Legends from our own lunchtimes

Monday, May 05, 2008

Santa's Alley

Each year, when Manly was truly a Harbour Village, before the renewal which people like ourselves created really took hold, Manly Village was truly a country town and each year it celebrated Christmas with a one-evening show, by turning its little main street, Cambridge Parade, into "Santa's Alley".

Less than 150 metres from Santa's Alley, we had plans to build on a small, vacant allotment neighboured by an ancient, not even elderly lady whose unhappiness with life manifested itself occasionally in a severe dressing down of anyone who happened to be passing her front door, which was located just a few footsteps from her footpath.

If the unsuspecting passer-by happened to have a dog in tow, the vitriol could be specially unpleasant, and if the dog so much as looked like crouching to relieve itself within cooee of "her" footpath, actual violence threatened. Her protectiveness extended to the entire boundaries of our lot including any part of the walkway in front, and it was not uncommon to see people cross the street, or pull their hats down over their faces before scurrying past.

We on the other hand had a somewhat more relaxed view of life and relating to strangers than perhaps she expressed, and so it was that when the organisers of Santa's Alley needed somewhere to unload their livestock trailers, so that the three wise men and the baby Jesus could be suitably conveyed during the proceedings, that she found it a bit disconcerting.

We were afraid we'd killed her that first year though.

As ever, she'd been watching every move on our lot, through the slot in her kitchen window, so narrow that one wondered how she breathed, let alone managed to scan the neighbourhood with such precision, alternating between there and the front door which she habitually left slightly ajar, so that she could keep an eye out for errant dogs in need of a good hiding.

One of the Wise Men, began leading his camel down towards the marshalling point of the parade. As it drew level with her front gate, and under her steely glare, the camel did what camels do after taking the first few steps after a period of incarceration.

Judging by the sheer volume of its deposit, one could assume this camel had been incarcerated for quite some time.

Perhaps since the last time it was at an Oasis in fact.

History does not record what happened to that Camel, nor it's attendant Wise Man. Perhaps they disappeared in a puff of nuclear powered acrimony, but we are pleased to report that by the time we returned later in the evening the noise had subsided, and there was not an atom of evidence remaining.


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