Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Code

There is a code amongst women.  I don't know where or when we get inducted, but it seems to pass from one generation to another, almost telepathically.  No one talks about it.  Not every woman has it.  Do men get inducted?  I haven't a clue.   It is:  no idle hands (or "don't just sit there.  Do something!").  It's there when I can't sit down until after the dishes are done and lunches prepared for tomorrow.  It's there every time I sit watching TV, or travelling on a train/in a car/on a plane.  I can see my mother reaching for her crochet, for something to do in those snatched moments of time, and then see myself doing it too.

I keep remembering a woman I encountered on a train once.  Christmas 1996, Dumbo and I caught the night train from Sydney to Melbourne.  Sitting on the other side of the aisle was the stereotypical Aussie Battler and his wife together with their three children:  an 8 year old girl, a 5 year old boy and a toddler.  I watched them covertly, facinated.  The Aussie Battler* and his wife are mythical country people, fighting against the odds, battling drought and floods to raise their cattle, farm their land and breed their sheep.  And here they were in front of me.

They looked to be old parents, probably in their 50's, their faces weathered by the sun.  In their dress, it could have been the 1950's:  he wore proper trousers and an open-necked short sleeved shirt (I'm sure there was a tie tucked away somewhere); she wore a floral shirt-waister.  From snatches of their conversation, I worked out that they were farmers who'd been to Sydney for the day - they'd visited the bank and a medical specialist.  Why?  I didn't hear.  They were making a long round trip to/from Dubbo, so the visits must have been important.  (Dubbo has a big hospital and plenty of banks)     Whatever had happened in Sydney, they were worried and relieved to be heading home.  It hadn't been the best of days.  Through much of that long evening, until 2.30am when they left the train, she knitted away her worries.   She said as much, once, to her husband when he asked her why she didn't have a nap.

To that Aussie Battler's Wife, from one member of the Code to another, I salute you.

- Pam

*If you ever get the chance, read Henry Lawson's "Joe Wilson's Mates".  Joe is the embodiment of the Aussie Battler.

1 comment:

Brenda said...

I love that story. My first contact with the term Aussie Battler.