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Letter to


A letter arrived just the other day. Jerry then phoned me to say that he had written this letter about four months ago but had forgotten to post it. For your information I have decided to publish it anyway. Hope it makes more sense to you than it did to me.

By the way - it refers to the 1995 Ballarat Swap Meet........The Editor

Dear Mr Editor,

Greetings from sunny Victoria. As you may be aware, I have decided to take a well deserved break and go on a bit of a vacation. So the "Super Southern Swap Meet" in Ballarat seemed to be just the ticket.

It was a good opportunity to hook up the old Viscount to the even older Kingswood (caravan to the car - Ed). It was the first time the old caravan (see, I told you - Ed.) had been on the road since the total refit.

I went for a kind of nautical theme. You know, heavy beams, hammocks and the obligatory port holes. Looks great even if I do say so myself. Not real helpful to the fuel economy though. Anyway, a break was what the cat and I needed, so Victoria it was.

The good lady wife prepared some sandwiches to eat along the way, so armed with these and a couple of yellowing road maps, the cat and I set off. I knew the maps were old but unless they had moved, or even sold it, Victoria would have to be in the same place.

I pulled in for lunch, and more fuel, at the "Dog on the Tuckerbox". I hadn't been there for many years. The cat insisted on sitting on the rear parcel shelf, looking disapprovingly out with his nose pressed hard against the glass.

Not much time for sight seeing on the way down but I did see a lot of the great service stations that our great Southern Highway has to offer.

On reaching the border I pulled into yet another service station and inquired about fruit fly. I pointed out that none of my fruit could fly as none of it had wings. I checked each and every piece. The attendant just stared at me. I then asked if he could change $50 for me. When he agreed I told him I believed $50 Australian actually bought $70 Victorian, if my calculations were correct. Fortunately I ducked just in time and made it back to my car unscathed. Some people have no sense of humour.

On arriving at the Ballarat Swap Meet the first order of the day was to find the infamous "Beagle Boys". They were, after all, my hosts for the weekend. They had given me directions and told me that their stall was the only tent in the shape of the Taj-Mahal, but bigger.

Many of you may not be aware of who the "Beagle Boys" actually are. I am led to believe that their parole officer is the only one who can definately tell them apart. The easiest way is to probably refer to them as "The Thin One", "The not Thin One" and "The Quiet One".

I was quite surprised to find the "Beagle Boys" after only a short walk around the Swap Meet. And even more surprised to find that the tent looked nothing like the description that had been given to me. The vast array of goods being offered for sale was quite extraordinary. I was not aware that a complete set of "Genuine, Authentic British Crown Jewels" could be purchased for only $25 negotiable.

I was standing admiring a "Genuine Ming Dynasty Vase" for $12.50 o.n.o. when "The Thin One" told me I didn't need to pay for it at all. I thanked him most graciously and commended him on his generosity. He stated that if there was anything else that took my fancy, just take it. Now, not being the sort of person to look a gift horse in the mouth (or any other orifice for that matter), I pulled out the old string shopping bag I carry in my back pocket for just such occasions. I stated that I did not wish to take such an advantage of my host's hospitality. Well, you can imagine my surprise when he informed me that this was not, in fact, their stall. He went on to explain that the owners had been unavoidably locked in the back of their hire truck and would not be needing these items for the rest of the weekend anyway.

"The not Thin One", between threatening people, pointed to an even larger tent three rows over and assured me they would be with me in just a short while. Introduce myself and grab a beer.

On locating the tent I was ushered over a sort of mini jumping castle come cattle grate arrangement. This was the only way in or out of the tent. There was a large hand painted sign that read "No loitering, No change given".

On entering the tent the first thing that caught my eye was "The Quiet One" sitting behind an enormous antique cash register handing out receipts. Next to him sat a financial expert brought in from South Australia with a lap top computer. I questioned the wisdom of giving receipts and was informed that it was a tax write-off. He went on to explain that "The Thin One" had declared the tent on the New York Stock Exchange as a Liberian oil tanker with Panamanian registration and that all the money was being sent off-shore to Swiss bank accounts in the names of the Seven Dwarfs, held in trust for Princess Margaret. A cunning plan indeed.

This was confirmed by the "Beagle Boys" legal representative flown in from Tasmania that morning. An imposing figure if ever I have seen one. Black robes, wig and an enormous gavel. Well, he told me it was his gavel. Strange chap. Sitting on an esky, he didn't say much, just muttering to himself in Latin. He did come to life briefly to hold an impromptu auction sale at one stage in the afternoon. However, this was cut short on the arrival of the local constabulary. He suddenly turned on his heels, suggesting to himself that he take his own recommendations under advisement and then called an adjournment, claiming he was retiring to his chambers to seek a legal opinion from Tooheys and Co. Too long on the Bar, if you get my meaning, if you ask me.

Those "Beagle Boys" had thought of everything. Drinks were continually being served by their own private butler. Black tie, cummerbund and tails. A most enjoyable weekend all in all, from what I can remember.

Well, I better go now Mr Editor but if you are ever looking for a change, I can most strenuously recommend a weekend away with the "Beagle Boys". Come to think of it, after a weekend with the "Beagle Boys", change is all you will be left with. Very small change indeed.


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