Hung out to dry
500 Words: How We Met
All the washing on my clothesline was gone! I’d run all the way home from the train station in my high heels and work clothes, intent on grabbing all the washing off the line before the storm set in. But my washing wasn’t where it was supposed to be!We had only just arrived in the neighbourhood, my very new husband and I, having just bought our first house in the outer western suburbs of Sydney. Our neat two-bedroom weatherboard cottage was a street away from the train station, which we used to commute to our respective jobs. Mine in the city, my husband’s in a sprawling suburb at the foot of the Blue Mountains. While we’d been at work had we been the victims of a clothesline robbery? Were snow droppers the culprits?Puzzled, I made my way around to our back door. There, sitting on the top step under cover was my washing basket full of my clean wash. All neatly folded and stacked.”Looked like rain so I took ’em off the line for ya, luv,” announced a deep voice. Taken by surprise, I snapped my head up and around in the direction of the voice. There, hanging over the side paling fence was an elderly man with a very kindly face, olive skinned and weather beaten. I managed to squeak out a feeble “thankyou” and a tentative smile. My mind was racing ahead – this stranger had taken my washing off the line. Washing that included my undies and bras and other bits and pieces. I was feeling a bit embarrassed.”My name’s Norm, by the way. The wife’s Glad, short for Gladys.” I told him about myself and my husband and thanked him for his help. “No worries, luv,” he said, getting down from the fence, “any time.”Norm and Gladys were wonderful neighbours to us over the years. We had lovely conversations over the back fence and shared a laugh or gossip in our front yards. Norm had lots of stories about his youth and growing up in the country. We enjoyed his tales immensely. If we ever needed anything or any help, Norm and Glad were always there.When my husband fell from the roof via the rotten rungs of an old extension ladder, Norm was the person I yelled for and ran to for help. Once we’d made sure my husband was okay, Norm brought us both a very hot mug of tea laced with lots of sugar and whiskey, “for the shock”. He also disposed of the ladder.We found great comfort in having Norm and Gladys as our neighbours. Just knowing they were right next door was reassuring. After that first meeting, Norm often got my washing off the line. But before I put it out, I always hung my freshly washed underwear on a clotheshorse in our bathroom, just in case of rain!