Blame the bank holiday, the Rugby World Cup or the need for a break, but we thought we’d revisit our old friends at the fictional (or is it?) apartment block Dardanelle Towers, where suspicion of vandalism in the car park has fallen on an unlikely culprit.
Parking, terrorism and a health scare dominated the most recent meeting of the Dardanelle Towers strata committee.
The parking issue came to the fore when Bernard, our long-suffering chairman was heading off to work only to discover that the locks on his car had been super-glued. Bernard’s car, a Subaru Forester, was his pride and joy.
He’d had problems in the past with people “accidentally” using his space because it was close to visitor parking, and blocking him in because it was close to the lifts, but this was the first time his car had actually been vandalised.
Suspicion immediately fell on the occupant of 511 who is suing us (or being sued by us) in three different courts on three different issues, one of which is his perceived “right” to park his spare car in visitors’ parking on the grounds that he owns a share of it and visitors don’t. This, like the rest of his cases, seems to be related to his inability to read, understand or accept strata law and by-laws – or all three.
In any case, 511’s involvement in the Uhu Incident (as it is now known) was quickly refuted when Mrs Alexander (the All-Seeing Eye) informed us that he had left the building at 6.45 am the day before and had distinctly been heard saying “International Airport”.
Mrs Alexander had also noted that 511 had tossed his suitcase and carry-on bag into the boot of the cab with remarkable ease, suggesting, she said, that they might have been empty, which she found suspicious.
Bernard remarked that he had seen 511 in the gym many times, which may have accounted for the apparent lack of effort. Elena noted that she often travels abroad with the minimum in her bags so she can fill them up with clothes bought overseas. Ms Tran concurred. She could get a complete season’s wardrobe in Hoi An for less than the Uber fare to the airport.
Everyone looked at Lady Luckby, who never lets an opportunity for casual if ingenuous racism pass, but she said nothing. Mrs A had also gone very quiet, something that did not go unnoticed by Elena. Eventually, responding to Elena’s narrowing eyes, Mrs A confessed that she had considered 511’s activity bizarre enough to warrant a call to the terrorism hotline.
Elena sighed in exasperation. Mrs A had done exactly the same when she saw her relatives gathering outside our building on their way to a Lebanese wedding. One cousin had been deported – he had only overstayed his visa by a week so he could be at the wedding – and the groom barely made it to the church (they were, like the majority of Lebanese in Australia, devoutly Christian).
“You can’t be too careful,” Mrs A said, as she had at the time of the wedding fiasco. “This building could be a prime target.”
“I know we have two blocks,” Bernard grumbled, “but we’re hardly the Twin Towers.” He was unusually grumpy but then he had every right to be. The glueing of his car had prevented him meeting a couple of important clients, not to mention the hassle and expense of replacing the locks.
It was then that Jonathan said he had a confession to make. He’d had an unexpected visitor who may have caused some confusion in the car park.
In truth, his visitor was only unexpected in that he hadn’t expected her to say yes when he invited her to come round for a drink. And he was absolutely certain that she hadn’t only turned up because he offered her safe overnight parking while she went to a friend’s hen party … although she did only stay with him for one white wine spritzer and he didn’t see her again until lunchtime the next day when she needed to be let out of the car park.
There was considerable amusement when everyone realised that Jonathan, the great keeper of the by-laws, had broken one himself by allowing a guest who was not staying in the building to park overnight.
No one really gave a damn, in truth, but watching him squirm at every raised eyebrow was worth the price of admission.
Mr Wilson, the building manager confirmed that Jonathan had asked him not to worry about the Suzuki in the visitor’s parking as it was his girlfriend’s. He apologised for doing a favour for an EC member but Bernard waved him away: “small war, not many dead,” he said.
‘Ah … Suzuki,” Lady Luckby said to herself. But immediately fell unusually quiet.
Mrs A confirmed that she too had been told about the Suzuki, in the visitor’s parking space to the left of the lifts, and Jonathan’s new “taken” status. Jonathan’s face reddened as, one by one, we all concurred. He had told us all about the car, presumably his way of announcing his romantic conquest.
“Su –zuki!” Lady Luckby suddenly exclaimed, from the seat reserved for the Chair (which she imagined herself to be) “They all sound the same to me.” She again fell silent when everyone looked at her.
Mr Wilson said he had been conducting a campaign against rogue parking – at the executive committee’s request – but that had so far been limited to putting warning stickers on car windshields. He was about to launch into a diatribe about the stupidity of strata law regarding parking when Lady Luckby interrupted with her own.
“Stickers?” said Lady L. “Might as well but five pound notes under the windscreen wipers for all the good it does.” (Lady L had long rejected decimalisation as a communist plot).
“I remember we used to have people towed away if they were so much as an inch over the line around their car space,” she said, slurring heavily. “It was a religious group ran the tow truck company – who were they again, Mr Wilson?”
“Hells Angels, Lady L,” he replied, resisting the temptation to tug his forelock.
Dr Macdonald tapped Elena’s wrist and gestured towards Lady Luckby. Not only was she slurring her words, she had one arm dangling down by her side in a very odd way. Dr Macdonald then took it upon himself to conduct some basic tests, which, as it turned out, are what you should do when an elderly person falls over – what looks like a slip could actually be a stroke.
“Do you know who I am,” Dr Macdonald asked her.
“Why, have you forgotten?” she replied.
“Speech definitely slurred,” he said, mostly to himself.”
“Who is the Prime Minister?” Dr M asked Her Ladyship.
“I don’t know,” she replied brusquely. The good doctor made another mental note.
“Could you smile for me please, Lady Luckby?” he asked.
“What the Hell have I got to smile about?” she retorted. “I’m 89 years old, crippled by arthritis and surrounded by idiots.” Dr M looked at her pleadingly and she forced what could best be described as a malevolent sneer. “Hmm, a bit lop-side,” he mused.
“One last thing,” he said. “Could you raise both your arms up at the same time?”
Lady Luckby glowered but finally raised her right arm to about shoulder height while her left barely moved from her side.
Dr M was alarmed. “Could somebody call an ambulance, please. I think Lady Luckby has suffered a stroke.
Elena scrabbled for her mobile phone but Lady L was having none of it.
“Look I’m fine. I haven’t had a stroke. I’m as drunk as a skunk. Been drinking all afternoon watching “Leaving Las Vegas” – that always makes me thirsty. I said I didn’t know because I haven’t read the paper this morning and they seem to change every five minutes.
“As for Sco-Mo? Sounds more like a laundry powder than a prime minister,’ she said. “And I can do this …” She grinned, giving us an even-sided view of her ancient teeth “And this!”
She raised both arms to shoulder height revealing a super-glue tube stuck firmly to her left hand. She looked askance at her own accusing fingers.
“Tell me, Jonathan,” she smiled innocently. “Was your girlfriend’s car parked illegally to the left looking at the lifts or coming out of them?”
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