The distinctive rock domes at Kata Tjuta are part of the Red Centre Way, a popular Australian outback drive. Photo / Supplied
I’m thinking just about everybody will be able to relate in some way or another to what I’m about to tell you.
It just seems the planet we inhabit is, in fact, quite a
small world and statistically one day, in some place you would never have thought possible, you will bump into someone you know.
The only reason I’m telling you this is that the other morning I was sitting on my front deck having a catch-up with some friends who mentioned they were going to Australia on a motorhome holiday.
Out of that conversation came spewing forth a number of examples of people meeting others they were connected to quite by chance.
It interested me so I thought I’d share some of them. You may have your own stories of a similar nature to share. Please feel free to. You’ll find me in cyberspace somewhere. Mrs P and I would enjoy having a read over a cuppa.
Anyway. Here we go.
This June my friends are hopping in a motorhome (apparently you turn left at Brisbane and just keep going) and eventually plan to make it to Alice Springs in the middle bit of Oz.
I happened to remark that No. 2 Son had done something similar many moons ago and had driven a motorhome from Darwin to Adelaide.
Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, he and his lady had pulled into a small parking area deserted but for one other van parked by a small toilet block a short stroll away.
Tired after a day’s drive and then a few wines, they’d hit the hay and awoke the next morning full of the joys of life (and the wine they’d consumed the night before), needing an early morning wee. If you have a Warehouse bladder like me I’m sure you can relate.
With the in-vehicle facilities commandeered by the female of the species, No. 2 Son was left with the outside option so he wandered across the parking spot to the outside loo.
As he did so, a young lady of similar age happened to emerge from the other vehicles, almost bumping into him.
An apology was offered before they both stood there open-mouthed in surprise.
Laughter and hugs soon followed — and remember this is in the middle of one of the most isolated spots on the planet — as No. 2 Son realised the fellow traveller was none other than his cousin from Rotorua.
So that was my first “small world” tale. My friends had a matcher.
They work in Levin and pre-pandemic they’d taken a couple of months away from the daily grind to sample the delights of Europe.
One day in France, they’d taken the train into central Paris and gone sightseeing.
Eventually, after many hours of wandering around, they’d plonked themselves down in a small cafe somewhere near the famous Louvre art gallery.
They hadn’t been there two minutes when the bloke on the next table looked up from his newspaper and exclaimed surprise in the bluest of Kiwi language (definitely not mon dieu if you get my drift).
Turns out it was a former workmate from Levin doing his own bit of OE.
Now it was back to me. The train bit of that previous story reminded me of a tale I’d heard from the West Coast years ago. I’m talking the mid-to-late 40s and World War II.
By all accounts, this bloke had gone off to do his bit, leaving his small-town life behind. Particularly his footballing mate from next door.
Thankfully, he survived the war and met a lady while still on the other side of the world. Long story short, he decided not to come back to New Zealand and made a new life in England.
Fast forward to somewhere in the early 50s and the footballing mate has turned out to be so good at his chosen code, he’s been picked for New Zealand and, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a tour to England.
In those days it was all boat travel and eventually, after six weeks at sea, the tour party landed in southern England where they next boarded a train for the two-hour trip to London.
Upon arriving in the capital, the team was informed their connecting train to the rugby league fields of the north was already waiting on the adjacent platform and they’d have to quickly get off and make a run for it or miss it.
Our footballing hero, eager to impress, apparently grabbed his suitcase and leapt off the still-moving train as it slowed to a stop. Upon doing so, he collided with a fellow on the platform who had simply been standing there minding his own business.
You guessed it. It was his old neighbour from the West Coast.
By this stage, we’d all had enough of such tales and my friends downed the last of their coffee and headed off on their next motorhome adventure while I got ready for my day job.
As it turned out there was to be no escape from reinforcement of the fact the world really is a small place. For me, anyway.
My first appointment of the day turned out to be visiting a lady who had a surname familiar to me.
I asked the question, as you do. “Any relation to … ?”
Yes, she said. She was. And from there the ball well and truly went rolling along.
It turns out, about 40-odd years ago back in the South Island, an old girlfriend and I used to babysit her sister’s kids.