Modern Day Castaway

June 12, 2017

In keeping with the usual calamity that is my life, the other night I locked myself out of my house.

Without my phone. Or wallet. Just the running gear I was wearing.

As it turns out, there are no public phone boxes within a 6km radius of where I live. (SIDEBAR: Last Christmas my then six year old nephew and I walked past a phone box and he asked me what it was.

When I explained that we didn’t always have mobile phones he was quite shocked and then when I told him that when I was his age I knew people who didn’t have any phones OR televisions in their homes he was genuinely traumatised. I did also try to explain the concept of the Party Line which he offered up at dinner that night “You know back in the Olden Days people didn’t have phones in their houses – they just had parties.” Amen to that!)

I only know three phone numbers off by heart (and one of them is my Ex partner’s who lives in another country to whom I no longer speak).

The two close friends who have my spare house keys ARE BLOODY USELESS and never answer their freakin’ phones when it matters (you know who you are) and this is exactly why neither of you are down as my emergency contact.

Mosquitoes LOVE me – always have – and will eat through whatever meagre clothing I have on just for a tasty nibble on me.

From this recent experience I learned a few valuable lessons.

1) I need to detox from technology, as in hindsight, I could have used those four hours to meditate on my balcony blah blah… instead it felt like I was Tom Hanks in Castaway.

2) As I had left my TV on during my isolation on the balcony through the locked glass doors I was able to lip-read the classic movie Play Misty For Me, starring (a young and very hot) Clint Eastwood. Note to Self: one night stands often end badly and Clint Eastwood makes frickin’ excellent movies, regardless of the era.

3) It pays to be nice to your neighbours. One of my lovely neighbours came to my rescue with the use of her bathroom and phone.

Other things this recent experience taught me are that perhaps I need to hone my survival skills. Yes, I can change a car tyre (thanks to my brother and Dad) and I can whip up a meal out of most basic food stuffs but I’m hardly Bear Grylls. (SIDEBAR: Bear Grylls, whose real name is Edward, named two of his sons Maramduke and Huckleberry. Those poor kids – they are gonna need good survival skills!)

Now I don’t need be Leo Di Caprio in The Revenant but I do find it interesting how many skills we have lost, as I referred to in my article earlier this year about emu’s losing their ability to fly. Sure, we don’t need to hunt wild beasts the way man’s ancient ancestors did, but what about the things our grandparents did as part of their everyday life?

I know having a micro-vegie garden on your deck is all the rage these days but what about other skills? How many of the following can you do? Sewing, knitting, make soap, start a fire (without matches or a lighter), basic carpentry, do maths without a calculator and read a map (without using GPS)? I can do exactly two of those things!

I thought I should investigate further. Turns out there are a number of survival courses on offer all over the Australia and interestingly the one I called said they are becoming very popular in the corporate sector for team bonding sessions and will now cater to the needs to the group or individuals and travel to remote parts of the country to put the camps on. I’m not quite up to that yet but I’m considering it.

I think there’s value in learning new things, regardless of your age. A few years ago I took adult ‘Learn to Swim’ classes at UQ, which was in equal parts helpful and humiliating thanks in large part to Susie O’Neill doing laps in the Uni pool next to my learners group, but hey, you have to start somewhere and Susie was so delightful and came and did half a lap of butterfly for us to demonstrate what we would never, ever be able to do.

I’m thinking of joining the Brownies – does anyone know if there’s an adult equivalent of that?

Please advise.

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Alexandria Bernard
With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.

Alex's voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.