Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Fairlie: Oh James look it’s probably a bit soon to be calling back...
JV: No, no it’s lovely to hear from you again. For those of you who haven’t been listening to This Is What I Live With in the last few weeks, Fairlie is married to umbrella man. This is the man who scours the streets. He loves a broken umbrella. He loves the long bits of wire from street sweepers because they’re very good for fixing umbrellas. He fixes umbrellas, puts a name on them and then guards them carefully forever more. This apparently Fairlie is not his only odd thing.
Fairlie: No, well look I heard you talking about the scarcity of hankies not long ago and how they’re an endangered species.
Fairlie: And I think, if they’re not tucked into people’s hanky drawers, a lot of them might be at our house.
Fairlie: This is another hideous specialisation of my husband’s scavenging disease. Winter’s far more of a strain because it’s the cold and flu season. He goes out on his morning walk and he has a gift for finding them. You’ll never guess what he picks them up with.
Fairlie: The point of an umbrella. Ahhh!
JV: So you mean he find discarded hankies, as in the cloth things people blow their noses in...
Fairlie: That’s the one.
JV: Not paper tissues?
Fairlie: No hankies. He brings them home and he sterilises them in nappy cleaner.
Fairlie: And then he launders them very carefully and he puts them in this little camphor box that his mother gave him.
JV: Isn’t that lovely.
Fairlie: And I swear that he’s collecting an alphabet of monogrammed handkerchiefs. Don’t ask me how many are in there. It’s like the Bluebeard of hankies to me, that box.
JV: Wow. So does he specialised in the monogrammed hanky?
Fairlie: Well when we can get his hands on them. He comes home and he shouts ‘the Lord provideth’ which is pretty rich because he’s not at all religious.
JV: And ‘the Lord provideth’ is an indication that he found a hanky that morning?
Fairlie: That’s it.
JV: And how often might he find a hanky?
Fairlie: Well in winter it’s more prolific. I tell you what, I’m the first person in autumn to be having a flu vaccination.
JV: Right. Yeah.
Fairlie: Just one more thing is soft fabrics. Ah, towel rags that he finds that people have discarded that they’ve used to wipe their dipsticks with...
JV: Oh yeah?
Fairlie: He washes and bleaches them, and he’s a dainty sew-er. So he hems them and then they become dishrags.
JV: Well isn’t that handy. That is good. Look at the savings there.
JV: Now the hanky...I’m not looking for them, but I didn’t know you could find discarded hankies.
Fairlie: Well somehow, it’s like socks, they have a way of coming out of people’s pockets. You’d be surprised.
JV: But do they make it out onto the street? I mean, as you’ve observed, the hanky is an endangered species.
Fairlie: No, this is on his morning walk at Ferry Wharf and at bus stops and...
JV: Right. So people play drop the hanky.
Fairlie: And he picks them up with the point of the umbrella.
JV: Wow...and you would estimate there’s, what, one hundred in this camphor box?
Fairlie: I’m not looking in there. It’s the Bluebeard’s chamber that camphor box.
JV: So he’s got a glory boy kind of thing?
Fairlie: He does but no, there’s many of them there.
JV: I mean you’ve said before that he’s a delightful fellow.
Fairlie: No, he is. He’s a gorgeous person.
JV: Just a couple of those sorts of things. It doesn’t sound like you’re suffering here.
Fairlie: No, but don’t be thinking we’ll be sleeping in on New Year’s day like everybody else. There’s rich pickings to be had out there.
JV: What? Umbrellas and hankies?
Fairlie: Oh, all sorts of things from the revellers...the unsuspecting revellers.
JV: Oh so he’s up early?
Fairlie: We’re up early.
JV: ‘Come on Fairlie, let’s be going.’
Fairlie: Let’s be going.
JV: And where do you head to? Where are your favourite gathering spots?
Fairlie: Oh well Bondi beach is rick pickings.
JV: Yep. You could pick up whole people there.
Fairlie: He’s very good about handbags and wallets though.
JV: Do they go back?
Fairlie: They go back.
JV: Is he a metal detector person?
Fairlie: No, no he doesn’t want any fancy....no he’s not into gimmicks like that.
JV: Right. Just what the Lord provideth.
Fairlie: Yes...And, by the way, all those friends in adverted commas that are bringing broken umbrellas to us, it’s not funny.
JV: Yeah. Could they stop now.
JV: Well Fairlie you’ve booked a regular spot here really. I’m starting to see it perhaps as therapy. Would he like to come on and talk to us?
Fairlie: Oh I wouldn’t say he’d do that.
JV: Right okay.
Fairlie: I might be sailing very close to the wind with this phone call.
JV: Yes, okay. Well if you catch a cold while you’re sailing close to the wind...
Fairlie: Yes imagine when the swine flu epidemic was coming, how nervous I was then.
JV: But if you do catch a cold you’ve got some hankies so that’s good.
Fairlie: I’m not allowed to touch them. I’ve told you, they’re in that camphor box.
JV: Wow Fairlie, thank you so much and please call any time. Thank you for those participating in This Is What I Live With I think we all feel a little bit better about ourselves.