If a video were made on my life, these polka dot pedal pushers would feature in two almost tragic incidents, ‘near misses’, when two of my ‘nine lives’ were possibly accounted for, in the late 1980’s…
My uncle, who farmed at Tiger Hill in Molyullah for many years, was concerned that the SEC had not restored a fence to its rightful place on his property after the power line finally reached there in the late 1980’s. On holidays, and wearing my now old favourite black with white polka dot pants, I drove with him around the ‘top’ property as he checked the cattle, helping him to feed out. He asked me if I’d mind walking up the fairly steep hill following the new power line clearing to check that the fence had been put back. Happy to do so, and in those days rather a slim young-ish thing, I climbed the hill with relative ease, able to report back later that the fence was indeed in place. I happily clambered back down the hill, enjoying the views, dreaming about this and that. For some reason, something must have made me look down – perhaps some movement had caught my eye. There, sunning itself in the rocks, a large, shiny, fairly corpulent looking black snake was looking up at me and beginning to uncoil, just as I walked over him. I’m quite sure I levitated! I jumped higher than I ever had. I remember leaping, landing a few feet away, then negotiating the rocky outcrops on the hill I was descending at great speed, running( I thought), for my life! What a relief it was to find my uncle! A ‘freeze frame’ moment of trauma still well remembered and a possible use of one of my nine lives.
My uncle informed me that I would have been in more trouble had it been a brown snake, but the incident was nevertheless traumatic and is still vividly remembered!
I was wearing these black polka dot trousers at another, potentially more tragic event, not long after. Owning a shared house in country Victoria, but working in Melbourne, I’d rented a third floor bed-sitter in a block of bed-sitters in North Fitzroy. I didn’t see a lot of the other residents, but knew there was a polio disabled older man living in the bed-sitter next to me; a rather eccentric retired sailor directly below and a bohemian former LSD user with mental health problems who lived next to him. They were having an affair. I remember coming home from teaching at Flemington High, having tea, then working on a cross stitch embroidery I was finishing for my mother for her birthday. For some reason, as I walked to make a cup of coffee I was drawn to look towards the door, perhaps by the subtle wafting of the smell of smoke. Looking down, I noticed smoke coming, quite distinctly, from under the door. What to do! I remember putting towels under the door to stop the draught, then moving to the front window. Fortunately I had a front room with a window to the street - if help came, I could get out through the window. When I opened the window, residents now in the street called out– “If you leave now, put a towel around your face, you can get down the stair well still”. Fearful, powerless to help my neighbour with his built up shoe and difficulty walking, I grabbed my purse. Wrapping a towel around my face I went out into the dark, smoke filled, heat radiating hall way and stair well, feeling my way along the corridor and down the stairs. What a relief it was to reach the street and stand with other residents! Apparently the bohemian lover of the eccentric sailor had been drinking and celebrating life generally in his room below me, leaving washing drying on a vinyl lounge suite in front of an old radiator in her room. You can guess what happened next! The smoke which covered my face, body and yes, my polka dot pants left a black oily residue, giving me quite a fright when I looked into a mirror at the hospital where I’d been taken, in my black polka dot pants, by ambulance for breathing checks. I can remember looking at the black polka dots at the time--another ‘freeze frame’ moment of potentially fatal trauma still well remembered and a possible use of a second of my nine lives.
Whatever happened to my black satin cotton, white polka dotted pedal pushers? I think perhaps they never recovered from their exposure to the black, oily residue of smoke and burning vinyl that evening and were almost certainly thrown away...