If ever proof of my heritage were needed it was delivered on Sunday. Although educated in Australia and with an Australian mother that side of my lineage is sometimes questioned. I speak with an English accent littered with words and phrases from the twelve countries in which I have lived. I am a hybrid but feel closely attuned to England, Australia and America.
But first a little background. My car died last week – no longer a vehicle to be operated on the freeways of Houston, or anywhere. I realised Delphi, so called for the rather attractive delphinium blue of her coat, had no hope when the AAA mechanic muttered as he hit the alternator sharply with a spanner. I realised as the tow truck hauled her, engine not even ticking over, up the ramp with chains and delivered her to my door a few short miles from where I had coasted as she blub-blubbed to a juddering halt. I realised when I was told that not a cent more would be spent on her upkeep. 135,000 miles of loyal service snuffed out.
And so on Sunday afternoon between downpours Delphi was cleared out. Stacks of instructions printed from Mapquest were rescued from the pocket on the back of the driver’s seat. Numerous shopping bags of the recyclable variety, three umbrellas, three torches, three CDS (all scratched), two dog leads, two pairs of sunglasses (one broken), one pair of medical gloves (fingers melted together), one first aid box, one dive compass, one set of jump cables, one tow chain, one fold up spade for either snow or sand, one tube of hand cream, one nail file, one tin of Altoids and one loo roll – just in case – were found in various parts of the car.
Due to a metal rod in my back I was unable to investigate under the seats and so my long-suffering husband kindly offered to help.
“What the hell?” he muttered, his arm wedged under my seat, straining to grasp hold of something that kept rolling out of reach. “Oh my God, how long has this been there?” he asked emerging from the depths but keeping his loot hidden.
“What is it?”
“This!” he exclaimed holding aloft a large jar covered with dog hair and dust. “Honestly Apple, I would really like to know why you have Vegemite in your car.”
I thought a moment. Vegemite can only be bought in a few places in Houston and never in jars that size, and then I remembered.
“Linda gave it to me. She brought it back with her when they came back on holiday from Perth.”
“That was years ago and why is it still in your car?”
I thought a bit more.
“Um, I think I must have put in when we drove to Baja California. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get any there.”
“We were only there a week,” he said eyeing the jar distastefully.
“I was away two!”
“Oh well that’s okay then,” he said.
I grabbed the jar and opened it. Not a skerrick of mould. I smiled and rescrewed the lid.
“You are not going to keep it are you?” he asked. Having been weaned on Marmite he has never been a fan of the superior Vegemite.
“I might,” I replied.
I believe that jar is all the proof I need to substantiate my claims to an Australian heritage. I think I’ll put it under the front seat of Pearl, my shiny new car. Just in case.