I forgot to inform Sue, my near neighbour and friend, that I was going whale-watching that day. Maureen and I were to leave at 6am in order to get to the pier at 7am. I usually phone Sue each day at 8am, whereby she knows I am okay. It is her way of checking on me, and I am so fortunate to have her concern. But she and her husband had been absent for a week, and I was sort of out of kilter a bit. I just plain forgot in the excitement of my outing.
But I had told Judy, another near neighbour, who brings my mail up the long drive each day, and who knows my movements better than anyone else as a result. She broadcasts my ‘doings’ to any interested party, the postman, newsagent, butcher etc. So I felt confident she would tell Geoff, a chap who has his small office in one corner of my shed. He keeps a good eye on me, and needs to know I am fit and well.
But this day, when Judy was about to tell Geoff that I was off whale-watching, his mobile phone rang and he excused himself, not to return to the conversation...he is a very busy fellow. So Judy left, unperturbed.
When I did not phone at 8am, the vigilant Sue waited a while, and called me at 8.15. No answer. At 8.30, she and her husband came down the hill to my place to investigate. My car was there, so they presumed I was at home. With no answer to the doorbell, they used the key I had given them and entered, presuming I could be lying there incapacitated. Gingerly, she called quietly, ‘It’s only me, Doreen,’ and searched every room in the house, relieved to find no-one there. But where was I?
They discussed the situation with an anxious Geoff, who could throw no light on the situation. He had not been there the day before, so I had not told him either, something I usually do. They all knew it was not my Tai Chi morning, and that I did not walk far because of my recent knee replacement. Several hours had elapsed. There was nothing they could do.
All this time, Maureen and I had merrily sailed down the mountain to Surfers’ Paradise where we had difficulty finding a parking station. We found the boarding pier just in time, and the waiting vessel. Yes, there were toilets on board. And you could make your own cup of tea, with a plain biscuit. We chose a good position and relaxed.
Soon we were heading out the Nerang River to the mouth, passing mansion upon mansion on the waterfront. Very interesting indeed. It was a windy day, so the waters became quite rough as we entered the open sea. It took all my strength to hold on to anything as we braced ourselves against the wind when finally a whale was sighted! We saw about six in all; saw their huge bodies as they surfaced to breathe. Just one large tail flipped as the whale dived again. In all this time, it never entered my head that I had not told Sue.
Going the whole hog, after the cruise, which had taken some four hours, we then went to Charis’ fish market for lunch. Sitting in the sun, with the seagulls squawking around us, we so enjoyed our Red Emperor, salad and chips. We were both too tired to do our usual beach walk. Perhaps it was the rocking of the boat that made us so weary.
Leisurely, we drove up the mountain to home. Coming up the drive, Geoff was waiting. It was 2.30pm. ‘Where the hell have you been?’ he demanded. ‘I have been worried to buggery all day! Don’t ever do that again!’ So I explained and apologised, secretly quite chuffed that someone cared.
It was only when I played the waiting messages on my phone that I thought of Sue, whose message at 8.15 was evidence of her concern.
'Doreen, are you alright?’ her voice asked. When there was no reply, the voice continued, ’I think we should come down...’
So I immediately phoned her, to reassure her I was all right, and to tell her where I had been. And to apologise for all the trouble I had caused.
‘Doreen,’ she said, ‘it was no trouble at all!’