When the T-Team from my memoir, Trekking With the T-Team mingle with some of my characters, Minna and John from Mission of the Unwilling and The Hitch-Hiker, weird and twisted situations happen—especially when there appears to be no donuts on Phillip Island…
This week a slight diversion from travel into the realms of fiction and a laugh or two. The photos, though, are real and taken on the T-Team’s (and T-K Team’s) travels in Victoria, including Phillip Island about 140 km south-east of Melbourne.]
We lapped Phillip Island at least half a dozen times. Mum pursed her lips and gripped the steering wheel, speeding down the highway, skidding around bends, and shaving smoke off an oncoming bus. My brother John and I swayed with the sharp turns, slamming up against the door with the twists.
“Donuts! I want donuts!” my teenage body screamed. Fresh baked donuts with cinnamon sugar on top. Hot donuts that burnt the inside of my mouth.
“You get what you get, girl!” Harassed, Mum parked in the Nobbies lookout car park. Wind from the South Pole blasted us as we stepped from our comfortable carriage. We scattered in three directions. My brother whipped off his trousers and, clad in black Speedos, scuttled down the steps to the rocky shore. Mum hauled out a heavy-duty hamper and planted it on the bench. I swept stray hairs from my eyes and bolted for the kiosk.
Seagulls swung low and swooped for tourist cast-off chips and sandwich crusts. Who wants fresh fish from the sea if chips and bread are on offer? I took my place at the back of the teatime queue; a line that snaked from the shop, along the footpath and ended with me in the car park.
Meanwhile John waded to the Nobbies rocks, then turned and began his return journey to shore. Waves surged and slashed him from all sides, rising, nudging his knees, batting his chest, threatening to engulf him and sweep him out to sea. John, a tiny blip battled the waves; his biceps beating a current of their own to safety. I watched my brother’s intrepid progress as I inched my way towards the “Holy Rail” of service.
At the counter I asked, “Do you have any donuts?”
“Nah, all sold out at lunch time.” The hapless shop attendant stared at me, willing me to make a snap decision from a hopeless assortment of food articles leftovers languishing in the Bay Marie food warmer.
“Typical! No donuts when I need ‘em!” My eyes hunted over the dry crusty pastry and burnt chips. “I guess fish’n chips will have to do. You have that don’t you?”
We supped on a tea of fish’n chips in the blustery wind. Ravenous after his swim, John devoured a souvlaki (spit-roasted lamb, flavoured with yoghurt) in addition to the designated seafood and commenced biting into a hotdog.
“I still want donuts!” I whined. The seagulls squawked in agreement.
“We haven’t got time to hunt for donuts, we’ve got to secure a good seat to see the fairy penguins.” Mum pulled at her wind-blown hair, and scrunched the greasy butcher’s paper, her hands trembling.
“I want donuts!” I banged the weathered wooden table with my fist. A loose board sent the remaining chips flying through the air to the joy of the seagulls. They swooped and squabbled over their find to the last crust of chip.
Mouth full of flat bread and lamb, John watched me as if he were a cow chewing cud.
“Have some cake, dear.” Mum offered a slice of fruit cake from the Tupperware.
I glared at Mum. “Why can’t I ever have what I want?”
“Maybe when we get back to Melbourne, we’ll find some donuts.” Mum jammed the plastic containers into the basket and wrenched it from the table, causing loose slats to wobble. “Come on! We haven’t got all day! We must get to the penguins to find a good seat.”
In the dusky moonlit evening, on the steps of a wind-protected beach, we watched the fairy penguins wade in, invading the sandy beach and waddling to their nests in the sand dunes. I did not get my donut. Phillip Island harboured a black hole when it came to donuts.
My body frozen stiff, I pushed through the crowd to the warm sanctuary of displays. I spied with my salt-crusted eyes; plump hole rounded cakes topped with chocolate icing.
“Mum! Donut! I want donut! That donut! Mum!” I chased her as she shuffled ahead of me; an easy target all bunched up in that horrible red quilted parka from the ‘70s.
Donut and hot chocolate to warm my numb fingers sat before me. I savoured the moment. At last – my Donut!
“You’ll get fat!” John smirked and popped a pimple on his chin.
The donut morphed into a huge dry blob with pale cracked icing and the imagined pounds of fat added to my hips. “I’m not hungry – do you want it Mum?”
Mum gritted her teeth and clenched her fist. She pounded the table. “Eat it Minna! You wanted the damn cake. You eat it!”
The donut bounced and rolled under the table, glazed side down.
“Oh, Mum! Now look what you’ve done!”
The Toorak family, I just knew they came from Toorak, sporting their fine knitted jumpers, expensive labelled jackets, matching shoes and handbags, stared, disapproval etched on their high brows, as I dived under the table to retrieve the fallen donut. With pincer-like fingers, I picked up the remains, icing whiskered with dust. “Ugh! How am I going to eat that?”
John made a grab. “I’ll have it.”
“No, you won’t! It has germs on it now.” Mum leapt and whipped the contaminated cake from my hands and stuffed it naked and sticky into her handbag.
“But if we can’t have it; who can?”
“The seagulls can have it.” Mum zipped up and marched to the exit. “Ungrateful! That’s what you are! Ungrateful!”
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2009; updated 2019
Feature Photo: Phillip Island Fanfare © L.M. Kling 1986
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