Legends from our own lunchtimes

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


A few years ago we were enjoying a pleasant evening at Kingfisher Bay on Fraser Island when we struck up a conversation with a lovely couple from South Australia.

I can't or at least probably shouldn't actually mention their real names because that would impinge terribly on their privacy and maybe they didn't actually come from South Australia, but that will do for our purposes. However, as this whole tale revolves around their uncommon surname, I'll just make do by changing their Christian names, to make a bit of a show at protecting their innocence.

Anyway Tom and Mary Finger, (not their real names you'll recall), drove the sort of Peugeot that looked as though Julian had owned it for a dozen years before abandoning it in the Lewis backyard. It was sort of Columbo meets Mad Max with French subtitles, and because the Fingers were on a motoring holiday, it was loaded to the gills with camping accoutrements which added a sort of jaunty air to the whole catastrophe, but once again I digress.

Tom and Mary had driven around 3,000 kilometres before arriving in Queensland, and been on a sort of journey of genealogical discovery, tracing Tom's extended family, visiting all the long lost cousins on the way.

The Finger family it seems, were of European origin, and had spread across the south of Australia, ensconcing themselves in numbers of farming communities where they were able to call upon the skills handed down over the generations, producing all manner of crops for the market. The entire family it seems, apart from Tom that is, who works up to his armpits in a thing called "data", spent their days in rural pursuits.

Tom and Mary thought that they'd visited every member of the family in the course of their travels, thy had even found a few cousins they didn't know existed and were actually basking in the rosy glow of the success of their journey as they drove through Gympie and saw the sign, delicately daubed on an old car bonnet in that special font that is reserved for farmers making roadside signs:

"L Fingers 100 yards"

Believing the "s" on the end to be a typographical error, or perhaps in truth, this was a miscreant cousin who had undertaken a slight change of name to ostracise himself from those in the south, or maybe there was just a missing apostrophe, they turned up the red dirt driveway.

Tom launched into his by now well rehearsed introduction:
"Gidday, I'm Tom Finger, I saw your sign, and I've been tracking down all my long lost relatives, and just wondered if we were somehow related."

From the puzzled expression that greeted him, Tom knew he hadn't been clear enough, and reintroduced himself, pointing to the sign to add emphasis.

"Mate, my name's Reg Wixted, and I don't have a clue what you're talking about," came the straw-hatted reply.

Again Tom pointed in the direction of the sign.

"Yeah well, we do grow bananas here, and we do sell 'em to the tourists driving past," replied Reg still puzzled, and clearly with no idea what the stranger in the sandals was on about.

"But your sign says L. Fingers!!!"

"Oh, you want some Lady Fingers?" came the dry response, followed by a short pause accompanied by a look that left no doubt that he still didn't understand anything of the conversation;



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