Black Smoke

My land-rover guy reminds me of my dad so much, that sometimes if I’m feeling blue, or in need of fatherly advice, I wish my car would break. Luck was on my side last weekend on my 4 hour journey back from Wales when black smoke started to erupt from the back of my car every time I went up a hill or accelerated. Not one to give up, I hugged 50 in the slow lane for the rest of the journey, and made it home. With the landy in the garage, and my birthday to acknowledge, I went into town and found myself orbiting the lonely planet section. Then, like a literary conquistador, I purchased “Costa Rica.”

Birthdays serve to remind you of the passing of time, and lately it seems to be going too fast. My mum says that time and age wouldn’t matter at all, had we not invented clocks and counting. We’d just exist as we are with no rushing, or getting sad about getting another year older. She’s right. Its a bit like my cat only knows that time has passed by his stomach. But I can’t escape this certain feeling I’m having. This CANT be it. This is not all I am here to experience.

In the afternoon of my birthday, I went to pick up my Freelander from “dad”. It may seem odd to use a surrogate, but we all do it. If a child needs comfort, they hold a stuffed animal if a human, pet (or tablet) isn’t immediately available. Anyway, John has no idea he’s involved in what I can only describe as a reverse adoption.

John (in his 60’s) sat behind the desk. ( My dad was Don). He has all the same mannerisms, same hair, same sense of humour. John used to be in the RAF and was stationed in Belize and since we’d both lived there we often chatted about it. I told him about my recent surfing adventures and he told me about his old ones. Then I grabbed my Costa Rica book and showed it to him. I was like an 8 year old excitedly exhibiting a new Pokemon book. I told him that I’d bought myself a pipe dream for my birthday. In true dad style he argued against it.

“Theres poisonous snakes, malaria, guerrillas . …if I was as young as you, I’d be off to Australia , thats where you and the kids need to go.”

“But Australia has all of those things too, and Great white sharks …and worse,.. Infrastructure.”

“Isn’t that a good thing?”


“Ahhhh, You’re bored aren’t you. I can tell you’re bored.”

“Really? You can tell ?”


Its true. I own my own car, have a good job, and now own my own house. I could get a job in Australia easily as a childrens nurse. But I don’t just want to be a childrens nurse, I want to fly in helicopters, sleep under the stars, ride a horse without a saddle, get covered in dust while providing sterile healthcare, all while maintaining a Hepburnian elegance.., I want to be Indiana Jones AND a nurse…. Indiana Nightingale, Flo Jones. I just want to be excited.

“ I’ve bought this house and it terrifies me. I don’t want to be stuck there, I don’t want to die there like the elderly lady before me. This can’t be it for me and the kids.”

He looked at me with laughing eyes.

“Buying a house does not make you stuck. Its collateral. Its a step forward. You gotta stop throwing black smoke every time you accelerate. You’re still young.”

“Its my birthday..”

“Happy Birthday! What are you , 27… 28?”

(I laugh)

“Maybe 28, …maybe 128, I’m not counting anymore .”

“Well Miss Shaw…. “

“Amaretti . I changed my name.”


“Well,, ..I kept the name so that people would know the children are mine, but then they do stuff like eat smarties off the floor, and then the relationship is just obvious. “

“Well Miss Amaretti, It’ll all just fall into place, you’ll see. Just keep going forward.. …”