention for a fraction of a second. Call it impulse, for me it was sufficient to turn the Suzuki around and park the car for a moment. (Please don't think I did this at every road works).
There was a water tap outside the Red Mandarine Café. I refilled my water flasks. Then I drove around the block. The name of the road, where the road works were under way, was called Allonby Street.
Yass, the next big town, was only a toilet stop at the local oval. My diary says, how unreal it was driving through the main street and seeing all the registration plates 531, 501 etc in the main shopping centre. A scribble after that added: An illness can’t do that.
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The following line I leave unedited. I let the picture and my amazement about what happened during writing speak for itself. (One comment - Don't read this part, if you don't like the numbers 1 & 3!)
Insert YassFM1003.jpg (how weird – just did a wordcount - 1111, in 3 pages!!!
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Fast forward to Wed 31/8/05: On the return journey I made a point of stopping at Yass. I took above photo. Where are the clues? The car rego of the Ute ..CJ 910? SEAL Liberty, perhaps? I just saw that Cafe remakes into face. There's no limit to the imagination.
After parking the car I noticed a rather large plastic bag blowing in the wind. I felt challenged to pick it up. I nearly threw it away, thinking it was just a plastic bag. Then I saw the small label inside AB013 ONE Size BLK. More food for the imagination!
I did some food shopping at the local Woolworth Supermarket. At the checkout I overheard one operator call out to the one beside her: "I'm 130 Dollars ahead!"
But there's more - Some time later, according to my diary, I became aware that the date was the 31st and I was traveling on Federal Highway No. 31. Talk about a numbers game...!? (If it drives you round the bend, don't go faster than 31 km/h).
Please note: The sign above the Cafe does not read Fast Fool (read on).
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To reach Newcastle the quickest, it was still best to travel through Sydney. The traffic that Friday afternoon was heavy, but bearable. I only got lost once, on Fox Creek Road, on Sydney's North Shore. I asked a young man in a red beanie for directions. I wasn't far off the main road to pick up the Pacific Highway to Newcastle.
I became increasingly uneasy about arriving on time for kick-off. Around me was not only traffic, negotiating Sydney’s peak hour, but also Sydney-siders, heading for the weekend to the North coast for the weekend.
To find Energy Stadium in a suburb of Newcastle took another ˝ hour of asking my way through. In chapter 19 I have already reported how I only had 15-20 minutes to spare before kick-off, when an angel (somebody had won tickets, or else ...) came to the end of the long queue and offered the ticket, which turned out to be nothing short of a miracle.
I sat in one of the better seats in the grandstand beside a young man named Rex. Those around me must have been a little surprised to see a lone supporter, flying a flag for the opposition.
Adelaide United played entertaining football that night. In my opinion, playing away is not necessarily a disadvantage. In Newcastle the boys from Adelaide gave the impression they really enjoyed their game. There was no home crowd to please. They played relaxed and the reward came with a goal, after 18 minutes (please note!) of play, by forward Carl Veart. The forceful header went high into the back of the net.
I will never know, if the long queue at the ticket office would have made me late, to witness this first ever goal of the new Hyundai A-League. The score remained 1:Nil until the final whistle. A great start for a team, which had only been together 2 years or so. (At present – after 15 rounds, during the Christmas break, Adelaide is on top of the A-League, holding a 5-point lead).
The nearest Caravan Park, both to Newcastle City and the Football Stadium, was at Stockton. Again, I had to stop at a Service Station and ask for direction. By the time I arrived it was nearly 11pm. I had made no booking in advance. The gates were shut. Over the intercom the caretaker gave me permission to sleep in the carpark, which I did in my Suzuki. I felt safe and slept as sound as ever.
What happened the next morning took me completely by surprise. All I can say in retrospect, I was led to be, where I was meant to be. Perhaps God wanted the people of Newcastle, this large industrial city, to know HE is real, HE is powerful, anywhere?
When I awoke, real early as usual, the caravan park gates were still closed. I drove along the foreshore, looking for a spot where I could have breakfast and use the toilet. Nor far on the foreshore opposite downtown Newcastle, was a large carpark, right by the ferry. This became my base for a few hours. My daughter in Sydney only expected me later that evening.
Not very often do I see the sun rise. The way the sun rose and gradually illuminated the skyline of Newcastle was spectacular to watch. To top it off I found out I had parked at the end of Mitchell Street. My dairy says – I knew more magic was coming.
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Good food: I gave my life to Jesus. It's no longer in the hands of a fool.
Motorists driving past this poster on the church wall may only see two words. They really would get the wrong message. I spotted this in Mitchell Street, Stockton.
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After a clean-up and a strong brew of coffee I took a walk up Mitchell Street. Something attracted me to the only shop that was open at this early hour, the Newsagent. I didn’t really needed anything, and had not read the newspapers for some time. I was tired of finding inaccuracies and/or suspected fabrications, because I felt I had to respond.
I walked casually into the Newsagent and perused the front pages of the various papers. The Newcastle Sun-Herald included a front page article about the new A-League and the local team's unfortunate loss the night before. (They call themselves the Jets).
One phrase confirmed my belief that accurate reporting is lacking in journalism nowadays. The sports reporter wrote about the winning goal: "...it was scored before half time." Whilst this is technically correct, those who know the game would imply that the goal came perhaps in the 35th to 45th minute, not in the 19th minute.
As a talking point I mentioned this to the young man standing behind the cash register. Then I noticed a girl emerge. She joined our conversation. As we talked about the football match the night before she mentioned that she was there at Energy Stadium; not merely as a spectator, but as participant in the half-time entertainment.
She had been chosen to participate in a goal shooting competition. (You can take three shots from one end of the ground to score a goal at the far end). She had been rather clumsy, I remembered her fruitless effort. Her name was Tania. As I left I detected tears welling up in her eyes. It made me wonder…?
Continuing my walk around the quiet, historic suburb of Stockton, I noticed outside a house on the front lawn five discarded cans of drink, plus one more a few centimeters apart. So what? I hear you say. It was house number 51 in ‘AM in cross-land’ Street.
After about 1/2 hour or so I was back at the Suzuki writing up my diary, while listening to the beautiful music of Radio 1629AM. (Alert readers will already have extracted 963 from this frequency). I was, and still am, amazed how many songs on radio are about love and relationships. (Sadly, not many are heard on the airwaves any longer; at least not those, where the lyrics can be understood and the music is pleasant to listen to).
The song Mississippi, which I happened to hear 111 kilometers from MI (Mildura) the day before, held a secret, which I only discovered at that time. During my USA visit in April I had snapped a photo of a jazz-band on the banks on the Mississippi River in New Orleans (Photo Chapter 7).
Only after developing the prints did I notice the letters dne clearly visible between the clarinet and the saxophone. The lyrics of the song Mississippi end with - until the end of time.
But there was more. An earlier chapter in my autobiography was based on exchanging the two letters EA. I had tried to see the EA Games Company, just south of Santa Monica. Later I saw a sign ‘Seaspray’ and read into it ‘sees pray’, by exchanging the a with an e.
Only recently it came to me, after listening to the song Mississippi, that a simple AE exchange in END creates the letters for DNA.
Earlier in my journey I had questioned the scientific miracle of DNA. What if it were a hoax, a clever scheme, which could easily be misused to gain control over people?
Friends, it is not my intention to scare people. I can understand any readers, who may feel I am manipulating their thinking. Unless you are willing, deep down in your innermost, private self-talk, to start your own personal journey with HIM, pause and think for yourself. Unless you make a conscious, free-will decision to go with HIM all the way, it's best to rethink the issue.
When you are ready, say yes. After that point nothing will stop you from being the person you were meant to be. When it comes to following Jesus, I say: Either all the way or no way at all. There is no half-measure - nobody gets half-married.
Ultimately, each one of us is personally responsible to Almighty God. The decision to chose to submit to his Lordship or willfully turn away his offer of salvation is yours and yours only. One thing God never says to anyone: "You must love me". Rather he says; "I love you", then HE waits for your response. How long has he been waiting for you?
Those who suggest I should stop causing people to become fearful, I say – what do you say to a man, who is running along a corridor of a burning hotel, trying to wake everybody. Nobody would suggest to him: "Be quiet, let the people sleep. If they hear about the fire, they might become fearful".
Think how thankful they will be to the rescuer, who woke them up, so they could escape.
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I took this photograph, while waiting at a red traffic light:
Energy Stadium is situated in the suburb of Lambton. I cannot remember when exactly I became aware of this. It certainly had nothing to do with my decision to come this far, just to watch our Adelaide team play.
The street address of Adelaide's main football (soccer) stadium is Manton Street. The South Australian Soccer Federation is listed in the Adelaide phone book at 4a Manton Street. (Didn't I say - God loves football?)
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Some might accuse me of strange thinking. I can understand that. But if God was able to guide my steps physically, why would HE lead me astray in my thinking, outside the box or in the hidden corners of my brain? Good fruit cannot come from a bad tree. Either HE was behind it all or I have been picking fruit from a bad tree.
As I came towards concluding this chapter, I felt to include a hymn and pondered, which one would be suitable. After some searching I chose Hymn No. 455, by Fanny Crosby, from my Redemption Hymn-book. As I was typing the verses, I was listening to Radio 891, 5AN Adelaide, which I don't often do, when writing seriously, otherwise I get distracted.
A gentleman named Eric Sigman was being interviewed (great Da Ninci name). He had written a book called 'Remotely controlled'. Sigman talked about how children spent far too much time in front of screens - computer games, TV etc. (The latest is the screen on the mobile phone - my 16 year-old now owns one of these).
As you will see, the title of Sigman's book, his name and the hymn I had chosen before this radio interview, could not have fitted more perfectly into my world that morning. Likewise, the scripture that comes with the hymn, written on top of the page, is along the same theme - God knows the right way, God leads the right way:
And HE led them forth by the right way that they might go to a city for habitation. (Psalm 107.7).
All the way on this long journey I had placed my trust in HIM, because HE is the essence of all that is GOOD. So far I have never felt HE led me astray once. HE never will.
As I typed the words of the hymn, I identified with so many keywords: All, life, peace, joy, love, cheers, perfect rest.
There even is Lo. I can't help seeing a 'big city for habitation'. (Realms of) day - I also associated day with LA. Oh, Fanny, you are funny.
All the way my Saviour leads me (Fanny Crosby)
All the way my Saviour leads me, what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my guide.
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, heavenly faith in Him to dwell !
For I know, whatever befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Saviour leads me, Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the Living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! a spring of joy I see.
All the way my Saviour leads me, oh the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised, In my father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed, immortal, wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages, Jesus lead me all the way.