The station put me up in a boarding house run by a Mrs.Phelps who lived in a big old two storey weatherboard house. She had a husband who I rarely saw, he left for work early and always seemed to come home late, and a daughter who was away at University in Hobart.
Mrs. Phelps was an eccentric old soul (see earlier post) who kept her life to herself unless she’d been imbibing in the cooking sherry, which she did from time to time. I’ll never forget the séance at the kitchen table, but that’s a story for another time.
My first morning in the boarding house was quite daunting , As I entered the dining room there were five people seated around the breakfast table, all of them old enough to be my parents.
I sat down at the one remaining seat and cast my eye over the table which held typical breakfast fare, juice, cereal, toast, jam, honey, sugar etc.
Immediately in front of me was a recycled Vegemite jar ¾ filled with milk. I looked around at the other settings and noticed no one else had a glass in front of them. My mind raced, why me? Then it became apparent, well of course, these are all older people, I’m a young, growing teenager who needs his milk. Although by 19 beer had become more of a staple than the dairy alternative.
So, back to the table, now I can’t offend Mrs.Phelps, after all she was going to be looking after my welfare.
So I picked up the glass and started drinking, to my amazement the milk had a consistency more like cream. Then the penny dropped. It was bloody cream, and the cream wasn’t just for me, it was to be shared by all the other boarders. But here I am with a mouthful. What do it do?
Keep on drinking of course, and I consumed the entire congealed mass. Put the glass back down on the table, smacked my lips and reached for a piece of toast.
Well, the looks on the faces of everyone else was priceless. Forget good old Tasmanian hospitality these folks were ready to kill. I grabbed my toast making a lame excuse about being late for work and made a hasty exit.
Curiously, after that I ate my breakfasts alone at the table in the kitchen. Mrs.Phelps felt I might be more comfortable there.