When my husband was a young boy in the 1960s, at a little one teacher school in Mandurama in the Central West of NSW, his love of cricket was instilled in him by an enthusiastic teacher who recognised a whiff of talent in both he and his brother. As a result, both Gavin and his brother were selected to play in a Western Area PSSA vs Riverina PSSA cricket tournament in Wagga. Gavin’s parents were unable to make the journey so the Western Area PSSA sports’ organiser, a young primary school teacher from the Bathurst area, offered to drive the two boys to Wagga. The journey involved driving from Cowra to near Yass before turning on to the Hume Highway. Twenty-five miles (forty kilometres) south of Cowra, on what was a wild and often windy dirt road, an overtaking, oncoming car forced the vehicle in which Gavin was travelling off the road. Gavin remembers the spot vividly…an isolated location near a little church, and nearby a little country school perched on a hill at the top of a long driveway. If an accident had ensued no doubt they would have sort assistance from the school as there were no other residences nearby. If that had been the case, the boys in that vehicle would have found me, furiously scribbling a composition or practising my times tables at Godfrey’s Creek Public School. As fate would have it, the driver, after careering off the road, was able to correct the course of the vehicle and they continued on their way without mishap. Of all the places along that journey, that near-accident almost happened on my doorstep!
Fast forward fifteen years…I was sharing a house in Eastwood, on busy Blaxland Road, with three lovely friends, all work colleagues. After returning from a movie, “Excalibur”, in the city we were all feeling tired but we had promised a co-worker that we would attend her housewarming party in Westleigh. In the end, two of us decided to go (with a bottle of Blackberry Nip…yes, that was actually a drink in the early 80s!).There I met Gavin in the kitchen (near the fridge…nothing’s changed….we frequently meet at the fridge!) and, as we struck up a conversation, we discovered that we had grown up an hour apart, near Cowra, and had a lot in common.
Months later, when I decided to introduce Gavin to my parents, I was very surprised when my father said, “We’ve met! And you met him, too. Years ago!” Dad then related the following story…
When my two eldest brothers were at boarding school at St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst we would pile into the car with dad driving, mum nursing the baby, my youngest brother on the bench seat between them and the rest of us (four children under ten) squeezed along the back seat for the nearly two and a half hour drive for a “visiting weekend” to see “the boys”. (Did someone mention seatbelts? This was the ‘60s… the era of free-range kids and survival of the fittest!). On one of these trips we started to have car trouble. Dad pulled into the only garage in Mandurama, a small village between Lyndhurst and Carcoar on the Great Western Highway. Two little boys, the sons of the proprietor, were playing with paper boats in the gutter outside the garage. No doubt they would have been playing cricket if it hadn’t been raining! My family remained in the car ( I would have had my head in a book, totally oblivious to what was happening) while dad struck up a conversation with the two boys, Gavin and his brother, David, and their father. The problem with the car was soon sorted (Gavin’s father was a great mechanic!) and we were on our way. On reflection, the car could have needed attention at Cowra or Lyndhurst, Carcoar or Blayney. Why Mandurama?
So…was it coincidence or kismet that led us to the “meet cute” in the kitchen at that party? Author Mimi Novic believes that, “throughout this journey of life we meet many people along the way. Each one has a purpose in our life. No one we meet is ever a coincidence.”
As an added twist…when we moved to Glenorie in 1986, we soon met the then Principal of Glenorie Public School, Col Westcott. Gavin recognised him straight away. He was the young PSSA sports’ co-ordinator who drove him to that cricket tournament in Wagga in the 1960s. Coincidence?